Canadian Corner – September 16, 2011.

In today’s roundup of Canadian NHL team news: Continued concern over the health of Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov…Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard hopes for a fresh start…Leafs are healthy in net…Kyle Wellwood hopes to fill a variety of roles for Jets…Five potential difference makers for the Oilers…The Senators hold cautious expectations for this season…Flames first rounder turning heads.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: reports a setback in Andrei Markov’s rehabilitation from knee surgery will limit his participation when the club hits the ice tomorrow for training camp. His potential absence could create problems for the Canadiens to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Habs GM Pierre Gauthier also acknowledged he took a calculated risk in re-signing Markov, knowing full well the possibility he could continue to be hampered by his knee. As for creating a problem, it may be too early to make that assessment, as we don’t know how well the younger blueliners like Yemelin and Weber will perform.

VANCOUVER SUN: reports defenseman Keith Ballard, who struggled in his first season with the Canucks last year, is hoping for a fresh start this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries were a contributing factor in his struggles. If he can stay healthy, Ballard should play a more significant role for the Canucks this season.

TORONTO SUN: reports the Maple Leafs are healthier in next this season compared to recent years thanks to young goalie James Reimer, who spent the summer getting in shape to handle the heavy workload this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m no worried about Reimer’s physical conditioning, but his mental conditioning to handle the heightened expectations he’ll face this season.

WINNIPEG SUN: reports new Jets forward Kyle Wellwood hopes his versatility will allow him to play a variety of roles with the club this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I might be wrong about this, but I have a feeling Wellwood is going to be a good fit with the Jets.

EDMONTON SUN: Robert Tychowski offers up five potential difference makers for the Oilers this season. Among them: rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and veteran additions Ryan Smyth, Cam Barker and Ben Eager.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: reports the low-budget Senators enter this season with cautious expectations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All season predictions by hockey analysts predict the Senators will miss the playoffs.

CALGARY SUN: reports Flames first rounder Sven Baertschi turned some heads with his strong play at a recent prospects tournament.



  1. As a Habs Fan I would not worry too much at this point about Markov, if he is out until lets say Nov, fine then he will have had over a year to recover from this latest injury. Perhaps this will give the team some time to see what Yemelin and Diaz can do. The Canadiens are in good shape with the some good young players coming, they’ll be fine. I feel the team has improved and it will show this season and they will make the playoffs and it will be higher than 8th. Consider this that last year Montreal finished with 96 pts and Boston Finished with 103, Montreal had 2 of their best Defensemen out for 35+ games and Max Pax and MC for approx 20+ games. If and it is a Big if the habs stay healthy they are right there with the Bruins. The Bruins did not really improve this off season , they did not replace what they lost and Thomas is getting older. This will be interesting no Doubt. I think the Habs will surprise many people this year. The Cap space will be Huge around the Trade deadline. Price should get better this season. It’s gonna be fun! Enjoy guys B-)

  2. Ah.. I said it before and I’ll say it again, we should have kept Wisniewski. For a team that was hurting for goals, this guy was our second leading scorer and just hitting his prime. Yes, Markov, when healthy is the better defenceman, but the guy is never on the ice.

    I think as a Habs fan you totally have to be concerned about this injury, he’s had a long time to heal, and even now he’s not ready to go. This all on the heels of a big contract with 3 years left on it.

    I do hope I’m wrong and he makes a full recovery soon, but I’m not putting any money on it at this point.

  3. I wish the Habs had kept James W, along with Markov and PK they would be scoring left and right and he was a very good fit!. Since we are chatting here, I peronally think this team has been undervalued by the media. The core is growing and they do have talent in the system and i fail to see why they would finish 8th as the pundit seem to think, yet they finished 6th with all the injries they had last year and the team in my opinion has improved and i think you’ll see it wit in the first 10 games this season.
    I don’t expect Markov to have this happen 3 time in a row and if it does his career is in serious danger.
    This team is going to surprise a lot of people esp whn the playoff roll into town.

  4. Hey Lyle,
    What are your personal thoughts on how the habs should do this year? Saying that injuries stay to a minimum? I have watched Alexie play and i am so look forward to the splat when he hit’s Brad “The Rat”Marchand and Milan “The Nose” Lucic get crushed by the Alexie The Asassin” Yemelin LOL
    But seriously, do you feel as a professional writer that the team has improved and can keep improving as apose to what most pundit’s are saying, because i cannot see how a team that finished 6th last year, Improves the team in the off season and now is being evaluated as being on the bubble? Thoughts? Thanks for your time Lyle and Keep up the Great work you do. Mike

  5. I feel the Canadiens have improved, but they’ll have a tough fight on their hands to finish higher than sixth overall. They’re a playoff team, but I still feel they’re lacking the necessary skilled toughness and size up front to make a run for the Cup. I think their defense will be in good shape, regardless of Markov’s status, especially with Subban blossoming into a star. Ultimately, they’ll go as far as Price can carry them.

  6. I have to agree with Lyle. As much as the Habs have improved due to Cole, a deeper D, and a more experienced core, we have to remember the other teams have also improved. Especially in the East. I would say the Habs are competing for top three in any division not the Northeast. Buffalo is seriously improved, Boston dropped some driftwood, namely Kabele, and picked up Corvo. Washington improved, with Hamerlik on D and if Halpern has a healthy season, he will also help the Caps in their own end. That being said, a couple of teams stumble, and anything can happen. Point is, it will be very tight, and I think a good teams might not be in a playoff spot even though they are clearly better than some of playoff teams in the West.

    As for the cap cushion for the Habs, i wonder if Gauthier is sensing a drop in the cap next CBA and is prepping a roster that will not have to trim players to make the new cap.