Ryan Murray and the increased risk of injury
This is about more than bad luck.
Let's start at the beginning.
Not sure I understand inserting Murray against one of the best (and fastest!) teams in the league for his first game back.— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) January 31, 2015
There was a very real fear behind that. The idea that such a talented young player, the Blue Jackets best defenseman as far as I'm concerned, could be in a situation where he may find himself back on the injured reserve list sooner than we'd all like was hard to swallow.
Eventually, that very real fear was realized.
First, I want to say that I know no one is more disappointed right now than Ryan Murray. Right after that has to be Jarmo Kekalainen and Todd Richards. They only want what they feel is the best for this team, its players, and the city of Columbus. I honestly, truly believe that. But I have some problems, and I believe when you're talking about the 25th place team in the league, nothing is sacred.
Murray returned to action and all was well, until his third game back, when...
#CBJ D Ryan Murray blocks a shot with his club up 5-1 in third period. Took it in the left leg. Up slowly, straight to the dressing room.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) February 7, 2015
#CBJ coach Todd Richards said neither Murray nor Wisniewski were injured by the shots they blocked. Murray hurt left leg when Johansen ...— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) February 7, 2015
... fell on him just before puck buried into the pile of them. Wisniewski also hurt in a collision late in the game. Lower body.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) February 7, 2015
#CBJ D Ryan Murray has a high-ankle sprain (left) and will miss 4-6 weeks, club announces.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) February 7, 2015
Which culminated in this attempt to make a point, that led to a bit of a rant, and some back-and-forth.
Too bad the Blue Jackets don’t have an AHL affiliate where they could’ve let Ryan Murray slowly get back up to game speed.— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) February 7, 2015
In an effort to share a more nuanced argument than I can with Twitter's 140 character limit, I wanted to clarify my point. What was meant as a joke-y tweet, led to a mini-rant in attempt to try to make a nuanced point in a space where one could not be made.
I've deleted the rest - I simply didn't do a good job making my point, and that doesn't need to represent the rest of the contributors here.
A fairly common response seemed to be along the lines of, "Conditioning had nothing to do this."
Which, to be frank, is a misunderstanding of my point at best, or a straw man at worst.
Yes, players go on a "conditioning" stint in the American Hockey League, but it's often used when a player returns from a long-term injury. At no point did I mention his conditioning level, but many seemed to feel that was the point of my comments. Instead, I was suggesting what I've seen in the comments around here before: Let him play a game or two, take a game off. With his injury history, with this team so far out of the playoff picture, there's zero reason to add him to the roster (with eight other defenseman) until you're sure he's 110%. Man, let him get to 120%! This season is lost - let's reload for next year.
Sending Murray to Springfield for a couple weeks could've allowed them to keep Josh Anderson on the roster, eliminating the need to play Jordan Leopold on the 4th line - a move that put extra stress on the remaining 11 forwards in the lineup. It may have even given Jarmo time to work out a trade involving someone like Leopold or Cody Goloubef while still allowing the coach to ice a complete roster.
The idea that the competition level in the AHL isn't quite at the level of the NHL shouldn't be a radical thought. Or maybe not. The next set of responses hammered that home, "This could've happened in the AHL. Competition is competition."
I'm not sure if I can make my point much clearer here. Again, I never mentioned conditioning. I do believe he may not have been up to game strength, which I think is a fair assumption to make after missing the better part of a year. Getting checked in a game is different than taking a bump in practice. Is he more likely to get hit harder by someone in the NHL or the AHL?
You can't cover him in bubble wrap and you can't prevent the inevitable, but you can give him the best chance at success. This is common theme lately, in my opinion.
What I was trying, and clearly failed, to voice is my frustration with how the team utilized the player with a well-documented injury history. This team, with less than a percentage point of a chance to make the playoffs, puts that player right back into the mix once he's cleared. That's borderline infuriating to me.
No one wanted this to happen. That much, I know. But this is coming in a year following a half a dozen guys having the same groin surgery. This is following Mark Letestu being injured, only to later learn he needs that same surgery. And where is Brian Gibbons? He was expected to miss "2-3 weeks" eight weeks ago. Beyond Murray, Letestu, Gibbons, and others, there's also this strange bit of news that seemed to fly under the radar: Anton Stralman went misdiagnosed until he landed in New York. All I could think of after reading that was Matt Calvert's ongoing bout with illness.
That's one too many "coincidences" for me to stomach.
Finally, there's one more thing I'd like to address here, fitting with the themes of the day.
I don't like the idea that you can only be a fan of a team if you're only 100% supportive of every single move (or non-move). Disagreeing is good! It sparks debate and discussion. It's why we're here, to be honest. If I don't have an opinion, then I'm wasting your time. I'm not a reporter that's only here to present the facts.
All that's to say, here's my point: I'm frustrated with this season. I'm concerned about Ryan Murray. The fact that it's a different injury, something like a high-ankle sprain that is notoriously tough to shake, doesn't comfort me. It's too early to say he's fragile, but it's not too early to say he has a history. Multiple players have come back or pushed themselves too hard too soon and re-aggravated an injury or later needed surgery. Why is that happening?
And am I the only one who has a problem with that?