CALGARY | You don't spend nine years of your life in a place without leaving it with a pang in your heart. And often, when you set foot there for the first time, a multitude of memories come to the surface, creating a surge of emotions that is difficult to hide.
This is a bit of what Sean Monahan experienced, Thursday noon, when he spoke to the media as part of his return to Calgary. In perfect control of the situation, the Canadiens forward let out a slight tremolo when a colleague from the Alberta capital asked him what message he wanted to leave to Flames fans.
“Thank you, everything merely. Fans have supported me from day one. I came here when I was 18. It's a special place for me. I enjoyed every moment spent here,” he said.
At the end of this press briefing, held exceptionally in the interview room of the Flames, Monahan shook the claw of each of the Calgary journalists, even offering hugs to some of them.
So we can say that the love story between Monahan, who the Flames selected in the first round (6th overall) in 2013, and the city of Calgary has been solid, considering the 28-year-old Ontarian has had to deal with his large share of injuries.
At the top of the list are recurring hip injuries that forced him to undergo two surgeries: the first in the spring of 2021 and the second last April.
Agony to all the matches
But before realizing that he could not continue his career without going on the operating table, Monahan endured excruciating pain.
“He couldn't even stay seated for more than a minute on the plane, it hurt him so much,” said Milan Lucic, Monahan's teammate for three seasons.
We can, without fear of misleading, to argue that Monahan has played most of his 50 games in the 2020-21 season and his 65 games in the 2021-22 campaign with pretty bad hips.
Obviously, his stats have felt it. In those two campaigns, he only scored a total of 51 points, including 18 goals. However, it seems that his desire to win was never affected.
“People don't see how hard he worked to be ready. A lot of times he was in agony and he didn't even complain,” Lucic revealed.
Despite the daily pain that he had to endure, Monahan never thought to hang up his skates.
“It was sometimes difficult to stretch out, walk or do everyday activities. It's been a long road and it hasn't been fun, but I never thought it would be the end,” Monahan said.
“I'm back healthy and loving the hockey again. It's a completely different feeling to walk into the arena and not care about the pain and your body,” he added.
And it's the Habs who benefits from it. With 14 points in 22 games, Monahan is heading for a harvest of 52 points. What would be his most productive campaign since 2018-2019, when he blacked out the scoresheet 82 times.