Stu Cowan: Canadiens' Sean Monahan earns bonus by staying healthy

Agent for veteran centre included a US$15,000 bonus in contract for playing 26 games — one more than he did last season with Habs.

Article content

The Canadiens’ Sean Monahan will reach a bit of a milestone when he plays against the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

It will be Monahan’s 26th game this season — one more than he played last season when he was shut down because of a broken foot after playing a game in Vancouver on Dec. 5.

Article content

When Monahan re-signed with the Canadiens this summer, his contract included a US$15,000 bonus if he played in 26 games, bringing the total value of his one-year deal to US$2 million.

Advertisement 2

Article content

After Thursday’s morning skate at the Bell Centre, I mentioned to Monahan that the game against the Kings must have been marked on his calendar before the season started.

“In what sense?” he responded with a confused look on his face.

When I brought up the US$15,000 bonus and the significance of game No. 26, Monahan responded: “Oh, God. I was not even aware of that, to be honest.”

He then added with a chuckle: “A good thing you reminded me. Now I got to put money up on the board.”

Putting “money on the board” to inspire teammates is an NHL tradition when a player plays in a game of personal importance. If the team wins, the money goes into a team slush fund for special events during the season.

Agent Pat Morris worked the $15,000 bonus for 26 games into Monahan’s contract during negotiations with Canadiens GM Kent Hughes.

“I think (Morris) was just trying to get it to a certain number (US$2 million) and it ended up being that (bonus),” Monahan said. “It was funny. To be honest, it wasn’t a big deal even if we didn’t get to that number. I just wanted to be back here and play with this team. I’m just happy to be back.”

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Related Stories

Monahan is even happier to be healthy. The 29-year-old headed into Thursday’s game leading the Canadiens in goals with eight after scoring twice in Monday’s 4-2 win over the Seattle Kraken, ending a slump of 14 games without a goal.

“I wasn’t playing great,” Monahan said. “Any time you put the puck in the net you get that confidence and swagger back in your game. I was due for that to happen and get back to my game.”

Monahan had 8-7-15 totals heading into Thursday’s game while averaging 18:11 of ice time and winning 56.9 per cent of his faceoffs. Last season, he had 6-11-17 totals in 25 games. He played his last three games on a broken right foot, taking his cast off before games and putting it back on afterward. The first game Monahan played on a broken foot was an important one for him because it was in Calgary against the Flames, the team he spent the first nine seasons of his NHL career with before being acquired by the Canadiens.

Advertisement 4

Article content

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

During his time with the Flames, Monahan had surgeries on both hips, along with two hernia surgeries and wrist surgery.

“Honestly, I thought I’d be back in two weeks and move forward,” Monahan said about finally being shut down last season. “I was feeling really good. Every time I would try to come back the (groin) injury would come back. It was frustrating.”

The groin injury — which Monahan has admitted was a result of compensating for his broken foot — required surgery in April. Between the broken foot and the groin, Monahan had gone 10 months without playing a game before the start of this season.

“In a way, it was the best thing that happened to me,” he said. “I never really had a break, I never really had a summer to train and actually feel good coming into a season. This is the first year in probably four years I got to actually work on my game (during the summer) and do the things I wanted to do in the gym.”

If Monahan can stay healthy and continue to contribute at both ends of the ice, Hughes will have a difficult decision to make ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 8. Does the GM trade Monahan or is it better to keep the veteran centre who won’t turn 30 until next October? There’s also the possibility of trading Monahan and then re-signing him as a free agent next summer, although that scenario rarely happens.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Monahan said he’s not thinking about what might happen in the future.

“It’s December,” he said. “I’m just worried about tonight. It’s a day-by-day league and you just got to try to be your best every day.”

Monahan added he would love to sign a long-term deal with the Canadiens.

“It’s a special place to play,” he said. “I love my teammates, love the staff and really enjoy playing here at the Bell Centre.

“Last year sucked for me,” Monahan added. “I was feeling good and then you get hurt and you got to sit and watch for so long. It’s only 26 games, there’s a lot of season to go, but I’m feeling good and happy to be playing.”

He’s also US$15,000 richer.

[email protected]

Article content