Sammy Blais’ NHL future is in jeopardy after PK Subban’s suspected injury

You know what I’m thinking when I look back at that play in the corner early in the third period of the November 14, 2021 game at the Park that BK Suban removed Sami Bliss’s right knee?

I remember the comment an NHL management person made during the 2012-13 lockout that the owners are the ones taking the risk.

Blais may make a particular exception to this sentiment.

With 14 months after the incident caused by the Devils defenseman’s recklessness, and more than halfway through the next season, not only is Blais’ game in shambles, but his NHL future as a suspended unrestricted free agent is in jeopardy.

Blais was entering the second season of a two-year deal at $1.5 million each when the Blueshirts acquired him as the main running back from the Blues in a Pavel Buchnevich trade in July 2021 as part of a shift designed to include a more physical form.

After being down in Game 15 last season, Blais is working on a one-year deal for $1.525 million. He will undoubtedly have a problematic time on the open market this summer in this final hard cover season.

Sammy Blais lies on the ice after being hit by PK Subban on November 14, 2021.
Sammy Blais lies on the ice after being hit by PK Subban on November 14, 2021.
Corey Sipkin

Now a major league mogul has spoken out about the dangers of hockey.

The 26-year-old winger was named a healthy scratch in Monday’s game against the Panthers. This would be his second consecutive match, third in his last five and sixth in his last 16 matches that Bliss has seen in street clothes.

This is a result of Blais’ inability to keep up the pace and regain his natural instincts after going through months of serious rehabilitation following surgery to repair both a torn ACL and MCL. Everyone knew that this would be difficult, but no one expected that this comeback would be so difficult.

“It was really tough. I mean, there’s no doubt,” said coach Gerard Gallant after Sunday’s training. “He had a very serious injury, we all know last year, he didn’t play at all, he came back this year and things didn’t go the way he wanted, For us or for Sami.

“He’s played some good hockey sometimes and other times it seems like, you know, he’s falling behind again. We just want him to keep going and have a positive attitude. In this game things change quickly as we all know. Hopefully it’s for the best.” Him, just keep going, keep a positive attitude and when you come back, try and contribute.”

The Rangers entered the season with as much wishful thinking as was applied to Belize. In fact, Blais was positioned as the first-line right winger with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider in the opening training camp depth chart. This is where he was in his third match in a row when Subban knocked him out.

Sammy Place skates against the Blues on December 5, 2022
Sammy Place skates against the Blues on December 5, 2022
Charles Winzelberg/New York Post

This time, it lasted about one period of one exhibition game. Belize needs more time. He sat out the first three games of the season. Still need more time. Right now, Rangers are going in a different direction to fourth line pace and talented wingers Vitaly Kravtsov and Julien Gauthier alongside Jake Lechichin.

This isn’t the standard kind of physical-oriented, heavy, momentum-shifting fourth line that Blais was supposed to be sharing with Ryan Reaves since his departure. It’s a dog’s breakfast.

“It’s kind of a fourth line, but we’ll see how it goes with them,” Gallant said. “I love our mix. When you build lines, you kind of start at the top. There’s not much left, [but] I love all of these guys and hope they get along.

“I can’t call them a check line and I can’t really call them a fourth line. We’ll see where it goes. It’s a little exciting, actually, with this one. It’s a very good fourth line with talent, skill and pace.”

The Rangers are in Toronto on Wednesday and at the Park on Friday against Vegas before going on a bye period that will last until training on February 5. Maybe Bliss will go to Hartford to adapt after the break.

Sammy Place gets help from the ice after an injury
Sammy Place gets help from the ice after an injury
NHLI via Getty Images

“It’s not about … I don’t want Sammy to go out there and think he has to get 10 strikeouts a game and start fighting more,” said the coach. “It’s not him. It’s about getting back up to speed, getting some confidence and getting a break sooner or later.

“He’s a good kid, he’s worked hard, he’s got a good attitude. Things just haven’t gone his way. He’ll just have to wait and when the opportunity comes again, I hope things break for him.”

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