The decision to undergo right shoulder surgery was a calculated group decision, but not a very popular one for Cole Caufield.
After talks with Canadiens management and his agent Pat Brisson, Caufield took the decision to go forward with a procedure that will be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.
However, he says he would still be on the ice had the Canadiens been in a playoff spot.
“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said in a press conference Friday morning. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”
Caufield had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before finally coming to the conclusion that his season was over.
“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”
The winger initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 away loss to the Dallas Stars on Dec. 23. He said that his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.
Caufield felt it once again in the Habs’ 4-3 away loss to the Nashville Predators on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.
The 22-year-old will have the same procedure as teammate Josh Anderson and Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski. While Anderson had surgery for a torn labrum in March 2020 and Werenski went under the knife for a separated shoulder and torn labrum in May 2018, Caufield limited the details to “a shoulder injury.”
“I’ve had a conversation with (Anderson) in the past couple of weeks,” Caufield said. “Zach Werenski got it done, I’m pretty tight with him. Just to have guys that I can kind of communicate with, they’ve gone through it pretty recently, it’s a lot to learn and it’s good to have people around you.”
Caufield understands that there is a serious rehabilitation process that comes along with the surgery. However, the decision to end his season now as opposed to staying on the ice means he should be ready for the start of next season.
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“Everybody’s different, I’m a younger guy so hopefully my body can heal a little bit faster,” Caufield said. “But again, the timing of this. That’s why I’ve been taken out, it’s to be ready for next season and be back at 100 per cent.
“It’s going to be a long process but that’s something that I’m going to really work hard at and be back at 100 per cent as fast as possible.”
Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry level contract and will be a restricted free agent in the summer. Amidst contract speculation, he told reporters on Jan. 20 “you try not to, but you can’t really get away from it.”
But now health is his highest priority.
“I think they know the type of player I am, and we’ve had talks, for sure, about where my game is at,” Caufield said. “For me, for my agent, I think it’s all about my health long term and I think down the road it’ll work out but I wouldn’t say that my contract has anything to do with me stopping play. Think it’s all about just being healthy and trying to be 100 per cent when I’m on the ice.”