Montreal Canadiens: What Is the Tomas Plekanec Back-Up Plan?

Jason HitelmanCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11:  Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the New York Rangers on January 11, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Montreal defeated the Rangers 2-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Injuries in the NHL are pretty much inevitable. Players get hurt, it just happens.

In some cases, afflicted teams struggle and fall out of the race. They are unable to deal with the loss of the player (or players, for that matter.) Other times, though, teams scrape by and manage.

Last year, when the Habs lost Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, they did well to show their resilience.

While most people counted them out the second Markov went down, they were able to trade for a suitable replacement in James Wisniewski.

Pierre Gauthier assessed the situation when Gorges called it a season and traded for both Paul Mara and Brent Sopel.

Of course, the emergence of P.K. Subban and the heroic play of Roman Hamrlik helped, but Gauthier did a fine job in managing his defense in desperate times. The Canadiens didn't fold and ended up making the playoffs—as the sixth seed, no less.

The Habs could have let the idea of losing their two best defensemen get to their head, but they didn't.

While, this offseason, it has often been said that the Habs' top six forwards have been much improved and reinforced with the addition of Erik Cole (which I certainly agree with), what would happen if, and I'm knocking on wood here, Tomas Plekanec was injured?

Sure, the same argument can be made for any team regarding their top-line center, but usually they have the fortune of being able to replace their No. 1 man with their No. 2.

The Habs have a bit more of a questionable situation on their hands. I mean, what if Scott Gomez doesn't rebound like we are all hoping?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of both Lars Eller and David Desharnais, but are either of them suitable first or second line centremen at this point?

Top-line centers are valuable commodities in this league: For the most part, general managers aren't willing to part ways with them early in the season, even if they do become unrestricted free agents by the end of them.

To add to that, the list of UFA centremen is thin if anything.

This is a scenario that I don't really enjoy thinking about, but as optimistic as I've been about the upcoming season, I couldn't really help but wonder.

Perhaps it isn't really worth stressing about at the moment given Plekanec's history. He's a tough guy that rarely misses playing time, save for a few games here and there.

I'll hold my tongue and continue thinking positively on the Gomez front: It appears that Pierre Gauthier is doing much of the same.

Worse comes to worse, Michael Cammalleri is a natural centreman, right?

Let's just hope that it doesn't come down to that.

Jason is on Twitter: @jhytel