How I survived Hurricane Kesler

The Stanchion
February 27 2014 10:23AM

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Yesterday was an "interesting" one in Canucks Nation. As I'm sure you all know by now, Ryan Kesler was all the rage after he caused what my friend Jason Botchford dubbed "Hurricane Kesler". What started off with rumours of an injured hand ramped up to a possible broken hand which then ramped up even further into the reports that Kesler had demanded a trade from the team at some point in this season. 

As you can see in the timeline above, Kesler never actually got around to the turning into the Hulk, but given how people were talking about him, you would've thought that he had.

Read on past the jump for some thoughts on the situation, as we'll hopefully be able to inject some humour into an otherwise bleak situation.

I do admit, this was quite the turn of events. Mike Gillis has said repeatedly that he will not ask players to waive their NTC, which struck me as quite limiting. Why do something that could hold your team back? I don't see the harm in asking a player if he is willing to waive an NTC. 

Regardless, the Canucks don't have a ton of trade worthy parts without an NTC, so the moves the Canucks could make seemed quite small if they did indeed stick to their guns and refused to ask someone to waive it. I jokingly said in the CA comments section last week "I wonder if they can just say a player asked them to trade them as a way to get around that whole 'we won't trade any NTC' stance". Well, lo and behold..

Let's get one thing clear, though. This is Vancouver, this is a big hockey market, and we often never know the truth of a story like this. I know people like to blame the bloggers for making up crazy rumors (looking at you Jay Feaster!) but this one came straight from MSM reporter Louie Jean:

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After this bomb was dropped, both Mike Gillis and Ryan Kesler's agent denied the reports. In hockey, however, usually everyone in management lies, so we truly have no idea who is telling the truth here. When this happens, we tend to say that "the truth is somewhere in the middle" and call it a day.

So while everyone debates possible returns for Kesler (Johansen! Couturier! Stepan! O'Reilly! Shea Weber!), or debates when to trade him (Now! The draft! After we win a Cup! Once he gets rid of every Starbucks!), I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a behind the scenes glimpse of the press row at Rogers Arena and how a lowly blogger stood in a corner and watched the Kesler insanity unfold around him. These are #PressRowConfessions:

- I arrive at Rogers Arena and cautiously walk by the security table at Gate Nine. I truly never know if they are supposed to search my bag or not, which means I always try and keep it filled with only a lap top and associated cables just in case. Today I have a box of gum in it from Costco, and I briefly wonder if Security would accuse me of carrying enough gum with intent to distribute. I awkwardly flash my press pass at Security for a couple of seconds before I realize they don't really care about me, so I put my head down, and walk inside.

- The guy who always watches over Gate Nine opens the door for me. I know he knows who I am by now, but we play this game where we pretend to not know each other. I say "Hi!" but he makes himself busy, rifling through his desk for imaginary ID cards. We will be friends one day, this I swear. I will break through to him. One day. One day.

- I get to the elevator and promptly see nine cops. I automatically assume Security set up a sting operation to bust me for gum distribution, but no, security was just giving themselves a pep talk before the game; to my dismay, at no point did they fire their guns in the air and hoot and holler.

- I arrive at press row and see Jason Botchford already there, hard at work. So I ask him "is the Kesler rumor true?" to which he shrugs and says "I don't know." I ponder offering him gum to buy, but having just narrowly escaped the clutches of nine cops, I decide against this. It's just not worth it with the Rogers Arena Security already hot on my heels.

- Several other reporters come in and begin talking amongst themselves. Before I got to attend games in press row I always just assumed that all journalists kept their info tightly guarded to their chest, only revealing secrets in exchange for gum (hence why I always have gum to spare). To my surprise, they talk all the time, exchanging info back and forth like crazy. Kesler was the all the talk, but I had to set my laptop up first before engaging in the rumours.

- Someone shouts over "Mike Gillis cancelled his Sportsnet intermission segment" and it was like a bomb had gone off. Heads popped up like bunnies out of the ground as all the reporters took this information in. Then it was a mad scramble as people ran from press row to find out what was going on and to try and track down Mike Gillis. 

- I stayed in press row because A) I live under the constant fear that if I do one wrong thing, they will kick me out and B) I thought the game was starting shortly. I was not aware the game started at 7:30 last night. I sat there for quite a while.

- I got myself some popcorn and promptly got my pants dirty. From spilling popcorn all over them. Not from anything else. I promptly feel shame for not being more careful.

- Dan Murphy goes on twitter to state that Mike Gillis did not cancel anything, but that he had in fact said weeks ago that he wasn't going to do the intermission segment. This is a much less fun outcome than the alternative.

- Ryan Kesler's agent is then quoted as saying the entire trade rumor thing is "BS" and that there is nothing to it. 

- The reporters file back in and attempt to watch a hockey game that has been over shadowed by Hurricane Kesler. I offer people gum to settle their nerves. They all look over their shoulders, before politely declining.

- Despite the exhilarating game going on, people begin talking on press row, swapping info on Kesler, trying to decode if he was happy in Vancouver, or if it made sense he wanted out. Being on the bottom end of the totem pole, I won't say what was said, but lots of random side stories were bandied about over Kesler; stuff that was said to them off the record and such, and his mind set over certain things that had happened the last couple of seasons. The conclusion was that yes, where there is smoke, there is indeed fire.

- Several of these conversations occur over the top of my head. I like to think I have the power of invisibility during these moments.

- The game ended and I get up to go to the locker room to ask Eddie Lack about his puck handling skills, and I see Mike Gillis in the hallway. Two things stand out to me: 1) he is rocking a kickass goatee now, and 2) he looks incredibly unhappy. I hurry along lest he tackle me and rob me of my gum.

- I do my interview in the locker room, and while I'm leaving I begin chatting with a friend, which quickly ends once we see Ryan Kesler walk by. He has his hand wrapped up and a scowl on his face. He did not demand a trade to me nor did he want any gum. Sketchy behaviour, no doubt.

And that was my night of Kesler rumors. It is hard to fully describe the feeling in the air, but everyone was digging to find out more about this story and it certainly was the talk of the game not only on twitter but up with the journalists in Press Row. 

It's interesting to see two stories out (one from Louis Jean saying Kesler wanted out and one from Kesler's agent and Mike Gillis saying it was BS) and seeing which side people believe. I'd wager that most people are on the former's side. But like I said, we might never know the full truth of the matter. All we know is that it certainly does make for a highly intriguing lead up to the NHL trade deadline this year.

Ed73c95199a7c52e70a7ff5fe66a1e13
Current freelance writer for The Province and Canucks Army. You can find me on twitter @thestanchion screaming about sports and making fun of Eddie Lack's gaming skills.
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#1 Rivalpiper
February 27 2014, 10:47AM
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Murph said Gillis canceled yesterday afternoon, but I know facts aren't your strong suit.

https://twitter.com/sportsnetmurph/status/438868558886367232

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#2 PB
February 27 2014, 10:53AM
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This is by far the best thing written about the evolving Kesler saga so far. Most of it consists of:

- Kesler is an 'murican and deserves to be tarred and feathered as such - why is Kesler blocking shots for 'murica and breaking bones? Those kinds of things never happen when he plays for the 'nucks - now we can finally get 5 first round draft picks (lottery picks!) and offload $10 million in salary! - sell high! sell high!

I actually agree with the last

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#3 Mikey
February 27 2014, 10:54AM
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Fantastic article, but you buried the lead: What happened to all that gum?!

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#7 Derian Hatcher
February 27 2014, 11:45AM
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Fragile : easily broken, shattered, or damaged; delicate; brittle; frail

Overrated : Anything that is given too much credit and hype

Miserable: Very uncomfortable or unhappy; wretched. Mean or shameful; contemptible

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out of town Kes - (The door might cause injury)

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#8 NM00
February 27 2014, 12:02PM
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Quite the toxic environment Mr Gillis and his handpicked middle manager have created.

Losing another big trade is the last thing this franchise needs.

Fire Gillis before he makes another blunder...

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#9 Chungus
February 27 2014, 01:05PM
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Dammit. I just bought a Kesler jersey.

SELL HIGH! SELL HIGH!

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#10 GeezMoney
February 27 2014, 01:49PM
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Not sure what Kesler's actually worth. He's injury-prone, but he gives a team so much when he's right. Courturier alone does not get that deal done.

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#11 NM00
February 27 2014, 01:59PM
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@GeezMoney

As someone mentioned in another thread, it's probably similar to the Bobby Ryan trade: middle of the roster NHLer, 1st rounder and prospect.

Unfortunately, the team doesn't need three good pieces for a very good (and occasionally elite) piece like Kesler.

The team needs to use Kesler like Jim Nill used Loui Eriksson and secondary pieces to land Tyler Seguin.

And the team needs to use Bo Horvat for an NHL ready winger like Valeri Nichushkin...

That would legitimately constitute a reset and give the fanbase realistic optimism.

Of course, the front office is the first thing that needs to be reset...

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#12 andyg
February 27 2014, 04:12PM
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@NM00

It would be interesting to see Kassian play with Seguin and Ben. He has 10 goals with limited ice time and certainly not the same quality of line mates.

You were probably one of those kids who always thought that the other kids toys were better. Never happy with what you had.

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#13 Mantastic
February 27 2014, 04:54PM
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@andyg

Nish has way better draft pedigree and skill than Kassian, this shouldn't even be a contest. there is a reason why Nish can work his way up to the top line and stick and why Kassian can't

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#14 Lemming
February 27 2014, 04:59PM
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I'm fine saying good riddance to Kesler. The sulkiness of the man is legendary at this point.

It's not Vancouver's fault you haven't been able to stay healthy for more than a few months in the past 3 years.

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#15 NM00
February 27 2014, 05:00PM
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andyg wrote:

It would be interesting to see Kassian play with Seguin and Ben. He has 10 goals with limited ice time and certainly not the same quality of line mates.

You were probably one of those kids who always thought that the other kids toys were better. Never happy with what you had.

But everybody else's toys ARE better...

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#16 NM00
February 27 2014, 05:13PM
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Lemming wrote:

I'm fine saying good riddance to Kesler. The sulkiness of the man is legendary at this point.

It's not Vancouver's fault you haven't been able to stay healthy for more than a few months in the past 3 years.

Just as long as Kesler can be traded for a fellow bad-character guy like Tyler Seguin or Jeff Carter...

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#17 NM00
February 27 2014, 05:14PM
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@Mantastic

Did you miss the memo?

The organization now privileges "stiff" over "skill"...

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#18 Jamie E
February 27 2014, 06:51PM
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Why does everyone assume what some bozo in Quebec from the TVA tweets is God's truth? Kesler has denied it, his agent has denied it and the team has denied it.

I get the fact that some folks WANT it to be true because nothing in life makes them happier than dreaming up ridiculous and factually baseless trade scenarios. What I don't get is how normally intelligent people get caught up in a rumour stampede like this and leave all critical thinking behind.

And even if it is true, there is approximately 0% chance that the Canucks will trade an injured Ryan Kesler before the trade deadline.

Keep Calm and Carry On folks.

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#19 jung gun
February 27 2014, 07:40PM
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@Jamie E

I think it's important to consider all the potential angles. That's what proves critical thinking is being used. The likelihood that kesler wants to play on a winning team while he is in his prime and can contribute dynamically is very high. That implies there's some credence to the rumours despite the denials from the GM and agent. Those claims could easily be seen as rhetorical devices that help drive up kesler's value. If he's an untoucheable asset in the minds of other GM's, they're more likely to cough up more for his services. Seems to me like they're planning a trade. Maybe it won't happen before the deadline, but I wouldn't be surprised. The injury isn't serious enough to warrant a lower price, especially if there's full disclosure between the teams. You're not thinking about this very clearly, in my opinion.

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#20 andyg
February 27 2014, 08:29PM
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@Mantastic

"Draft pedigree"

When it comes down to a play off run I will take good old Canadian grit mixed with some skill any day. Just skill would be fine but the NHL seems to want the run to the cup to be someware between hockey and Aussi rules foot ball.

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#21 Marsh
February 27 2014, 08:57PM
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Mantastic wrote:

Nish has way better draft pedigree and skill than Kassian, this shouldn't even be a contest. there is a reason why Nish can work his way up to the top line and stick and why Kassian can't

....and Gillis avoids Russians like he avoids de-alcoholized drinks. For good reason; most(all?)of them now have a bolt hole in the KHL.

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#22 Lemming
February 27 2014, 09:28PM
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Marsh wrote:

....and Gillis avoids Russians like he avoids de-alcoholized drinks. For good reason; most(all?)of them now have a bolt hole in the KHL.

With most of them, including guys with guaranteed 100$ over the term of the contract, are opting for the KHL. I'm personally happy with avoiding Russians.

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#23 pheenster
February 27 2014, 11:32PM
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NM00 wrote:

As someone mentioned in another thread, it's probably similar to the Bobby Ryan trade: middle of the roster NHLer, 1st rounder and prospect.

Unfortunately, the team doesn't need three good pieces for a very good (and occasionally elite) piece like Kesler.

The team needs to use Kesler like Jim Nill used Loui Eriksson and secondary pieces to land Tyler Seguin.

And the team needs to use Bo Horvat for an NHL ready winger like Valeri Nichushkin...

That would legitimately constitute a reset and give the fanbase realistic optimism.

Of course, the front office is the first thing that needs to be reset...

Your constant slobbering over Nichushkin is becoming unseemly. Go wipe your chin.

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#24 NM00
February 27 2014, 11:39PM
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@pheenster

Your repeated attempts to get my attention are becoming creepy...

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#25 Lemming
February 28 2014, 12:06AM
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Lemming wrote:

With most of them, including guys with guaranteed 100$ over the term of the contract, are opting for the KHL. I'm personally happy with avoiding Russians.

That's 100 million....

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#26 pheenster
February 28 2014, 12:32AM
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NM00 wrote:

Your repeated attempts to get my attention are becoming creepy...

Pal, if this site had a block function I'd use it and happily forget that you ever existed. But as I have no choice but to be exposed to your ongoing vapidity if I wish to continue reading the comments section here, you'll have to put up with the occasional drive-by from me.

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#27 JFR
February 28 2014, 07:39AM
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The idea of not asking a player to wave his no trade clause is simple, to gain respect. Now this is something foreign to MG since he has trashed players left and right in the media, but this is a good policy.

We all can quibble about all the crappy drafting, trading and developing of players but he has gotten the players to give home town discounts through no trade. If he were to start asking players to waive them, then he would go back on his word. Also trading a guy with a non trade is like giving players away if you ask them because they will give you 2-3 teams and you as a GM have to wring out a player or prospect. Just look at Lu's situation

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#28 PB
February 28 2014, 07:43AM
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@The Stanchion

No sarcasm intended. I really did enjoy it. Especially given the angst that was bound to follow in the comments section. Nichuskin! Fire Gillis! Deport Kesler! Invade America!

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#29 Mantastic
February 28 2014, 09:20AM
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andyg wrote:

"Draft pedigree"

When it comes down to a play off run I will take good old Canadian grit mixed with some skill any day. Just skill would be fine but the NHL seems to want the run to the cup to be someware between hockey and Aussi rules foot ball.

sooo, you rather have Kassian on your team in the playoffs than Ovi? just because Kassian is canadian and #gritfactor?

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#30 NM00
February 28 2014, 11:54AM
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@pheenster

"Pal, if this site had a block function I'd use it and happily forget that you ever existed."

You have an internal "block" function. It's called "ignore".

When was the last time you commented on this blog without either

A) Responding to me

B) Referencing me in a post

C) Alluding to me in an occasionally facetious fashion

You ain't my pal Palooka.

Commenters like you and Ted just don't seem to get the hint.

I will only occasionally respond to my stalkers and it's always in a mocking tone.

I am not inclined to educate you no matter how desperately you continue to seek my approval.

The pretentious one has spoken...

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#31 gc99
February 28 2014, 12:39PM
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Kesler isn't going anywhere.

I bet EVERYONE is telling the truth.

1. Kesler probably told AV LAST YEAR that he wouldn't mind being moved since they heated each other at the time

2. AV tells this to his buddy Louis Jean over a few beers, as he is getting fired

3. AV gets fired and Kesler is now Tort's poster boy.. no way Kesler wants to get traded...

4. Now that the story is out, other teams are contacting GMMG to see if Kesler is available. Even if he isn't looking to trade Kesler, GMMG will still listen to see what his asset is worth. It's like checking the value of your house... you're not selling, but it's nice to know how much it's worth

5. Now if someone made a crazy offer, GMMG has to think about it. Just like if someone offered you $20m for your house... you arent thinking of selling, until you see that offer

6. Comments coming out of Sochi are probably just sarcasm. His US teammates noting how good he is with Kane and Brown on his wings. Imagine if he were on another team... haha

Anyways, as Lu says, Kesler isn't going anywhere!

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