August 26 2012 10:53AM
Byron Bitz was signed in the summer of 2011 to supply the Canucks with size and toughness. He missed the entire 2010-11 season dealing with hip and groin issues, and the problem lingered on throughout training camp and into the beginning of the 2011-12 regular season.
He finally made his debut with in February of 2012. Bitz went on to record four points in 10 games with the Canucks, including three over a two game stretch in early February. For that brief period, head coach Alain Vigneault played a hunch by sticking Bitz on the top line with Daniel and Henrik.
Bitz rewarded his coach with a breakout performance against the Predators on February 7th. Although his time on the first line was short lived, Bitz provided some excitement in a largely disappointing season for the Canucks (it sure feels strange writing that about a first place* club).
August 24 2012 10:16AM
Vancouver's hockey fans are very familiar with Kevin Connauton. After his outrageously productive year year playing WHL hockey for the Giants - when Connauton's "home ice" was located at the Pacific Colliseum he scored 24 goals from the blueline - fans know all about his offensive abilities. Since then, he’s spent two years in the AHL honing his defensive game, and by all accounts he took a major step forward in that area of his game last season.
August 23 2012 12:48PM
When he first arrived at the Penticton Young Stars tournament in September of 2011, no one knew anything about 5th round draft pick Frankie "don't call me Frank" Corrado. That changed rapidly as the Woodbridge born two-way defenseman put in a series of impressive performances at the Prospects Tournament. The rave reviews Corrado earned crescendoed with an absurdly competent showing in a pre-season game against the opening day roster of the Edmonton Oilers, in which Corrado was second on the club in ice-time and helped "shutdown" the likes of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
Shortly after that impressive outing in the pre-season, Corrado was sent back to the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL but not before the Canucks inked him to an entry-level deal. Back in Sudbury, Corrado was named an "assistant captain" and put in a quietly remarkable season, transforming himself into one of the single most dominant defensive players in the Ontario Hockey League.
Canucks fans, and those in the "industry" may not have known much about Frank Corrado in September of 2011, but they know about him now. And many expect big things from the feisty, quick-footed defenseman.
August 23 2012 09:36AM
Aaron Rome was a divisive figure during his tenure with the Canucks, which is surprising considering he is a low-risk, low-event bottom pairing defenseman. Rome was a whipping boy for those in the fan base who disagreed with some of Alain Vigneault’s personnel decisions (namely playing Rome over the much more talented Keith Ballard).
Rome was a well-liked teammate, a hard worker, and a very solid defenseman relative to his cap hit. It is unfortunate how his 2011 season ended (the Nathan Horton hit), especially considering the Canucks were already without Dan Hamhuis, and both Alex Edler (broken fingers) and Christian Ehrhoff (shoulder injury) were far from being 100 percent.
Rome suffered a broken hand before the 2011-12 season even started, and he didn’t make his debut until November. And what a debut it was.
August 22 2012 08:54PM
Kevin Bieksa wants the diving to stop.
As a team, the Canucks have a reputation for being the diviest divers in diverville. During the London 2012 games for example, Twitter was routinely ravaged by predictable jokes that riffed on Vancouver's NHL club using Olympic diving events as a... uh... springboard. I suppose that's the cost of having players who are reputed to be "floppy," and the Canucks employ several in the Sedin twins (not actually divers), Maxim Lapierre, Alex Burrows, Roberto Luongo, and Ryan "tumbleweed" Kesler.