Did the Previous Lockout Help the Canucks?

Many teams and players benefited from the lockout during the 2004-05 season. Chris Higgins was one of them. Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows, and Ryan Kesler were all others. Those three, in particular, were able to establish a relationship with each other and with Manitoba’s head coach that season – Alain Vigneault.

The Canucks are hoping for a similar chemistry to be developed between the likes of Zack Kassian, Eddie Lack, Jordan Schroeder, and Kevin Connauton. (And coach Scott Arniel too, perhaps?) It doesn’t sound like any of the veterans on the Canucks roster plan to sign in Europe until at least November or December.

The Canucks also had several other key players who developed much more rapidly thanks to the work stoppage of 2004-05.

Read on to find out who they are.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin – SEL (MoDo)

The Sedin twins returned home to play for MoDo in 2004-05. They haven’t done the same yet this year, but that could change if the lockout stretches into 2013. To say that the Sedins came back to the NHL with more confidence would be an understatement. In the last year before the lockout, they combined for 96 points. In the first year back (2005-06), they combined for 146 points.

Alex Burrows – ECHL (Columbia), AHL (Manitoba)

Alex Burrows spent most of the last lockout playing in the AHL. He was called up to the Moose early on in the season, and he refused to give them any opportunity to send him back down to the ECHL. Burrows first made his mark on the Canucks organization that year. He scored only nine goals, but he showed why he has been able to beat the odds at every level – by working his tail off. That quickly endeared him to Vigneault.

David Booth – NCAA (Michigan State)

Booth was in his third year at Michigan State during the last lockout. Florida had drafted him in the second round of the 2004 draft (the Alex Ovechkin/Evgeni Malkin year) before the lockout started. He spent the full four years in college, so it is unlikely that the lockout prevented him from playing any NHL hockey.

Ryan Kesler – AHL (Manitoba)

Kesler was a part of that young core down in the AHL. It was his second year of pro hockey. In 2003-04, he spent 33 games with the Moose and 28 with the Canucks. His offensive ability hadn’t been displayed at the pro level yet, but that changed a big way during the lockout. Kesler scored 30 goals, added 28 assists, and 105 PIM. It was his breakout campaign, although he would go on to struggle offensively at the NHL level for a few more years.

Chris Higgins – AHL (Hamilton)

Higgins, a member of the Montreal organization at the time, was sent down to play in the AHL. He had a similar season as Kesler – 28 goals and 51 points. Like Kesler, Higgins had received a small taste of pro hockey in the year before the lockout, but he wasn’t much of an impact player as a rookie. He emerged from the lockout to record three consecutive 20-goal seasons for Montreal.

Manny Malhotra – SEL (HV71)

Malhotra went over to Sweden during the last lockout, scoring five goals in 20 games for Jonkoping.

Kevin Bieksa – AHL (Manitoba)

In addition to punching Fedor Fedorov, Bieksa used the lockout to arrive on the radar of the Canucks management and coaching staff. After an unheralded four-year career at Bowling Green, Bieksa made an immediate impact as a rookie. In 2004-05, he scored 12 goals and 39 points to go along with a whopping 192 PIM. Bieksa, never one to shy away from a fight, dropped the gloves with great regularity that year.

Dan Hamhuis – AHL (Milwaukee)

The last lockout marked Hamhuis’ third pro season – he spent 2002-03 with Milwaukee, and 2003-04 with the Predators. He had shown flashes of offensive ability with seven goals and 26 points in 80 games with the Predators, and he built on that with a stellar lockout campaign – 13 goals and 51 points for the Admirals – finishing second on the entire team in scoring (behind Simon Gamache).

Keith Ballard – AHL (Utah)

The lockout was great for Ballard, who had just finished a three year career at Minnesota. He went to play in the AHL, recording 20 points as a rookie. His smooth adjustment to the pro ranks continued in 2005-06, his first with the Coyotes. Ballard scored eight goals and 39 points, and established himself as one of the best young defensemen in hockey. Unfortunately, he’s had a Benjamin Button-like decline in recent years.

The Unaffected

Cory Schneider was just beginning his NCAA career at Boston College, while Andrew Alberts was just finishing his (at the same school).

Dale Weise, Zack Kassian, Mason Raymond, and Chris Tanev were all young and playing junior hockey.

Jannik Hansen and Alex Edler were still in Europe.

Maxim Lapierre was playing in the QMJHL.

Jason Garrison was having his breakout campaign in the BCHL with the Nanaimo Clippers.

Roberto Luongo didn’t play any pro hockey in 2004-05.

The Fan Zoo, a friend of the CanucksArmy, has put together some pretty funny lockout-themed shirts. You can check them out here. $1 from the sale of each shirt goes to "Hockey Helps the Homeless."