A tough end for Manny Malhotra, if it is indeed the end. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
This is a regular Friday feature combining a healthy mixture of observation, analysis, and foresight on the Vancouver Canucks. If you’d like to get at me about anything covered in this column, follow me on Twitter at @yyjordan and let’s start a textual relationship (wink).
1. Manny Malhotra. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a team choose to put a player on Injured Reserve before. As difficult as the entire situation is for Manny and Mike Gillis, it’s a perfect example of the respect that Gillis and the Canucks have for their players and the extent to which their health and well being is looked after. Too often in pro sports we see players put in precarious situations because of the pressure to win from coaches, management and fans. Kudos to Gillis for making the tough decision and putting the long-term health of a valued player ahead of the desire to win.
2. I would love the opportunity to hear what Manny thinks of this. In his press conference Gillis mentions that Manny is stubborn and didn’t always share Gillis’ view of the situation. If this is the end of Manny’s playing career, it must be difficult for him to accept that it wasn’t on his own terms.
3. Manny may not be the player that he once was, but his absence for the remainder of the season will hurt the Canucks. He was a key cog in Alain Vigneault’s forward deployment strategy, so you have to wonder how that’s going to change going forward. His considerable ability in the face-off circle will be tough to replace, too.
4. Conveniently though, this does open up a roster spot for the long-awaited return of Ryan Kesler! You’re probably unaware, but I have officially nicknamed Kesler the "RyTrain" (just go with it. Trust me. DO IT). The RyTrain is expected to ride alongside Chris Chuggins and Track Kassian (see what I did there? I told you to trust me) tonight against the Stars. That will be a fascinating line to watch.
5. With AV’s expressed desire to ease Kesler back into the lineup, I foresee a lot of defensive zone draws in Max Lapierre’s future. The line of Raymond-Schroeder-Hansen isn’t designed to handle heavy defensive assignments, so Manny’s old job defaults to Max. Luckily for us, he’s good at it.
6. Speaking of good: Roberto Luongo’s even strength save percentage so far this season is 0.970. If you’re a regular CanucksArmy reader, you’re probably thinking "OK, how ugly will it be when he crashes back down to earth?" It’s tough to say, but the regression could hit shortly as the Canucks begin to play a string of quality opponents. Also worth noting: the Canucks have only played 5 games in the past 14 days – mostly against terrible offensive teams – and that’s inflated their stats.
7. Speaking of terrible offensive teams, boy was that game against the Wild on Tuesday ever fugly to watch. It was made worthwhile though by Jannik Hansen scoring the team’s prettiest goal of the year so far. Seriously, I doubt they could even replicate it in practice: a beautiful toe-drag by Mason Raymond, a perfect saucer pass to Keith Ballard, and another beautiful pass to Hansen who went bar-down for the finish. It was more poetry than hockey, really. I even recited it to my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day.
8. From romantic to scary: it was tough to watch Erik Karlsson’s injury the other night. I immediately thought of Kevin Bieksa and the hell he went through after being cut by a skate. Bieksa was able to come back and play at a high level, so I hope for the good of the game that Karlsson is still the best offensive defenceman in the league when he comes back. He’s so damn fun to watch.
9. Speaking of fun to watch (man, I am really nailing the segues today), I’m hoping Henrik Sedin can break the club scoring record either tonight or this weekend so we can all celebrate his greatness and then move on. I hate when these things linger for too long. You have to check out Canucks photographer Jeff Vinnick’s photo essay spanning the careers of the twins, it’s fantastic. They’re such special players. We should all be very thankful that one twin didn’t eat the other in utero. Actually, think of how good that player would have been…
10. Finally, in light of Evander Kane’s comments about how his race affects his public perception, my tweet of the week goes to @AVsCoin for this gem:
— AV’s COIN (@AVsCOIN) February 14, 2013