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:
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.