As is an annual tradition, the Vancouver Canucks made most of their players – to go along with the head coach and GM – available to the media this morning, signalling the official start of the new season’s training camp.
Whether it was coming from one of the veteran players or one of the many newcomers being thrust into the spotlight, there were a couple of talking points that seemed pervasive throughout. They were of a singularly positive nature, though as Chris Higgins astutely reminded us, “everything looks good in the summer.” He would know what does and doesn’t look good.
Video and a few choice quotes past the jump.
It’s impossible to know just how Willie Desjardins will translate as an NHL coach because of the lack of a track record at the level, but what is abundantly clear by now is that he should be in the players’ good books. He reportedly went on an introductory tour this summer, visiting the team’s veteran players in Sweden, Montreal, Toronto, and even Smithers.
Of particular note was his visit to Montreal, which meant that it took him roughly 6 fewer months than it did his predecessor to speak with Alex Burrows. It’s almost impossible to envision Burrows’ individual output going anywhere but up from last season, even if he’s playing on a secondary line. He was asked about his thoughts on not getting to play the cushy role that has earned him lots of dollars in the past:
“For me, I’m at the stage of my career where I want to win games. The most fun I’ve had in this league is playing in the playoffs. If the coaching staff thinks that Radim would play better with them that’s good. If I’ve got to play on the 2nd or 3rd line that’s fine with me as long as it gives us a better chance to win games. But I know Hanky will miss me..”
Speaking of Vrbata, his new linemates were very complimentary when asked about him.
“Vrbata I think, I wouldn’t call him underrated – I’ve always liked him – but he’s a real good two-way player. He can score, he can defend, he does a lot of things well. I’m excited about our new players.”- Daniel Sedin
“In this league you win by having great special teams. If you look at the best teams on the power play they’re the one making the playoffs. With the one we had last year it was impossible for us to make the playoffs. With Radim, he has tremendous hands; great shot, great finisher. We have a good feeling about our power play this year. It feels like it should be a lot better.”- Henrik Sedin
Beyond that, both the players and the coach harped on their shared desire to get back to an up-tempo style of attacking game which has made them successful in years past. That, and the depth they’ve tried to cultivate throughout the summer so as to afford themselves the opportunity of rolling 4 lines without a noticeable drop-off.
Overall, while it was a nice reminder that hockey season is just around the corner, there wasn’t all that much to gleen from the event. In fact, without any real controversy to speak of, it even drier than it has been in year’s past. Look no further than last year’s recap, in which the highlights were Roberto Luongo answering questions about his coach disapproving of his Twitter account, the Sedins needing new contracts, and the such.
Ultimately the tune could start to resemble something completely different in a hurry as we learned in ’13-’14 – “we’re going to prove the doubters wrong and make them eat their words” is an unfabricated quote from Ryan Kesler at this time last year re: his relationship with Tortorella – but for now the general sentiment was a glowing one. Case in point the picture of Smiling Dan Hamhuis which we’ll end this post with (and which you should most definitely save, because who really knows if we’ll ever be afforded the luxury of seeing it again!).
Now that media day is over and done with, the team heads to Whistler for the next 4 days with 61 players in tow. Shortly thereafter, the preseason will get underway with a split-squad contest against the Sharks taking place just 5 days from now. If Dan Hamhuis’ smile doesn’t pump you up, then maybe that will.