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Photo Credit: NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Columb... © Greg Bartram | 2020

Year (So Far) in Review: Tyler Motte

Tyler Motte has had to deal with a lot this past season. Not only does he share his first name with two players the Canucks added in the past year, he also has been struck with the injury bug, which forced him to suit up in half of the games.

Coming off a career year in points, Motte found himself on the bubble in training camp, fighting for a spot to crack the opening day lineup. Motte earned a place in the squad but suffered an upper-body injury in pre-season. However, the team didn’t give many details of the upper-body injury that kept him out of action and in the press box for two weeks.

Injury bug

October 15th marked Motte’s return to the lineup, which came at the expense of preseason stand out Adam Gaudette. This was perceived by many fans as the wrong decision by head coach Travis Green who elected to keep players such as Tim Schaller in the lineup over Gaudette. Motte only suited up in six games before blocking a shot in a game against Washington that would put him out of action yet again. Initially thought to be a week turned out to be all of November and nearly half of December.

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In those six games, Motte’s impact on the fourth line was evident with his rabid fore-checking ability. He found chemistry with center Jay Beagle while being among the first names called upon to kill a penalty.

In the 23 games that Motte missed, the pk was running at 79.7%, which was tied for 21st in the league. Throughout the season, the high danger chances occur from the slot as opposed to when he in the PK. A team setting up shop in the slot tends to lead to a PK that is below 80%. When Motte is in the lineup, the shots usually come from the left side, which would be less of a danger spot compared to right in the slot as per the graph below. 

Returning to the lineup in December, Motte featured in 18 games, which stabilizing the forward group with consistent line combinations and matchups as Green adores. The Canucks were third in the league during that 18 game stretch with a record of 13-5.

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Now it’s not from Motte’s points total that the Canucks managed this record — it was the “little things” as Green might say. Getting pucks in deep, forechecking hard, and being responsible in the defensive zone are first ingrained in Motte’s arsenal. On January 29th, Motte got tangled into the borders with Sharks defender Erik Karlsson. Motte suffered a shoulder injury, which sidelined the versatile forward for three weeks before returning for the final ten games of the season.

Motte has never produced at high offensive levels in his professional career but still finds a way to be effective in the NHL, which earns him a spot in the lineup almost every night. This season, Motte led the forwards in blocked shots per 60 minutes and despite missing half of the season, was trailing only JT Miller by five hits to take the team lead. However, Motte did lead in hits per 60 of a minimum of 14 games played. He was also tied for second in team takeaways per 60. What Motte has done on the ice should earn him a contract extension at the very least, he is a reliable and speedy bottom-six forward who can block shots and be productive on the penalty kill.

Courage

One of Motte’s rememberable moments came off the ice prior to the Canucks hockey talks game against the Coyotes. He shared something that isn’t easy to share in general or in the hockey community. Motte shared his story about his struggles with anxiety and depression. It came as a shock to most, but his courage and message of ending the stigma is something we all need to hear. He wanted to share his story for those who are struggling with mental health. It’s not a weakness, its ok to ask for help and that you are not alone. Mottes’ efforts for mental health are applauded.