Entering what could he his last week as a Canuck, Brock Boeser continues to persevere with a smile on his face
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
In all likelihood, Brock Boeser is entering his final week as a Vancouver Canuck.
We say “likelihood,” because if there’s anything fans of the Canucks have learned in recent years, it’s that a trade isn’t done until it’s done. But the writing is on the wall when it comes to Boeser’s departure from the team, and the writing says “soon.” We know that the Canucks need to shed wingers and salary this offseason, and that Boeser represents the best method of doing both. We know that his agent was already given permission to talk to other teams about a trade in-season. We know that the odds of Boeser still being around in October are low.
But we also know that, Guillaume Brisebois aside, Boeser is currently the longest-serving Canuck. And so, if this is truly to be his last set of games with the team, we wanted to take one last opportunity to pay tribute. To Boeser the player, yes, but also to Boeser the person.
Specifically, Boeser the person who will leave behind a legacy of having continually overcome difficulty as a Canuck, and who did so with a smile on his face throughout.
Boeser is currently in the midst of what could be considered yet another comeback. Fragmented by injury, Boeser’s 2022/23 season had been inconsistent, if not in production than in the obvious on-ice results.
But Boeser’s scoring, at the very least, is back. He didn’t see the immediate return to form under Rick Tocchet experienced by many other players, but the improvement kicked in eventually, and Boeser has six goals and 15 points in 17 games since March 1. A 30-goal and near-PPG pace are exactly what fans have come to expect from Boeser at his best, and that’s what he’s been delivering for the Canucks down the stretch run. His sniping has been better, but he’s also putting up assists at a career-high rate.
Is the rest of Boeser’s game at its best? Probably not. His advanced analytics are all in the negative, still, and he seems to have a real penchant for getting scored on at even-strength of late. Previously the possessor of surprisingly good defensive metrics, Boeser has been struggling in his own end this season.
But struggles are usually only a temporary thing when it comes Brock Boeser, which is kind of the point of this article. Whatever Boeser is going through now, we’re fairly confident that, if given enough time — or perhaps a fresh start on a new team — he’ll figure it out. That’s because, as we said in the headline, Boeser’s developed a well-earned reputation as someone who overcomes considerable barriers, and that’s something worth celebrating.
Way back near the start of the season, this author was tasked with writing an article entitled “A Brief History of Brock Boeser Not Being Able to Catch a Break.”
It noted that, while grit and fortitude might not be characteristics commonly associated with Boeser, maybe they should be.
After all, the fates have not been kind to Boeser, and he’s never let that slow him down.
We’re talking about the tragedies that defined Boeser’s story pre-draft and have continued to impact his life throughout his playing days, including the very public illness of his father, Duke. And we’re also talking about the wide variety of injuries and ailments that Boeser has had to suffer through.
There aren’t many parts of the body that Boeser hasn’t injured as a Canuck. The most dramatic and impactful remains the broken back that ended his rookie season and his chances at the Calder, but of equal important were the five different pre- or early-season injuries that Boeser has experienced in six consecutive seasons.
The guy just doesn’t get to start his years as smoothly as everyone else does. He’s left constantly playing catchup. And catch up he does, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
It’s interesting that, the one and only time Boeser got to experience a pain-free training camp and startup (2020/21), he ultimately led the Canucks in scoring. It does make one wonder what might have been…
But what might have been was not what was.
Boeser did suffer through those injuries, he was forced to persevere, and persevere he did. And he did so while maintaining positivity, which is a not insignificant additional contribution to the team. It doesn’t take much more than the eye-test to see that Boeser is consistently encouraging of his teammates on the ice, always talking and smiling. He’s been given countless opportunities to moan and complain to the media, and has never once done so. Boeser has been through some of the darkest days in Canucks history, and he’s never quite lost that core of optimism that so defines his personality. Even now, with his departure so seemingly imminent, we hear Boeser talking openly about his pride in the Canucks and desire to affect a winning culture in the dressing room.
In times like these, positivity goes a long way. Positivity in the face of adversity, even more.
We can probably all remember how dire things looked when Boeser arrived late in the 2017 season. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes weren’t around yet. The ‘retool’ was still on the ground floor. It seemed like it might never get better. Then, in skated Boeser to score four goals in his first nine NHL games and make fans believe that this might be the start of something.
And that will be Boeser’s ultimate legacy. He’ll finish the season with a hair under 400 career games for the Canucks, and he’ll have at least 138 goals and 309 points to his name at that point. That’s quite a run.
He’ll finish this season with a PPG almost exactly matching his career average, an act that has hopefully rehabilitated some of his trade value around the league and will afford the Canucks additional flexibility in the offseason.
If he moves to another franchise, he’ll be remembered for his tireless efforts to give back to the community around him, and his incredibly charitable nature. How many prospects have arrived in Vancouver with stories about their good nature already following them around? Not many. Boeser is, and always has been, a special individual on that front.
More than anything, however, Boeser should be remembered as someone who never let difficulties and barriers get him down. Someone who kicked off the modern era of Canucks hockey with exceeding positivity and hope. Someone who served as a living lesson to any other young player who might have thought they had it too hard.
If this is it for Boeser in Vancouver, we can all conclude that, not only did he do his best, he did better than anyone should have reasonably expected him to, given the circumstances.
That’s not a bad legacy at all.
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