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Rutherford: Andrei Kuzmenko didn’t work enough to be in ‘hockey shape’; remains a Canuck ‘as of today’

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
6 months ago
Vancouver Canucks president Jim Rutherford poured a little bit more fuel on the fire surrounding Andrei Kuzmenko in an appearance on The Bob McCown Podcast earlier this week.
Speaking to podcast hosts Doug MacLean and Dave Hodge, Rutherford expressed his dismay at Kuzmenko’s apparent regression this season. The 27-year-old winger has now been made a healthy scratch three times this season and has just six goals and 17 points in 29 games.
“We’re a little bit disappointed,” Rutherford said. “He worked very hard this summer. I think, when you look at his conditioning and you compare him to another person his age, he’s in top condition. He prepared himself, he worked hard at it. Probably didn’t work at the kind of things you need to to be in ‘hockey shape’, and that affected him a little bit.
“He got a little bit more attention this year, coming off a terrific first year where he had 39 goals,” Rutherford continued. “But he’s a good player. He’s a highly skilled player that, right now, is not in our lineup. But he could go back in at any time and get things going again. I certainly don’t look at this player as a guy that, all of a sudden, can’t play the game. He certainly can.
“As of today, he’s part of the Vancouver Canucks.”
Midway through last season, the Canucks signed Kuzmenko to a two-year contract extension worth $5.5 million per year. Him signing that deal coincided almost perfectly with Rick Tocchet replacing Bruce Boudreau as head coach.
Kuzmenko hasn’t found nearly as much success under Tocchet as when he played for his predecessor. In recent weeks, trade rumours have swirled around the sophomore winger, who is one of many Canucks represented by Dan Milstein.
“Everybody understands where the player’s at, what he needs to do to improve,” Rutherford said. “Whether it’s with Dan Milstein or any other agent, we try to have a very good line of communication so everybody understands what’s going on.”
Of course, Rutherford’s “as of today” comment about Kuzmenko being a Canuck harkens back to this time last year, when he was quoted as saying Bruce Boudreau was the team’s coach “right now”. He ended up replacing Boudreau with Tocchet shortly thereafter.
We’ll see how this situation ends up playing out. In the meantime, the Canucks are slated to take on the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Arena on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. PT.

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