‘That’s what leaders do’: Canucks’ Elias Pettersson wasting little time endearing himself to Rick Tocchet

Photo credit:© Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Strang
1 year ago
The Vancouver Canucks faced former Captain Bo Horvat and the New York Islanders on Thursday night, pulling off a gutsy comeback to win 6-5. It was an impressive effort that featured many highlights, including the newly acquired Anthony Beauvillier scoring the eventual game-winner against his former team.
Among all the great storylines from the win, perhaps the best was the play of Elias Pettersson. The 24-year-old centre continues to prove that he’s a rare and special talent as he raises the bar with each passing game. Against the Islanders, he had three points, including two third period goals to help the Canucks complete the comeback.
While Pettersson’s play is catching the attention of people all across the hockey world, perhaps the person he’s most impressed is new head coach Rick Tocchet. After the game, Tocchet was very complimentary of the Swedish superstar’s play on the ice, as well as how receptive to feedback he’s been this far into their relationship.

Tocchet impressed with all facets of Pettersson’s game

Pettersson’s performance against the Islanders was the dominant topic of Tocchet’s postgame media availability. The new head coach was asked many times to describe what Pettersson brings to the team and how important he is to the success of the Canucks, especially during tough stretches such as the past week.
“We had three [games] in four nights and I mean, he’s Petey,” Tocchet said, struggling to find the right adjective to describe Pettersson’s incredible play. “I thought he played really well, really well.”
With another three-point night, Pettersson continues to establish himself as a leading centre across the entire league. Despite his excellent performances, playing for a weak West Coast market can diminish his reputation league wide at times.
When asked about if he knew how good Pettersson was before taking the Canucks job or if suffer from a bit of east coast bias, Tocchet was quick to point out his past support of Petey while he was an analyst at TNT.
“I’m close with Greeny [Travis Green] obviously and he always said ‘Hey, this guy [Pettersson] is going to be special’,” Tocchet responded. “He [Pettersson] had to mature a little bit but about a month ago we [TNT crew] debated who’s top-ten in the league and I think I put him in there.”

Pettersson’s play under Tocchet thus far

Pettersson has recorded nine points in the six games he’s played in since Tocchet took over behind the bench. That number leads all Canucks’ skaters. He now has 63 points in 50 games and is well on his way to shattering his career-best mark of 68 points, set last season in a total of 80 games.
There were some concerns that Tocchet’s more disciplined system might limit the offensive output of certain Canucks compared to what they were doing under Bruce Boudreau. But for Pettersson, those concerns have been unfounded as he’s managed to produce at an insane clip, although it has only been six games.
As a new member of the official leadership group and a top candidate to be the team’s next captain, much of Pettersson’s growth from here on out will come in the areas that don’t show up on the box score. He’s already a bonafide first line centre and two-way star. Now with an A on his chest, he’s becoming a leader and strong candidate to take over as the Canucks’ next captain.
Tocchet clearly believes that Pettersson has that in him. While he may not be the most outspoken player on the team, he does lead by example in a style that’s reminiscent of fellow Swede Henrik Sedin.
“I talked to Petey. ‘You don’t have to be the loudest guy, but if you do it on the ice, that’s loud right there.’ He led tonight,” Tocchet said postgame. “Showing your teammates ‘I’m willing to do whatever’…That’s what leaders do.”

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