Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
‘We really thought he was coming back’: Jim Rutherford talks losing out on Ethan Bear
By Mike Gould2 months ago
To hear Jim Rutherford tell it, the Vancouver Canucks are pretty disappointed about losing out on Ethan Bear.
The 26-year-old defenceman, who spent the 2022–23 season with the Canucks, is reportedly zeroing in on a two-year agreement to join the Washington Capitals while he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery.
Bear collected 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) while averaging 18:32 of ice time in 61 games with the Canucks in 2022–23 after being acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes alongside forward Lane Pederson in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round draft pick. He subsequently won gold with Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships but suffered a shoulder injury during the tournament.
The former Seattle Thunderbirds defenceman provided a steady presence and strong two-way impacts in his time with the Canucks, but the team didn’t have much room to bring him back after acquiring Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames in November.
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Even still, Rutherford was optimistic about the Canucks’ chances of keeping Bear and was let down when he elected to go elsewhere.
“Patrik [Allvin] had regular communication with the agent. We thought we were the frontrunners,” Rutherford said in an interview with Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie and Dhali — The Team. “You go back to last year when we brought him here and nobody in the league really wanted to deal for him. We brought him here and kind of helped him along with his game. Unfortunately, he got hurt. It didn’t make sense to sign him because he was getting insurance money from Hockey Canada because he got hurt at the World Championship, so he was covered that way.
“It got down to the end and there was a little bit of change,” Rutherford continued. “I’m sure it’s partly because of money. It’s a little disappointing because we put a lot of work in and we really thought that he was coming back to the Canucks, but he has the right to choose and I take it he chose another place where he feels that it’s best for him.”
Through 251 career NHL games over parts of five seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, Hurricanes, and Canucks, Bear has collected 16 goals and 63 points. He’s also skated in eight playoff contests.
The Canucks currently rank second in the Pacific Division with a 19–9–1 record and 39 points in 29 games this season. They’ll ride their three-game winning streak into Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers at Rogers Arena.
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