|THE GLOBE & MAIL
|Leadership, penalties costing Canucks
Grant Kerr said that the Canuck’s success can be generally pointed towards the team’s lack of leadership.
“It isn't difficult to determine the obvious missing element from the discombobulated start to the season by the Vancouver Canucks. It has everything to do with leadership,” Kerr said.
“That something is glaringly absent from the makeup of the NHL team when the Canucks are consistently outplayed in the first period of nearly every game.”
Players are designated as captains because they have the drive and spirit to lead a hockey team, but to Ziemer, it seems that Naslund is fading from his role.
“Markus Naslund has been Vancouver's captain for seven years, or since the Canucks didn't pick up the option year in Mark Messier's contract.”
Ziemer said, “Naslund once was a marvellous player, but his goal total dropped to 24 last season from 48 in 2002-03. He has three in nine games this season, the final one of a three-year, $18-million (U.S.) contract.”
“The Canucks desperately need Naslund to recapture the spirit and determination he displayed a few years ago when Todd Bertuzzi was his linemate and Naslund was scoring 40 and more goals a season,” said Ziemer.
“Naslund shouldn't shoulder all the blame for Vancouver's plodding start, but he must take some responsibility, especially when the Canucks consistently have lackadaisical starts to games.”
|Much-missed Salo poised to return to lineup
Jason Botchford is curious to know if Sami Salo is the key to the Canuck defense.
“Watching the Canucks defence break down regularly during the first nine games of the season, one couldn't help but wonder: Just how important is Sami Salo? We are about to find out,” said Botchford.
“For the 26th time in his career, Salo is getting ready to come back from an injury. And after being sidelined 26 different times in nine seasons with an incredibly wide variety of injuries, recovering hasn't got any easier for Salo.”
"It's been a tough five weeks sitting on the sidelines," said Salo, who has been out since Sept. 16 when he fractured his wrist in a team scrimmage. "Especially watching the team not perform the way we know we can perform."
"His biggest asset is his capability of making that first pass and that great shot he has," head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Right now, we're not getting a lot of our shots through from the point to get opportunities in front of the net. So, obviously having him back enabling us to get a little bit more offence will help."
|Coach blasts soft forwards
Jason Botchford said that Coach Alain Vigneault is disappointed that his top forwards aren't stepping up to help win games.
Botchford said, “concerned about his team's lack of scoring chances and its limited shots on net -- the Canucks ranked 29th in the league Tuesday, and have been outshot by a stunning 67-39 in the first two games of their road trip -- Vigneault prodded his top-six forwards, indirectly calling their play too soft, timid and ineffective.”
"It's easy to see with our stats," Vigneault said. "We have a lot of our players who are minus-players. And a lot of those players are our most skilled players.
"Whereas our grinders, the ones with any points, are doing it by hard forechecking and going to the tough areas. That's the way the way the game is played now; you have to have the willingness to want to do that."
“The six forwards who started Monday's game on the Canucks' top two lines have a combined minus-14 rating this year. In comparison, the Ryan Kesler-Matt Cooke-Alex Burrows line is a combined plus-6,” said Botchford.
|THE VANCOUVER SUN
|Cancer fight puts focus on family
Brad Ziemer writes about Ryan Kesler and his father, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
“Six months later, Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler still struggles to control his emotions when he talks about the phone call that rocked his world,” said Ziemer. “It was his mom on the phone, calling her youngest child to tell him that his dad had cancer.”
"I knew a couple of weeks before that my dad was going in for some surgery to have a mass removed from his intestine," Kesler said. "But they had told us it was not cancerous. Then the news came that he had cancer and it just takes your breath away.”
"It puts everything in perspective. Before, I thought hockey was everything and when something like that happens, even during playoff time, you just want to be with your family."
Ziemer said, “Hockey has always served as a bond between fathers and their sons, and it was no different for Mike and Ryan Kesler. Mike played hockey through college and has coached minor hockey for more than 30 years. Ryan says he never would have made it to the NHL without the help and many sacrifices made by his dad and mom, Linda.”
"He was huge," Kesler said of his dad. "He gave up a lot up just so I could play hockey. He did a hockey school in the summer so I could afford to play Triple A hockey. I played an hour away from home, so he'd have to get off work early so I could make it to practice on time."
“Like any good son, Kesler would not listen. He sought permission from the Canucks to return home to spend time with his dad. The Canucks gave him their blessing,” said Ziemer.
"My dad didn't want me coming back," Kesler said. "He said, 'You should stay with your teammates,' so I went on the trip to Dallas. But after getting there I said, 'I have to leave.' My heart just wasn't there, it was with my dad. And even though he said he didn't want me there, as soon as I got there, he was really happy to see me. It felt good to be there for him."
Cancer can change everyone who is somehow connected to it, and Ziemer notes the change in Kesler and his father.
"Before, it was always about hockey," Ryan said with a smile. "He'd call me up and tell me what I was doing wrong. Now, he just calls me and asks me how I'm doing. We talk about other things besides hockey."