Vancouver's newest Canuck: Matt Pettinger

Tuesday, 26.02.2008 / 8:10 PM / Features
By Daniel Bordignon
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Vancouver\'s newest Canuck: Matt Pettinger
He doesn’t exactly have the Pacific Dogwood tattooed on his chest, but the newest Vancouver Canuck will argue that he’s every bit a BC boy as new teammates Willie Mitchell and Brendan Morrison.

Matt Pettinger was born up in the oil fields of Northern Alberta, but that doesn’t stop him from claiming the BC as his adopted province.

“I still live in Victoria [in the off-season] and have lived there pretty much all my life. I grew up watching the Canucks and continue to follow their progress, so I’m really excited.”

Pettinger made the move out west at an early age and played his junior hockey with the Victoria Salsa of the BCJHL. His wife is from Vancouver Island and his family now resides there.

“There are 29 other teams, and with my ties to Victoria, it couldn’t get a whole lot better.”

And the fit isn’t too bad for the Canucks either. Pettinger put up 20 goals with the Capitals two seasons ago, and another 16 in an injury-shortened season last year.

“We expect him to come in and contribute immediately,” said Canucks GM Dave Nonis, who said he’d been working on a deal for Pettinger for close to two months. “Another positive for us, was that if we were going to move Matt Cooke, I wanted to find a player that we would get for more than a month or two. I was trying to find somebody who could help us for the rest of the year, but would also be around next year.”

Pettinger hasn’t quite showed the flash of a Brad Richards or a Marian Hossa just yet, but signed at $1.1 million for 2008-09, he’s not going to hamstring the Canucks accountants either.

“Obviously I think it was a bit of a situation with Matt and the coach [Bruce Boudreau], where he wasn’t going to be a go to guy for the new coach, and that happens when a new coach comes in.”

Currently in his seventh NHL season, the 27-year-old forward has struggled through the year recording a mere seven points (2-5-7) in 56 games, and has experienced a decrease in ice time.

“Things haven’t gone well personally for me this year as my numbers have dropped,” admitted Pettinger. “I know I haven’t played unbelievable hockey this year but I know potential is there and I have proven it in the past, so I’m hoping that this change of scenery can ignite me.”

Despite his drop in minutes in Washington, Pettinger didn’t expect to be dealt at the deadline. And though he’s happy to be heading home, getting the call was tough.

“I was obviously very surprised and sort of shocked, but I’m also very excited,” said Pettinger as he tried to describe his emotions after hearing that he had been traded to his hometown Vancouver Canucks.

“I’ve got about 15 voicemails [from family and friends back home] that I haven’t been able to check,” laughed Pettinger. “My wife is ecstatic as she’s from Victoria as well, and we have lots of friends in Vancouver. Obviously I’m disappointed [to be leaving Washington] as I was drafted by the Caps and have been developed by them, but if there is a perfect situation for a player like myself, I think it would be to play for a team in a city like Vancouver.”

Pettinger was drafted by the Capitals with the 43rd overall pick in the 2000 NHL entry draft. As a youngster, Pettinger showed some great offensive upside with glaring speed and a fantastic shot. In his past two NHL seasons these assets have begun to pay off posting 70 points (36-34-70) in years that were cut short by injury.

In 334 NHL games Pettinger has accumulated 99 points (52-47-99) and 169 penalty minutes.

The physically bigger presence of Pettinger will add some much needed size to a Canuck roster that is on the smaller side of the league. While head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t commit on who Pettinger might play with, speculation was rampant in the Norm Jewison Media Room Tuesday morning with a Raymond-Shannon-Pettinger trio garnering most of the early votes.

Pettinger adds grit and finish where Cooke had been playing effectively for the past three games. Alongside of these offensive-minded youngsters, Pettinger could regain his scoring touch, something that a run of less talented linemates has hampered in the past on a Capitals team that’s thin on scoring prowess beyond the top two lines.

In addition to his NHL career, Pettinger represented Canada in two international competitions. He played for Canada at the 2006 World Championship and scored four goals in seven games at the 2000 World Junior Championship. While both of these are important accomplishments to the speedy left winger, the chance to play in his hometown with a shot at the playoffs trumps the international success.

“I haven’t played in the playoffs but that is obviously a goal of mine,” said an excited Pettinger. “I know the Canucks are right in it and I know that division is a very tough division in the Northwest, so I’m sure it’s going to be a battle to the end.”

Vancouver acquired the 6’1” 205 lbs forward from the Washington Capitals in exchange for feisty forward Matt Cooke.

 
  334
- Total NHL Games

99 - Total NHL Points (52-47-99)

  43 - Drafted 43rd overall by the Capitals in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft

 
7 - Years as an NHL professional

7 - Points this season (2-5-7)