BIEKSA CONTINUES SKATING
Good news, bad news came out of Thursday’s practice at 8 Rinks in Burnaby.
Kevin Bieksa took to the ice at least half an hour before the team and worked with the Canucks skills coach, then continued to participate in the full hour practice.
“I saw him before practice and he skated quite a long time,” said coach Alain Vigneault following practice. “I talked real briefly with him and he says he’s starting to feel better and hopefully we’ll have him back soon.”
Bieksa took part in his first team skate yesterday and what’s more promising is that he will be travelling with the team as the Canucks partake in the second half of their historical road trip, beginning in Columbus.
Since being injured December 29 in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes with an ankle laceration, Bieksa has missed 20 games.
Now, the bad news?
Willie Mitchell, who’s been out since January 16 hasn’t returned to the ice despite some optimistic progress earlier this month.
“To tell you the truth, I’m real concerned about that one,” said Vigneault. “We had a text message earlier this week that he’s symptom free and he’s going to start the concussion protocol. Then I got a text a couple days after that the symptoms are back so it’s something that’s taken a long time and something that’s serious.”
Mitchell was said to be meeting the team part way through the first eight games of the trip but the setback prevented him from doing so.
There was some progress but his recovery is at a standstill that’s becoming a cause for concern.
“I think right now, they’re looking at all possibilities,” said Vigneault. “We’re an organization, where our players need anything, whether it’s another opinion, a specialist, we’re going to go out and do whatever we need to get that player healthy and we’re going to do the same thing with Willie.”
“All I can do is hope that he gets back to health - I mean hockey’s one thing but health is another. He’s a guy going into the last year of his deal and since I’ve been here, it’s been his second concussion. This one’s taken a lot of time so obviously, we’re concerned.”
The first concussion Mitchell sustained as a Canuck happened October 21, 2006, in his first season with Vancouver. He missed nine games with the injury. He had one other concussion since entering the NHL in 2002 with the Minnesota Wild, where he missed eight games.
As a stronghold on the Canucks blueline since joining Vancouver in the 2006-07 season, his experience and leadership is missed.
“There’s a guy who loves the game, loves to play, he’s in the last year of his deal and this is taking a long time so obviously, it’s not a good thing for our team, not a good thing for him.”
Derek Jory continues to bring you the in depth Canuck coverage of the Olympics as the games play out tonight and until Sunday. Click here for full coverage