Canucks hit the ice today at GM Place. Pretty routine practice filled with drills, lines, and scrimmages, except for the two assistant captains who almost went toe-to-toe.
Forward Ryan Kesler and defencemen Willie Mitchell got into an on ice scuffle this morning which resulted in teammates pulling the two apart, but while Kesler wouldn’t divulge what prompted the altercation, head coach Alain Vigneault brushed it off as a mere argument between ‘brothers’.
“It happens everywhere,” explained AV. “It happens in families and it happens on the ice in a physical contact sport. I’m sure they’ve all kissed and made up now.”
“We’re just practicing hard and that stuff happens,” said Willie Mitchell. “That’s something we really want to be conscious of in the last little while, our practice habits, and we thought our tempo was really good out there. That stuff happens.”
“That’s just Ryan being Ryan,” said Roberto Luongo. “It happens once and a while. There’s nothing much to it after that. They’re very good friends. It’s not a big deal.”
Alex Edler did not attend practice as he’s out “week-to-week” with an “upper-body injury” according to Vigneault.
Edler, 23, sustained his injury Tuesday against Nashville after being checked into the sideboards by Predators’ defencemen Shea Weber.
At 6’3” and 215 lbs., the Ostersund, Sweden native struggled early but has played well this season notching 19 points (2-17-19) in 30 games. The former NHL Youngstar is on par for a 51 point season, a personal NHL best if Edler can remain healthy.
Michael Grabner, who injured his ankle Nov. 1 after rolling awkwardly on his foot during a pre-game of hallway soccer, was cleared Wednesday by medical staff and has begin skating on his own.
“It’s been six weeks now and he’s still feeling some pain and discomfort in the foot,” said Vigneault.
“He’s skating every other day and hopefully he’s close. How bones heal, we don’t have a lot of control over that. Danny was the same thing, we thought four to six weeks, [and] sometimes it’s longer.”
Grabner, who missed 17 games since being recalled by the Canucks, has two goals and three assists (2-3-5) in nine games this season.
ROUGH AND TUMBLE
At 5’11” and 170lbs., forward Rick Rypien, who dropped the gloves with 6’7” 245lbs., Thrashers defencemen Boris Valabik yesterday late in the third period, still had his teammates talking about his rough scrap that brought Valabik to his knees, the following day at practice.
“I’ve never been so pumped up after a fight in my whole life,” said Luongo. “I was happy for him and he deserves it. He’s a great guy. Obviously great fight, so it was pretty impressive.”
“It seems like Ryp fights everybody about 6’7” or taller,” said defencemen Kevin Bieksa. “I told he after the game, ‘I don’t seeing you fight those guys’. I know [Rypien] can do well against them but he obviously doesn’t listen. He continues to fight the big boys and do extremely well.”
“I told him ‘I’ve never seen it that loud in GM Place after a fight before’. Fans enjoyed it and the bench was really pumped too. It’s the whole David and Goliath thing. Everybody on our bench was saying, ‘Oh no for Valabik. We [felt] sorry for him. I don’t think he [knew] what he was getting himself into. [Rypien] continues to impress us in that area.”
“It’s not the best feeling going into one of those,” said Rypien on going toe-to-toe with some of the bigger players in the NHL. “You never know what’s going to happen. There’s some big guys there. Whether its fear, whether its nerves, whatever you want to call it, if you use it to your advantage it helps you spark yourself a little bit.”
“Obviously, it takes a lot of courage,” said Head coach Alain Vigneault. “It’s a tough job and pound for pound in the NHL right now he’s got to be in the top guys as far as courage. He comes to play. He gives you everything he’s got, and he knows his role. As a coach you’ve got to have a lot of respect for that.”