After retiring from the NHL in 1999, former Vancouver Canucks defencemen Dave Babych returns to the organization he spent seven seasons with as an assistant to Dave Gagner, director of player personnel.
"I'm excited about it,” explained Babych. "I'll be working with some of the prospects. It won't be a lot of on-ice stuff right now. I'm just going to follow some of the prospects through the year."
The Edmonton, Alberta native and two time NHL all star, was drafted second overall in 1980 by the Winnipeg Jets. Babych, 48, spent seven seasons with Vancouver from 1991-1998 and remains the Canucks 11th highest scoring defencemen in franchise history with 23 goals and 131 assists (23-131-154) in 409 games with the club.
“We just wanted an extra set of eyes and a voice,” said General manager Mike Gillis.
“We don’t have a lot of defencemen on our coaching staffs, here or in Manitoba. He’s joining us on a part-time basis. He will work mostly with Dave in understanding where our defence prospects are and creating a course of action for them. He’ll watch them and provide advice based on his experience.”
The Canucks capped off their four-game eastern road swing with a 4-2 loss Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators. After a promising start with two back-to-back wins, the Canucks break even scooping up four of a possible eight points.
"We were feeling good about ourselves, feeling we were ready to make that next step as a team, explained defencemen Willie Mitchell. “ Then, these last two are really disheartening."
The Canucks, who were close to mounting a comeback, couldn’t stay out of the box last night taking three penalties in the final 12 minutes of the game. And with a penalty kill that ranks 26th in the league with an efficiency rating of 77.6 per cent, the Canucks couldn’t afford being down a man.
“Right now we have guys who can play a lot better, who have to play a lot better," explained a frustrated Alain Vigneault. "We're finding ways to lose. Three penalties in the third is not a good way to come back in a game."
"You have to come to work every night and play a good system game,” said Roberto Luongo, who stopped 22 of 25 shots last night. “Even though I thought we worked hard tonight, big mistakes cost us. You can only go to the well so many times and you know it's going to bite you taking penalties every game."
ON THE BRIGHTSIDE
Ryan Kesler, who hadn’t scored in 14 games, bumped his slump in Nashville, but it was overshadowed by the loss of defencemen Alex Edler early in the first, who headed straight for the dressing room after being run into the sideboards by Predators’ defencemen Shea Weber.
Edler, who skated off favoring his left shoulder, did not return and will be re-evaluated today.
At 6’3” 215lbs., Edler leads Canuck defenceman with 19 points (2-17-19) in 30 games. Defencemen Mathieu Schneider will likely slide into the line up in the event that Edler is unable to play.
In addition, Michael Grabner, who injured his ankle Nov. 1 during a pre-game warm up, has been cleared by medical staff to begin skating on his own. Grabner, who missed 16 games since being recalled by the Canucks, has two goals and three assists (2-3-5) in nine games this season.