Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler practiced with the Canucks for the first time Wednesday, but that’s not what the media wanted to discuss with him afterward.
No jokes, the first question in his post-practice scrum was Do you want to take your clothes off for the interview?
For those in the dark on this one, Kesler posed tastefully nude for ESPN the Magazine’s annual The Body Issue and his photo was revealed online last night.
In it Kesler is nude, leaning against a block of ice, with his left leg blocking the family jewels. The background suggests a storm is brewing, a golf ball sized hail type storm.
Kesler isn’t the first NHLer to appear in The Body Issue, Zdeno Chara made an appearance two years ago and before that three Edmonton Oilers posed in the buck, including former Oiler Ethan Moreau.
Have the others lived down their appearance in The Mag? Who knows, but Kevin Bieksa said Kesler will be hearing about this for years. And years. And years.
The photo is already the wallpaper on one of the computers in the Canucks player lounge.
“I don’t think he’s ever going to live this one down,” laughed Bieksa. “It’s not something that a lot of us would do, but as Kes would say, he’s got the body of a Greek God, so he can pull it off. A few of us can’t, but good for him.
“It’s definitely a brave move by him, but he’s not going to live that down, his picture is going to be everywhere, I’m sure we’ll get it on a billboard somehow, maybe in the rink up in the banners. This picture is going to float around for a while.”
Bieksa ribbed Kesler more than anyone about the picture, but to his credit, he also dished out some credit, after another insult.
“They do a great job with airbrushing and technology, so anybody can pretty much do it if they want to, you’ve got to have the confidence and the courage and he’s got both.”
Kesler said he is pleased with how the photo turned out and that no, he wasn’t flexing. He did check with family before giving the green light to ESPN for the photoshoot though, and everyone, especially his wife, supported his decision.
Teammates, as Kesler said, are poking fun at him for the picture for one reason and one reason only: “Jealousy, that’s all they’ve got is jealousy.”
The photo overshadowed Kesler’s return to the ice, which is a huge step in the right direction for the defending Selke award winner.
Kesler said he felt good and getting back into game shape is now his main concern, although he has no idea if he’s closer to coming back than originally thought.
“It’s whenever my hip is strong enough and ready enough and I can’t put a time talb eon it, whenever I feel good, I’ll play.”
Coach Alain Vigneault said Kesler has been fully cleared for contact and the forward showed no signs of being bothered during practice Wednesday.
It’s pronounced Weese, like geese, not Weise, like mice.
“People always get that wrong,” Dale Weise, the newest member of the Canucks, laughed after his first practice with Vancouver.
It’s been a mad 24 hours for Weise as he was in the middle of a practice yesterday with the Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, when he was called off the ice and told he had been claimed.
A late flight to Vancouver later, wake up in a new city, gear up and hit the ice.
It’s been a wild ride and Weise is incredibly pleased it took place.
“I’m just excited to get an opportunity to play in the NHL, I was down the minors in New York and for them to bring me here and put me right in the line-up is exciting.
“I’m coming to, in my mind, the best team in the league and they’ve got a lot of the group returning from last year, so I’m just excited to be a part of a Canadian team.”
Weise will play alongside Maxim Lapierre and Aaron Volpatti on Vancouver’s fourth line in the season opener Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins and while you’d assume his comfort level wouldn’t be all that high going in, it is.
Weise said after three years in New York’s system he didn’t feel as at home as he already does in Vancouver after just one practice.
Now he just needs to relax and let his game lead the way.
“I’m going to bring some energy and be physical and playing with Lappy and Volpatti, I think we can make some things happen down low. Lappy’s got some good hands, he’s put up some numbers, so I’ll just do what I do, stand up for my teammates if need be, provide a spark for the team and hopefully chip in a little bit of offence if I can.”
NOTEWORTHY NOTES WORTH NOTING…
-Forward Chris Higgins did not practice Wednesday due to tightness in his groin, which Vigneault said the team wanted to deal with now. “He should be fine for tomorrow,” said Vigneault.
-Roberto Luongo's body "is for one set of eyes only," that’s why he isn’t being teased about his nude photo in ESPN the Magazine. Luongo was also approached to be featured in The Body Issues, but he politely declined the offer. “I don’t know how it worked out, but I turned it down and Kes accepted.”
-Opening the season against another Stanley Cup contender has Alex Burrows amped for puck drop Thursday. “It’s going to be fun, we know the Penguins are a really good team and one of the favourites in the East, so to be able to play against some of the best players in the game is going to be tough.”
-Victor Oreskovich cleared waivers and he and Ryan Parent will report to the Chicago Wolves.
-There’s some new ink on the ice at Rogers Arena as below both bluelines there’s now an NHL logo and FACEOFF 2011 in red. We snazzy.