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Canucks Report: Practice how you play

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks

Building toughness

It was nearly all hands on deck for the Canucks at Sunday morning's practice with the most glaring omission being Bo Horvat, the 18-year-old who was officially returned to junior.

With the Canucks not back in action until their season opener on Thursday in San Jose,  coach John Tortorella opted for an extremely up-tempo practice and one that featured plenty of bodies being thrown around.

"I think the confrontations, the battles, is something that we need to improve at," said Tortorella. "I expect to get better."

The physical nature of the practice was welcome by the players as well, they know they have few tune-up opportunities left before Thursday's opener.

"That's what you need," said Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo. "Practice how you play."

The Canucks also showcased some potential line combos they may use for the season opener although those could be up in the air as well especially with the newest Canuck acquisitions from late Saturday night – centres Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh – not having joined the team yet.

Torts cautioned the media not to read too much into his lines either.

"It depends on situations," said the Canucks' bench boss. "I'll play the Sedins together I know that. But other than that, I don't get locked in so we'll see how it goes."

Sunday's session featured the Sedins lining up with Alex Burrows, Kesler centering a unit with Higgins and Hansen, Santorelli between Shinkaruk and Booth, and Richardson between Sestito and Weise, with Kassian taking a few rushes with the last trio as well.

Four more years

The Canucks made more news off the ice than they did on it on Sunday with the biggest news coming early when it was announced the team had signed Danish forward Jannik Hansen to a four-year extension.

Terms of the deal, which includes a limited no-trade, were not released in keeping with club policy.

"He's a player we got under contract for the terms that we wanted and we're very pleased for him and very pleased for us," said Canucks GM Mike Gillis. "He wanted to stay here so we were able to get a deal done under the terms that we liked."

Hansen, who became the proud father to twin boys back in March, couldn't have been happier to know he can look forward to being in Vancouver for a long time to come.

"It's exactly what I wanted," said Hansen. "I've never hidden that I like it here.

"It's something I was hopeful they'd be willing to do and, again, getting it done before the season was a big deal too."

Praise from Mike to Mike

With news the Canucks had acquired two new centres from the Carolina Hurricanes late on Saturday you might think there would be some uneasiness particularly among the bottom-six forwards about their spot in the opening night lineup.

That's not the case with Mike Santorelli, however.

The Vancouver-native, who had a strong pre-season leading the team in goals (2) and points (4), has clearly solidified his spot in the lineup and even earned praise from the general manager for how he has showcased himself so far.

"I think he's earned a spot on our team," said Gillis. "I'm not sure how the coach is going to deploy things on opening night but he definitely came in here and impressed all of us with how he's played."

For Santorelli, getting a chance to put on a Canucks' sweater for real is something he's been looking forward to for a long time.

"I always grew up being a Vancouver Canucks fan," said Santorelli. "Watching guys like Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi – those were idols to me. I'm looking forward to bring the most out of it that I can."

Closed door policy

The next time you happen to come down to Rogers Arena or catch a game on television, take a look at the Canucks bench and the tunnel that leads towards the dressing room. You'll notice there's now a door that blocks off the bench to the tunnel, a new feature that Torts admits has his fingerprints all over it.

"I don't want to take it away from the people but I've never coached on a bench where the door's wide open and you're practically coaching in the first row," said Torts. "I just think it's proper."

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