After a summer of speculation on the the Canucks captaincy, Henrik answered questions about whether or not he’d be sporting the ‘C’ this season. After winning the Art Ross and the Hart Memorial trophy, the attention turned to the 29-year old replacing current captain, Roberto Luongo, althought there is no official word of that happening.
“We have a lot of different guys that can step in,” said Henrik, “It’s nothing I want to talk about, we have a captain. He’s been great to the team and all his teammates are supporting him and know what he brings.”
Luongo recorded 40 wins last season, and an impressive .913 SV% and a 2.57 GAA. He still holds the all-time Canuck shut-out record with 24 after four seasons with the team.
Although Henrik recorded 112 points (29-83-112) last season, and feels the pressure to repeat this time around, going all the way with his team matters more.
“We know we have to produce and it’s no different this year,” said Henrik. “I said it before, if I turn out to have 82 points and we’re winning everyone’s going to be happy. That’s what it’s all about.”
BACK TO SCHOOL
Today marked a return to school not only for kids across the lower mainland, but also for the 30 players who hit the ice at Rogers Arena for the first time after spending the past month skating at UBC. With the season just around the corner, players are coming home to get back to basics.
“Every summer seems to go a little quicker and quicker,” said Shane O’Brien, reminiscent of new students back from summer break. “but you realize how much you miss the guys and just being around them and catching up. We have quite a few guys in town already and the guys are excited, that’s the way it should be.”
The players, consisting of rookies and veterans, took the liberty of running their own practice and playing a quick scrimmage game.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Henrik Sedin. “It’s great to see all the teammates and new faces. There are a lot of young guys here today. It’s the same every year. We always have three or four new faces and it’s not a big deal. That’s why we have pre-season games and we have enough time to get the lines together.”
Though their morning skate was not exactly NHL speed, it was clear that the players have been working extra hard over the summer to stay in shape.
“Each year you realize you can’t cut corners and you have to put the work in. There are no secrets to getting in shape,” said O’Brien.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
The Canucks suffered many injuries late last season and has carried over to start the season with forward Alex Burrows and defenceman Sami Salo likely out for the first part of the year. The team made some new additions over the summer, adding depth to their lineup.
“We went out and got two quality NHL defencemen,” said O’Brien, referring to Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis. “It’s such a long season and it’s a grind. Everyone keeps talking about how much depth we have and hopefully we can use that depth the right way.”
“Sami seems to have a little bit of hard luck when it comes to injuries,” said OB. “He’s a fast healer so I’m sure he’ll be doing what it takes to get back. If I’m in the lineup I’m going to play as hard as I can. If I’m not, I’ll do whatever it takes to get back in the lineup.”
Last season, Hamhuis recorded 24 points (5-19-24) with the Nashville Predators and Ballard registered 28 points (8-20-28) with the Florida Panthers. Both blueliners are known to be highly physical, combining for 304 hits last year, third and second on their teams, respectively. The new players make the fight for a roster spot even more competitive.
After having a career year with 35 goals and 32 assists and 67 points - good for fourth highest on the team - Burrows, who is expected to be out for at least a month, forward lines will need to be reconfigured.
“It’s a big loss,” said Henrik, “he’s a big part of our team and has been the last couple years. We’re losing a good player but I think with the guys we brought in, we have guys who can step in and play bigger roles. It’s something we have to do without Alex or Sami.”
Newly signed forward Raffi Torres split last season between Columbus and Buffalo, recording 19 goals and 17 assists in 74 games and will look to define his role with his new team. He took his first skate on home ice today, looking healthy, despite media rumblings of past injuries, and excited to play for a Canadian team.
“My body feels great,” said the Toronto native. “My shoulder and my knees feel good. I’m just in a good place right now. I just sat back and said I’m not getting any younger and it’s a great opportunity here to win. The main thing is winning the Stanley Cup. I just went over the options with my wife and family and figured out that there’s a great opportunity here.”
Despite being traded part way through last season, should the opportunity come for him to play on the second or third line, he is eager to jump right in and prove himself on a new team.
“I want to get back to banging and getting a few hits every game and get into guys’ faces,” said Torres. “It’s funny, I always thought coming to Vancouver, it’s tough playing here. I’m glad I’m on this side of the ice now.”