Turning the page
By Derek Jory
It seems like just yesterday.
In reality it has already been 93 days since the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Boston Bruins, but for you, me and anyone bleeding blue and green, it seems like just yesterday.
It took Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault a few weeks and a golf trip to Toronto with some close friends to finally clear his head and now that the dust has settled on the most successful season in Vancouver franchise history, he’s preparing his troops to do it all over again.
“Last year’s experience has made us collectively stronger and individually stronger,” said Vigneault. “We’ve turned the page on last year and we are focused on this year and what we need to do on a daily basis to achieve our long term goals and our short term goals. Nothing has changed, I think we are going to have a group here – I don’t think, I know – we are going to have a very motivated group here.
“At the end of the day we didn’t win and we are in this to win. And we know that our process is a good process, obviously there are probably some areas like any team we can improve and we are going to focus on that.”
Vigneault updated the status of Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler saying that both remain out indefinitely; Raymond is recovering from a vertebras compression fracture suffered in Game 6 of the Cup Final, while Kesler had hip surgery this summer.
It’s been a while since Mikael Samuelsson and Dan Hamhuis have been with the Canucks as the pair missed a combined 29 playoff games due to injury. It won’t be long until they’re back scoring and stopping goals, however; Samuelsson said he is ready to roll and Hamhuis may see some exhibition action, depending on how he feels.
Samuelsson went as far as saying he is “100 per cent.”
“Yeah you could say that, I don’t know if it’s the best shape of my life, I wouldn’t go that far, but what we did to my groin, I needed that,” said Samuelsson, later indicating he won’t feel his way back into games.
“No, I’ll go full, absolutely, if you ask me. I don’t how their going to manage me in the pre-season, but I can go.”
EASING INTO IT
Manny Malhotra returned to Vancouver’s line-up for Game 2 of the Cup Final and he felt good enough to play the remaining six games of the series.
This summer the veteran forward underwent another round of procedures to help his left eye heal even more and he said Friday that he’ll ease back into things this pre-season.
Already, Malhotra is a whole new man as his vision has increased tremendously since mid-June.
“Night and day really,” said Malhotra. “It’s been a long few months, but getting from where I was, to this point now, and with the possibilities to be any better, I couldn’t be any happier.”
Malhotra wouldn’t reveal, percentage wise, how far his vision has come along, but he’s remaining positive about the possibility of fully regaining his vision.
“I don’t want to rule it out and bring in those negative thoughts, but again it just depends how well I heal and how well I take care of it and I’m always striving and working for the best possible outcome.”
THE BEST AT THEIR BEST
Henrik and Daniel Sedin agree that losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final is something they may never entirely get over.
What’s important to the Sedins is learning from the experience. They, and other Canucks leaders, needed to be at their best and they weren’t.
“If your best players doesn’t do their job, you’re not going to win in the Final,” said Henrik. “I think that’s what we brought away. I think as a team we had a lot of injuries, a lot of guys played well, but if you’re not scoring you’re not going to win games. That’s the only thing we need to learn from that.”
When asked about where his personal bar is for the upcoming season coming off a 104-point Art Ross Trophy campaign, Daniel Sedin said that again, it’s all about the team and getting to the next level.
“If you score 70 points or 100 points it doesn’t matter, as long as we make the playoffs and know we have a shot at winning the whole thing,” said Daniel. “We realize how tough it is to get in the playoffs and last year we had an unbelievable season the whole way but we didn’t win the seventh game. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.”
The hard work began Friday with players gathering at Rogers Arena for the first time to take part in testing, media availability and photo shoots. Next up for the Canucks are Saturday and Sunday’s on-ice sessions, which begin at 9 a.m. The second group will skate at 11:30 a.m.; same schedule applies to Sunday.