With the end of the preseason, the Canucks had some serious roster reductions to consider.
Victor Oreskovish, Yann Sauve, Sergei Shirkov, Lee Sweatt and Bill Sweatt were all assigned to the Moose over the weekend.
Head Coach Alain Vigneault noted that left winger, Darcy Hordichuck (1-1-2 in 56 games in 2009-10) and defensemen Shane O’Brien (2-6-8- in 65 games in 2009-10) were both put on waivers Saturday, which means that any other team has until Monday to claim them, if not they’ll likely be assigned to the Manitoba Moose. No official word on their status, but it is unlikely they’ll be wearing Canucks jerseys to start the season.
O’Brien fought for a spot on a defensive line that become a lot more competitive over the summer, with the additions of Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard. Andrew Alberts (1-1-2 in 14 games with the Canucks after being traded from Carolina at the deadline) stepped up during the preseason. Alberts surprised a lot of people, after facing criticism for his level of play last season.
O’Brien went 2-6-8 in 65 games last season, and finished the season at +15.
Hordichuk gave his offensive line some grit as one to back down from a fight - he racked up 142 penalty minutes last season, but only recorded 2 points. He finished the season at minus-7. The Canucks decided that there wasn’t room for another enforcer on the team, with the Rick Rypien and Tanner Glass both able to provide toughness to the roster.
Of course, stats aren’t the only thing to consider when building a team, there’s also chemistry, leadership and trust between teammates. Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler both spoke about the business of losing teammates today.
“Losing guys you’ve played with for a long time, that have been a great part of this team for 2-3 years,” said Bieksa. “That’s the tough part of the business. Seeing guys go and lose their jobs, and move their families, but it’s part of the business, so you wish them the best, and hope they find another team, another home.”
“You grow a bond with someone, you grow a friendship,” said Kesler. “And it’s hard to see friends go, but we all know it’s a business, and that’s the ugly side of it, losing friends from your team. We’ve got to move on and focus on moving forward.”
More roster cuts are expected before the Wednesday deadline, but Vigneault had only this to say on the subject:
“The players that deserve to be here, that have played their way on this team, will be here.”
GOOD BYE B-MO
Brendan Morrison was released from his professional tryout contract with the Canucks Sunday. Despite being a fan favorite in Vancouver and having a great relationship with the team, there, unfortunately, wansn’t a place for the 35-year-old centre on the team.
Morrison came to camp with a team that already had a bloated roster, especially in the middle position, but some, Morrison included, believed a spot could still be found for him.
"There was a perception that there were huge odds to overcome, Morrison told Ben Kuzma of The Province. “But I firmly believe I could have made the team. My versatility would have been a huge bonus. It just boiled down to what the team wanted -- what was the identity -- and I'm a little surprised at the outcome.”
"After we evaluated everything Brendan brings to the table and what we have here, we just thought it would be better for us to go in a different direction," said Vigneault to Kuzma. "Younger players, bigger size and they bring something than Brendan doesn't. They give us a bigger and grittier line. But I'm confident he'll be able to find a job somewhere in the league.”
It did not take long for Morrison to find another job, the Calgary Flames announced today they signed the centre. The team was in need of a new centre following injuries to Daymond Langkow, Matt Stajan, Ryan Stone and David Moss
Morrison spent seven seasons with the Canucks, before bouncing from the Anaheim Ducks to the Dallas Stars to the Washington Capitals, despite not reaching the levels of success he had with Vancouver, last season was Morrison’s most successful since 06/07. He recorded 12 goals and 30 assists.
Another player on a professional tryout contract, Peter Schaefer is, as of now, still vying for a job with the Canucks. The left winger sat last season out, after having his contract bought out by the Boston Bruins.
Schaefer recorded three points in the preseason, and finished with 26 points in the 2007/2008 season, his last in the NHL. Schaefer knows that cracking the Canucks roster won’t be easy, but he wants to be here for the home opener Saturday.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to earn a spot and be here opening night,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get things worked out. I want to be here. It’s different not having a contract, and not having that pressure of carrying a number. It’s definitely different trying to earn a spot, and start from nothing.”
Coach V remained tightlipped on how the rest of the roster will be formed, saying only:
“Peter’s played well, in my mind, on a third or 4th line role where he can help kill penalties, there might be a spot on the team for him.”
Coach also made it clear that the only way for a player to make the team now is to show him that they can help the team, there is no longer room to accommodate personal preferences.
“I’ll cheer for anyone that’s going to help us win,” he said. “If Peter is here, it’s because he contributes and fills a need.”