THE VANCOUVER SUN
Resiliency in high demand: Sanford on the spot
Iain MacIntyre said the Canucks need another superhero seeing as they lost both superman (Roberto Luongo
) and Ironman (Brendan Morrison). Instead, they have Curtis Sanford, who will suffice.
“Signed in July to operate the gate at the Canuck players' bench, make practices symmetrical, take shots until the end of the warmup and play goal once every 10 games or so, Sanford is suddenly the National Hockey League team's starter due to a rib injury that will likely keep superstar Roberto Luongo
out of the lineup until next week,” said MacIntyre.
“And these three games are against the defending Stanley Cup champions (Anaheim Ducks tonight), their possible successors (San Jose Sharks, Thursday) and a team the Canucks keep losing against in shootouts (Edmonton Oilers, Saturday).”
MacIntyre said, “Amid this crisis -- didn't the Canucks just get through one of these in November? -- Vancouver has not Luongo to shepherd them but Sanford.”
"There are always people out there expecting you to fail," Sanford, 28, said Wednesday after the depleted Canucks practised before minor-league reinforcements Mason Raymond
, Jason Jaffray and goalie Drew McIntyre arrived from Manitoba. "There are skeptics, there are critics. Being the NHL, that's another part you have to put up with. Obviously, you use it as motivation. You use whatever you can as motivation."
“Luongo, who said he doubts he'll play again on the road trip, has been ordered off the ice to allow his ribs to heal. He refused, however, to go home as Morrison did early Tuesday morning,” said MacIntyre.
“Luongo believes these are the first games he has missed due to injury in four or five years. He played in 76 of 82 games last season.”
"I hate it," Luongo said. "Even today, just being in the locker room when the guys are on the ice is a feeling I don't enjoy. There was almost talk of me going back to Vancouver; I said: 'No, I want to stay with the team.'
"I've played through a lot in my career, through injuries. I thought I could probably do the same with this one. But right now I think it's a wiser decision to get some rest and let it heal and not have this problem lingering the whole season."
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Luongo listed as day-to-day
Jim Morris said Roberto Luongo
is day-to-day with a rib contusion and Brendan Morrison’s iron man streak is in jeopardy because of a wrist injury. On top of that, Brad Isbister strained his hamstring, which will mean the Canucks are severely short on players.
"It seems to be coming at us in bunches," Canucks assistant GM Steve Tambellini said in a telephone interview Tuesday.”
“Luongo didn't practise with the team Tuesday. Of all the injuries, losing their all-star goalie could be the most damaging for the Canucks,” said Morris.
"It's kind of a day-to-day thing with any kind of rib bruising," said Tambellini. "We'll just have to wait and see. That's why we kept him off the ice today."
“Backup Curtis Sanford is expected to start against the Ducks. The Canucks have also called up goaltender Drew MacIntrye from the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League,” Morris said.
“Luongo suffered the rib injury when hit by a shot in a loss against the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 2, but played three nights later in a win at Chicago.”
“Luongo was also in net during Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins where he stopped Sidney Crosby on a penalty shot in overtime and again in the shootout,” said Morris.
“He took the warmup against the Kings but decided he was too sore to play.”
"It just got worse over the last two days, and I've been in pain all day," he told reporters after the game. "I was trying to see how I felt in warmups, but it wasn't good enough for me to go. It's not broken, but it hurts when I breathe and it hurts when I move. It's tough to do your job under those circumstances.
First shot at The Show
Tim Campbell said when three top players are taken away from the Moose, there would be expected frowns, but coaches and players are excited for their opportunity.
“Jaffray, 26, and MacIntyre, 24, go to the NHL for the first time. Not that long ago, both players were toiling in the ECHL, MacIntyre in the 2006 playoffs and Jaffray in December 2004,” said Campbell.
"Two guys that really deserve it, not only for what they're doing this year, but for what they did last year," commented Moose coach Scott Arniel.
“Raymond, 22, was Vancouver's second pick in the 2005 draft and has already been with the Canucks for nine games this season,” Campbell said.
“Over the summer, Jaffray had several offers and signed his first NHL deal, a two-way contract, with Vancouver. He has produced 10 goals and 21 points in just 19 games for the Moose this season.”
"I honestly felt I was getting closer the last couple of years," he said. "Then I signed the contract. Now this is something I'd dreamed about, getting this call, for a long time.
"It's still overwhelming. After he (Moose coach Arniel) told me, I don't think I stopped shaking for about an hour. But it was exciting, getting to make all those phone calls, to my wife and to my mom and dad."
Campbell said, “Despite a rushed morning, Jaffray and his teammates were on a flight before noon.”
"Mason and I, we came in frozen (from an early-morning charity appearance), hoping for a hot shower and we got a call-up instead," Jaffray laughed.
“The sincere, if not quick, good wishes from teammates were included,” said Campbell.
"Especially on this team, guys are happy for each other, excited," centre Brad Moran said. "It's a special time, to get your first game. Being good friends, you'll be going to watch it and I hope they do well."
"I think everybody would be pretty excited to see those two guys go," Arniel said. "Anytime anybody gets their first game, a guy who's never had a chance before, that's a feel-good story and everybody likes to see (it).
Jaffray just a tap away
Adam Wazny said after a long journey for Jason Jaffray, he will finally play his first NHL game against defending Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks.’
“The forward was one of three Manitoba Moose players bound for the sunny climes of Southern California yesterday morning after word came down of their call-ups to the Vancouver Canucks,” said Wazny. “Joining the 26-year-old is forward Mason Raymond
and goaltender Drew MacIntyre, as injuries to forwards Jeff Cowan (shoulder), Brad Isbister (lower body), Brendan Morrison (wrist) and goaltender Roberto Luongo
(rib) over the last four days have left the Canucks scrambling for bodies.”
"My heart was beating at around 190 beats per minute for the first hour after I found out," said Jaffray, en route to Anaheim yesterday. "When you're one of those non-drafted guys who has to work up from the bottom, it's definitely a lot tougher to get there. I look back to my Roanoke Express days, my Wheeling Nailers days and I think, wow, it wasn't too long ago I was in the ECHL playing for $500 a week. It is a long way to come, there's a lot of things that had to happen.
“The usually eloquent Jaffray tried to put into words how he felt yesterday. Understandably, it was difficult to hold a thought,” Wazny said.
"I've waited for that phone call or that call-up my entire life and when it finally does come ... I don't know how to describe it," he said, noticeably alive on the other end of the phone. "It's such a great feeling just to be able to tell your parents, your wife, and the people who have been with you for so long, through thick and thin. To hear their reaction on the phone and how excited they get ... it's pretty special.
"I'm not all the way there, I haven't talked to the Canucks yet and I don't know how injured guys are, but my path here is something I look back on. Or at least I will when the excitement dies down."
Streak of 542 consecutive games the measure of pain tolerance
Gordon McIntyre said though Brendan Morrison’s Ironman streak was due to end sometime or another, it ended “ingloriously”.
“When Brendan Morrison couldn't check Derek Armstrong on the L.A. Kings' game-winning goal on Monday night it was finally plain for all to see that his streak of 542 straight games, the most by an active NHLer and the 11th longest in NHL history, had run its course,” McIntyre said.
“Morrison was sent home by the Canucks on Tuesday to deal with a wrist he hurt in the preseason.”
"He couldn't lift the guy's stick," Alain Vigneault said.
"That, combined with a lot of decisions with the puck, he can't make that right play ... we've got to deal with it."
“Morrison had offseason groin surgery, has played through hip problems, lost teeth and suffered shoulder injuries. He played through them all,” said McIntyre.
“But he's been wearing a pack of ice on his wrist since he took a hard hit into the boards on Sept. 26 against San Jose to make a pass that sprung Matt Cooke and Taylor Pyatt on a 2-on-1 against San Jose in the exhibition season.”
“It finally caught up to him.”
"He's probably got one of the highest pain tolerances I've ever seen," Vigneault said. "Our first intention was to get through this stretch of seven games in 11 nights, go back home on Sunday and get him cortisone and an MRI.
"But with the last couple of days and the overuse, we just had to take care of it now. He just couldn't take it any more."
Ironman streak more trouble than it’s worth
Tony Gallagher said that maybe Brendan Morrison will feel better now that his Ironman title is removed and can focus on maintaining other things in life.
“Sure, it's great for the ego that every time you go into a visiting rink your name is mentioned in flattering terms on television and radio that you've played 542 NHL games in a row. And it's impressive empirical proof of dedication to your team and to your profession. But enough about all that. The season is 82 games long and it's high time this great citizen of Vancouver got completely healthy for a change,” said Gallagher.
“Not that we haven't seen glorious flashes of the guy this year when the wrist he hurt in the preseason was well enough for him to function and his legs were up to speed after about the first eight games.”
Gallagher said, “But for too long now one of the most popular players in Canuck history has been playing with one nag after another tearing away at his body. Perhaps this ironman thing might have played a small part in him not taking more time off to heal. Then again it might have been the club pushing him to play because they have laughable depth up the middle.”
“Last year he played the latter half of the season and the playoffs with a sports hernia and you could see he had no wheels, no zip. But it was the playoffs and he had to play and he knew it. Neither the streak nor club pressure played a part there, almost everyone plays hurt in the playoffs.”
“When a team has the goaltending of Roberto Luongo
and a defensive concept that Alain Vigneault has a hunch might succeed, it isn't too smart to be sending Morrison out to play in games this early in the season in hopes that the wrist will get better,” Gallagher said.
“Such moves are normally justified under the adage which dictates that the doctor says he can't hurt it any worse than it is.”
“Problem is, keep playing and it's not likely to get much better, and a much better Morrison is what everyone has been hoping for now for two years,” said Gallagher.
“With luck, the next time we see Morrison play, he'll be 100 per cent.”
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Not your typical pro athlete
Iain MacIntyre said Scott Niedermayer is not a typical millionaire athlete having a seamless return to the NHL, who may start his first game since ‘retirement’ against the Canucks.
“After winning his fourth Stanley Cup ring and third straight Norris Trophy nomination last season, the Cranbrook native was unsure he wanted to keep playing in the National Hockey League and was granted, essentially, a leave of absence by the Ducks last summer,” said MacIntyre.
“Niedermayer took his family home to the British Columbia Rockies, played some golf, rode his mountain bike, got involved with preserving a wilderness area near Invermere, then decided last week that he still wants to play again.”
"In the summer, I thought I was retired. I thought I was done," Niedermayer said Tuesday after skating at the Honda Center. "Gradually, day by day, game by game, the pull sort of got stronger and stronger and here I am.
MacIntyre said, “Niedermayer brought his wife and children back to Orange County for the start of the school year, and he said being so near the Ducks probably fueled and enabled his mid-season return.”
"When you're sitting at home ... trying to decide whether to golf or ride your bike -- it's not quite as intense, not quite as important. It doesn't seem as important. I maybe never thought that would creep into my psyche as early as it did, that feeling of wanting to be part of something."
“To make him part of the active roster, Anaheim general manager Brian Burke was working Tuesday to shed about $1 million from his payroll to fit Niedermayer's pro-rated salary of $6.75 million under the $50.3 million salary cap,” said MacIntyre.
“Tuesday, when most Anaheim players had the day off upon returning from an eastern road trip, Niedermayer skated for the first time with a handful of teammates.”
"When you're around them every day, sometimes you start to get a little bored or maybe want a day away from them," he said.
"But when you are away from them, it's nice to get back. There are a lot of good friends. We've had some pretty good experiences the last two years here."