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Press Round-Up: FEB.27.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Canucks refuse to give away future
Jim Morris discusses trade deadline day in Vancouver, detailing the events and summarizing management’s explanations:

When Dave Nonis considered some of the NHL trades being offered him, the Vancouver Canucks general manager decided it wasn't worth dealing away the team's future, even if it meant some gain in the present.

Nonis did a minor deal Tuesday, sending feisty forward Matt Cooke to the Washington Capitals for Matt Pettinger, a player who scored 20 goals two seasons ago.

"I wasn't about to take significant, young roster players off our team at this point in order to land a player," said Nonis. "I think it would have set us back. For me, I don't think it was a situation that at the end made sense for us."

Vancouver was reported to be one of the teams looking at making a deal for Brad Richards. Some of the players the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted in return for Richards included centre Ryan Kesler, rookie defenceman Luc Bourdon, goaltending prospect Cory Schneider and forward Mason Raymond.

Nonis refused to give specifics on any deal he didn't make but said the Canucks did put some packages together.

"We put packages out there that, in our mind . . . were superior to maybe some of the packages that were accepted," he said. "We put a very strong proposal in front of a couple of teams in order to land a player that could help us."

While the Canucks tinkered with their roster, a couple Western Conference teams did some retooling.

The Dallas Stars obtained Richards from Tampa Bay while the San Jose Sharks picked up Brain Campbell from the Buffalo Sabres.
The Colorado Avalanche acquired defencemen Ruslan Salei and Adam Foote, one day after signing free-agent centre Peter Forsberg.

The Minnesota Wild got tougher after trading for Chris Simon from the New York Islanders

The Canucks have used a season-high, four-game win streak to climb back into the playoff picture of the phone-booth tight Western Conference.

Vancouver's 32-24-8 record gives them 72 points, leaving them tied with Nashville for seventh place. Just seven points separates sixth place Minnesota (73 points) from 12th place Columbus (66 points).

The Canucks are a team that struggles to score goals and relies on strong defence and the goaltending of Roberto Luongo to win games. Nonis said that won't change.

"We're not going to turn into a team that is going to score five goals a night," he said. "We are going to have to take care of our own end and we're going to have to score by committee."

Canuck captain Markus Naslund was asked if Vancouver has enough talent to go deep in the playoffs.

"I hope so," he said. "I think we're going to give it our best. Who knows where that might take us."

Luongo didn't seem upset that Nonis didn't deal for more offence.

"If the right deal would have been there he would have done it," said Luongo. "We are comfortable with the guys we have in this locker room."

Nonis said he had been talking to Washington about Cooke for "about 45 days." Cooke, who is earning US$1.525 million, becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1 while Pettinger has another year left on his deal at $1.1 million.

"If we were going to move Matt Cooke I wanted to find a player who we'd get for more than the next month or two," said Nonis. "I was trying to find somebody we thought could help us for the rest of the year but also be around next year."

Cooke learned of the trade before the Canucks practice Tuesday and left the arena without speaking to reporters.

Later, in a telephone conference call, he was asked about his relationship with coach Alain Vigneault.

"I like Alain as a person," Cooke said. "Him and I had some issues and maybe didn't see quite eye to eye."

Vigneault denied any rift with Cooke.

"I really enjoyed coaching him," said Vigneault.

Pettinger said he's seen his ice time drop since Bruce Boudreau took over as Washington's head coach.

"We sort of butted heads a little," said Pettinger. "Some coaches get along with certain players and some coaches don't.

"I know I haven't played unbelievable hockey this year. I know my potential is there and I have proven it in the past. I'm hoping the change of scenery will sort of ignite me."

Pettinger, 27, was picked 43rd overall by Washington in the 2000 draft. The six-foot-one, 210-pound Edmonton native, who grew up in Victoria, has two goals and five assists in 56 games this year. He also is minus-11 and has 25 penalty minutes.

Cooke, 29, has spent his entire career in Vancouver after being chosen 144th overall in the 1997 draft. The gritty five-foot-11, 205-pound forward is an agitator on the ice. He has the ability to get under an opponent's skin but has a habit of skating away from a scrum he has instigated.

The Belleville, Ont., native has seven goals and nine assists in 61 games. He also has 64 penalty minutes and is minus-4.

Cooke's best NHL season was 2002-03 when he had 15 goals and 42 points.

The emergence of Alex Burrows as a hard-nosed player who can rough up the opposition and score the occasional goal made Cooke expendable.
Pettinger promises good puck play: Victoria boy admits he didn't get along with Washington coach

Ben Kuzma said the newest Canuck, Matt Pettinger, is excited to be heading home:

Greg Adams was in Phoenix on Tuesday and didn't know that one of his good friends had been traded. But he did know what kind of person the Vancouver Canucks had acquired in Matt Pettinger.

"He's a quality guy and comes from a good family and is really down to earth," said Adams, the former Canuck who scored in overtime to eliminate Toronto in the 1994 Western Conference final.

"He's a good golfer and a good hockey player, too."

Pettinger is also a good businessman. Along with Adams, he's one of many investors in the Bear Mountain Resort near Victoria. Pettinger is also learning that the NHL is a business and that being swapped for Matt Cooke has everything to do with age, salary, uninspired play and untapped potential.

With just two goals and seven points through 56 games this season -- after scoring 20 in 2005-06 -- the 27-year-old Edmonton native and Victoria resident cited a change behind the Capitals bench as one reason for a big production dip.

When Bruce Boudreau replaced Glen Hanlon on Nov. 22, Pettinger saw his ice time reduced. In a trio of late October games under Hanlon, he logged 22:50, 20:49 and 19:18. Under Boudreau, he had outings of 9:55, 9:53 and 10:58.

"We sort of butted heads a little bit and my ice time wasn't where it was the last few years," Pettinger said in a conference call. "Some coaches get along with players and some coaches don't.

"I'm not going to get into specifics, but the bottom line is my numbers aren't what they should and I've got to be blamed for that and I'm trying to move on and turn the page." Pettinger never requested a trade, but had a feeling he would be moved at the trade deadline, he just didn't know where.

While the 43th overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft isn't sure how he'll fit into the Canucks lineup -- he's a financial fit with a year left on his deal at $1.1 million US -- Pettinger is willing to do what coach Alain Vigneault stresses.

"With my speed, I can get in there on the forecheck," he said. "And I shoot the puck pretty well and hopefully I can contribute somehow.

"I've watched Matt [Cooke] a little bit and I'm not going to compare myself to him. I think I play a different game and I've gotten in a few fights, if need be. And I've also scored some goals and just add a few elements to my game that Matt didn't bring."

Trevor Linden was a Pettinger teammate for parts of two seasons in Washington and predicts the 6-1, 205 pound winger will thrive here.

"He's definitely got some upside from the offensive side of the puck and he's a quick skater with a good shot. He can play in all situations," Linden said.

Pettinger was three when his family moved to the B.C. capital. He played minor hockey in the Victoria Racquets Club system and grew up idolizing Adams and the Canucks, especially their 1994 march to the Stanley Cup final.

"It was unbelievable," recalled Pettinger. "I was in Grade 8 and it was a great memory." The scope of Tuesday's trade was not lost on Pettinger. All he had to do was glance at his cellphone.

"I've got 15 voicemails I haven't even been able to check and I'm just sort of running around with a lot of text messages," he added. "My wife is ecstatic. She's from Victoria, too, and we have lots of friends in Vancouver.

"A perfect situation for a player like myself would be the city of Vancouver."

A perfect result for the Canucks would be some scoring from Pettinger.
Recovering 'Nucks get ready to play: Morrison, Miller expected back in lineup next month

Jim Jamieson details the injury status of a few key Canuck players:

The Vancouver Canucks may not have achieved any Richter scale-type personnel upgrades at the NHL trade deadline, but they can at least look forward to getting a couple of their roster players back from injury.

Defenceman Aaron Miller skated in practice Tuesday for the first time since cracking a bone is his foot in a 4-3 shootout loss at Florida on Feb. 1.

Miller, who has missed nine games, won't likely be ready to play tonight against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, but may draw in on the weekend. Columbus is here on Friday and the Canucks play in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

"It felt pretty good," said Miller, who wore a protective cover on his skate. "I skated yesterday for the first time in a while and we decided to give it a whirl at practice today. There is still a little discomfort, but I can certainly skate and do all the drills so now I've got to get my conditioning back. I felt like I had two broken hands out there, the way I was handing the puck."

The Canucks are also very close to getting centre Brendan Morrison back in the lineup. Morrison has been out since Dec. 12, when major wrist surgery ended his NHL-leading active consecutive games streak at 542 games. It's expected that Morrison could begin practising with the team in 10 days.

"Brendan, once he gets his strength [in his wrist] back, he's going to be able to play right away," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "He's been skating and his conditioning is at an unbelievable pace right now."

With Miller about to return, the Canucks sent Luc Bourdon back down to their Manitoba Moose farm club.

Meanwhile, they recalled forward Rick Rypien, who is needed with Byron Ritchie not available for tonight's game with a sore back and Jeff Cowan serving a one-game suspension for his elbow to the head of Detroit defenceman Derek Meech on Saturday.

"I wasn't surprised," said Cowan. "The league is trying to crack down on head shots. I had no intention of going in to do that to hurt or anything like that. I kind of put my hands up and I got him."
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