VANCOUVER - Winger Ryan Shannon fell victim to some roster juggling Thursday as the struggling Vancouver Canucks attempted to recover from a humiliating loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Still feeling the effects of Wednesday's 8-2 setback, the Canucks, 1-2, shipped Shannon to the AHL's Manitoba Moose. The move came as a surprise because Shannon scored two goals in the first three games of the NHL season and ranked second in team scoring behind co-leaders Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who both have three points.
"I'll give you an honest answer," said coach Alain Vigneault, explaining the move to reporters as he stood with his back to a wall at the Pacific Coliseum. "He doesn't need waivers and we need to move some guys."
Based on his age and experience, Shannon, 23, a second-year NHLer who was acquired in an off-season trade from the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Mighty Ducks, did not have to clear waivers before he could be sent down.
Under the terms of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, a veteran with more NHL playing time would have to be placed on unrecallable waivers u and could be claimed by another team for no compensation to the Canucks. Vigneault admitted the move was not fair to Shannon, but hoped it would have an effect on the players still with the Canucks.
The Canucks, who have scored six of their seven goals this season on the power play, are looking for more offensive consistency as they prepare for Friday's game against the Oilers in Edmonton. The clubs meet again Saturday in Vancouver.
"It's putting the ball into the hands of some of our players," said Vigneault. "It's an easy decision for us to make. We either start playing the way we can play, with the right preparation and the work ethic, otherwise we'll be forced to make tougher decisions."
The coach described the loss to the Flyers as a "total team collapse." He said the loss should be kept in perspective, considering there are 79 games left, but the Canucks, pegged by some observers as a Stanley Cup contender when the season began, are not where they want to be right now.
"We're searching right now for the right mixture, where certain players can fit in, how we can create more five on five offensively and how we can do a better job five on five defensively," said Vigneault.
Shannon's demotion comes while off-season free-agent signees Byron Ritchie and Brad Isbister have struggled to crack the lineup let alone shine. Ritchie was a healthy scratch Wednesday while Isbister sat out his second game.
"I was under the assumption that, coming into the season, we'd be a highly-motivated group," said Vigneault. "We believe that we can win. We know that we can win. We all understand about the process of getting to the playoffs. We should be really motivated with the steps that we've taken. Our actions right now don't indicate that."
Captain Markus Naslund said the players know they have to play better in a lot of areas as they take on an Oilers squad that is 2-2 in its first four games.
"It's going to start with hard work," said Naslund. "That's been our identity, and we have to get that back in our game again."