Departure of Ryan Kesler may bring mixed feelings for Canuck fans

The Vancouver Canucks have avoided repeating last year’s Roberto Luongo soap opera by efficiently shipping out disgruntled centre Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks, in the first of several major moves expected in the hours leading up to the NHL draft tonight in Philadelphia.

In return, the Canucks receive 26-year-old centre Nick Bonino, 24-year-old defenseman Luca Sbisa, and the Ducks’ first-round pick in tonight’s draft, 24th overall.

The trade is the first by new Canuck GM Jim Benning, who took the job a month ago only to be faced with Kesler’s wish to be traded to one of a very short list of Stanley-Cup-contending teams. This demand, of a kind once reserved for unquestionably dominant players like Ray Bourque, could have handcuffed management at a time when the Canucks’ future was in the balance.

No question, Kesler’s departure marks the end of an era, but was he ever the franchise player—even the franchise-ish player—that Canuck fans and local media occasionally tried to claim he was during his decade here?

You could never doubt his drive, his dogged desire to win, a quality that coaches everywhere love. This was clear to everyone around the league during his one-man battle against the Nashville Predators in the 2011 playoffs, part of a run that eventually took the team to Game 7 of the final. And there’s no arguing with the 41 regular-season goals he scored or the Selke trophy he won in that same magical year.

But there was the long string of injuries, along with occasional hints that he wasn’t the team cornerstone the city wanted him to be. Perhaps the most talked-about came during the second intermission of the Olympic gold-medal game played right here in his hometown at the time, when he chose to slag Team Canada goalie Roberto Luongo by saying in a TV interview that his Canuck teammate was “fighting the puck” and could be attacked as a weak link.

Solid gamesmanship, no doubt. Also, dickish.

Slowly, Vancouver’s love for Kesler seemed to cool, even as he continued to throw himself into games during the Canucks’ long, fast descent from 2011 Cup finalists to 2014 postseason rejects. With the added weight of his trade demands, some fans may well be waving goodbye with a hearty “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out”—and not because such an incident could result in more surgery, given Kesler’s medical history.

It’s a new day for the Vancouver Canucks. Yet again.

Comments (5) Add New Comment
It's "not" a new day for the Vancouver Canucks. Yet again..
We've had literally the same team for years now, how is this a new day? Vancouver Canucks are in a "Rebuilding Phase"

It's funny how writers post that but have no idea that every team goes through this. We are needing of a change and we got it. Linden will make sure this team isn't screwed up anymore like the way Gillis did to us.

2 Young guys and a draft pick, both with good potential. This is what the Vancouver Canucks needed!!!
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Peter
Kesler would have been made captain if he wasn't a jerk. While he still hasn't learned to pass, he's a very good player in most respects. But he never earned the respect of his team mates, which ultimately hurt the team. It's addition by subtraction - the 'nucks will be better without him.
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What did they get ....
And what did they get for his ego. Back of pucks???
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AC
For all I care Kesler is going home to his USA. But where the hell are the "proud" Canadian boys who represented "us" at Olympics? Too busy making money is their priority obviously. Most people probably would choose making in one year what all of us won't even accumulate in a lifetime working. But how much is enough? The few teams we have can't squeeze into the playoffs and we need help with our own game. Where the hell are our so-called "proud Canadian" hockey players? Get the eff back here and help your country.
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ACMESalesRep
Our “proud Canadian” hockey players show up to represent the country whenever they're called. Why should they be expected to do more than that? Canadian NHL franchises aren't public institutions.

The problem isn't Canadian players. It's the management of our NHL teams, period.
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