For anyone who has followed the Vancouver Canucks in the past couple of years, it’s become custom that, around the time of the year when the team starts falling out of playoff contention, general manager Jim Benning laments the impact of injuries on his club.
This season has of course been different (at least so far) in that the Canucks are still very much in the midst of the playoff race.
But Benning still came through as he always does!
“I’d like to see what our full team looks like,” said Benning recently while discussing the prolonged absences of Brandon Sutter and Micheal Ferland. (Sutter has since made his way back to the team.)
That was played for humour in some areas, as expecting a completely clean bill of health for any NHL team is often wishful thinking. The Canucks as it is have been quite lucky to avoid long-term injuries to any of their best players. Alex Edler missed 10 games and Josh Leivo is out for a couple of months, but otherwise Vancouver has been dealt a good hand when it comes to injuries so far this year.
So it was quite ridiculous to hear Benning once again bring up injuries. Every team deals with injuries; it’s a part of life in the NHL. And, as it turns out, some teams have a better mindset when it comes to those setbacks.
That’s Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe going further than the classic “next man up” mentality that often gets trotted out and actually saying that elite teams don’t get fazed by injuries.
By that token (and many others, actually), the Canucks are firmly in the ”not elite” category, as the team (well, definitely its general manager) clearly get very fazed by injuries.
We thought that only applied to major players being felled by injury (which the Canucks have dealt with in the recent past), but it turns out even absences to players like Sutter (who is playing on the fourth line) and Ferland (who couldn’t find a steady role on the team before he got hurt) faze the Canucks.
On a squad with Alex Edler and Chris Tanev both logging top-four minutes on the blueline, injuries are more a matter of when than if. The Canucks have been quite lucky this year, but hopefully as the team gets better Jim Benning and company start acting more like an elite team.
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