Did Duncan Keith’s elbow hurt Daniel Sedin’s career?

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      With just two goals in the first 10 games of the new National Hockey League season, Daniel Sedin hasn’t exactly come firing out of the starting gate. Now, granted, it’s still early, and 10 games isn’t a huge sample size. But when those two goals are considered alongside his 12 goals in last year’s shortened season and no goals in the Vancouver Canucks’ four-game sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks in last spring’s playoffs, a troubling trend begins to present itself.

      Daniel doesn’t resemble the player who notched 41 goals and led the NHL in scoring with 104 points just three years ago. Then he was a marksman who picked his target and, with precision and regularity, found the back of the net. Now there seems to be a lack of confidence, and you have to wonder if the change can’t be traced back to March 21, 2012, the night he took Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith’s elbow to the face.

      He has repeatedly insisted that he suffers no lingering effects of the devastating head shot that kept him out of action for a month. But since that night in Chicago, Daniel has managed just 14 goals in 63 NHL games, which puts him on a pace for a paltry 18 goals in an 82-game season. Since then, he has just one multigoal game, which is another indication that he no longer dominates play the way he did when he was among the most dangerous triggermen in the NHL.

      Daniel remains a remarkably skilled and talented player and, along with his brother, Henrik, will continue to produce points. But on a team that is in desperate need of someone to score goals, questions are being asked about Daniel’s ability to be the go-to guy for the Vancouver Canucks. Goals no longer flow the way they once did, and although he continues to get shots, he doesn’t look terribly dangerous.

      That can change. But so, too, can people. And the longer he stays in a goal-scoring funk, the more you have to consider the fact that Daniel’s career path may very well have been altered by Keith’s elbow.

      Sixteen games into their Canadian Football League season, the 9–7 B.C. Lions are searching for answers. They had none in an embarrassing 35–14 loss in Saskatchewan on October 19. Although they’ve got two more regular-season games to get their affairs sorted out, the Lions show almost no indication they’ll be anything more than a speed bump for their opponents when the playoffs roll around.

      During the 2013 season, the Lions have managed only two wins that qualify as “good wins”: victories that tested their mettle and resolve and, for that moment, gave you reason to think they contained the foundation for a championship contender. They stared down the Calgary Stampeders on August 17 at B.C. Place, and a month later they went to Saskatchewan and prevailed 24–22. Otherwise, their wins are a hodgepodge of narrow victories over mediocre teams and games handed to them by a couple of terrible teams.

      The Lions have clinched a playoff spot, so they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves. But it seems next to impossible to believe that this team, with only two good wins to its credit this season, will somehow stumble upon the formula that will allow it to win the three in a row necessary to win the Grey Cup.

      This may not be a widely shared sentiment, given the way the season slipped away from the Vancouver Whitecaps, but I’m among those who believe that Martin Rennie should be back to coach next season. Although missing the postseason this year has to be seen as a massive disappointment for the entire organization, the blame certainly can’t fall solely on Rennie’s shoulders.

      Under his system, the Whitecaps scored goals and entertained most nights this year. There were issues on the back end that must be addressed during the off-season. Just as any coach of a nonplayoff team must look in the mirror first and figure out ways to adjust his style, management owes it to the coach to provide players who measure up at the Major League Soccer level. The Whitecaps have a number of talented pieces of the puzzle in place, but much help is needed on an aging back line.

      Thorough reviews of all areas of the soccer operations will certainly be conducted once the ’Caps finish against Colorado on October 27. But this much is certain: over their many years in many leagues, the Vancouver Whitecaps have generally run an operation beyond reproach. Three years into MLS, the ’Caps cannot allow themselves to search for a fourth head coach. It’s not the way successful sports organizations conduct business.

      Finally, this is my last weekly contribution to the Georgia Straight. After more than 10 years and 500 columns, this remarkable opportunity has reached an end. I want to thank everyone at the Straight and anyone who took a few moments of their time each week to read my column. I always appreciated feedback and heard from many of you throughout the years. It was a terrific outlet to cover the local professional sports teams and, on occasion, branch out and delve into subjects and sports I had very little knowledge of or familiarity with. I learned a great deal during the past decade, and I feel fortunate to have been afforded a space like this one to call my own. I hope to return to the Straight on occasion in a freelance capacity, so I won’t say goodbye. Rather, I’ll say so long—for now.



      Keith's Elbow...

      Oct 22, 2013 at 8:53pm

      definitely hurt the Canucks that year. Schneider getting injured in a meaningless game against Chicago this year and being unable to start the playoffs hurt too. On a positive note, Daniel did score in Long Island tonight!