I’ve had some time to think about the blue line situation lately with Bieksa going down, Schneider walking out, Salo getting cut and Rome getting knocked out, and the one thing that frustrates me is the people who are still calling for a Bieksa trade. At the best of time Vancouver fans are fickle, and yet after all that’s happened Bieksa’s still in the doghouse.
Now don’t get me wrong. I agree his play this season has been far from what we expect. Defensively he’s been shaky and offensively he’s struggled. It doesn’t help that in trying to find his groove again his ice time was cut, but this injury while unfortunate, has come at probably the best time possible. Bieksa was struggling to find his game and he wasn’t able to right the ship himself. He’s out now for a 2-3 months and I think that might be just want he needs to get back into the swing of things. Some down time from the game, as unfortunate as it may be, might give him the fresh start he needs when he’s back from injury.
Taking into account that the Canucks plethora of defenseman is no more, and Schneider is not welcome on the team anymore, with Edler, O’Brien, Salo, Ehrhoff and Mitchell as locks on the blue line the last blue liner position is being filled by Lukowich/Rome at the moment. When Bieksa returns, at his salary, you’d be hard pressed to convince me he doesn’t deserve a spot over Lukowich or Rome and it still remains that despite his sub par year, he is a top four defenseman in this hockey league.
What’s more important is his return is going to be around the end of the NHL season and at the start of the 2010 playoffs. The Canucks are going to be gassed if the race to the playoffs and division title is anything like it was last year, and a fresh pair of legs can’t be turned away. Bieksa’s as competitive as they get and after some time off to fix this injury some playing time is the fresh start to his season he’ll need to get things underway. For all his short comings he’s a blue liner we can’t afford to give up. We spent the whole off season trying to lock up more top 4 defenseman so it seems futile at this point to throw him away regardless of what you get in return. Bieksa’s injury time is going to be great to help him get his game together mentally and you can be sure upon his return he’s going to come out flying on a fresh set of legs that the Canucks will need come playoff time.