Coach Alain Vigneault spoke highly of Alex Bolduc after the 25-year old beat out Canucks fan favorite Brendan Morrison for the team’s fourth line center spot.
“We saw an improvement every day in different things we want to see,” Vigneault said Sunday.
“It means you have a coachable player who can grasp what you’re trying to teach him. He has always had that determination and speed. It was just a matter of processing the game at each level and he showed us he deserves the opportunity to start on this team.”
And start on the Canucks he did. Unfortunately, he didn’t last long.
Bolduc suited up against the Los Angeles Kings in the Canucks’ home opener on Saturday, but was injured after getting hit twice on the same shift. He’s scheduled to have an MRI done today and there is a fear that he might have suffered a high ankle sprain.
For all the talk in the last couple of seasons about the durability of the defense, we may have overlooked that of the fourth line. Ryan Johnson missed more than 40 games in his two seasons with the Canucks due to various foot, finger and head injuries. Since first making the team in the 2005/2006 season, Rick Rypien has missed more than 100 games due to various injuries as well.
Bolduc seems to be headed down the same injury-riddled path. He played 7 games for the Canucks early last season before he missed 13 games due to a shoulder injury and was assigned to the Manitoba Moose. He was recalled in late December and played 8 more games before suffering another shoulder injury and missing the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. Now, he lasted 1 game before possibly being out for another extended period of time.
With Bolduc’s latest injury, the Canucks were forced to play Jeff Tambellini as their fourth line center last night. (Nothing against Jeff but he doesn’t quite fit the grittier profile the team wanted for their fourth line when they picked Bolduc over Morrison. Or at least he doesn’t fit that role in the same way Morrison didn’t fit it.) I’m sure Joel Perrault will eventually get a shot too.
The Canucks may have groomed Bolduc to be their fourth line center and Bolduc proved in the preseason that he deserves the job. What he hasn’t proved yet though is that he can stay healthy long enough to keep it.