Jan 192009
 
Nov 142008
 

I guess it was only a matter of time until the good health of the Vancouver Canucks’ defense ended. After being hit by a shot from teammate Michel Ouellet four games ago, Kevin Bieksa is expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks with a fractured left foot. Sami Salo is also day-to-day with a bruised shoulder.

After missing all but 34 games last season with a lacerated calf muscle, Bieksa initially struggled to find the form from his 2006/2007 breakout season. Through 13 games this season, he has looked good. His 11 points (3G-8A) ties him for 3rd in team scoring (just behind the Sedins) and 16th among all NHL defensemen, and his 24:38 minutes of ice-time per game is 23rd in the league.

Rob Davison, who has only appeared in 2 games this season, will likely get in the lineup. And if Salo misses any games, Lawrence Nycholat and Nolan Baumgartner are probably the next two guys on the depth chart. Nycholat is still on his conditioning stint with the Moose and has 3 assists in 3 games and a minus-2 rating. Baumgartner’s stats are better – 5 points (1G-4A) and a plus-7 rating in 10 games – but he has missed the last 3 games after being checked from behind and his return to the Moose lineup this weekend is still doubtful.

If you remember last season, the Canucks lost Bieksa and Salo in the same Nashville game in November and it started the avalanche of injuries on the back end. Let’s just hope this isn’t history repeating itself.

Nov 122008
 
Oct 202008
 
Oct 162008
 
Oct 142008
 
Sep 152008
 
Mitchell, Kesler and Bieksa

Photo credit: Daylife.com

Going into the start of training camp this weekend, there are some obvious questions surrounding the Vancouver Canucks. Will Mike Gillis acquire another top-6 forward? Or does he hope that Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner play well enough to warrant roster spots? Can the defense stay relatively injury-free? Can Demitra?

But one question that is sure to come up more as the season approaches is this – who will be the next Canucks captain?

With Trevor Linden’s retirement and Markus Naslund’s and Brendan Morrison’s departures, the team has yet to announce the next Canucks player to don the ‘C’ on his jersey.

This question came up at the State of the Franchise back in July and Mike Gillis, probably expectedly, was non-committal. He simply mentioned that the coaching staff would decide on who would assume that role and thought that perhaps some of the younger players would be ready to step in.

Considering the makeup of this team, I think it’s fair to assume that the young players Gillis is referring to are Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa. On the ice, both seem to have the attitude and character befitting of a captain. They’re vocal and willing to back up their teammates. But especially in this market, it is just as important to exhibit the same qualitites off the ice. At 24, can Kesler handle that added pressure? After only one full season and an injury-plagued one, can Bieksa? Us Canucks fans were notoriously critical of Markus Naslund, even though by all accounts he was great in the dressing room and a saint outside of it.

My personal choice for new Canucks captain is Willie Mitchell. He’s a leader and a warrior on the ice – for evidence of that, remember this shift? He also exudes a great personality for the local media (kinda Jarome Iginla-ish actually) and is quite active on the local charity scene. He’s 31 years old, a BC boy and has two more years left on his current contract. From the outside looking in anyway, he seems perfect for the role now and at least until Kesler and Bieksa (and I’ll add Cody Hodgson to this list) develop further.

Now for the fun part of this post.

Thanks to the Vancouver Canucks organization, our crew from The Crazy Canucks podcast will be guests in a suite for the first preseason game on Tuesday, September 23rd against the Edmonton Oilers. As a result, I have two spare tickets now to that same game. And here’s your chance to win them.

What do you guys think? Who is your next Canucks captain?

Leave your comment on this post and I’ll randomly draw a name on Sunday, September 21st at 8 PM. I can meet the winner in downtown Vancouver on Monday or Tuesday before the game to give them the tickets.

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