The Vancouver Canucks could use him on the penalty kill. They could use him for his reckless abandon and his fearless play. Yes, they could definitely use Tyler Motte, but can Motte’s body take it? The 5’10”, 192-pound, 26-year-old forward says yes.
“Physically and mentally I’m good to the point where I’m ready to play,” Motte said after practice Monday.
He participated in his first full session since returning to the roster from surgery on a vertebrae in his neck.
“You guys know I had off-season surgery, if you look closely you might find out where,” he said while pointing to a scar that runs about an inch-and-a-half across the left, front part of his neck. “Not from one incident, a little bit of wear and tear, a little bit over time. I play a physical game and sometimes it happens, but I got to the point where something needed to be done, we took care of it, and unfortunately there’s timelines when those things come. (I’m) just trying to follow that protocol to best put me in a position to perform when I come back.”
It won’t be immediate. He referred to the remaining timeline as “a little bit”.
“The final decision, circling the date on the calendar isn’t really up to me,” Motte added. “I give my feedback on how I’m feeling day-in and day-out and again it’s up to the doctors and the surgeons to make the final call.”
So what does he bring to the table when he returns?
Motte has played most of his NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks, minus 33 games spent with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2016-’17 and 31 more with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2017-’18. He’s been involved in some pretty big deals, first dealt from the Blackhawks, the club that drafted him in the 4th-round in 2013, to Columbus with Artemi Panarin in June of 2017. Seven months later he and Jussi Jokinen came to the Canucks from Ohio for Thomas Vanek.
In 147 games he’s played with the Vancouver Canucks, Motte has tallied 21 goals and 14 assists. His role is not so much to put up points, it’s to prevent the other team from doing so, whether at even strength or on the PK. It’s to bring energy and physicality and to provide a spark. He’s had two career shorthanded goals, both in the 2018-’19 season, one against the LA Kings and another against the Winnipeg Jets three games later.
“‘Motter’s’ been here awhile, he’s turned himself into a good player in the league,” Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Travis Green said. “Also he’s a hard player. He’s not the biggest guy, but he plays a hard, fast game.”
Motte’s return became slightly overshadowed by the return of another player conducting his first media conference, Travis Hamonic, who followed Motte to the microphone. Hamonic offered up a bit more intrigue, joining the team following a somewhat mysterious self-imposed absence, as opposed to coming back from injury. In both cases however, their head coach believes the two share plenty in common in terms of on and off-ice impact as returning players.
“That leadership doesn’t just happen, with new players on new teams,” Green stated. “Sometimes it takes time for those voices to come out, and it’s probably an area that we’ve missed with having so many new players, so it’s nice to have them both back.”