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Canucks Skate: Team Canada Picks, NHL Whistle Blowers, Injuries

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Vancouver Canucks, Alex Edler
Defenceman Alex Edler with the Vancouver Canucks in 2020.

We’ll be talking to you again in just a couple/few hours, not long after the Vancouver Canucks officially welcome Jim Rutherford as the franchise’s new President of Hockey Operations and Interim General Manager. He and Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini will be addressing the media at 11 am Pacific at Rogers Arena and Vancouver Hockey Now will be on hand as usual. Ping us on twitter if there’s anything unusual you want to know. In the meantime …

Let’s Skate! …

Whistle Blowers

They get boo’ed, they get yelled at, they’re rarely beloved at the rink, but they should be. For the most part, across the board, the NHL officials, as in referees and linesmen, are hockey’s proverbial “great bunch of guys.” Last night’s foursome working the Vancouver Canucks game at Rogers Arena were no exception.

I’ve been fortunate and honoured to get to know a great many of them through some of my writing exploits or multi-media adventures around NHL rinks in recent years.

Brad Kovachik has been dropping pucks and dodging dump-ins as an NHL linesman since 1996 and has worked around 1,600 games and another 170 in the playoffs. A member of the “old guard” at this point, he’s one of the best and most respected in the biz.

Matt MacPherson, from good ole’ Antigonish, Nova Scotia has been working in the NHL for a decade. He got drilled in the right hand by a slap-in Sunday night and fortunately suffered only a bruise. I recall seeing it happen and then not long after, seeing Canucks forward Conor Garland take a shot off his right hand as well. Both men literally tried to shake it off.

Referee Dean Morton of course holds the distinction of being one of only four NHL players in history to score a goal in their only NHL game. The defenceman tallied on one of his two shots for the Detroit Red Wings in the game at the Calgary Flames on October 5th, 1989. He’s been making calls in the NHL since the year 2000.

Trevor Hanson seems to have the most fun getting loose, as he’ll do cutbacks and simple figure skating moves to check his edges before the start of a game or period. Not sure if this is habitual or a superstition, but we’ll find out soon as I believe he said he’s assigned in Vancouver again on Tuesday. Hanson’s in his 8th season and has worked about 400 NHL games.

Hockey Canada Junior Picks

Canada announced it’s 25-man roster for the upcoming 2022 World Junior Championships set to begin on Boxing Day in Red Deer and Edmonton, Alberta. Scott Salmond of Creston, BC, Hockey Canada’s senior vice-president of national teams, factored in on the decision.

Among the final eight players released from the team were centre Jack Finley from Kelowna who plays for Spokane in the “Dub” and defenceman Vincent Iorio from Coquitlam who plays for Brandon.

BC boys who made the roster include the following:

16-year-old Connor Bedard, right-shot centre from North Vancouver, who plays for Regina in the WHL.

Centre Kent Johnson from Port Moody, the 5th overall pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2021 NHL Draft who plays at the University of Michigan.

Winger Justin Sourdif from Surrey, who plays for the Vancouver Giants and was a 3rd-round pick of Florida in 2020.

Kamloops native Logan Stankoven, who plays up front for his hometown team in the Western League, will participate. He was the 2nd-round, 47th overall pick this past summer of the Dallas Stars.

Stankoven’s goalie in Kamloops Dylan Garand from Victoria will be one of Canada’s three netminders. He was a 4th-round pick of the New York Rangers in 2020.

Training camp for Team Canada begins in Banff, Alberta on December 14th.

Injury Rash

Here’s a much unhappier list:

Former Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alex Edler will miss some time with the LA Kings after being placed on injured reserve Sunday with a lower body injury he suffered in the first period on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will miss two weeks with a lower body injury he suffered in the 2nd period on December 10th against the Detroit Red Wings.

Sunday night, Avalanche defenceman Jacob MacDonald was stretchered of the ice in Denver after taking a huge, clean hit from Florida Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg early in the 2nd period. MacDonald was playing in just his 40th NHL game. He was alert, responsive and had full movement not long after.

Finally, goaltender Ben Bishop’s NHL career, riddled with nagging injuries along the way, officially came to an end this past weekend according to Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill. Bishop began a re-hab assignment last week with the AHL Texas Stars and it did not go well. Bishop suffered a knee injury back in August of 2020 and had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.  The 6-foot-7, 210 pound 35-year-old played 413 NHL games over the course of his career.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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