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Canucks Skate – Jo Jo, Wheeler’s Wheels, USA Olympic Changes

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Vancouver Canucks, Ekman-Larsson
Vancouver Canucks defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scores this season against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Vancouver Canucks will hold an optional morning skate on Tuesday in preparation for the evening match against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. We’ll pass along any line-up changes. Defencemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Travis Hamonic remain out with injuries. Forward Justin Dowling replaced Alex Chiasson in the bottom six last game against the Carolina Hurricanes and I’d expect him to stay there. While we await official word from Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau, let’s go for a spin …

Let’s Skate! …

Wheeler’s Wheels

Just a few games into finding his legs and his game, Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler will miss a few weeks with a knee injury, suffered against the Vancouver Canucks this past Friday night at Rogers Arena. During a penalty kill scramble in the Jets end, two players fell and teammate Nathan Beaulieu slid into Wheeler’s leg. The captain went down in anguish.

After a slow start and an October battle with Covid symptoms, Wheeler picked up the scoring pace. Before the knee injury, he had already tallied a goal and an assist in the game against the Canucks and was riding a five game point streak in which he had ten points.

Andrew Copp will likely slide on to the top line with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor. The Jets went 4-0-1 the last time Wheeler missed games.

Jo Jo

Rookie goaltender Spencer Knight was a very pleasant surprise for the Florida Panthers last season. It appeared for awhile the 20-year-old might displace high priced number-one Sergei Bobrovsky. This season that has changed, as Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards documents. “Bob” has re-established himself and taken a hold of the Panthers crease, and to give young Knight some playing time in the AHL, the Cats snagged Jonas “Jo Jo” Johansson off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.

USA Hockey Changes

Tuesday morning, USA Hockey officially announced Bill Guerin as the new general manager of Team USA at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, with Chris Drury sliding up to fill Guerin’s previous role as assistant GM. Guerin is the general manager of the Minnesota Wild while Drury runs hockey op’s for the New York Rangers. The moves became necessary after Stan Bowman stepped down in late October as general manager of both the US Olympic program and the Chicago Blackhawks after a sex scandal cover-up rocked the latter organization.

Both men were joined by the national program’s assistant hockey op’s director John Vanbiesbrouck and USA Hockey Executive Director Pat Kelleher on the zoom call. The group is moving ahead with what they referred to as “Plan-A”, full participation from NHL athletes, but also have looked at the contingency “Plan B” of having to use college players or minor league and European based players. The group was still reviewing the latest Olympic Covid Protocol Playbook issued by the Beijing Olympic committee.

VHN asked Guerin and Vanbiesbrouck about the play of Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko and will publish those thoughts and responses separately. See you again a bit later.

Enjoy the Hockey Action !!

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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