Northwest Correspondent, White Cover Magazine
Don’t take the title above as any kind of damning criticism. Don’t take me as a disloyal customer of Vancouver Canucks fandom. I’m simply posing a situation that (probably) should have been addressed almost a year ago, while Kesler was in the middle of an eight-month downswing that we now know was the responsibility of a brittle body on the brink of destruction.
Not much has changed. Kesler essentially missed the whole season before returning for a handful of games — and an even smaller clump of points — before breaking his foot against the Dallas Stars. He’ll be about anywhere from 4-to-6 weeks, which is pretty sweet for the Canucks and their rapidly tumbling game.
Is Kesler a cornerstone of the Canucks? Yeah, sure. He’s a vital part of their core. Better yet, he’s still worth something on the open market.
Marian Gaborik went through a much graver battle with the China Doll syndrome before the New York Rangers signed him for millions upon millions and turned him into Broadway’s biggest star. Teemu Selanne toiled with injury problems for years before the 2004 NHL Lockout saved his career and delayed his exodus to the hockey hinterland leagues of Finland and Elitserien.
Kesler can still fetch something in return, and the Canucks have to realize what little chance they have of keeping their window open.
Last year, it was heavily rumoured that the Columbus Blue Jackets wanted Kesler in return for Rick Nash. Vancouver balked. Laughed, probably. How good would that deal seem now?
Instead — and, if that trade rumour was indeed as true as it seemed back then — the ‘Nucks showed their loyalty to Kesler and to their inability to foresee what was on the horizon.
Listen, folks… everybody’s tradable. Luongo and Schneider have been on the block for what seems like forever. Kevin Bieksa used to have a permanent spot on the Utility field.
Kesler’s game is sliding. His sunshine on Canada’s West Coast has set. His magic has faded.
It’s important the Canucks continue to grow while they’re strong. They shouldn’t wait until age causes them to crumble. They’re not Detroit, and even the Red Wings seem to know this. They dealt Brendan Shanahan once it was clear Yzerman wouldn’t return. They shifted their focus from their 2002 Stanley Cup squad and instead planted their fate solely in the hands of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. It only got them a trophy in 2008.
The Ottawa Senators are currently languishing in injury Ozarks, but that trade they made with San Jose to offload an under-performing and soon-to-implode Dany Heatley has only made them potent and powerful in the long run.
They key isn’t to hold onto everyone. It’s to pick the right players to trust and the right ones to offload.
Ryan Kesler was one of the best players in the game two years ago. So was Tim Thomas. So was Joe Thornton. So was Alex Ovechkin.
But, two years ago is so two years ago.