While Vancouver sports fans have been praying to the hockey gods for some NHL action soon, Canucks players have been steadily training, with most waiting to see how the latest NHL offer will play out before making any lockout decisions.
So far the only regular Canucks player confirmed to be playing overseas is Dale Weise, having signed for the Tilburg Trappers of the Dutch Elite League in early October. Weise is yet to play a game in Holland but will wear number 88 for the team who won the Dutch National Championship in both 2007 and 2008.
Weise may be the only Canuck (not including rookie Nicklas Jensen) currently playing overseas but teams from Europe have definitely been in contact with other players as Kevin Bieksa mentions;
“We’re all thinking about it, we don’t want to miss a whole season and you obviously want to stay as sharp as you can for when the season starts but everyone has probably had a couple of deals or offers by now and you just kind of keep it on the back-burner and see what happens. I’ve had a few (offers from Europe) but my mind hasn’t changed. I’m thinking wait until December and see what happens.”
The Sedin twins have also been talking about Europe, with Henrik saying to the Province newspaper;
“If they cancel the whole season, we may go back and play over there (Sweden), but until then, we will stay here. We’re going to stay in shape. We’re going to work out. We’re going to be on the ice and we’ll go from there.”
The lack of an NHL season has also given some Vancouver Canucks players a chance to recover from injury with Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison all using this time to heal.
Edler is nursing a bulging disc in his back while Garrison has a groin injury, both were sustained during preparations for the upcoming season though it is not confirmed whether Edler’s injury may be a recurrence to the bulging disc injury in early 2011 that caused him to have surgery and miss 8 weeks of the season.
Ryan Kesler is still recovering from his off-season shoulder surgery but is currently in Vancouver and working with Canucks medical staff on the issue. The 28 year-old forward would not be expected to be ready to play if a new agreement to end the lockout is reached and the season resumes November 2nd.
While some fans are getting their hockey fix through the Canucks’ AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves, watching players such as Eddie Lack, Chris Tanev, Zack Kassian and Andrew Ebbett, Kevin Bieksa also provided BC hockey fans some relief by creating a “Bieksa’s Buddies” charity hockey game on Wednesday the 17th of October against the UBC Thunderbirds.
Players hitting the ice included Canucks stars Kevin Bieksa, the Sedin twins, Cory Schneider, Dan Hamhuis, Chris Higgins, Maxim Lapierre and Manny Malhotra as well as other NHL players Willie Mitchell (coaching), Tanner Glass and current UFA Jim Vandermeer. Singer Michael Bublé was involved in a coaching capacity but did not skate during the game.
Bieksa’s Buddies put on a show for the sellout crowd of more than 5000, signing autographs and giving away jerseys and despite trailing 7-3 after the second period, the team ended up 8-7 winners with Daniel Sedin scoring the game-winning goal.