Will Loui Eriksson play another NHL game? Simply put: yes. What we don’t know, however, is if the former Swedish star will be wearing the orca when he does. After a drama-filled couple of months, Eriksson’s future with the Vancouver Canucks is definitely in jeopardy.
By the end of the 2018-19 NHL season, Eriksson had provided Canucks fans with more of the same lacklustre play they had witnessed since the beginning of his tenure with Vancouver in the 2016-17 season. For those who don’t remember, allow me to jog your memory a bit. Eriksson’s first home game with Vancouver was unfortunately disastrous, as poor Loui was simultaneously hounded by four Calgary Flames, resulting in Eriksson clearing the puck from the neutral zone- into his own team’s empty net.
Now, this could have happened to any player in the entire league. It was a freak accident that many of us would like to forget. That being said, it didn’t happen to just any player in the NHL, it happened to Loui. It happened to the player who, just a few short months prior, signed a whopping six-year contract worth $36 million. Eriksson was signed in the hopes of bolstering the offence of a team that scored just 182 non-shootout goals during the 2015-16 season.
When Canucks general manager Jim Benning signed the Gothenburg, Sweden native to a long term deal, the idea was that he would immediately step into a top-six role on the team alongside longtime Vancouver superstars Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The 30-year-old former Dallas Stars draft pick was coming off a 30-goal season with the Boston Bruins, and Canucks fans were hopeful that he would be able to replicate the same sort of production with the orca on his chest.
Three Painful Years Later
The realization hit Canucks fans like a truck. Not just any truck, though. Think of a big Swedish truck full of money as it races downhill toward a volcano. Now you know how Canucks fans felt after Eriksson’s third season in Vancouver, during which he posted 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points in 81 games – his highest points total since arriving from Boston in the summer of 2016. It doesn’t take an expert to come to the conclusion that 29 points over 81 games does not justify a $6 million dollar paycheque.
As a matter of fact, Loui Eriksson made only $1 million less than former Canucks captain Henrik Sedin, who scored 100 points in two seasons between 2015-16 and 2016-17. Compare that to Eriksson’s 47 total points over the same two seasons and that contract starts to look totally abysmal. Eriksson has been given three NHL seasons to show signs of improvement but has failed to do so. Vancouver fans are understandably anxious about the status of Loui Eriksson as we close in on the 2019-20 NHL season.
Eriksson Speaks to Swedish Media
In an interview with Swedish media during Eriksson’s time with Team Sweden this May, the Swede voiced his displeasure with his “inconsistent” role in Vancouver, citing head coach Travis Green’s cutting of his ice time as another factor in his dissatisfaction. Eriksson was quick to assure Swedish Hockey site, HockeySverige, that he wants to continue playing in Vancouver and that he believes he is still a good player in the NHL.
Despite his insistence on returning to the Canucks roster for the 2019-20 season, he mentioned that he and Travis Green ‘Don’t get on 100 percent.’ And although he publicly admitted that he desired to return to the West Coast, Eriksson has been impossible to reach, as Canucks GM Jim Benning has tried and failed to get a hold of the Swedish winger multiple times.
Not only has Eriksson failed to get back to Benning, but there were confirmed reports that Eriksson had moved his family back to Dallas. In early July, Eriksson’s agent Peter Werner spoke to Swedish News outlet Expressen, confirming that his client fully intends to play for Vancouver come September. Could you ignore your bosses phone calls for months but keep your job? We didn’t think so.
Likely Loui Scenario
While Canucks fans would surely appreciate a timely resurgence of peak-Loui – the one who scored 36 goals with the Dallas Stars in 2008-09 – it is unlikely that he finds his scoring touch again. At least, not in Vancouver. Eriksson doesn’t have a place in the Canucks top-six forward group any longer. Since the acquisition of J.T. Miller in June, it is looking more and more likely that lacklustre Loui will either be traded or spend the rest of his days with the Canucks farm team in Utica, where he will still have to fight for his minutes. Since the Canucks are so congested with bottom-six forwards who are younger and harder-working than Eriksson, it doesn’t seem like he will fit there either.
The only question is: who in their right mind would absorb Loui Eriksson’s contract at $6 million per season through 2021-22? And who in their right mind would take on a player so blatantly insubordinate towards his boss? Loui Eriksson has become his own worst enemy, and if he isn’t careful, he won’t be playing in North America for much longer. A sad ending for a guy who was referred to as an elite scorer just three years prior.
Shane Wilson is a staff writer from Richmond, British Columbia. The former executive editor for Australia-based news outlet Rock Nation covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers and hosts a monthly comedy show in Steveston, B.C.