Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bieksa Breaking Through

Gary Lawless (Winnipeg Free Press, subscription required) shares this story about Kevin Bieksa shortly after he left Bowling Green and joined the Manitoba Moose:

One night, over a few drinks at Earls, then-teammate Fedor Fedorov and Bieksa were having words that went a little too far. Fedorov called Bieksa outside and in short order the talented but unpredictable forward was being driven to the hospital while the rookie defender was back in the bar being treated to shots by his veteran teammates.

Bieksa returned to Manitoba the next fall and quickly made a name for himself in the AHL as a tough, dependable, smart defenceman. This year he's doing the same in the NHL.
Is he ever. On a Canucks team that started the season with only three proven NHL'ers on the back end - Ohlund, Salo and Mitchell - Bieksa has been a blessing.

In seven games, Bieksa already has five points (1G-4A) whereas he recorded six assists in 39 NHL games last season.

But what has been nice to see is how dependable he has been. Vigneault has been playing him in all situations and Bieksa has logged at least 17 minutes of ice-time each game. On the Canucks' opening night at GM Place, and with Sami Salo out with a groin injury, Bieksa logged more than 24 minutes and had a career-high three points. The Sharks scored six goals that night; Bieksa finished the game with a +1 rating.

For the season, he has a +2 rating and has been on the ice only for three of the 26 goals scored against the team.

Not bad for a $500,000 player ($550,000 next season).

Later in the article, Bieksa adds:
"This is awesome. I'm an Ontario boy born and bred, and that's all you think about growing up there. I wanted to be a hockey player and this has been a dream come true.

"I was lucky enough to be drafted by a Canadian team in the Canucks and it's been great. The whole city is involved and it's just a hockey environment. The same was true with the Moose. That's an organization that expects a lot from its players, and the community does as well. It's an NHL city and organization with an AHL team."
Canucks fans are notorious for their lofty expectations. In my eyes anyway, Bieksa has so far met them.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 12:28 PM


At October 19, 2006 1:28 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

This is a great story, isn't it? It's been fun to watch him this year -- his offensive contributions are a real surprise.

At October 20, 2006 6:31 AM, Blogger hoopsjunky said...

He's been fun to watch, that's for sure.

I hope he can keep it up. Getting that first goal really seemed to get him going.

At October 20, 2006 8:41 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

It's interesting to watch how the players' confidence shows on the ice. Bieksa is playing confidently -- even when he messes up, he battles back like he really believes he can control his destiny.

In contrast, some of the forwards look shaky and tentative, with little confidence around the puck. Even though they're skating fairly well (I'm thinking Morrison, Bulis and Cooke), it doesn't look like they believe they can get the job done.

At October 20, 2006 10:42 AM, Anonymous The Chief Canuck said...

Great Story on Fedorov. I wonder if that coincided with his mysterious suspension from the team?

you really hit the nail on the head with one comment though.

**** Canucks fans are notorious for their lofty expectations. ****

How true that is. It often makes me wonder if they understand hockey or are simply fans of the largest sports team in the city.


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