Tag:Kevin Bieksa
Posted on: November 20, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Kevin Bieksa responds to Mark Recchi: Take a nap

By Brian Stubits

Mark Recchi shared his feelings on last season's Vancouver Canucks last week. Let's just say, he wasn't very fond of them, calling them the most arrogant team he faced in his career. That career, mind you, stretched 22 seasons, so he's been around the block.

Of course that caught the attention of the Canucks. With their superstars being rather humble and quiet (the Sedin twins) the role of "team spokesman" seems to often go to defenseman Kevin Bieksa. He was a bit confused/insulted and thus combative when it came time for a response.

Here is what he told Jason Botchford of the Province.

"Isn't he retired? What's he doing? Tell him to go play a round of golf or take a nap. Why is he chirping us?"

Then, Bieksa started to pick apart Recchi's assertion.

"You can call us a lot of things, I don't think arrogant would be one of them," Bieksa said. "This is not even close to the most arrogant team I've even played on.

"The twins are so humble and you may not like playing against guys like (Maxim) Lapierre, and (Alex) Burrows but they're not arrogant. I just don't get it. Mark Recchi can go take a nap."

Take a nap. You have to admit, that's a pretty good response.

There was certainly no shortage of animosity between the two Stanley Cup finalists last season. From the biting incident to tire pumping and Nathan Horton's concussion, things were never very cordial, so perhaps that's where Recchi got the impression.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was a bit more cordial (and most would agree, mature) in his response to Recchi's comments.

"I've known Mark, I've coached Mark, he's a quality person," Vigneault said. "But you can also win with class. You don't need to rub it in. It was a seven-game series. This team, in my mind, is about integrity. We play the right way. They won.

"It is not a very classy thing."

That was the series that keeps on giving. Not only was it an excellent series, but the lasting effects keep on coming. Too bad Recchi won't be on the ice for the rematch Jan. 7 in Boston.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 3:29 pm
 

Canucks' Bieksa opens up on Rypien before tribute

By Brian Stubits

Tuesday night will be a very emotional one in Vancouver as the Canucks will pay tribute to Rick Rypien in their game against the Rangers. A pregame ceremony, "Heart of a Canuck," will be held and will be streamed live on the team's website.

It will be tough on everybody, all the players, but maybe none more than Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa. For him, Rypien was a brother, the two growing a very close bond going back to their days with the Manitoba Moose.

Bieksa opened up about his relationship with the late Rypien to the Vancouver Sun. This is one of those stories where, as long as you have a heart, tugs at the old heart strings. I'd suggest you read the entire story.

Bieksa was one of the few that knew about Rypien's issues with depression. He kept that a secret, though, never even telling his teammates when asked how Rick was doing.

Bieksa never betrayed Rypien’s trust, even to caring teammates who inquired about Rypien’s well-being. The Canucks organization knew about Rypien’s depression since that 2008 camp and coordinated the player’s treatment.

Bieksa and his wife, Katie, helped as much as anyone.

While sitting out the rest of the 2008-09 regular season, Rypien stayed with the Bieksas.

“My wife stayed up to five in the morning talking to him every night,” Kevin said. “We did what we could. . . just tried to get him through this. He loved hockey, loved coming to the rink. I remember him saying he just missed sitting in the dressing room and listening to guys chirping Hordy (ex-Canuck Darcy Hordichuk). Things like that. Those were the things he enjoyed, the camaraderie. He didn’t like to be alone.”

Bieksa said Rypien was with him when Kevin asked Wes Jr. to be his best man, and even knew before Kevin did that he was going to be a new dad again because the Canucks were on the road when Rick finally asked Katie why she kept throwing up.

“He knew before I did,” Kevin smiled. Cole Bieksa is nearly four, and his little sister Reese is two.

Bieksa continued to say Rypien loved what he did and his depression went way beyond anything to do with fighting.

Bieksa is emphatic that Rypien loved his role in hockey and fighting had nothing to do with his mental challenges. He said Rypien’s illness was too complicated to be explained by one event or circumstance, such as the car-accident death nearly a decade ago of Rypien’s girlfriend or the constant stream of injuries that slowed his NHL career.

“There were a lot of things going on,” Bieksa said. “I felt he was as much my responsibility as anybody’s. Looking back now, I wished I’d talked to him a little more in the summer. I thought he was getting better. I knew the severity of it [but] I don’t think anyone really thought this would happen.”

It will undoubtedly be a tough night for the Canucks. Playing with heavy hearts is never easy to do. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who coached Rypien in Manitoba as well as Vancouver, said the powerful tribute video will make for "a challenging" night as the tragedy is "still tough to deal with."

The remembrances have already begun for the former Canucks player who committed suicide this summer after signing with the Winnipeg Jets. There are memorials to Rypien on the Canucks website like this.

The Canucks have also made a $50,000 donation to jumpstart a a partnership with B.C. Children's Hospital in its foundation to build mental health awareness.

“Rick Rypien was dedicated to helping young people and those in need," said T.C. Carling, Executive Director, Canucks for Kids Fund. "Through this partnership with BCCHF, BCMHAS and the support of the Vancouver Canucks we can work together to ensure Rick’s passion to help those in need is well served.”

Here is an example of some of the tributes the Canucks have already made. Here Trevor Linden talks about Rypien as a friend and a player.

H/t to Puck Daddy

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 12, 2011 1:28 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Daily Skate: Canucks won't forget Methot's hit

By Brian Stubits

METHOT MARKED: The Canucks played in Columbus on Monday night and during the game Henrik Sedin took a hard check into the boards from the Blue Jackets' Marc Methot. While he didn't get any supplementary discipline from the NHL for the hit, there could be more waiting from Vancouver down the line. Kevin Bieksa says a few Canucks tried to challenge Methot to a fight to no avail, so he had this to say afterward: "Hank's a tough guy and he'll take that for the team. But we'll remember that." (Vancouver Sun)

PIN THE TAIL ON THE DONKEY: When Daniel Carcillo arrived in Chicago for his introductory press conference, he decided to fit right in and take some shots at Vancouver, including Tanner Glass, saying he'd "keep them in check" this season. Problem is, Glass is with the Jets now. "He should probably figure out what team I’m on before he starts doing stuff like that. The funny thing is, I’ve asked him to fight before, and he said no. It’s kind of surprising that he called me out in the media. I have no pre-existing relationship with him. He’s a donkey; everyone knows he’s a donkey, that’s just his thing." (Illegal Curve)

SALAK BACK: Speaking of the Blackhawks, they recalled Alexander Salak from the AHL on Wednesday. Corey Crawford had missed the previous two days of practice, but on Wednesday he was back and Ray Emery wasn't present. Interesting goings ons in Chicago. (CSN Chicago)

SPOT PRACTICE START: I just love these stories. The Capitals had to sit out Michal Neuvirth in practice on Wednesday for what Bruce Boudreau called a lower body injury (he is available for Thursday's game in Pittsburgh, coach said). Since you kind of need two goalies, they got PR man Sergey Kocharov to fill in. (Capitals Watch)

BACK TO THE TANK: The San Jose Sharks are moving their next few practices to the HP Pavilion, where they play their games. The idea? Coach Todd McLellan wants his team to get used to the new boards and glass so they can keep their home-ice advantage. Good thinking. (Working the Corners)

FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET: That is one way to desribe Phil Kessel's shot. Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer talks about the invisible shot that is so quick of his team's All-Star forward. He sounds glad to be on the other side of the ice. (Toronto Sun)

TO BOO OR NOT TO BOO? That is the question begging Senators fans about Sergei Gonchar. There is no question in this blogger's mind Gonchar deserves it for his indifference in Ottawa to start the season. (Silver Sens)

NYSTROM CLEARS: The Minnesota Wild placed Eric Nystrom on waivers last week then put him on re-entry waivers on Tuesday. Both times he cleared. So even at half price, nobody was willing to take a shot on the 28-year-old who had just four goals and a minus-16 last season. (Russo's Rants)

CHANT ALONG: Finally, as a request by @CoachBlueweiss after yesterday's Daily Skate item about the Maple Leafs' (and others') new goal song, here is some love to the Islanders' for this year, a little diddy called Crowd Chant by Joe Satriani. Not bad.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.



Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 1:42 am
 

Changed Man? Matt Cooke Scores 2 in win



By: Adam Gretz

Well this was a somewhat unexpected twist to the NHL's opening night.

When Matt Cooke was talking about changing the way he plays the game over the summer, the general consensus was that actions speak louder than words, and that we'll have to take a wait-and-see approach to see if he's not only committed to it, but also follows through with it. And let's face it, there's a pretty good reason for that.

You can't tell much from one game, but based on Pittsburgh's season opening 4-3 shootout win against Vancouver on Thursday night, the NHL's most controversial player managed to get off to a great start by being the surprising offensive hero for the Penguins, scoring a pair of goals. His first one was a power play tally midway through the first period, while he also managed to score a shorthanded goal early in the second period (video above) when he fired a shot through Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who appeared to unintentionally screen Roberto Luongo.

Cooke, of course, usually has his name appear in the news for a questionable hit or a suspension -- of which he's had four since joining the Penguins -- which only overshadows the fact he is a valuable player, as he showed on Thursday. When he's not doing something that puts his team at a disadvantage, that is, whether it be an ill-timed penalty or one of the aforementioned suspensions. His season-ending 17-game banishment last season, which cost him all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games against Tampa Bay, seemed to be the breaking point and the catalyst to get him to talk about changing the way he plays.

After Thursday's game, which turned out to be wildly entertaiing if you managed to stay awake for it, he spoke with Versus about coming back from last year's suspension and talked about how he let his team down  last season -- and they absolutely did miss him in the playoffs -- and felt the need to make it up to them.

Scoring two goals in the season opener is a great way to start.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 30, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 7:02 pm
 

Northwest Division Preview: 'Nucks still own it

NW1

By: Adam Gretz

This was the only division in the NHL last season to produce only one playoff team, and that was the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks, the team that's won the division three years in a row.

Playoff teams have been difficult to come by in the Northwest in recent years, as Colorado and Calgary are the only teams other than Vancouver to reach the postseason over the past three years; and they only managed to qualify once each. You have to go back to the 2007-08 season to find the last time more than two teams went to the playoffs in the same year out of the Northwest, and it's probably not going to happen this year.

Once you get past Vancouver, the Flames are probably the best bet to reach the playoffs, and even they're not a lock, having failed to qualify two years in a row, and then there's a steady dropoff to a pair of rebuilding teams in Colorado and Edmonton, and a team in Minnesota that seems to be stuck somewhere in the middle between being in contention and in a  rebuilding phase.

The Northwest Division (In predicted order of finish):

CanucksVancouver Canucks: The Vancouver Canucks reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in franchise history last season, losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games. After jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, Vancouver went on to lose four of the final five games of the series. And they not only lost, they were absolutely dominated, losing by a combined score of 21-4. Even with that disappointment in the rearview mirror, the Canucks are bringing back a roster that remains loaded from top to bottom, and is one of the top two or three cup contenders in the league.

Strengths: Just about everything is a strength for the Canucks. They're deep down the middle with Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and the underrated Manny Malhotra at center, and even with the loss of Christian Ehrhoff, they have an excellent defense led by Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo. Roberto Luongo is still one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and Cory Schneider, his young backup, could probably start for quite a few teams as well. They have quality depth up front with wingers like Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson, Jannik Hansen and Maxim Lapierre, and they excel on special teams, finishing with the top power play in the league last season and the third best penalty kill.

Weaknesses: It's really difficult to find one. Is there one? An obvious one? The Canucks are as deep as just about any team in the NHL at forward, defense and goaltender and have outstanding special teams. Where is the weakness?

FlamesCalgary Flames: A slow start that resulted in just 11 wins in their first 27 games put the Flames in a hole that was simply too deep to dig out of in the Western Conference, missing the playoffs by just four points. It's actually the exact opposite path they followed the previous season when they opened the with a 17-6-3 mark, only to completely fall apart over the final four months of the season and missed the playoffs by five points.

Strengths: Jarome Iginla is simply fantastic. He hasn't missed a game in four years, has scored at least 32 goals in each of those years, and managed to put in 43 during the 2010-11 season. Rene Bourque, Lee Stempniak, Curtis Glencross and David Moss is a solid group of forwards to put around Iginla, and all have the ability to score somewhere between 20 and 25 goals. A lot of other teams teams can -- and will -- do worse up front.

Weaknesses: How much does Miikka Kiprusoff have left in the tank? He's declined in recent years and his workload might be catching up with him and Henrik Karlsson could (and perhaps should) be getting a bigger role this season. Losing Robyn Regehr could be a significant loss on the blue line, and Jay Bouwmeester's first two years in Alberta have to be considered a tremendous disappointment. In his final three years with Florida he scored 12, 15 and 15 goals. In his two years with the Flames? He's scored seven. Total. And he's taking up over $6.6 million in cap space to be an offensive-defenseman. That's not going to work.

WildMinnesota Wild:  Mike Yeo takes over a team that hasn't made the playoffs in three years, hasn't won a playoff series since it went to the Conference Finals nine years ago, and he's introducing his version of the neutral zone trap (insert your own "it's boring hockey" comment here). Actually, it's pretty similar to the system the Penguins run -- the team Yeo was an assistant with for a number of years -- and is a bit more up-tempo than the Jacques Lemaire trap Minnesota fans witnessed all those years.

Strengths: Yeo is pushing for Mikko Koivu to win the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward, and he's definitely a worthy player to put on your early season watch list. An excellent two-way player that makes an impact in all three zones and all phases of the game. Dany Heatley, acquired from the Sharks over the summer, is coming off a down year (by his standards) in the goal-scoring department but possesses the best natural goal-scoring ability of any player on the roster and is a legitimate 40-goal threat.

Weaknesses: With Brent Burns no longer on the roster Minnesota has a bit of a hole on its blue line when it comes to providing offense. Marek Zidlicky, who was limited to just 46 games a season ago, was the only other defenseman to register at least 20 points. The 13th ranked power play in the league a season ago lost its top-three power play goal scorers (Burns, Antti Miettinen and Andrew Brunnette). Heatley should be able to help in that area, but will he be enough?

How good is Niklas Backstrom? He hasn't approached the numbers he put up the first three years of his career while playing under Lemaire, and his backups have pretty consistently put up similar save percentages in recent years. Was he a product of the system or is he set to play like one of the best goalies in the league again?

FlamesColorado Avalanche: Their decision to trade a first-round draft pick to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Semyon Varlamov was panned over the summer, as most observers are expecting Colorado to once again finish near the bottom of the NHL's standings, meaning that pick could turn out to be a lottery selection. The jury is still out on that trade, obviously, but there's no denying the Avalanche needed a significant upgrade in net after a disappointing season from Craig Anderson helped put the Avs at the bottom of the NHL in save percentage last season.

Strengths: The 1-2 punch of Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny down the middle is the foundation of this team, and they picked up another top young forward prospect back in June when they selected Gabriel Landeskog at the top of the draft.

Weaknesses: The Avalanche bulked up their defense this summer by putting an emphasis on adding size to their blue line, but will it result in a better product? Erik Johnson, acquired in last season's blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Blues, has the most potential of the group and is still only five years removed from being the No. 1 overall pick in the entire draft. Even with the addition of Varlamov, goaltending remains a question mark, especially since he's had problems staying injury free throughout his career.

The Avs had the worst penalty killing unit in the league last season. Can a full season of Jay McClement to go along with Daniel Winnick help improve that area?

OilersEdmonton Oilers: It's another rebuilding year, but they're getting closer, slowly but surely, to making an impact. And they might be the most entertaining -- and exciting -- non-playoff team in the league with an impressive list of young forwards led by last year's top pick, Taylor Hall.

Strengths: Even if No. 1 overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins doesn't spend the entire season in Edmonton, the Oilers still have some outstanding young talent up front. Ales Hemsky is one of the NHL's most creative players with the puck and a tremendous playmaker, typically averaging near a point-per-game. The biggest flaw in his game, unfortunately, is that he tends to miss at least 10 games (or more) per season. Getting him for a full season would be a welcome change. Hall looks to be a star in the making, and players like Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner are loaded with potential and should make the Oilers worth watching every night, even if they don't win a ton of games.

Weaknesses: Defense. Goaltending. Goaltending. Defense. After Ryan Whitney it's a very thin team on the blue line, and additions like Cam Barker aren't likely to help that. Their defense and goaltending, led by Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk, will keep the Oilers at the bottom of the division, as well as the Western Conference, for at least another year.

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 17, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Canucks will look to Edler to replace Ehrhoff

Edler1

By: Adam Gretz

Over the past two seasons no defenseman on the Vancouver Canucks roster provided more offense than Christian Ehrhoff's 28 goals and 66 assists.

The veteran defenseman moved on this summer, signing a lucrative -- some might say outrageous -- contract with the Buffalo Sabres that will make him one of the highest paid players in the NHL this season with a salary of $10 million. The contract carries an average annual salary of $4 million, which isn't all that bad for a player that produces like he has -- until you remember that it runs for 10 seasons and Ehrhoff will be 39 when it expires.

Still, Ehrhoff has proven to be a productive player and one of Vancouver's top defenseman, and such production from the blue line would seem to be difficult to replace. Captain Henrik Sedin has an interesting perspective on Ehrhoff's absence and how the team will work to replace him.

From Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun:
“He was in a spot where I think we have other guys who can step up and play in that role,” Sedin said, clearly referring to Ehrhoff’s power-play time. “Alex [Edler] is going to get more responsibility and we have a healthy Sami Salo now, and we have some other guys who are going to play a few more minutes.

“I think on the back end we were deep last year and we are deep this year. So I don’t think we should lose too much.”

A large percentage of Ehrhoff's point production came on the power play the past two seasons, while the Canucks put him in situations where, more often than not, he was starting a shift in the offensive zone as opposed to the defensive zone. He also was usually on the ice with the Sedin twins. Back when Ehrhoff originally signed his contract with the Sabres, Gabriel Desjardins at Arctic Ice Hockey put together an analysis of how the Canucks used Ehrhoff and how favorable it was for the defenseman to put up points.

From AIH back in late June:

40% of the time that Christian Ehrhoff was on the ice, the Sedins were there too.  Ehrhoff got easy ice time - either the 5th- or 6th-softest on the team this season, and the highest percentage of faceoffs in the offensive zone among the defensive corps.

Not only that, but he didn't outshine his teammates in scoring at 5-on-5

Obviously when you're playing with players like the Sedin twins, on the power play, and in a position where you're starting closer to the goal you're trying to score on offensive production is going to be slightly easier to come by, and that's the situation Ehrhoff usually found himself in as a member of the Canucks. That's not to say that Ehrhoff is a bad player or that he'll be easily replaceable, it just may not be as hard as one might expect. The Canucks still have some impressive depth on the blue line with Dan Hamhuis, Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Keith Ballard and Sami Salo. It's still an excellent group.

Edler, 25, will likely take over Ehrhoff's role and he seems more than capable of leading the Canucks blue line from an offensive perspective. In just 51 games last season he finished with eight goals and 23 assists, which followed seasons where he recorded 42 and 37 points respectively. It should be interesting to see what sort of boost -- if any -- his production gets this season taking on more power play responsibilities and filling the role that belonged to Ehrhoff the past two seasons.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: June 27, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:00 pm
 

Report: Bieksa, Canucks agree on five-year deal

The Canucks have reached an agreement with defenseman Kevin Bieksa on a five-year, $23 million deal, tsn.ca reports. Included in Bieksa's contract is a no-trade clause.

Without the deal, Bieksa was headed for the unrestricted free-agent market, which opens Friday.

Bieksa, 30, has spent the entirety of his NHL career with the Canucks, entering the league in 2005. This season he combined with Dan Hamhuis to form one of the better defensive pairings in hockey after he was rumored to be on the trading block just last season.

He was stellar in the playoffs, scoring five goals and recording five assists as the Canucks came one win shy of their first Stanley Cup. Bieksa scored the series-ending goal against the San Jose Sharks after the puck seemed to magically bounce off the boards right on to his stick and nobody but him on the ice was aware.

The Canucks still have work to do with other free agents, including fellow defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. He figures to command a similar salary as Bieksa. Among other UFAs are Chris Higgins, Raffi Torres, Tanner Glass and Sami Salo.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: March 28, 2011 2:08 am
Edited on: March 28, 2011 2:13 am
 

Vancouver's Hamhuis suffers another concussion

Vancouver Canucks Dan Hamhuis suffered his second concussion in less than two months Sunday, leaving the defenseman’s status for the postseason in doubt. 

Hamhuis and defensive partner Kevin Bieksa converged on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash as he drove toward the net in the first period. All three players went down in the collision, but Hamhuis' head struck the ice hard. He remained on the ice for a few seconds and went directly to the locker room with the assistance of the team's trainer. 



Vancouver went on to beat the Blue Jackets, 4-1, for their 50th win on the season to inch closer to the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy, not that it seemed to be a priority for players after the game. 

"Obviously, that sucks and doesn't feel good," said Bieksa told The Province. "Let's hope it's not serious and he's back soon. And let's not read into that (retirement threat_ too much. Guys are emotional after a concussion. Give him some time and see how he feels."

This is his fourth concussion of his career. After his third suffered on Feb. 9, the 28-year-old said another would make him reassess things, The Province reported at the time: 

"If there is more (concussions) to come, I think you have to take a look at what is important," Hamhuis, the father of two, said after suffering a concussion last month when his head struck the glass on a heavy check by Ryan Getzlaf. "If I ever felt like it's like putting myself at risk long term, then I'll have to step back and think about things.”

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault already lost center Manny Mahotra for the season with a an eye injury and forward Mikael Samuelsson has now missed three consecutive games with an undisclosed injury. 

“He’s been one of our best defensemen of the year with his steady play both offensively and defensively,” Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s part of the game. It’s not our first injury and we’re going to play through it.”

-- A.J. Perez
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com