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Tenacious Kess - NOV.28.07


Nancy Henderson

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<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>I think I owe Ryan Kesler an apology. I have been a little sarcastic about his abilities over the last couple of years. Turns out hockey players, like children, will insist on developing in their own time. Now, Kess has been under a great deal of pressure since he was wooed by Philadelphia and given such an impressive contract last season. He was a relatively high draft pick, the Canucks were in desperate need of scorers so, naturally, everyone was expecting him to instantly step it up. But he struggled, and got injured and his point production dropped.

There has never been anything wrong with Ryan Kesler’s speed or his physical tenacity. I just found it a little infuriating that he would get himself spectacularly in the clear, then somehow miss the net, or fail to get the shot away or be unable to poke the loose puck past a sprawling goalie. <a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov2707_canuckvsduck17_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov2707_canuckvsduck17_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>I grumbled menacingly about forcing Ryan to stay after practice and fire away at the Shooter Tutor until his hands bled. But that was the hysteria talking. Turns out that moving the best three forwards to the top line created a job opportunity for a new quarterback on the second line. And Kelser responded, becoming an impressive checking centre and often, one of the team’s best players. But he was still missing the damn net. And then, much like when you stare furiously at the kettle, waiting for it to boil, it is the moment that you look away that things start to heat up. Once I stopped expecting Kess to score, he actually started popping them in, including an absolute beauty of a goal, his second of the game last night.

Quatchi, er, Bertuzzi the hockey playing Sasquatch returned to GM Place yesterday and promptly disappeared. Long suffering Canucks fans are well acquainted with the invisibility cloak that big Bert sometimes magically wraps around his massive shoulders. That famous defensive fade was well in evidence when Todd made a half-hearted swipe at the puck that his old buddy and our beloved captain corralled and zinged into the net for the opening goal of the game. Ah, memories.

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov2507_canuckvsblackhawk08_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov2507_canuckvsblackhawk08_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>And finally, last night did nothing to endear Chris Pronger to the Canucks faithful. Oh sure, there is some entertainment value in an entire arena chanting “Pronger sucks” or in Chris holding up Lukas and Mo, one in each hand, like some Three Stooges out-take, but not enough to make up for the inexcusably cheap and dirty way that such a talented player plays the game.

I really hoped that karma would prevent Chris from ever winning the Stanley Cup. Back in 2002, Pronger, adding to his unpleasant career resume, attempted to destroy what was left of Steve Yzerman’s knee. Fate saw to it that it was creepy crosschecking Chris who suffered the season ending knee injury and Stevie Y who triumphed. Unfortunately, last season, karma was too busy allowing Rob to finally enjoy a Niedermayer family picnic without painting on a smile, choking down a cheeseburger and silently wishing he had taken the opportunity to smother Scott with a pillow when they still shared a bunkbed. So, unless I can get close enough to the Cup with steel wool in hand before the guards throw a net over me, Pronger’s name is engraved in history. And that truly does suck.

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