Lack will fit in fine with the Canucks circus
Backup has the temperament — and sense of humour — to thrive in the always-entertaining goalie situation
Eddie Lack was mic’d up for Saturday’s practice.
Maybe it’s time for that to happen when he’s playing a game.
That’s because Lack isn’t always smiling. It just seems that way.
Lack can be a lot of laughs. He has the Swedish Chef on his mask and didn’t think twice about spending an afternoon eating Greek food and playing video games with The Province’s Legion of Blog. It was at their apartment.
They didn’t know it at the time, but those two whimsical bloggers were lucky they didn’t get punched. Alex Steen did when he was hassling Lack in the crease in St. Louis at the end of October. He’s a fellow Swede, too.
“I surprise myself sometimes with what I do in the heat of the moment,” Lack said. “It happens naturally. I just dream away, and I think I’m in my backyard playing, whacking at my friends.”
So, turns out, Lack can snap. Does that mean he actually has a dark side?
“I hope so,” Lack said. “I don’t think it would work if I was this happy, happy non-caring guy on the ice.
“It’s the competitive side of me that comes out. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing X-Box or in a hockey game. I always want to win.”
John Tortorella praised Lack this season by saying he has a “nice arrogance” on the ice. Off it, I’ve seen no indications to suggest that’s possible.
Lack regularly comes off as the “happy, happy,” goofy, fun-loving goalie with the wacky nickname, The Stork. It’s actually one reason why the Vancouver Canucks signed him to a two-year, $2.3 million extension after seeing him play just five NHL games this season.
“It’s as much about the person as it is about the player,” Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman said.
He’s right to prioritize constitution, especially when it comes to the Canucks goaltending situation. You need a certain temperament to handle a position which is always on the precipice of Circus Town in Vancouver. Just takes the slightest of shoves.
But Lack has the type of personality that relieves tension, not adds to it.
The Lack signing Friday was one of the Canucks final pieces in what may be a master class in salary cap management.
The entire team is signed for next year, save Zack Kassian, Dale Weise and Jeremy Welsh, and the Canucks managed to do it for $60 million. When you consider the salary cap could be in the $74-million range next season, and throw in a possible compliance buyout for David Booth, the Canucks would have $18 million to spend.
Whether there will be anyone to spend it in free agency is another question entirely. But if there is, say Mike Cammalleri, the Canucks will be in their best position in years to make a strong pitch to the best free agents.
There are no Stanley Cups awarded to the team who consistently negotiates value contracts. But is an area GM Mike Gillis and Gilman have excelled at during their time here. It’s the one area of their operation that’s absolutely critic-proof.
In fact, based on Vancouver’s contracts alone, the Buffalo Sabres would have to inept or willingly negligent not to consider Gilman a viable candidate their vacant general manager’s job.
In other words, don’t expect a call, Laurence. The Canucks likely have nothing to worry about.
The Canucks did move quickly on extending Lack this year because goalies tend to get paid really fast. Viktor Fasth got a two-year, $5.8 million contract out of Anaheim after just eight starts.
At least on paper, Lack had some leverage in the negotiations because he was set to become an unrestricted free agent in July. Because he’s 25, and played three contracted years with the Canucks already without playing 28 NHL games meant he was going to qualify for Group 6 free agency.
But, turns out, Lack had no intention of leaving.
“I thought I had one more year as a restricted free agent,” Lack said. “It was just never in my mind to leave. I spent three years with Vancouver. I always to play for the Canucks.
“I’m happy to be here now.”
The Lack camp was seeking more money on the deal, but the Canucks sold his camp on how playing behind Roberto Luongo will be great for his development.
Worked out pretty well for Cory Schneider, didn’t it?
“Yeah,” Lack said, laughing.
Of course he was, he wasn’t playing a game.
© Copyright (c) The Province