The three goals Antoine Vermette scored against the Canucks Sunday night had to be something of a kick in the jollies for the Vancouver management team which two years ago had the opportunity of landing him at the trade deadline from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
They decided the price of a third- and a fifth-round draft pick was too steep and instead they opted for the immortal Sami Pahlsson, who will live in infamy in Vancouver lore as a third-line centre trying in some ways to fill the spot after Cody Hodgson had been moved.
And as people will recall, the Canucks bowed out in five games against the Kings in the first round of the playoffs and Pahlsson returned to play in Sweden.
Vermette would certainly look good on the Vancouver roster at the moment, given his 18 goals for the Coyotes, a team that traditionally doesn’t fill the net under Dave Tippet. The Phoenix coach stresses defence perhaps even more than John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault.
Vermette also finds himself in the top 10 in faceoff statistics, winning roughly 56 per cent of his draws, so you can imagine how he might have looked in a Vancouver uniform had the team made the draft pick investments and been able to re-sign him at the end of the season.
It would have had to be less than the $3.75 million cap hit he has with Phoenix now — and the concern about re-signing him was likely the reason they opted not to make the move here — but he would certainly be in a position to have helped this squad right now.
Vermette bagged his third career hat trick and it was a study in versatility in doing so, bagging one even strength, one short-handed and one on the power play to keep his team in a game they had no right being in given the leaky goaltending from Mike Smith in the Phoenix end. It was the first hat trick of that extraordinary nature in the NHL since Rick Paterson turned the trick with the Chicago Blackhawks way back in 1981.
“I didn’t know that,” said Vermette when told of his unusual feat. “I wish it had been on the winning side, although I guess we came back for the one point.
“Usually you get good chances and the puck doesn’t go in for you so it’s nice to have a night like this,” Vermette continued, discussing how Roberto Luongo put one in for them and then Ryan Kesler did virtually the same on his second. “I thought it was a good sign because we’ve been getting a lot of chances and not getting the bounces, so maybe this is a sign and we’re going to start getting them.
“If we’re talking about the process, we’re pushing our game slowly in the right direction but it’s disappointing when you get four goals and you don’t get two points.”
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