Kuzma: A change of scenery should suit Vey

 

 
 
 
 
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 1:  Linden Vey #7 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring against the New York Islanders during their NHL game at Rogers Arena March 1, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
 

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 1: Linden Vey #7 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring against the New York Islanders during their NHL game at Rogers Arena March 1, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, The Province

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The dark cloud that has been hovering over Linden Vey for years may have a silver lining.

The Vancouver Canucks didn’t tender the restricted free agent a qualifying offer by the Monday deadline and in a hockey sense, that’s not great news for any player. But the centre has endured so much for so long on and off the ice that a change of scenery as an unrestricted free agent — perhaps going to Europe where his skill set would suit the larger ice surface and he could just blend into society — could be a good-news story.

The 24-year-old Vey could use good news. And a fresh start.

On June 5, his father, Curtis Vey, and Angela Nicholson — a Saskatchewan couple accused of plotting to kill their spouses in 2013 —  were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder against Jim Taylor, Nicholson’s husband, and Brigitte Vey, the centre’s mother. It was the latest crippling blow for Vey who never gave any public indication last season of the incredible duress he was enduring. He was hard on himself as a player, but remained personable as a professional and very respectful.

However, from a playing perspective, Vey went from being on the first power-play unit in his first Canucks training camp but failed to produce despite ample ice time. Acquired from the Los Angeles King on June 28, 2014, for a second-round pick that year, he never developed into a consistent third-line centre and struggled when bumped up to a second-line role. He had just four goals in 41 NHL games last season. He also cleared waivers Oct. 5, was re-assigned to the Utica Comets and even when recalled by the Canucks, his impact was minimal.

With Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat, Markus Granlund and Brendan Gaunce down the middle and the Canucks likely adding a free-agent right-winger to go with one-year commitments to Anton Rodin and Emerson Etem, Vey had no place to play.

“We thought that Gaunce came in the last 15 games and played really well and on the right side where we also have Jannik Hansen and Jake Virtanen and Derek Dorsett, there wasn’t room there,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning. “We just made the determination that we gave him an opportunity for a couple of years, but we feel the players we have under contract are better.

“I feel for everything he has had to deal with and I hope that he gets to do what he wants to do and has a successful career and I wish nothing but the best for him.”

Vey knew the writing was on the wall even before last season and that his summer preparation was crucial to be stronger on pucks and produce much more offensively.

“It’s always taken me a year to figure things out,” Vey said back then. “I’ve always struggled and been inconsistent in my first year and for some reason, it takes me longer to adapt to leagues.”

In the WHL, Vey went from eight to 24 goals in his first two seasons before exploding for 46. In the AHL, he went from 43 to 67 points in his first two minor-pro seasons, so there was thought to be something to his theory. But after 10 goals and 14 assists in 2014-15, he had a lacklustre training camp and pre-season.

Adam Cracknell made the team out of that camp. Vey lost his job.

bkuzma@postmedia.com
twitter.com/benkuzma

 
 
 
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VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 1:  Linden Vey #7 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring against the New York Islanders during their NHL game at Rogers Arena March 1, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
 

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 1: Linden Vey #7 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring against the New York Islanders during their NHL game at Rogers Arena March 1, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, The Province

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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