Jason Botchford: Canucks take tougher tack adding Archibald

 

 
 
 
 
Darren Archibald got in some pre-season licks for the Vancouver Canucks last September, jolting Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid with a check at Rogers Arena.
 
 

Darren Archibald got in some pre-season licks for the Vancouver Canucks last September, jolting Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid with a check at Rogers Arena.

Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, The Province

TAMPA, Fla — Paraphrasing Erik Gudbranson, one player can’t make a team tough.

But it wouldn’t hurt to try.

The Vancouver Canucks finally bellied up and signed Darren Archibald to an NHL contract after spending months rolling out a team that was a little too pliable, a little too delicate and a little too soft.

The Canucks have been making two-hand touch football look violent this season.

Archibald probably can’t change all that. Not in any significantly dramatic way. Heck, as head coach Travis Green pointed out, we don’t even know if Archibald is an NHL. player.

We’re about to find out.

After losing Sam Gagner to an ankle injury and Brendan Gaunce to a foot fracture, the Canucks recalled Reid Boucher to help their offence and signed Archibald to a contract to help their spine.

Archibald is sent to join the team in Raleigh, N.C., and is expected to play against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

There may have been a couple of hallelujahs in the Canucks’ locker room when that news filtered in.

Since Derek Dorsett’s forced retirement, the Canucks have obviously lacked edge, pushback and a man who hits like a one-ton truck.

You know it. The players know it.

Bo Horvat was asked whether the team needs this element, and midway through the question he jumped to the answer.

“I think that’s exactly what we need,” he said. “I think we have to get more hits. Even on the forecheck.

“We need to get more fear into our opponents. They need to know someone is going to come down hard on them.

“I do think (Archibald) is going to bring that to our team.”

The Canucks don’t seem so sure. If they were, they would have kept Archibald with this group at the start of the season.

He was one of Green’s favourite players in Utica, and was the Comets’ MVP last season. There wasn’t a role he didn’t excel in. He killed penalties. He was on the power play. And at midseason, Green put him on his top line and that line took off.

Archibald put up 23 goals and 24 assists in in 76 games, all while he was pancaking opponents and standing up for teammates.

Green made a point at training camp by making Archibald one of his last cuts. But even that didn’t get him an NHL contract when he was sent back to Utica.

Before signing Archibald, the Canucks were at 45 NHL contracts. The limit is 50 and many believed Vancouver wanted to keep those slots open for potential college free agents.

Green said the team didn’t consider signing and recalling him earlier in the year because when it had injuries up front and needed a player Archibald was out six weeks with a broken jaw.

“Every team wants a guy who is physical and can play in different situations,” Green said. “I’m not sitting here saying Darren Archibald’s ready, or is a full-time NHL hockey player yet.

“He still has a lot to prove. He knows that as well.”

Archibald is not some prospect. He’s 27 years old, and has spent the past six years shuttling between the AHL and the ECHL. He also played 16 games with the Canucks in the John Tortorella season of 2013-14.

But last season was somewhat of a watershed moment for his pro career. Something changed. For the Comets, Archibald became a complete player.

“He matured,” Green said. “He become comfortable in his own skin.

“When I talk about players and when they fully grasp it, he’s a good example.

“When he was younger, he was torn between playing a big, heavy game while trying to score goals.

“He almost got caught in the middle a little bit.”

Since recovering from his broken jaw, Archibald has played 16 games for the Comets. He’s had five goals, six assists and even scored a shootout goal. He’s also crushed opponents regularly without taking penalties.

In these 16 games, he’s had just seven minutes in penalties. They all came in one game, when he was standing up for a teammate.

Could the Canucks use some of that?

Never mind, you don’t need to answer.

jbotchford@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/botchford

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Darren Archibald got in some pre-season licks for the Vancouver Canucks last September, jolting Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid with a check at Rogers Arena.
 

Darren Archibald got in some pre-season licks for the Vancouver Canucks last September, jolting Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid with a check at Rogers Arena.

Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, The Province

 
Darren Archibald got in some pre-season licks for the Vancouver Canucks last September, jolting Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid with a check at Rogers Arena.
Darren Archibald, taking the pre-game skate prior to a pre-season game last September at Rogers Arena, last suited up for the Canucks in a regular season game in the 2013-14 season. (Photo: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG Files)
Darren Archibald shows off the puck he used to score his first — and so far only — NHL goal at Rogers Arena on March 8, 2014. (Photo: Jeff Vinnick, NHLI via Getty Images files)
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice