VANCOUVER - It didn't take long for the groin pains to surface at Canuck training camp Sunday as both Dan Hamhuis and David Booth sat out the first practice of the season, an abbreviated 30-minute session.
According to the team, Hamhuis and Booth have groin strains and are listed as day-to-day. Right winger Zack Kassian also didn't skate Sunday due to back spasms. He is also listed as day-to-day. Canuck GM Mike Gillis said he was not worried and hinted the players wouldn't be out long.
Earlier, he admitted injuries were a major concern in a 48-game season with no exhibition games.
“I think injuries are going to be the biggest factor with this schedule and how you manage them,” he said. “If you get lucky enough not to have some serious ones, you're going to be okay.”
Centre Ryan Kesler, who is still recovering from last spring's shoulder and wrist surgeries, is the only Canuck regular definitely out for Saturday's season opener against the Anaheim Ducks, 7 p.m. at Rogers Arena. Gillis suggested Kesler might be back sooner rather than later.
“His spot isn't going to be vacant for a long period of time,” Gillis said. “Ryan's had a really good three weeks, although you never have a definite time table on these things. He's a competitor and I know he wants to play.”
FRANKLY SPEAKING: As expected, the Canucks summoned 12 players from their Chicago Wolves farm team to help bring the numbers to a level where they can field two teams for their mid-week scrimmages.
Only one junior, defenceman Frank Corrado, received the call. Corrado has been in the news the last month after his failed bid to make Canada's world junior squad and then a trade from the Sudbury Wolves, where he was captain, to the Kitchener Rangers, who are coached by Steve Spott, the same Steve Spott who cut him from Team Canada.
Now he's in an NHL camp, at least until the end of the week.
“It's been a little hectic,” nodded Corrado, the Canucks' fifth round pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft. “Obviously I'm really excited and really happy. It's a great opportunity."
Corrado, 19, is under no illusion he's competing for a roster spot. The Canucks already have eight NHL defencemen in camp plus the likes of Kevin Connauton and Derek Joslin, who have been playing for the AHL Wolves all season. Corrado understands he's here as a reward for his outstanding play in the Ontario League.
“Being a young guy and stuff, you can't really look at it as trying to push to be on the team,” he said. “If you push too hard, you're going to stress yourself out, especially as a 19-year-old. I'm not in a position where it's make or break time for me.”
Explained Gillis: “Frankie, I think deserves to be recognized. He's trending upwards, he's had a great season and we all felt he should have been on the world junior team. You want to continue to reward young players when you have an opportunity and this is a unique opportunity in the middle of the season. We felt that he would benefit from this experience here.”
Corrado has 30 points in 44 games with the Wolves and Rangers.
NAYSAYERS: The players voted 98 per cent in favour of accepting the new CBA but, according to one report, 12 players voted against it.
“Maybe they hit the wrong button, who knows?” quipped goalie Cory Schneider, a member of union's bargaining committee. “There were a couple of guys who were a little outspoken against it so that's not a surprise.”
FAN-FEST: The Canucks announced a number of fan initiatives for the new season, including a 'sweater off our back' giveaway for Saturday's home opener. There will also be merchandise and food discounts for the first three home games plus various prizes given out. One of the prizes is to fly on team charter for a road game.
All training camp practices and scrimmages at Rogers Arena will be open to the public, although tickets will be required for the Wednesday and Thursday night scrimmages that begin at 7 p.m.
QUOTABLE: "We've done our analysis of it with our consultants and we think it's a pretty good schedule." -- Mike Gillis on his team's compressed 48-game slate.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault holds a whistle in his mouth while putting players through drills during practice on the first day of the NHL team's training camp in Vancouver on Sunday, January 13, 2013.
Photograph by: Darryl Dyck, THE CANADIAN PRESS