Canucks' Kevin Bieksa is team's nominee for Masterton Trophy
Notebook: Character blueliner has worked tirelessly for mindcheck.ca site
VANCOUVER — Kevin Bieksa can be cantankerous and snarly at times, especially on the ice, but the Canucks defenceman has demonstrated his heart is as big as the logo at Rogers Arena.
Last October, while NHL players were locked out, Bieksa organized a charity game at UBC that raised $200,000. He’s also worked tirelessly for mindcheck.ca, the mental health website dedicated to friend and former teammate Rick Rypien who had serious issues that led to suicide in 2011.
Bieksa was not looking to be recognized for these initiatives but he was anyway Friday when it was announced he is this year’s Canucks nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The award is for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication. It is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
“I don’t think you do stuff like that for the acknowledgment or credit or notoriety,” Bieksa said Friday after being informed he was the nominee. “It’s just the way I was raised. The way this team is shaped, we do a lot of community work, I think, more so than a lot of other teams around the league. We take a lot of pride in it and we enjoy doing it. NHL season or not, we still felt like we wanted to contribute and do what we could to help. And that’s what we did.”
Other Masterton candidates nominated include Sidney Crosby, Shane Doan, Marian Hossa, Ray Whitney, Ryan Smyth and J.S. Giguere. The winner will be announced at the NHL awards ceremony following the playoffs.
“We’ll see what happens as far as the voting across the league goes,” added Bieksa, “but it’s just an honour to be considered for such an award.”
According to Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, Bieksa was worthy of the selection.
“I think it’s really well deserved,” Vigneault said. “He’s a great individual and really good with his teammates. He was obviously really emotionally involved with mindcheck because of his relationship with Ryp. With the help of our staff, he wanted to make sure it was headed in the right direction and it was great to see other NHL teams get involved. Hopefully, next year, there will be more Canadian NHL teams involved and I know Kevin is working really hard to get that done.”
OFF THE HOOK: Vigneault reiterated Friday that he wasn’t terribly vexed over the Canucks’ first two periods Thursday against Anaheim. The Canucks were outscored 2-0 and outshot 25-9 by a Ducks’ team that was resting seven regulars. Vancouver wound up losing 3-1 despite out-shooting the Ducks 20-5 in the third.
“If you put yourself in a player’s mind, I mean, you’re a professional and you understand you have to go out and perform and there are no excuses, etc.,” Vigneault said. “But, at the end of the day, going into the playoffs as healthy as you can be at this time of year is really important. So I get certain things.”
QUOTABLE: “If I’m going to Edmonton, I’m playing. I’m not going on vacation, that’s for sure.” – Ryan Kesler when asked if he might be rested Saturday against the Oilers.
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