Canucks’ beefed-up Tanev seeking bigger role on blue line
Notebook: ‘Still growing’ rearguard armed with new contract
VANCOUVER — Vancouver Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev will never be confused with the Incredible Hulk, or Montreal Canadiens wide-bodied defenceman Douglas Murray, who is hockey's version of the fictional behemoth.
Tanev is tall and slim, but at least he is no longer a total string bean. When he signed with the Canucks as an NCAA free agent three years ago, Tanev was a featherweight “170 pounds or something.” Now he has worked his way up to middleweight status.
“I weighed in this year at 195 so I'm slowly climbing the ladder,” the 23-year-old from Toronto said this week. “I think I can put on another five to 10 pounds but it's going to take a while. I'm still growing and still maturing. I think I am a young 23-year-old. I started developing later than most. But, ha! There is not a chance I could ever be as big as Douglas Murray.”
Tanev's story has been well documented. He was a 5-2 runt in Grade 10 and playing high school hockey because he couldn't make a midget team. (No pun intended.) Now he's a 6-2 regular on the Canucks’ blue line with a one-way contract for $1.5 million. He had to wait all summer before signing Aug. 22 but never thought he wouldn't be back.
“I love it here and wanted to be here,” he said. “I knew eventually something would be worked out, although it obviously took a little longer than expected. It was the first time my contract was up and it was a little bit difficult.”
Now he is looking to move up the Canucks' blue-line depth chart. If the new coaching staff opts for three pairings of right shots and left shots, the right-shooting Tanev could find himself in the top four, behind veteran Kevin Bieksa but ahead of Yannick Weber and rookie Frank Corrado.
The extra weight to battle for pucks will certainly come in handy.
“Obviously you want to be moved up the depth chart but whether that happens or not is up to the coaches and how I play in the games,” he noted. “Everyone wants to play against the other teams' best guys, play more minutes and put up more points.”
Tanev was not impressed with himself after his pre-season debut in Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Oilers. It was his first live action since last April 6 when he suffered an ankle injury against the Calgary Flames. He missed the final 10 games of the regular season and all four playoff losses.
By his own admission, he had an awful start against the Oilers before settling down. He finished the night with three shots on goal and a minus-1 rating in 19:25 of ice.
“I didn't feel too good at all in the first period and I had a few tough shifts,” he said. “I tried to get up in the play but I made a poor decision on one of them and turned it over at the blue line. After the first 10 to 12 minutes I felt good but, the first part, I was terrible.”
Tanev had plenty of company in that regard.
WAKE-UP CALLS: The Canucks, who were given Thursday off, will skate at 7:30 a.m. Friday before heading to Surrey's Northview course for the annual Jake Milford Charity golf tournament. New Canuck Brad Richardson attempted to recall the last time he practised that early in the morning.
“Well, I was a lot younger,” he said, smiling. “I dressed at home and wore my skate guards to the rink. I think everyone had those 6 a.m. practices when they were kids so 7:30 is a breeze. It's no big deal for us.”
Daniel Sedin, with three children, is accustomed to rising early so he won't even have to set an alarm.
“I'll be awake, it won't be a problem for me,” said Daniel. “The kids are usually up by 6:30.”
Zack Kassian, meanwhile, knew what time he would be getting up.
“Early!” he laughed.
The 7:30 a.m. skate was made necessary by new CBA rules which mandate two days off during the training camp period, one in the first half and one in the second half. It was scheduled before the poor outing Wednesday so it's not a punishment practice. Canucks head coach John Tortorella has had some of those, however.
“I know there have been earlier practices because we didn't do anything the night before,” he said.
WAIVE GOODBYE: The Canucks placed three forwards on waivers Thursday for the purpose of assigning them to the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets. Zach Hamill, the Port Coquitlam native, is being dispatched to the farm along with centre Pascal Pelletier and left-winger Colin Stuart. All three appeared in one of the first two pre-season games. The Canucks also sent wingers Brandon DeFazio and Alexandre Grenier to Utica. The Comets meet the Abbotsford Heat Sunday at 7 p.m. in Abby in an AHL exhibition game.
BOOTH REVIEW: Canucks GM Mike Gillis, appearing on the club's flagship radio station Team 1040 Thursday, said he expects oft-injured left-winger David Booth to play Saturday night in Edmonton. Booth only rejoined the team at practice Wednesday. He hasn't appeared in a game since March 16 when he tore up his left ankle against the Detroit Red Wings.
QUOTABLE: “When you have a day off, you should have a day off. I'd rather practise early on Friday and then go and play golf instead of having the tournament on a day off. So it's good.” — Daniel Sedin on the busy day facing the team Friday.
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