Vancouver Canucks shuffle deck — Schneider in net, Raymond up the middle, take a Flyer on a strapping Sestito — for Kings test
Goalie Corey Schneider heads onto the ice for a photo as the Vancouver Canucks unveil their Vancouver Millionaires uniforms on Friday, March 1, 2013 at Rogers Arena. The Millionaires, fronted by Fred ‘Cyclone’ Taylor, won this city’s only Stanley Cup championship in 1914-15. The uniforms will be worn in a game against the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, March 16.
Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, PNG
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks haven't played like a million bucks lately, but on Friday they looked like Millionaires as they modelled the 1915 throwback uniforms they plan to wear March 16 against the Detroit Red Wings.
Cyclone Taylor and his Millionaire mates won the Stanley Cup 98 years ago and Vancouver is still waiting for another. To further rub it in, the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are the Canucks' next opponent, Saturday night at Rogers Arena (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1040).
The Kings are rolling with five straight wins and the Canucks are moving in the other direction with two straight losses and three straight at home.
The Canucks will also dress a work-in-progress lineup with Mason Raymond playing centre and waiver pickup Tom Sestito slotting into the fourth-line left-wing spot. Kevin Bieksa may return from his groin strain. One thing we know for sure: Cory Schneider is starting in goal.
“The situation is no different than any other year,” noted Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “Every year you have injuries, every year you have players in and out of the lineup. This is nothing new for the players and it's nothing new for the coaches. You get on the ice and who ever you are playing with, you play with. It's that simple.”
Well, at least it sounds simple. The roster took another Twilight Zone twist Friday when the Canucks unexpectedly saw their waiver claim for Sestito accepted. The 6-5, 228-pound winger had been playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.
But the Canucks didn't have room for Sestito on their 23-man roster so Andrew Ebbett, who was called up Thursday to replace the injured Ryan Kesler, was re-assigned to the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves without ever lacing up his skates.
This left Vigneault with only three natural centres — Henrik Sedin, Max Lapierre and rookie Jordan Schroeder — and necessitated moving Raymond into Kesler's spot between Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen.
“We're looking at different possibilities,” said Vigneault.
Since Vigneault almost always begins a game the way he runs practice, he conceded Raymond might actually start at centre Saturday.
“I don't know, yeah, maybe,” he said.
For what it's worth, Raymond fully expects to be in the middle against the Kings.
“I think that's how it's supposed to start,” Raymond nodded. “I've played centre a little bit in the past and I look forward to the opportunity. It's a good opportunity.”
Bieksa, who has missed two games with a groin strain, participated fully in Friday's practice and took first-unit reps on the power play. However, he was skating with extra Cam Barker during 5-on-5 drills.
He was unsure whether he would be able to play against the Kings.
“The first time skating obviously there is going to be some feeling there,” Bieksa said. “But it felt good. I was happy with the way I felt today. We'll have to see how I feel when I wake up in the morning. We have a lot of games coming up in a short period here so I don't want to come back and have to leave again and leave my team shorthanded. So I'd like to make sure that I'm ready if I come back.”
Sestito, meanwhile, will bring a true heavyweight presence to the Canucks. A 25-year-old from Utica, N.Y., he is listed at 6-5 and 228 pounds. He was drafted 85th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006 — a draft that was held in Vancouver — and also played for the Plymouth Whalers in the 2007 Memorial Cup at Pacific Coliseum.
There isn't much subtlety to Sestito's game. In 34 NHL appearances with the Blue Jackets and Flyers, he has four goals and 159 penalty minutes. Sestito makes $605,000 and will be a restricted free agent in the summer.
“It's bittersweet,” Sestito told reporters before leaving Philadelphia. “I loved it here in Philly. I get a new chance and it's a great organization to go to. They are always a winning team. I just want to go there and help them as much as I can.”
Canucks GM Mike Gillis admitted he was surprised to get Sestito as waiver claims are done in reverse order of the standings and the Canucks were ahead of 21 teams Friday morning. Sestito essentially replaces Aaron Volpatti, who was lost on waivers Thursday to the Washington Capitals. However, Volpatti's NHL roster spot had already been allocated to Steve Pinizzotto, who was promptly assigned to the Wolves on a conditioning stint after recovering from a groin injury. (Players on conditioning stints must remain on the 23-man roster.)
“We really liked Aaron and what he did here as a fourth-liner but, to stay in the league, you need to be able to kill penalties and do some things,” Gillis explained. “We wanted to get Aaron more playing time and unfortunately he got selected so we were in a position where we still wanted a player like that so we selected Tom from Philadelphia. He's a big guy, he plays aggressively and he has upside. When we lost Aaron, we wanted to find that as quickly as possible.”
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun