Canucks’ sore Kevin Bieksa is ‘groin to travel with team (with video)
Notebook: It’s double daddy days for Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen
VANCOUVER — Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa is back on the shelf, out day-to-day with a sore groin, but apparently well enough to travel with his teammates Wednesday to Columbus, Ohio.
The fact he’s going on the road is probably the best sign. The Canucks play the Blue Jackets on Thursday and then have another two days off before meeting the Minnesota Wild on Sunday in St. Paul. Bieksa has missed four of the Canucks’ last five games, including Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
Head coach Alain Vigneault insisted at the morning skate Tuesday that Bieksa didn’t rush back Saturday to confront the Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings. Bieksa played 22:58 that night — second most after Alex Edler’s 23:45 — had two shots on goal, two blocked shots, one hit and one takeaway.
“Kevin came back and felt fine but, toward the end of the game, he hit someone and felt a little discomfort so he’s back to being day-to-day,” Vigneault explained. “It’s like any other injury. At the end of the day, the player and staff talk it over. He might feel he’s 100 per cent and ready to go and that he can play. Or sometimes he’s not 100 per cent but he feels he can play and play through it. You never know how it’s going to turn out.
“In Kevin’s case, he was fine,” said the coach. “He was playing really well in that game. He was quick, he was strong 1-on-1 and then toward the end of the game, one hit, one push, and he felt it again. He didn’t think anything of it. Next day (Sunday), he got up and it was real stiff.”
Cam Barker took Bieksa’s spot in the lineup Sunday and stayed in the lineup against San Jose. Andrew Alberts came out as Keith Ballard returned following a two-game benching.
“I was fairly frustrated,” Ballard said prior to facing the Sharks. “The situation I’m in, the role I’m in, it’s up to me to make the best of it.”
JENSEN TO WOLVES: Top Canuck prospect Nicklas Jensen, who turns 20 Wednesday, has completed his Swedish Elite League season with AIK Stockholm and will be re-assigned to the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves. Jensen finished with 17 goals in 50 games in the SEL.
According to Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman, Jensen does not have to return to the Oshawa Generals, who still have five games remaining on their Ontario Hockey League schedule plus playoffs. Jensen played two seasons for the Generals.
“His direct assignment from Vancouver to AIK nullified the requirement to send him to Oshawa,” said Gilman.
LATE BLOOMER: Big buzz at the Sharks’ skate Tuesday morning centred around call-up winger Bracken Kearns, the 31-year-old career minor leaguer and son of former Canuck stalwart defenceman Dennis Kearns.
Bracken finally made it to the NHL last season with the Florida Panthers and appeared in five games. Tuesday’s outing was his sixth. If nothing else, the North Vancouver native deserves an ‘A’ for persistence.
He worked his way up from the Junior B Grandview Steelers to the CIS Calgary Dinos to the ECHL and AHL. He spent six full seasons in the minors before getting his first NHL taste last year. He’s had stops in Toledo, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Reading, Norfolk, Rockford, San Antonio and Worcester, the latter San Jose’s farm club where he had 30 points in 50 AHL games this campaign.
“You keep pressing forward,” Kearns said of his journey. “I’ve had tons of struggles but tons of good things happened to me over my career. I just felt like I kept getting better every year and that’s kind of what kept me going.”
Dad Dennis, on a holiday in Southern California, didn’t attend Tuesday’s game at Rogers Arena, which allowed Bracken a comedic moment.
“He’d probably be a nervous wreck so I think it’s probably a good thing he’s down there,” quipped the younger Kearns.
His two older brothers, his father-in-law and a nephew plus friends attended the game.
DADDY DUO: Canucks winger Alex Burrows became a second-time father Monday, a day after teammate Jannik Hansen became a first-time father of twin boys Daniel and Lucas (not identical). Burrows’s wife Nancy gave birth to Lexie, a younger sister to 22-month-old Victoria. Lexie weighed in at six pounds, eight ounces.
“With our heavy schedule, it was nice to be able to get the birth done on a day off,” said a proud Burrows. “Lexie is a beautiful little healthy baby so it was fun. I brought Victoria to the hospital Monday night and she was really happy to spend a couple of hours with her mom and her baby sister.”
Hansen, meanwhile, says his twins will spend some time in the hospital as they were 2½ pounds each at birth.
“They’re doing fine but they’re obviously still in the hospital with their mother,” said Hansen. “They’ll still be in the hospital when we’re on the road. They have quite a while to go. Obviously we didn’t expect it to happen right now so it was a bit of a surprise but a happy one.”
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