Canucks trying to focus on hockey, not trade talk

 

On trade list: Hamhuis among those worrying about getting a new address by Monday’s deadline

 
 
 
 
“It’s certainly a distraction out there for our team and for the dressing room,” Hamhuis said of the trade talk. “As much as you try not to let it be, it seeps in. That’s where we have to do the best we can as professionals to perform tonight and try to put that aside.
 

“It’s certainly a distraction out there for our team and for the dressing room,” Hamhuis said of the trade talk. “As much as you try not to let it be, it seeps in. That’s where we have to do the best we can as professionals to perform tonight and try to put that aside.

Photograph by: File, Getty

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VANCOUVER — After Emerson Etem scored his team’s first goal Thursday, the celebration on the ice included Dan Hamhuis, Linden Vey and Matt Bartkowski. It could have been their final hugs as Vancouver Canucks. Three of those guys might not belong here Monday.

With Hamhuis and injured teammate Radim Vrbata at the vortex of the National Hockey League’s pre-deadline trade hurricane, and Vey and Bartkowski on a sell list of seven other Vancouver players that was leaked to the media on Wednesday, the Canucks somehow managed to focus Thursday on a game.

And while the showdown against the Ottawa Senators, the tallest of the seven dwarfs from Canada who will likely miss the playoffs was not exactly the game of the season, it meant a lot to players trying to keep their jobs in Vancouver or audition for one elsewhere before the trade deadline on Monday.

“There are teams always watching you,” Canuck Adam Cracknell, whose name appeared on the seven-player trade list, said before being scratched Thursday. “Someone’s always watching, whether it’s your organization or someone else’s. Some guys have been fortunate enough to play here for 14 or 15 years. I’ve never had that. You play for the guys you’re with. That’s what’s important about this team.”

Other Canucks reportedly being shopped by general manager Jim Benning include Yannick Weber, Brandon Prust, Chris Higgins and Ronalds Kenins. The latter three are already in the minors, and Weber was scratched by Canuck coach Willie Desjardins.

But Vey and Bartkowski played.

“Yeah, I heard about it,” Bartkowski, an unrestricted free agent this summer, said of the sell order on him. “The last time (TSN) tweeted I was being traded, I was supposed to go to Calgary for Jarome Iginla. And that never happened. I take it all with a grain of salt.”

But others find the trade rumours difficult.

Hamhuis, in particular, has been agonizing whether to put his family or team first when Benning comes to him at some point with a trade option to another team. The 33-year-old’s six-year contract with the Canucks expires in June and the defenceman from Smithers badly wants to stay in Vancouver. He has a no-trade clause that can block a move.

“It’s certainly a distraction out there for our team and for the dressing room,” Hamhuis said. “As much as you try not to let it be, it seeps in. That’s where we have to do the best we can as professionals to perform tonight and try to put that aside.

“I don’t think you ever want to see your name out on the trade block. I think you always want to feel wanted by the organization you’re with. Whether these lists and speculations and rumours are true or not, either way it’s hard on guys.”

Hamhuis said he hasn’t decided what he’ll do because Benning hasn’t yet approached him with a potential destination and official request to waive his NTC. The Chicago Blackhawks were believed to lead the pack of teams interested in him, but their trade Thursday afternoon for Winnipeg Jets’ winger Andrew Ladd makes it more difficult for them to absorb another big salary.

As per his limited NTC, Vrbata this week submitted a list of eight teams with which the Canucks can negotiate.

“For sure, it’s hard,” Canuck captain Henrik Sedin said. “I can only imagine. But guys seem good today. They came in, they worked hard, that’s all you can ask for.

“I feel sorry for (Hamhuis). But that’s the reality of this era, the salary-cap era. Last year of your contract, if you’re on a team like this in a rebuilding phase, that’s going to happen. There’s no way around it. It doesn’t matter who you are. You could be the best player in the league, but you’re still going to get asked.”

imacintrye@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/imacvansun

 
 
 
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“It’s certainly a distraction out there for our team and for the dressing room,” Hamhuis said of the trade talk. “As much as you try not to let it be, it seeps in. That’s where we have to do the best we can as professionals to perform tonight and try to put that aside.
 

“It’s certainly a distraction out there for our team and for the dressing room,” Hamhuis said of the trade talk. “As much as you try not to let it be, it seeps in. That’s where we have to do the best we can as professionals to perform tonight and try to put that aside.

Photograph by: File, Getty

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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