Canucks’ minus-master Alex Edler: ‘Bottom line is I haven't been good enough’


Tough season for veteran blueliner, who despite NHL-high minus-39 wants to come back to Vancouver

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alex Edler finished the season at minus-39, dead last among 886 NHL players.

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alex Edler finished the season at minus-39, dead last among 886 NHL players.

Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, PNG

More on This Story


VANCOUVER — It seemed almost fitting that Alex Edler's miserable season ended on Masters Sunday, the day that coveted green jacket is handed to the tournament winner.

Edler won a different kind of green jacket, an imaginary one that goes to the NHL player with the season's worst plus-minus rating.

It took some work to get it as Edler managed to go minus-1 in a 5-1 Vancouver Canucks season-ending win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night to squeak past St. Louis forward Steve Ott. Edler finished the season at minus-39, one better (or worse) than Ott and dead last among 886 NHL players.

It was the final chapter in a season in which not much went right for Edler.

"It's not a good stat for me," Edler said Monday as the Canucks gathered for their exit interviews. "Obviously you want to be a plus. I think I'm a good player defensively. I think this season I wasn't creating enough offensively and maybe that has something to do with it."

Like most of the other big names on this team, Edler's numbers were down considerably from his career highs. He managed just seven goals and 22 points in 63 games this season. That is his lowest production since his rookie season in 2007-08 when he had 20 points. Edler produced a career-high 49 points in 2011-12.

"The bottom line is I haven't been good enough, but our power play wasn't very good, especially the first parts of the season," Edler said. "That is something I want to be a big part of, the power play, and that should be a big part of my game and when that is not working obviously that is not good."

Edler was also the victim of some bad luck. He probably had more pucks bounce off him into his own net this season than the seven goals he scored at the other end of the ice.

He also seemed to have trouble adjusting to coach John Tortorella's defensive scheme, which emphasized zone rather than man-to-man coverage, and Edler didn't play as physically as the team would like. For much of the season, he played like a player whose confidence was waning.

"There was a lot of changes this year and new things to get used to and I didn't have the year that I should have had," he said. "But I know I am a good player and I have to come back next year and do a better job of being better every day, being more consistent.

"For me, I am at my best when I just don't think too much, just react out there and trust my instincts. I think that is something I have to get back to next year."

Tortorella on Monday took responsibility for not getting enough out of Edler.

"Eds is a guy that I didn't get to and that is part of my job, part of my responsibility to somehow try and release him," Tortorella said. "I think it's a mental thing. That minus thing, what is he minus-38 (actually, 39), I don't agree that is a reflection of his game. I think some guys when they are plus players, that is a misleading stat. But I did not do my job well enough to get him back.

"I'm not sure if he's going to be a 45- or 50-point guy consistently, but he is a better player than he showed and it's in him. It was my job to get that out of him and I didn't do it."

Edler is something of a flat-liner when it comes to showing his emotions. He doesn't offer much to the media and in return reporters don't tend to ask him many questions. But on Monday, Edler got lots of attention and leaned against a wall in the arena corridor and answered questions for several minutes.

"I feel like the same player," he said. "I know it's in me. This year was a tough year, but I know I have it in me, I know I can do it. I just have to get back next year and be better."

The Canucks certainly need Edler to be better. He has five more years remaining on a contract that pays him $5 million a season. There have been suggestions that Edler could be asked to waive his no-trade clause if the Canucks try to shake up their core in the off-season, but he has indicated he very much wants to remain in Vancouver.

He said he will use this season as motivation for next year.

"Absolutely," he said. "You feel already that after this season you just want to get back and have a better one. I think that's good, I think that's how we have to think."

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alex Edler finished the season at minus-39, dead last among 886 NHL players.

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alex Edler finished the season at minus-39, dead last among 886 NHL players.

Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, PNG

We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
Your voice