One of the grandest postseason traditions is the unveiling of each teams’ injuries after they’re eliminated from the playoffs. As we’ve already heard, the Bruins were able to survive the majority of the playoffs with a minimal amount of injuries. To win the Stanley Cup, teams need a fair amount of luck to survive the two month war of attrition. Luck on the ice—and luck in the trainer’s room.
On the other hand, Vancouver wasn’t as fortunate in avoiding the injury bug. We knew the Canucks were playing with a ton of injuries. Some of the injuries like Dan Hamhuis and Mason Raymond were obvious. Others players like Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler were battling through injuries that slowed them down just enough to make a difference (even though Kesler refuses to blame any injuries). Neither Sedin, nor Kesler looked like the superstar players Canucks’ fans had grown accustomed to over the course of the regular season. Something seemed wrong, but no one would know until after the playoffs. Well, the playoffs are over and to no one’s surprise, they were both injured.
Mike Gillis dropped the laundry list of injured players in his year-end conversation with the media:
“Dan Hamhuis suffered a serious abdominal injury.
Mason Raymond has a broken back.
Alex Edler has two broken fingers from a slash.
Kevin Bieksa has a bruised MCL from a slash.
Ryan Kesler has a hip problem that we don’t know the extent of yet.
Mikael Samuelsson is out… had an operation on his abdominal muscle tear.
Manny [Malhotra] was a warrior out there but he was operating at less than 100%. He hadn’t skated for 6-7 weeks because of the treatment he had.
Chris Higgins had a foot injury that continued to get worse throughout the playoffs.
Christian Ehrhoff had a shoulder injury that didn’t recover from the 2nd/3rd round onward.
Have I left anyone out? Is that enough?
Henrik (Sedin) had a back injury from being cross-checked in the 2nd round.”
To recap, five of their top nine forwards were dealing with injuries. Their top four defensemen were slowed by various ailments. Still, with all of the adversity, they were still able to come within a single victory of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Many teams can say things would be different if they were healthy, but the Canucks have the best argument of all. Who knows if they would have been able to break through Tim Thomas’ wall—but there’s a good chance they would have narrowed the 23-8 scoring gap in the Final.
Over the course of the offseason, Gillis and the Canucks will have a few decisions to make. Blueliners Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo, Christian Ehrhoff, and Andrew Alberts are all unrestricted free agents. Up front, depth forwards Chris Higgins, Raffi Torres, Tanner Glass, and Jeff Tambellini are all unrestricted; they also have to deal with restricted free agents including Jannik Hansen and Maxim Lapierre. Decisions have to be made.
If they had it their way, the front office would love another run at the Cup with the roster constructed exactly as it is. The only difference? Next time, they’d want everyone healthy.