Never afraid to stir the pot, Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher had quite the column in this morning’s paper.
The focus of the piece was 23-year-old winger Zack Kassian, who Gallagher believes deserves the same chance to play in the top six that 21-year-old winger Nicklas Jensen has received lately from coach John Tortorella.
Now let’s be clear, this is exactly what a coach should do with a young offensive player like Jensen — straight into an opportunity to succeed with gifted players so as to bolster the confidence and get him off on the right foot. All good coaches do this and should do this. They’ve played Jensen perfectly. But what must Kassian be thinking here? Am I some sort of leper? Why not me?
This automatically makes the big right-winger mad keen to see how this coaching-management uncertainty turns out in the offseason. Because if Tortorella and this cadre of assistants are to return to run the show again next year, Kassian needs to request a trade as soon as possible if he ever hopes to get an opportunity to reach his potential in the NHL.
Kassian is a bit of a polarizing player in Vancouver, as so many players seem to be in that market. There are some who believe he has the potential to become a dominant power forward in the NHL, a la Milan Lucic; others believe he’s the Canucks’ next Steve Bernier, i.e. a perfect fit to play with the Sedins, but only on paper.