Ryan Kesler was back under Vancouver’s media microscope this afternoon. The former Canucks star, traded to Anaheim this summer, will tomorrow night play his first game as a visitor at Rogers Arena.
“It’s a big game,” Kesler said at a press conference. “I’ve definitely had this one circled for a long time.”
And given how he left the city, asking the team that drafted him in 2003 to trade him, what kind of reception is he expecting from Vancouver fans?
“Hopefully they appreciated the 11 years that I played here and remember all the good times,” he said. “Hopefully a warm reception. But if not, it’s part of the game.”
“If they boo me, it’ll probably jack me up even more,” he added a little later.
What Kesler wouldn’t share were any specifics about his request to be moved.
“I just think, talking with [GM Jim Benning and president of hockey operations Trevor Linden] in the summer that we decided it was just time to move on,” he said. “And as hard as a decision as it was to waive my no-trade clause, it was just something to be done.”
And, of course, Vancouver being Vancouver, there were questions about his relationship with the media. Did he feel he was treated unfairly during his time with the Canucks?
“No,” he said. “I mean, I think you guys think I’m grumpy all the time. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk to you. But the media here, they haven’t been hard on me. Everything’s been fair. I just think there’s a couple of guys that report stuff that shouldn’t be reported, personally and away from the game. That’s the stuff that I didn’t like.
“But, other than that, you guys are hard on us, yeah, but it’s fair and it goes along with playing in a Canadian city and a Canadian market that thrives for news about hockey and news about the guys.
“You learn over time. Were there moments where I wish I did things differently? Yeah, obviously. I was a young kid coming up and didn’t know how to deal with stuff. But saying that, I look back and I remember a lot of good memories.”