Lack feeling ‘pretty good’ about his game as he returns to Vancouver

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They booed Ryan Kesler because he requested a trade out of town.

They cheered Kevin Bieksa because his loyalty never wavered.

Tonight, another former Vancouver Canuck returns to Rogers Arena.

They’ll cheer Eddie Lack. He didn’t want to be traded either. But that’s what happened in June, and now he’s a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Vancouver GM Jim Benning knew he’d be criticized for opting to move Lack, a fan favorite whose strong play down the stretch last season helped the Canucks make the playoffs, while keeping Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom.

“Sitting in my shoes, and when I talk to my management team, we have to make the decision that’s best for the organization going forward,” Benning said a couple of days before he made the trade. “I know if that’s the way we decide to go, I could get criticized. But that’s part of the job. There’s nothing I can do about that.”

Some more background here from the Vancouver Sun:

In the final year of his contract and with unrestricted free agency looming, Lack wanted to be paid, and agent Kurt Overhardt’s asking price of $4-million-US-plus per season for a goalie who had been in the league for two seasons made Benning cringe.

Lack had more trade value than Jacob Markstrom, the minor-league star who has played well for the Canucks this season as Lack’s replacement. And Benning refused to consider trading veteran $6-million-a-year starter Ryan Miller, whom the GM had originally drafted in Buffalo before recruiting him for the Canucks before last season.

Lack struggled in his first 10 or so games with the Hurricanes, but he’s been better lately. In his last three outings, he’s allowed just five goals and has a save percentage of .944.

“I kind of went back to the basics, playing a little deeper in the paint, that’s what I’ve been comfortable with before,” Lack told Sportsnet yesterday. “I feel like I’m in a pretty good state in my game right now.”

As for Benning’s decision to keep Miller and Markstrom, the jury’s still out on that. The former hasn’t played since Dec. 20 due to injury. The latter, just 25 years old, has had some good performances in relief of Miller, but like Lack, he’s yet to prove he can be a reliable full-time starter in the NHL. Only time will tell in both cases.

Related: Benning says Canucks have ‘too much pride’ to tank