Vrbata: ‘If I wanted to get traded, I would have been traded’

AP
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Hey, remember the Vancouver Canucks’ disaster of a trade deadline?

Most of the focus on Feb. 29 surrounded veteran defenseman Dan Hamhuis, and the Canucks’ failure to get anything for the pending unrestricted free agent.

But there was another somewhat high-profile UFA that the Canucks failed to trade, and that was winger Radim Vrbata.

During GM Jim Benning’s press conference that day, Benning insisted that Vrbata, armed with a limited no-trade clause, had presented the Canucks with a “fair list” of teams to which he’d accept a move. But, alas, “We didn’t receive a concrete offer on him.”

At the time, Vrbata was not enjoying a good season — he finished with just 13 goals, after scoring 31 last year — so Benning’s explanation was generally accepted by fans and media (who were more focused on Hamhuis anyway).

But to hear Vrbata tell the story this week?

“I don’t think I handcuffed them, but I knew what I was doing,” he told Postmedia. “I could have given a lot more (options) and I would have moved. If I wanted to get traded, I would have been traded.”

Vrbata also said he would’ve welcomed a trade last summer, had he known he’d spend most of this season centered by youngsters Bo Horvat or Jared McCann, as opposed to last season when it was veterans Henrik Sedin or Nick Bonino.

“At my age, I know what my game needs to be successful,” he said. “That’s why I signed here in the first place, to play with [the Sedins].”

At 34, Vrbata still believes he can contribute.

“In the right situation, I can be similar to last year,” he said.

But that situation won’t be in Vancouver anymore. That’s for sure.