He’s down, he’s up, he’s back down again: Canucks send Virtanen back to AHL

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Jake Virtanen got his “stuff.” Now he can go back to the AHL.

In a bit of a surprise — and with not the greatest optics — the Vancouver Canucks announced this morning that they’d re-assigned Virtanen to the Utica Comets. The 20-year-old winger had only just been recalled from the AHL following a two-game stint with the Comets on Friday and Saturday.

But Virtanen didn’t play in last night’s 7-2 loss to the Rangers, which led to questions yesterday for head coach Willie Desjardins. If Virtanen’s not going to play for the Canucks, why wasn’t he just left in Utica?

“I don’t think he had any of his stuff so I think he needed to come back to get his stuff for us to make a decision on where we’re going to go with him,” Desjardins said, per The Province. “When you’re on the road, you don’t have anything. If you’re going to go down there for a while you need to come back and get it.”

Technically, that’s true. But you have to wonder how this affects Virtanen, who came back to Vancouver feeling much better about his game.

“I got my speed back and was getting in behind the defense and retrieving pucks, and I’ve got to bring that confidence level back up here,” he said. “You’ve got to be consistent every shift of every game and that even carries over to practice. I’m ready to do that and with a positive attitude.”

That certainly doesn’t sound like a guy who was expecting to be returned to the AHL, once he got his “stuff.”

That being said, today’s move is probably the right one. Virtanen needs to play somewhere, and if he wasn’t going to get into the Canucks’ lineup after a 7-2 loss, he needed to be sent down. The Comets have home games tonight, Friday, Saturday, and Wednesday.

Vancouver hosts Arizona tomorrow.