Vancouver Canucks, Thatcher Demko

Canucks Injuries As It Relates To Success

Last Thursday after the 5-4 road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes chirped about treatment concerns for his friend and teammate Tanner Pearson’s hand injury suffered on November 9th.

Pearson apparently went through one procedure and was supposed to miss four to six weeks. Last week, about eight weeks later, the club announced Pearson had gone through at least one more procedure and would be out the rest of the season.

“I feel bad for him,” Hughes expressed on January 12th. “I mean, it wasn’t handled properly, and you know, it’s not really a good situation he’s got there and hopefully he’s going to be all right.”

A bold enough statement to garner attention from the NHL, the NHL Players Association, and to trigger a full review by the Vancouver Canucks and their medical experts.

Based on what was said at the club’s press conference regarding the matter on Monday, conducted by Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford, team doctor Bill Regan, and medical program consultant Dr. Harry Sese, one could draw the logical conclusion that the treatment followed the necessary protocols, that every player responds and recovers differently, and that the information obtained and shared was honest and thorough.

“There’s been no change, there’s been full confidence in the staff,” Dr. Sese stated. “There’s been no loss of confidence (from the players), nothing has changed, even after last week’s comments from one of the players.”

Long Term Injury Impact?

That said, and no offence to Pearson and the tribulations the hand injury has brought about, what does it mean for the Canucks team moving forward on the ice? The 30-year-old veteran wasn’t exactly lighting things up, his contract called for one more season after this one at a cap hit of $3.25-million, and there was a decent likelihood he would have been traded by the March 3rd NHL Trade Deadline or bought out during the summer.

If healthy, even with limited production, Pearson could have been worth a little something in return for a team looking for veteran depth in a legitimate playoff run. He won a Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2014 with the Los Angeles Kings.

That option will not be available, but ultimately the injury will not ruin any undetermined longer term plans eventually coming from Canucks management.

Nor will defenceman Travis Dermott’s injury for that matter. Again, very likely some very serious business after a concussion issue sidetracked the first half of his season. After returning to the line-up and playing in seven games, Dermott left the January 12th match against the Lightning and hasn’t returned.

No laughing matter.

Again, sincere care and concerns aside, it’s not an injury that should impact the long term on-ice product. Yes, he’s a better option than others on the back-end for now, but with his health in question and his contract expiring this summer, it won’t impact cap issues. The pending restricted free agent (RFA) likely would have received a qualifying offer from the club in the summer as a depth defenceman. Let’s hope he still might.

The Biggee

Let’s face it, forget chirps and press conferences and investigations, the only Canucks injury that really matters moving forward is that to recently-turned 27-year-old franchise number-one netminder Thatcher Demko. Out since December 1st, his expected return in another two weeks could take a little bit longer than that, and as Rutherford stated, “we want to make sure he’s at 110-percent.”

At this point in this season there’s no point in rushing Demko back and there’s also no reason to panic.

Yes, he struggled early this season prior to the injury, but there’s no reason to believe a healthy Demko can’t be the dominant goalie he was as recently as last season.

No guarantees of course, especially in the goalie position, but for longer term practical purposes, it’s really the only injury Canucks fans need to be worried about.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.