Canucks bits: Sami Salo almost retired, Roger Neilson statue planned
The Vancouver Canucks were idle like most of the teams in the NHL on Monday, but the Presidents’ Trophy winning team still managed to generate a couple headlines. Let’s take a look at those two stories.
- The team announced that they will unveil a statue as a “permanent outdoor tribute” to former assistant and head coach Roger Neilson before their April 7th game against the Minnesota Wild. Neilson had a storied NHL career as a coach and scout, working in the league in some capacity for 25 seasons.
Neilson earned the nickname “Captain Video” for pioneering the use of game tapes in his coaching regimen. He coached in 1,000 games in his career, working with 10 different NHL teams (including the Canucks) in some capacity. Neilson died in June 2003. He is in the Hockey Hall of Fame under the builders category. (Source: The Associated Press.)
- In other Canucks news, hard-shooting defenseman Sami Salo told The Canadian Press that he thought the Achilles injury he suffered last summer would end his career. Salo missed the first 52 games of the 2010-11 season with the injury (plus training camp), but he was able to make his return on February 12th.
“This one has been the toughest, not necessarily physically but for sure mentally,’' Salo said after the Canucks practised Monday. “It was so serious I was worried I wouldn’t be able to function properly.’'
One of the biggest challenges for Salo was getting back to game speed. He was like a car trying to enter the fast lane of a freeway.
“The first month was really tough,’' he said. “Anybody can say the same thing if they have missed a long time with an injury.“You can’t just turn a switch and say you will be back at the same level you were before. There was a long time adjusting.’'
Salo’s fragility has been a bit of a punchline over the years, but it’s impressive than the veteran defenseman keeps coming back despite a steady stream of injuries. Perhaps he’ll end up with a Stanley Cup for his hard work?