Ryan Barrett can only hope that the injury bug that devoured the Calgary Canucks lineup last season doesn’t return to plunder his roster again.
At one point during the 2012-13 Alberta Junior Hockey League campaign, the Calgary Canucks’ GM/head coach had lost nearly half his roster to various ailments and was forced to juggle numerous affiliate players so as not to burn their eligibility.
In actuality, you could probably win money in Vegas on massive odds against that every happening again.
“I don’t know how you would do it (again),” whistled Barrett. “I wouldn’t wish that type of injury (epidemic) on any coach any time.”
Besides the headache for the coach, the players were suffering, too.
“It was really difficult for them to get to the rink and not play for months,” related Barrett, who at one point before Christmas had Derek Thorogood (collarbone), Willy Sakal (shoulder), Kirby Ruzesky (collarbone), Gianni Mangone (back surgery), Devon Westby (knee), Ty Morgan (concussion), Joel Rogers (wrist), Curtis Lewington (mono), Alex Marcinew (elbow) in the sick bay.
Talk about a packed press box.
Thorogood, Lewington, Morgan and Mangone are all back. And they’re like kids in a candy store being able to wheel around on the ice again.
“A lot of them haven’t played for so long,” said Barrett. “So they’re pretty excited and they’re working hard.”
Even the club’s 0-4 start hasn’t sapped their energy, which is buoyed by a large rookie crop on the Canucks, one that actually outnumbers the veterans. Freshman Logan Franz, 17, with three goals and four points in three games so far, actually leads the Canucks in scoring. A total of 12 other rookies dot the lineup: Jordan Wiest, Kent Walchuk, Andrew McCann, Michael Janz, Brayden Beckley, Nicholas Herman, Deryk Sutherland, Zach Dietrich, Williams Nicholas, Matt Rypien, Owen Johnson and Grayson Sharpe.
With a young lineup, Barrett knows there will be growing pains, some of which have already been seen. His squad held leads in three of their four games so far — 1-0 on Olds before losing 2-1; 2-0 and 3-1 on Canmore before losing 4-3; and three different one-goal advantages against Lloydminster before falling 5-4.
“I’m really impressed with our compete level so far this year,” he said.
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