Earlier this morning, we took a moment to say goodbye to Mikael Samuelsson and reminisce over  some of the big goals he scored during his time in Vancouver. Marco Sturm, on the other hand, did not receive the same treatment. This is because the German-born winger only played six games with the Vancouver Canucks, failing to register a goal. Apart from bearing a curious resemblance to Manny Malhotra, Sturm did very little that we’ll remember.

Granted, he wasn’t given much of a chance to do anything memorable, and frustration over that fact is somewhat evident in this video, taken by Miami Herald Hockey during his first media scrum as a member of the Florida Panthers.

That’s a creaky grin Sturm is sporting, especially when he says it was “still early in the season.” I’m no psychologist, but I’d hazard a guess that he’s more than a little choked.

He has every reason to be. Unmentioned amidst all the excitement of this weekend is the fact that Sturm signed a free agent contract with the Canucks to play here for a year, and was beyond excited to be here. He moved his family, he enrolled his five-year-old and seven-year-old children into school, and he settled in for a year in Vancouver.

Instead, his one-year deal became a raw deal when he was traded six games into the season. That’s a kick in the teeth.

Don’t think that other players around the league haven’t noticed, either. Mike Gillis has gone to great lengths to make Vancouver a desirable destination for free agents, but shipping a signee to the opposite corner of the continent after a week and a half in town is bad for business. Veteran free agents may think twice about inking with the Canucks going forward over concerns that they’ll be moved out before they’re done moving in.

Granted, you have to give to get, and the Canucks are a better team today than they were yesterday, but that’s of no concern to Sturm now, is it? This is his fifth team in a year and this one has to hurt. Only time will tell if it hurts the Canucks too.

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49 comments

  1. peanutflower
    October 24, 2011

    Yah, but, this happens all the time. Why should all of a sudden because Sturm got traded six games into the season should Vancouver become undesirable? I dunno, that kind of thinking just adds to the “most hated team” thing in my opinion. This has to be one of the few times, if not the only time perhaps — I’m too busy to look that up — that Vancouver has done this and I’m not so sure that a) it’s an sign of things to come, or b) that it will automatically brand Vancouver as a bad place to sign. Of course, if people write columns and articles about it it will become so; right? Of course, if signing Booth is just a stepping stone on the way to Gillis acquiring a bigger prize and he gets that bigger prize, whoever that may be, we will all think Gillis just about the best thing since sliced bread. Sturm was considered a bit of a wild card anyway, having had surgery and a not very auspicious return from that. The name of the game is to win the Cup, not win Mr. NiceGuy awards.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 24, 2011

      That’s the thing, Alison, it doesn’t happen all the time. Six games into a UFA contract? That’s beyond exceedingly rare. Sure, short-term, the name of the game is to win the cup, which is of course why Gillis made the move, knowing full well that players hate this crap and it won’t go unnoticed. But there may still be ramifications down the line. Think next July, if the Canucks go after another veteran player on a one-year, he doesn’t think twice about signing it?

      Heck, the fact that Gillis has been working on this deal for six months gives me pause. You wonder if he ever planned for Sturm to play out the season. If the players get the sense that Sturm was used, this could be an issue going forward.

      That’s a worst-case scenario, but it’s still worth bringing up.

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      • peanutflower
        October 24, 2011

        I agree absolutely that it was a less than dignified move and hard on all involved, and also that it shouldn’t become Gillis’ modus operandi, but as other posters say Sturm did get a chance — he got a chance in six games and in the pre-season. He wasn’t going to magically start skating faster or be bigger or tougher — he is was he is. Or was. If Gillis was working on this for six months that doesn’t mean that he had Sturm targetted for six months. He obviously had to get rid of someone, and unfortunately it’s the new guy. I’m not sure about Samuelsson. I don’t know what to think there. It seemed to me in the last couple of years he was just putting in time except when he got pissed off about something.

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        • Alison
          October 24, 2011

          And I guess I’ll just dispense with my peanutflower nom de plume now.

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          • Harrison Mooney
            October 24, 2011

            Ha. Sorry to out you like that.

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      • Danno
        October 24, 2011

        Blah blah blah. The message it sends is this:

        - Vancouver is one of the best teams in the league.
        - If we sign you as a free agent, you better be able to play
        - We want to win the cup. We’ll only ice the best.

        If you want to try out and make the squad, we’d love to keep you. If you don’t play well, anyone is expendable.

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    • kelly
      October 24, 2011

      I have a hard time seeing this as a “raw” deal for Sturm since he was going nowhere when the Canucks signed him. It appears that Florida wants him so he will get a chance to play….perhaps even top six. Here he was on his way to the minors or press box I think this is the best scenario for the guy. Good luck Marco.

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  2. Wisp
    October 24, 2011

    It sucks, but I get the feeling that sturm got every opportunity to prove himself.

    Gillis will have to be careful not to make a habit of this. and by habit, I mean never again.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 24, 2011

      Exactly.

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  3. Ed Lau
    October 24, 2011

    Sturm got a shot to prove himself but showed nothing in the preseason and even more nothing in his limited playing time. I’ll grant him that he was playing with Hodgson and not Kesler, which may have had something to do with the lack of production but he wasn’t noticible in any aspect of his game apart from the negative mentions in the press.

    If he played better than Hodgson, CoHo might be back on the farm whIle Sturm kept that roster spot but the kid was better than the veteran in almost every part of the ice. Maybe we’re wrong in assuming Gillis just wanted to pedal his failed reclaimation project…maybe trading Sturm was just the only way the deal works. I honestly don’t think this diminishes from Vancouver as a premier NHL destination for UFAs. That’s business. It would be different if Sturm played well and MG sold while stocks were high.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 24, 2011

      I think the fact that he never got a single game alongside Kesler is evidence that he wasn’t given a chance. I’m happy with the trade and I don’t begrudge Gillis at all for making it, but I can see why Sturm would be upset. He got screwed.

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      • Chris
        October 24, 2011

        This isn’t pee wee hockey where everyone gets equal playing time, this is the NHL, and they are one of the best teams in the NHL. If we kept Sturm for the entire season and he didn’t produce and you found out that Gillis had this deal pending, but felt bad for the guy because he had just signed him, i don’t know about you, but i’d be pissed.

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      • JS Topher
        October 24, 2011

        I don’t see how he would have ever played alongside kesler… not with the bricks he was seemingly skating on…

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  4. Anon
    October 24, 2011

    Lying in a bed with the 2.25 mil Gillis got him will ease the pain. Plus think how much he’s going to save on taxes.

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  5. shoes
    October 24, 2011

    According to Gillis…..Florida ask for Samuelsson and Sturm. What should he have done…refused to part with Sturm? The fact is he took a big chance on Sturm because of the wonky knees and Sturm appeared to be slow and out of sync…..probably because of the wonky knees. Tough injury to overcome. I really don’t think any free agents will look at the Sturm deal and tar Vancouver with that brush, anymore than they look at the Ballard and Demitra deals and find guys who ARE given every chance. Sturm may have come around, but our window is now, if ever, and I am with Gillis on this one. And really how many people feel bad for Sturm and his family with a 183,000 a month pay check? The money he saves on income tax in the USA makes up for some hurt feelings.

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    • jer
      October 25, 2011

      I think it’s worth pointing out that, in my estimation, Gillis is to be commended for essentially admitting he was wrong about Sturm. Lots of GM’s get awfully egotistic about their prize free agent signings (Nonis was awful for this), so for GMMG to pick up Sturm to be a top-6 scorer, see quickly what everyone saw (it wasn’t gonna happen), and make a deal to not only fix the ‘mistake’ of signing him by bringing in someone even better, I think speaks to his acumen as a GM and perhaps even a hint of humility in the man.

      Add to that, after years of Dave “We aren’t going to make a move for the sake of making a move” Nonis, isn’t it nice to have a GM who will make things happen when his team needs a boost?

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  6. Scott McKenzie
    October 24, 2011

    Agreed that trading him six games in isn’t good for business, but know what is? Winning games — something Sturm clearly wasn’t helping them accomplish. Actually, maybe I don’t agree. Sure maybe he wants to create a destination for free agents, but I’m sure he doesn’t want that destination to be a place where players just show up and do nothing.

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  7. J21
    October 24, 2011

    I thought of not only Sturm, but Samuelsson too being a UFA signing. There is kind of an unwritten rule about not trading UFAs. Perhaps the optics are better when the guy has already spent two seasons with you, but it’s still somewhere there in “the code”. It might make players be quicker to demand NTCs, who knows. Someone will give them one, so I do think the Canucks should be aware of how it looks.

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  8. Anonymous
    October 24, 2011

    Well now I feel like total crap for ignoring his aspect of all this :/ it really does suck for him.

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  9. critically canuck
    October 24, 2011

    Interesting take on the situation, Harrison.

    It’s also not the first time that a player during the AV era has left this market and hinted at communication issues regarding the coaching staff (Sturm’s comments about not knowing why he was out of the line-up are quite telling and consistent with a theory that he wasn’t given much of a chance here).

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  10. Jerry
    October 24, 2011

    Imagine if Mike Gillis traded away a power forward/franchise player/30 goal scorer/very handsome fellow/fan favourite whose NTC was coming into effect next year. AND he traded him for a German national (have you SEEN Life is Beautiful?) with worse knees than Cotton Hill. There would be a ribbon cutting for the Mike Gillis memorial wing at VGH this afternoon.

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  11. me
    October 24, 2011

    How did this turn into a slight on Gillis?

    Sturm came in and did exactly NOTHING so for him to say the trade was unexpeded just because its still early is rediculous.

    This is an elite team with a management group doing everything in it’s power to win the teams first championship.
    One of those things is not wastig time on players who are dead weight.

    Sturm seemed likeable but he played like a complete plug and we dont have room for that.

    Good luck in Florida.

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  12. Eric Blacha
    October 24, 2011

    I hope he does well. I’d be pissed, couldn’t say much good about Canucks organization if I was him. But, one thing we did was give him the job, if we didn’t sign him, he might have never been given a contract.

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  13. prdx2222
    October 24, 2011

    Raw deal? At least the Canux got him back into the NHL for $2.25 million. I don’t recall him getting any other similar offers over the summer. Then, when they realized the experiment would not work, they traded him to a team where he can play instead of sending him to the minors. I think the Canux did him a big favor overall…

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  14. The Olde Coot
    October 24, 2011

    Players are just commodities
    Like soda pop and cottage cheese
    And surely this is no surprise
    For it could not be otherwise
    The owners have the fans to please

    Just a thought I’d like to share
    For players’ rights there’s little care
    The Stanley Cup’s the bottomline
    So while your thoughts are quite benign
    With fan desires they do not square

    Forsooth I think you are sincere
    So yes for Marco spare a tear
    For he’s a victim of a trade
    Though one you’re glad that Gillis made
    And Sturm could have a better year

    The Olde Coot

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 24, 2011

      Oooohh… I’ve not seen you tackle this rhyme scheme. I like it.

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  15. Hasan
    October 24, 2011

    Agree and disagree. While Marco may not have been given a long enough look for a guy who just signed as a UFA, he WAS given time to show management where he could fit in on the team, with the opportunities presented to him during preseason. Unfortunately for Sturm, the answer was nowhere. His lack of foot speed hindered his chances of playing on one of the top 3 lines, and he is obviously not cut out for 4th line duty.

    This could have ended a lot worse for Marco – he easily could have been waived and then riding a bus in Chicago with the farm team. Instead, I think Gillis saves some face by trading him to a team that will use him in the lineup (says a lot about the Panthers), and offers him the opportunity to be flipped to a contender at the deadline if his play warrants it.

    I think this sends a message to other players for sure, but not necessarily a negative one. If you want to play on this team, you better bring your best, and it has to be good enough. This type of message attracts the right kind of players and filters out those who couldn’t be successful here anyways.

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  16. Jezz
    October 24, 2011

    As bad as I feel for Sturm – I liked the guy a lot, and really wanted to see him work as an element on the Canucks – I think the early-season trade will end up best for him. With a lot of recent injury and having been fumbled between teams as wantonly as an Australian Rules Football (http://youtu.be/Q5eRV1M4E6), he needs the better part of a full season on his scoresheet lest he lose his appeal as a bankable NHLer for good.

    He’s had a decent shift or two for the Panthers against the Canadiens today – net presence? Slapshots? Neutral zone takeovers? Where have you been? – so while you can’t deny he got a bum deal here, I think he’ll end up being appreciated in Florida in a way that was sadly never going to happen otherwise. He’s still a good player, I’m just sure his role at the Canucks was doomed before it really began.

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  17. MJT
    October 24, 2011

    Well, Harrison, this article is something of a whine. Sturm has no complaints. Anyone who saw him waddling around the ice, ten feet behind the play knew his days were numbered. He isn’t good enough for the Canucks and if Gillis and staff weren’t sure this summer they sure were in October.

    Sturm said no-one told him why he was traded. We’ve all heard that a hundred times before over the years – players who’ve messed up nearly always say that. It was said in the papers today that the Canucks talked to Ryan Kesler about Booth before making the trade; sounds like the communication on this club is just fine. And as for working on this trade for six months – he might have been working on Booth for six months but definitely not Sturm.

    Any player with a high compete level and talent won’t even blink if they have an opportunity to come to the Canucks. Saying that Gillis should never do this again, oh, man get over yourself.

    MJT

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  18. Garry
    October 24, 2011

    It sucks for Sturm but he played himself off the team. He certainly wasn’t worth 2.25 million and it didn’t look like there was much of a place for him on the team. Do you honestly think this will affect the Canucks pursuit of future free agents? If they go after Shea Weber in a couple years will he turn them down because they traded Marco Sturm 8 games into his contract for a much better top 6 forward? I would think a Fraser Valley University grad would be smart enough to know this is a non-issue :) .

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  19. Zach Morris
    October 24, 2011

    Can’t…say…I…care…
    2.25 million is a good problem solver.

    the real shame is, he’s probably going to get traded at the deadline.
    6th team in a year?

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  20. Drew
    October 24, 2011

    If Sturm doesn’t want to go play hockey in Florida for 2.25 million dollars, I’ll be happy to take his place.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 24, 2011

      Good grief, it’s not about the money. I’m sure he’s happy to be working, but there’s still an element of it that sucks pretty hard for the guy.

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  21. James
    October 24, 2011

    The last time I checked, hockey is a business, the grand prize the Holy Grail; period! No matter what a players staus is, free agent, or other, they are on a team to play at an elite level. Sammy, and Sturm are both injury prone, and in the big picture it makes sense when the opportunity knocks. Booth is young, got wheels, and tons of upside, and already familiar with his new line-mates. How can you say it is bad for business, when it takes a huge risk, and a high level of smarts to make these moves. The unity on the Nuck team shows on the ice, and in the dressing room. Sure am sorry that Booth got taken from his team, but if this is the opportunity to recreate his game, then good trade, and smart business move.
    Thanks Dale; Go Nuck’s!!!!

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 24, 2011

      You know I’m in favour of the trade, right? It’s a great trade. But Sturm had to get a raw deal for it to happen. That’s all I’m saying.

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      • kim r.
        October 26, 2011

        You’re just looking at the human side of it, which sometimes gets forgotten amongst the money and business end of it. I’d hope that Gillis would have had a talk with him regarding the trade and why and that Sturm would understand.

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  22. anon
    October 24, 2011

    Yeah I agree with Harrison, regardless of the money there’s still a human element involved. I was really rooting for him and he seemed genuinely excited that he would be starting anew in Van.

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  23. Chris
    October 24, 2011

    Harrison, I agreed with you at first. However, I think Sturm might even have wanted this trade. 6 games in, he was already a healthy scratch. There was no room for him in the top 12, and Mason is still due back.

    Kind of like M.Schneider, letting him go was the right thing to do.

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  24. Dave
    October 24, 2011

    Oh come on, he got a raw deal? What, did he have a no-trade clause? No. That’s nature of sports. He’s not a very good hockey player and should have known he was a gap fill for Kesler.

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  25. Lingyis
    October 25, 2011

    Interesting point, never thought of it that way. I do feel for Sturm.

    Of course, he took the 2.25m, w/o a NTC. Not to say he would have gotten a NTC anywhere else, but he decided to take the most money.

    You know in video games you’d often trade away UFA signings to fetch someone of value? It feels a little like that!

    In MGGM’s case, he might be fired if he signs another Sturm so we shouldn’t have to worry!

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  26. akidd
    October 25, 2011

    it’s pretty ruthless alright but players are paid millions to be high-achievers in a hyper-competitive world. call it danger pay i suppose. the line gets blurred nonetheless and i do feel bad for Sammuelson even if he is a pro.

    rather inconvenient for sturm but in a month it’ll be like it never happened. gillis is looking pretty able again. gotta love the decisive recalculation. an impressive move all around. very slick. i’d like to think the two Gils enjoyed a chestbump over this one…when no one was looking of course.

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  27. shadlove
    October 25, 2011

    Boo-frickin-hoo! Wotta huge load of BS! Seriously, you think the Nucks’ league-wide rep as a great place to go & play is gonna suffer cause of 1 whiny 33 yr old who was traded after doing absolutely nothing after a full training camp & 8 games?! Who the hell do you think you’re kidding? At least the Nucks gave him a chance at a job in the top league in the world again after playing in Europe last seaon, & now he has an even better chance of sticking with a team that needs him more, in a great climate & better tax rates! I don’t see Brendan Morrison bitching about being an important player for the Flames after the Nucks gave him a chance last year. Mooney, you’ve gotta lay off the crack, buddee!

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 25, 2011

      What in the world are you talking about? Or rather, who are you talking about? Sturm wasn’t playing in Europe last season and he wasn’t whining. So I’m not sure which player you think the Canucks traded…

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  28. nick
    October 25, 2011

    No such thing as a raw deal when you are making 2.25 million per season…plus the guy was clearly finished.Would he rather have been sent to the minors?Cause he sure wasn’t going to play for the Canucks the way he was skating…

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  29. Chinstrap Joe
    October 25, 2011

    Hey Harrison – I don’t mean to thread jack but I’d be interested to know your thoughts on where Raymond fits in with both the 2nd and 3rd lines being well staffed….

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 25, 2011

      I think, if he can come back, the Canucks will fit him in somewhere. Not sure where, but he wouldn’t look out of place with Kesler and Booth, and he wouldn’t look out of place on the third line with, say, Hansen and Hodgson or Malhotra.

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  30. ali
    October 25, 2011

    as far as raw deals go, this is pretty sweet. he gets paid over $2 million to play hockey. and he gets to live in florida. i wish i could get a raw deal like this. that’s not to say that other players might think twice. but really, how “raw” is this deal.

    what about the fact that he was given more than he is worth?

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  31. itsentertainment
    October 25, 2011

    GMMG may have a small obligation to a player like Sturm… Maybe. No question that he has a much larger obligation to players like the Sedins, Luongo, Kesler, Bieksa, and Burrows. Those players have signed on long term, and Management needs to do what it can to build championship teams now.
    Don’t you think that UFA’s considering signing with Vancouver pay more attention to how the team deals with long term guys?

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  32. tj
    October 25, 2011

    Good god, the tone of this thread is almost hostile. What’s with the nastiness, folks? (Guess that’s the price of fame, Harrison, eh?) But I completely understand your point. Sometimes it’s not ‘just business’ (if it were, MG wouldn’t have been able to get folks to sign under asking, if you will). The players are people, and there is a human element as well to deals, which is what, ultimately, players will look at when they have to decide whether or not to up and move their whole family. (Jeez, sometimes people forget we’re not talking about chattel.)

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