After Sami Salo successfully defended his hardest shot title at Canucks Superskills on Sunday, there was some confusion over just what he said to Dan Murphy in the ensuing interview. “Alex Edler has won this event the last couple of times,” Murphy asked, “Did you feel it was time to take it back?”
“I think he gave it back,” Salo said, smiling. “My career is ending, so he wanted to make me feel good.”
Here’s video of the event:
Salo’s words raised a number of eyebrows. Did he just announce his retirement?
No, he didn’t retire then and there, and Salo reiterated the quote after the event, telling the media, “Alex knows I’m close to the end of my career so I think he gave it to me.” This wasn’t an official announcement of any sort, especially since Salo’s healthy and will be in the lineup for Tuesday night’s tilt with the Edmonton Oilers.
However, it was a hint that this will more than likely be Salo’s last year in the NHL, something that can hardly be a secret inside the room. When it comes to the 2011-12 season, make no mistake: this one’s for Sami.
The 37-year-old nearly retired last season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon playing floorball in Finland, and many close to him urged him to do so. But Salo made it clear that his career will end on his terms, not the latest freak injury. Rather than giving in, he did what he had done 39 times before, fighting his way back and returning to the Canucks’ lineup.
I’m of the mind that, had the Canucks suffered another early postseason exit, that might have been it for Salo. But after the year he had — after the Canucks made a run all the way to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and after what Salo had to overcome to be part of it and to play in that game — it really shouldn’t be all that surprising that he wanted one more shot.
This is a pretty good explanation as to why Salo was so upset after Brad Marchand took his legs out in Boston, too. Can you imagine if a season that means this much to him had ended on a dirty hit?
Now, none of this is to say that Salo is playing this year for himself. Sure, he has some genuine personal motivations, but they’re shared by everyone in the Canucks’ locker room. Earlier this season, Salo played his 700th career game, a benchmark that meant the world to the whole team. “We love him so much,” Alex Burrows told the media afterwards. “For him to come back this year with all the injuries he suffered and taking a pay cut… and he still wants to win more than anyone.”
And the Canucks want to make it happen for him.Tags: Salo, touching tales