Is this Sami Salo’s final season?

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.

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32 comments

  1. CanuckFanInSF
    January 24, 2012

    Damn you Mooney for making me hold back tears at work.

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    • yobbei
      January 24, 2012

      Someday, someone is gonna make that little bitch Marchand pay.

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      Rating: +17 (from 21 votes)
      • CanuckFanInSF
        January 24, 2012

        I’m sorry. I believe, now he’s called “Little ball of hate” as bestowed upon him by the US President.

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        Rating: +24 (from 24 votes)
        • peanutflower
          January 24, 2012

          I’m not sure that’s a compliment, although doubtless Marchand will take it as such. What’s with Thomas’ self important refusal to go to the White House? Isn’t it a bit misguided for such a richy rich to object on those grounds? I may have misread Thomas’ quote, and it’s entirely likely that I did as I have little patience for such grandstanding, but really, for the “average” US citizen (of which Thomas is certainly not one) to basically blame the government for all the problems in the US is, well, stupid. I’m betting too that Thomas has guns in the cab of his pick-up truck.

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          • Tom
            January 24, 2012

            peanutflower, He’s an adult, he can make decisions for himself.

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            Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
        • Lenny
          January 24, 2012

          “Bitch” is still more appropriate.

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      • sgolesor
        January 24, 2012

        This won’t be a popular opinion, but we (as fans) and the organization should not go forward with that attitude (not that they are, just saying). The last time there was this sort of outrage over a dirty play, it was Steve Moore concussing Markus Naslund.

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        • CanuckFanInSF
          January 24, 2012

          …and we all know what happened after that.

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        • Qris Johnson
          January 25, 2012

          Don’t worry, in this instance, the “sucker punches to the back of the head” portion of the unpleasantness has already been taken care of.

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        • shoes
          January 25, 2012

          different scenario entirely. Besides once the NHL recognized this as a dirty hit it changed the way the team views it. If on the other hand they let it slide like they did the two broken spines last yearand countless concussions the bruins were dishing out……it leaves a different taste.

          Doesn’t change the fact the “little ball of hate” or “bitch” will get it one day. And it is very significant that he recieved the suspension that he did, likewise with Ference, because it ends the ‘first time offender’ label that was seeming to stick to the Gregory Campbell led Bruins like glue.

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    • Julia
      January 24, 2012

      Same here, sitting in class and holding back the tears.

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  2. By-Tor
    January 24, 2012

    I know for certain that if Sami gets to raise the Cup this year, I will cry. It will be one of those “History Will Be Made” moments.

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    Rating: +45 (from 45 votes)
    • The Bookie
      January 24, 2012

      I’ll cry until I start laughing when Sami fumbles the cup, it winds up stuck on his head, and he scrambles around frantically while DJ Dave spins Yakety Sax.

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    • Pyewacket
      January 24, 2012

      Hell, if we win the cup this year (pleeease hockey gods?), I’m hoping Sami is the first person Henrik passes the Cup to.

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      Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  3. peanutflower
    January 24, 2012

    Indeed. Would there not be one of us Bulies who would not?

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    Rating: +21 (from 21 votes)
  4. SteveB
    January 24, 2012

    I hold the utmost respect for Sami Salo.
    How many of us would keep putting that jersey on after any of those horrific injuries that he has endured?
    I know that I would’ve hung it up a long time ago.
    Sami doesn’t quit, even when it costs him dearly.
    Heart of a Canuck, defined.

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    Rating: +28 (from 32 votes)
  5. Zach Morris
    January 24, 2012

    STANLEY FOR SAMI

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    Rating: +31 (from 33 votes)
  6. bergberg
    January 24, 2012

    I guess Sami has this effect on people.

    He used to play for Ottawa, and when we watch Canucks games my Sens fan friends always lovingly remark “Awww, Sami! There’s our guy!”

    To which I obviously respond with a “we love him most” comment!

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    Rating: +25 (from 25 votes)
    • Rituro
      January 24, 2012

      Too late do we realize that a “Vote For Sami” ballot-stuffing drive for the ASG in Ottawa would’ve made so much sense this year.

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      Rating: +19 (from 23 votes)
  7. iceman
    January 24, 2012

    Right now no one else on the team deserves more respect than Sami Salo. Period.

    With all the injuries he had to go through, Sami still gave everything and then some more to the team and the city he played for the last 10 years. I am praying to see the oldest Canuck warrior raising the Cup this year.

    We will also see Sami’s jersey retired in a few years down the road.

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  8. swizzler
    January 24, 2012

    Love Salo, hope he makes it into the Ring of Honour

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    Rating: +16 (from 16 votes)
  9. tom selleck's moustache
    January 24, 2012

    Gosh, I hope the Canucks win it this year. If there’s anybody who’s deserving to win it, it’s him. As said before, he plays the game the right way and has been nothing but a class act his entire career. The perseverance he’s demonstrated in coming back time and time again from injury really speaks to his strength of character.

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    Rating: +12 (from 12 votes)
    • CanuckFanInSF
      January 24, 2012

      That’s one of the reasons why Marchand’s hit was so vilified.

      I don’t think the “general public” would share the same sentiment had it happened to Burr or Lappy.

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      Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
      • Kate
        January 24, 2012

        I think you’re completely on with that, seeing Sami go down is like injuring a unicorn. Why, everybody loves him, he’d never hurt anyone, he’s so special, WHYY, and so on. Touched on the soft spot most Canuck fans seem to be carrying for him.

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        Rating: +11 (from 11 votes)
  10. micasa
    January 24, 2012

    I didn’t read his comment that way at all, though it may be true that he’s done at the end of this year. If you look at other top flight defencemen in the league, it certainly wouldn’t be crazy to see him put in another year or two.

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    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
    • shoes
      January 25, 2012

      I agree, I think his comments are being taken slightly out of context.

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  11. Chris B
    January 24, 2012

    Question – when Henrik lifts the cup, who does he hand it to next? Easy answer is Daniel, but darkhorses are Luongo and Salo

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  12. Hips
    January 24, 2012

    I’d probably have retired 10 years ago if I were Salo. I’ve snapped my ankle a couple of times and the rehab for the last one was so bad I was resigned to sitting in a chair or having a cane the rest of my life. Can’t imagine what it’s like for him.
    A lot of us say that we admire how resilient Salo is, but I don’t think that we understand just how much Salo must love this fricking game to come back again and again.

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    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  13. Wagman
    January 25, 2012

    Seems like a good time to ask what happened to the “Salo is your Palo” t-shirt contest? Did I miss a post?

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  14. Geoff-C-
    January 26, 2012

    “Rather than giving in, he did what he had done 39 times before, fighting his way back and returning to the Canucks’ lineup.”

    Normally I would assume that was an exageration, but I’m not so sure in this case

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 26, 2012

      It’s actually deadly accurate. Which is nuts.

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  15. Dawg
    January 31, 2012

    Sami is the man, but I don’t c his number being retired lol.

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