One of the most amusing moments of this week’s two-game set between the Abbotsford Heat and the Canucks’ affiliate Chicago Wolves came Wednesday night, during the announcement of Jordan Schroeder’s 3-0 goal. As soon as Schroeder’s name came over the loud speakers, the crowd popped like he was a wrestler preening at the turnbuckle. It was a cheer that far exceeded the one Wolves’ forward Steven Reinprecht received on any the four goals he scored during the visit.
It’s not surprising. Safe to say nobody — except, perhaps, any family he has in the area — came to the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre to see Reinprecht. But he was impossible to miss this week.
Here’s a highlights package from Wednesday’s tilt:
Again, Reinprecht scored four goals during the visit: two in the first period Tuesday, and another two in the second period Wednesday, doubling his goal total on the season. (When told he might have established himself as a scorer, Reinprecht joked, “That doesn’t bode very well for what I had going.”) While the Canucks’ brass made the short jaunt East to see what their future looked like, Reinprecht seemed determined to remind them that he was a viable option right now.
Reinprecht came to the Canucks’ organization in the David Booth deal, and since he was pretty clearly a salary dump for the Panthers, who had already waived him, he was seen as little more than a throw-in. It wouldn’t be the first time: a year after he entered the NHL, signed as an undrafted college player by the Los Angeles Kings in 2000, he was included in the blockbuster deal that sent Rob Blake from the Kings to the Colorado Avalanche. That same year, he would help the Avalanche win their second Stanley Cup.
In 2003-04, Reinprecht was a throw-in again, moved to Calgary in a three-way deal between the Avalanche, the Flames and the Buffalo Sabres. The big pieces in that deal: Chris Drury, who went from Calgary to Buffalo, and Keith Ballard, who went from Buffalo to Colorado.
You might recall that the Flames fell a win short of the Stanley Cup that year. Reinprecht didn’t get to play during the run, having undergone season-ending surgery on his left shoulder, but he was still around the team.
In short, he has some genuine Stanley Cup experience, and if the Canucks make another lengthy postseason run, that could come in handy. Make no mistake: he wasn’t just a a throw-in. Reinprecht is the “break glass in case of emergency” option.
Last February, the Canucks acquired Maxim Lapierre thinking he would be their fourth-line centre, but by the Stanley Cup Final, he was the third line pivot and the only healthy guy down the middle. Henrik Sedin was struggling with his back, Ryan Kesler had practically torn himself in half at the waist, and Manny Malhotra’s comeback, while miraculous, was hardly effective.
Little wonder Lapierre was the best Canuck forward versus Boston.
If Reinprecht finds himself playing for the Canucks this spring, it means something has again gone terribly wrong. With Cody Hodgson’s emergence, the Canucks now boast five centres on the roster, including two on the fourth line in Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre. In short, it would take a devastating round of injuries to necessitate the former Panther’s callup.
But stranger things have happened, and Reinprecht’s performance this week was a reminder to the Canucks’ brass that, if they happen again, he’s around.Tags: Canucks, injuries, reinprecht, Wild Speculation, wolves