Ryan Kesler is currently doing some publicity for a new charitable initiative he’s involved in through popchips called Game Changers, where fans will have the opportunity to submit local charities and causes for Kesler to support. Submissions can be made on the popchips website and Kesler will choose the winning cause.
Because Kesler knows what’s up, part of this publicity included a chat with Pass it to Bulis. We spoke with the Canucks’ centre about his involvement with the charity as well as his team’s recent’ offensive struggles, changes to the lineup, and gearing up for the playoffs. And, of course, because it’s PITB, we also asked him about abs, nude photos, and shoutouts on The CW.
PITB: The Canucks are currently on a 6-game win streak, but there are still concerns among the fanbase and media about the lack of goalscoring. Is this a concern in the room or has it been overblown?
Ryan Kesler: I think it’s overblown. It’s pretty funny that people are panicking. Last time I looked I think we’re at the top of the league, point-wise. I think we’re in first place, yeah? So, I think everybody has to have something to complain about and they’re going to look for anything and everything even if you are first place in the league.
You personally broke a 7-game pointless drought with an assist against the Stars. How much pressure do you put on yourself to provide offence when the team isn’t scoring?
You know, for us, we win 1-0 games and people look at we’re not scoring but the way we need to play is we need to play sound defensively. You know, the games before that we were allowing way too many shots, way too many chances. I think you put pressure on yourself to provide offence, obviously, but I think we started to play the right way and that’s why we’re on a 6-game winning streak right now.
Speaking of defence, with the acquisition of defensive centres like Manny Malhotra, Maxim Lapierre, and now Samme Pahlsson, your defensive role has been diminished a little over the last couple seasons. What are your thoughts on shifting to a more offensive role?
It’s been fun. Obviously, you get more powerplay time and you’re put in there to provide offence more, but for me that defensive part of my game will never go away. It’s what brought me into the league and hopefully it’s what keeps me in the league too.
The line that you’ve had the most success with this season has been with David Booth and Chris Higgins on your wings. What do you think has made the American Express line successful?
I think we know how each other play, we trust one another out there and we all can score, we all can pass, we’re good on the forecheck. I think you put all those things together, you’re going to get success. For us, we had success early and we’ve had chemistry and, unfortunately the last couple games we’ve been split up, but hopefully they’ll go back to that and the chemistry still there.
I was about to ask, what do you think of Vigneault splitting up that line recently? Higgins has had some success on the third line with Pahlsson and Hansen.
Yeah, obviously he has to do what’s best for the team. He’s been our coach for five, six years now and he’s pretty good at what he does. So whatever he wants to do, we’re all on board with it.
Speaking of changes, you mentioned the powerplay earlier. The powerplay has struggled over the last half of the season. You have been moved around a bit, from the front of the net to the point and back. How does this change your approach to the powerplay and do you enjoy playing the point?
Yeah, I like playing the point. Obviously, I get to use my shot more. Being in front of the net, you take a bit more of a pounding from the D-men. But for me it doesn’t really matter where I play. Coming up the ice I still have the same job and, for me, I just need to play to my strengths and help the powerplay in any way possible.
After Saturday’s win over the Flames, as you mentioned, the Canucks are now tied with the Rangers for first place in the NHL. Is this still a goal for the team or is the focus just on gearing up for the playoffs?
I think the focus is on gearing up for the playoffs, but getting first in our conference has been one of our goals since the beginning of the year. We’ve obviously clinched the division and we clinched home ice and we clinched the playoffs. Those are three of our goals out of the way, but we still want to win the Western Conference and we still want to win the Presidents’ Trophy, because, you saw last year, that was huge for us throughout the playoffs, was that home ice, got us to the Stanley Cup Finals and we fell one game short. Hopefully we can get home ice throughout again and it will help tremendously.
On clinching the Northwest Division… I have to ask: a week ago, after Saturday’s win over the Colorado Avalanche when the Canucks clinched the division, there was a post-game video that showed Vigneault making his way around the room shaking everyone’s hand. It was noted by a lot of our readers that this looked pretty awkward. Is this a normal post-game ritual and was it as awkward as it looked?
He usually does that when we clinch playoffs or when we clinch the division. He doesn’t do it too often. If it looked awkward, it’s probably because it doesn’t happen too often.
Shifting gears, Chris Higgins was on After Hours on CBC a few weeks ago and, because it’s Scott Oake, he was asked who had the best abs on the team, you or him. His response, and I quote, was “Ryan’s got the best photoshopped ones.” Care to respond?
[laughing] I think his response is lifting up his jersey any chance he gets on the ice. That was just good lighting, he knows who has the best abs on the team, he doesn’t even have to ask.
You’ve probably gotten chirped quite a bit over the last year, so do you at all regret doing the photo for ESPN?
No, not at all. Pretty soon I’m going to be out of shape and that picture’s probably going to be on my fridge and I’ll say, “Once upon a time…”
You’ve made a habit over the last year of showing up in the background of photos and videos, even getting your son Ryker involved during the Canucks Superskills. Now there’s a debate online over whether this is called Kesler-bombing or Keslurking. Care to weigh in?
I prefer Kesler-bombing. Kesler-lurking sounds a little creepy for me, so I’m going to go with Kesler-bombing. [laughing]
Okay, so we’ve got the official word, then. Speaking of your son, I am curious as to how you balance hockey and being out of town all the time with being a dad. I just had a son a few months ago and it’s hard enough to strike that balance when I’m working from home. How do you make that work in your own family?
It’s definitely tough. My wife is the backbone of the family, she’s the one here all the time. She’s the strong one in the relationship. She’s the one that’s around the kids 24/7, she’s basically a single mom. For me, I try to spend as much time as possible with the kids, but obviously with my schedule and how many games we play and playoffs right around the corner, it’s hard, so you cherish every moment you have. Then again, summers are always fun because I’m around them 24/7 with the nice weather and it doesn’t get much better than that.
So there’s currently a bit of drama on twitter as Milan Lucic’s girlfriend started chirping Cory Schneider’s girlfriend for allegedly flipping her off at a recent Canucks game because she was wearing a Bruins hat. Have you heard anything about that?
No, I haven’t, this is the first.
Has anything like that ever happened before, where player’s wives or girlfriends get into it with opponent’s wives or girlfriends?
No, I’ve never heard of that before. My wife is friends with a lot of the other players’ wives through charities and whatnot, but I haven’t heard anything about that so I really can’t comment on that. I’ll talk to Cory tomorrow about it, though.
While we’re talking drama, here’s an odd one: I’m not sure if you’ve seen the video or not, but a show on The CW called “The Secret Circle” gave you a shoutout in an episode last week. Has anyone sent you the video?
Oh yeah, they did? Nice. I’ve never seen the show, but…or heard about it, but…The Secret Circle? Is it a kid’s show?
It’s a teen drama with witchcraft added in.
… All right? I’m going to have to tell my mom.
Basically, there is a girl trying to impress a hockey player at her school with her hockey knowledge. Here’s the quote after asking him if he watched the Canucks game: When I watched Kesler, it totally reminded me of your game and how he caught the breakaway and deked the defenceman. It was like your move in the third period of the conference finals when you tried that slap shot and scored from the blueline.
How do you catch a breakaway?
That was one of my questions, as well, yeah.
Also, apparently on that breakaway, you had to deke a defenceman.
Yeah, if you’re on a breakaway, I guess you don’t have to deke a defenceman, right?
That’s cool, though. Obviously neat that they used my name. [laughing] Even if I did “catch a breakaway”, that’s pretty neat.
Getting into some more serious things, you are the Canucks representative in the “You Can Play” project; why did you feel it was important for you to get involved in this initiative?
I think there’s a lot of close-minded people out there, not just in locker rooms and in sports, but everyday life. I thought it was a great campaign. Brian Burke, the General Manager of Toronto, actually came to me and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. Burkie was the General Manager who drafted me with Vancouver and knowing him through the Olympics and Vancouver and knowing all he’s been through with his son, I jumped at the opportunity. I thought it was something that I needed to do.
Finally, I understand you’re involved in a new charitable initiative with a number of other professional athletes and popchips called the Game Changers program. Could you tell me about the charity and how you got involved?
Obviously, I’m a big fan of popchips and all they do and I love their product, I love their chips. With Game Changer, you can go on my Facebook fan page and submit your community cause. Basically, our fans always support us and it’s a chance for me to ask the fans, “What can I do for you?” It’s a great cause and I jumped at it when I had the opportunity.Tags: abs, Interviews, Naked Kesler, Ryan Kesler, you can play