Farewell to a fan favourite: Salo signs with Tampa Bay

Sami Salo has been one of the best Canucks defencemen for a full decade. He joined the Canucks in 2002 in a trade with the Senators for Peter Schaeffer. While he battled injuries and never played a full 82-game regular season, he was a steady, reliable presence with a howitzer of a slap shot, who made the team better when he was in the lineup. He was also a humble guy with a great sense of humour and incredible character. In coming back from injuries that would have ended the career of a lesser man, he was an inspiration to his teammates and his fans.

Salo was one of my favourite players and he just signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He won’t be retiring a Canuck.

And it’s okay.

Looking at it from an emotional perspective, it stinks. I had hoped that the Canucks could come to terms on a one-year deal with Salo at a similar cap hit to last year’s $2-million contract. He would have been able to shuttle between the second and third pairing as well as getting some time on the powerplay and penalty kill. Though he slowed down towards the end of last season, I thought Salo had one more year in him, after which he could retire as a Vancouver Canuck. In my fantasy world, his final season would coincide with the Canucks’ first Stanley Cup.

Salo was a superhero. He had a voracious appetite. He was our pal-o. It just won’t be the same without him.

From a practical, rational perspective, however, it makes perfect sense, particularly when you look at the money involved. The Lightning signed Salo to a two-year deal worth $3.75 million per season. That’s the biggest cap hit of Salo’s career and, while it can be rightly argued that Salo has signed at below-market value for the Canucks in the past, a two-year term at that salary just doesn’t make sense for the Canucks.

Salo will be 38 at the start of next season and has an injury history more spotted than Waldo. Trust me, that analogy makes sense. Mike Gillis wasn’t willing to offer more than a one-year contract to Salo and, without considering emotion, it’s the right move.

To soften the blow from an emotional perspective, consider the following: Salo is, for once in his career, getting overpaid and he gets to play the final two years of his career in Tampa Bay with Mattias Ohlund, his one-time partner in Vancouver. Well, he’ll get to play one year with Ohlund, who is expected to miss the entirety of the 2012-13 season after knee surgery.

That didn’t actually help my emotional state at all.

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24 comments

  1. Nee
    July 1, 2012

    I’ll miss him greatly, but that cap hit was really high. I’m glad Gillis didn’t agree to that.

    A bit bummed that Sami couldn’t finish his career here though. : (

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  2. sarah
    July 1, 2012

    Salo was my pal~o :(

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    Rating: +33 (from 33 votes)
  3. Locky
    July 1, 2012

    Hear hear. Sad to see him go, but that deal makes simply no sense for the Canucks.

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    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  4. Julia
    July 1, 2012

    Truly, I’m so happy for Sami, that he was able to secure a sizable two year deal. After all the crap he has had to endure, nobody deserves it more than him. One of my favourite Canucks of all time, a true warrior and class act. Goes without saying that I’m sad he won’t retire as a Canuck, but I hope we give him a roaring reception when he comes to town on October 28th.

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  5. mightystickbug
    July 1, 2012

    Salo’s my favourite player. I’m gutted he’s no longer a Canuck, but glad that he’s somewhere like Tampa Bay. Yzerman knows how to take care of vets and that softens the blow a bit. Not much, but a bit.

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    • SteveB
      July 1, 2012

      Mine too, I bought a Sami Salo #6 jersey last season, confident he’d retire in the blue & green.
      :-(

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  6. kavy36
    July 1, 2012

    I agree with you; Salo was one of my favourite defencemen and I’m going to miss him. Really wanted to see him at least one more year wearing the blue and green, but at least he didn’t sign with Chicago. Or Boston. That would have broken my heart.

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  7. RG
    July 1, 2012

    Good for Salo – wrap up the career with a fat pay cheque. And more chances to low-bridge that rat Marchand playing in the East.

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  8. Tengeresz
    July 1, 2012

    It seems we have a total consensus: Salo is a great guy, a good player (still), and has given Vancouver (team and fans) everything he had to give.
    Despite the universal regret that he can’t play his last season on a Cup-winning Canucks team, this deal makes sense for everyone. Money is not everything, but it is something important (especially at the end of a career, or when injured, or both).
    Congratulations Sami, and warm best wishes from cold and rainy Vancouver on your new opportunities in warm and sunny Tampa.
    - One of your many fans and admirers.

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    • Tamara B
      July 2, 2012

      Couldn’t have said it better!

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  9. Michael
    July 1, 2012

    And it’s okay.

    No. No it is not.

    .

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  10. Kelvin
    July 1, 2012

    He’ll always be my pal-o :(

    He’ll receive a great ovation when he suits up against Vancouver.

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  11. invisibleairwaves
    July 2, 2012

    So is tweeting on the bus going to be allowed now?

    Sad to see him go, but I’m glad the Canucks didn’t match that offer. Hope he does great things in Tampa. We won’t have to wait very long to see him again; the Canucks host the Lightning on October 28. Hopefully he’s healthy.

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  12. Nee
    July 2, 2012

    Poor Chloe Ezra. She loves him.

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  13. Anonymous
    July 2, 2012

    Though he slowed down towards the end of last season, I thought Salo had one more year in him, after which he could retire as a Vancouver Canuck. In my fantasy world, his final season would coincide with the Canucks’ first Stanley Cup.

    Yup. Same.

    Ugh it really grinds my gears and gets me so worked up that we couldn’t freakin’ win a cup with our great core intact. We’ve grown to really care about these guys who’ve been with us for so long and have done so much for us, 2011 was such a perfect opportunity to have them all win a cup together ffs. The fact that the dream of having guys like Lu and Sami winning the cup with the Canucks is dead is a depressing one indeed.

    Now I has a great big ole sad. :’(

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  14. sox/canucks fan
    July 2, 2012

    I saw Sami in Game 4 in SJ last year. shooting fish in a barrel, almost sorry to do it. I will miss that part of the team.

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  15. John Andress
    July 2, 2012

    I can’t imagine the Canucks without Sami Salo who has been a loyal, hardworking and courageous member of the team for so long. As with Mattias Ohlund, whom I also liked and admired and was sorry to see go, I will, I am sure, come to terms with the loss. I suppose that one of the realities of being an organization committed to the development of young talent is that you have to have room for them to take the next step into the the big team when the time comes and I imagine that that time has come for youngsters like Kevin Connaughton and Yann Sauve. It’s a bit like a herd of mountain goats, isn’t it? The younger, stronger guys push the older guys off the side of the mountain. Except hockey players usually smell better than goats. I think. Anyway, thanks for the years of great service to the team and the community Sami. Enjoy life in Tampa Bay and enjoy the fruits of your labours. You will always be remembered and appreciated here in Vancouver. And watch out for venomous snakes and cracked sidewalks in Florida.

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  16. Mt
    July 2, 2012

    He’ll be missed. Part of my cup-for-the-’nucks dream was always about Salo winning here.

    Here’s hoping his less-than-robust bones will benefit from the Tampa heat and he plays a full season or two.

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  17. tj
    July 2, 2012

    I’m heartbroken. Happy for him, if that’s what he wants, but still selfishly saddened.

    Seems Samuelson wants to retire as a Red Wing, and our man Tanner has taken up with the likes of Pittsburgh. I sure hope they appreciate his particular brand of awesome.

    Damn, I’ve got way too attached to people I don’t even know…

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  18. Winsy
    July 2, 2012

    I’m really gonna miss that guy! Wish I had paid more attention earlier in his career. He was easily one of my favorite Canucks!

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  19. Abby
    July 2, 2012

    I thought I had come to grips with this after hearing about it initially.

    Then I read your post.

    No, it’s not okay.

    Salo is our Pal-O. Regardless of what jersey he plays in.

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  20. Tamara B
    July 2, 2012

    I got a angry when I heard the Canucks didn’t sign him back. While I’m happy for him $$ wise, I’m still a bit misty eyed after reading this.

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  21. Brent
    July 3, 2012

    The only way this will be OK is if we get him back at the trade deadline so he can hoist the cup with us.

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  22. Fruzenius
    July 10, 2012

    I’m pretty sad to see Salo depart, but the deal definitely wasn’t something we could offer him. He would be an all-star if he managed to stay healthy long enough when he were younger.

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