Mikael Samuelsson, on Canucks: ‘I didn’t think very highly of management”

We celebrated when Mikael Samuelsson signed a contract earlier this month to re-assimilate into the Borg in Detroit. The Red Wings are, after all, going to be featured on HBO’s 24/7, and something tells us that Samuelsson’s brutal honesty will make his interviews indispensable segments of the program.

If you don’t share our excitement, perhaps you need an example of this brutal honesty. Look no further than a recent interview Samuelsson did with Ronnie Johansson of HockeySvierge.Se, which can be found in the original Swedish here and originally translated by Canucks Army here. During the chat, the former Canuck made it clear that he wasn’t a fan of the Canucks’ front office:

Disappointed is not the right word, but I liked it a lot in Vancouver. I had a pretty significant injury my second season in Vancouver when I torn (something I can’t translate) in my groin. The rehab was going well and I felt good in camp, but when the season was about to start the leg didn’t work.

Looking back at it now, it might have been good to be traded, I got extra time to rehab and come back fully fit. I liked it a lot in Florida, but it was tough leaving the Sedins, Edler and the other guys up in Vancouver. I didn’t think very highly of management, so in that way I didn’t mind.

This is definitely going to be fuel for the critics of Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault, who came under some serious heat last year for their handling of a few players, namely Cody “God’s son” Hodgson. But, even if you’re not one of those critics, it shouldn’t surprise that Samuelsson doesn’t harbour warm feelings towards Gillis and friends.

Frankly, while the Canucks’ front office got a lot of heat in April for the early-season trade that sent Samuelsson and Marco Sturm to Florida for David Booth, they didn’t get as much as they deserved back in October. Granted, any trade is an inconvenience, but that one seemed more inconsiderate than most.

We noted Sturm’s disappointment after watching his first interview as a Panther. Here’s what we wrote then:

That’s a creaky grin Sturm is sporting, especially when he says it was “still early in the season.” I’m no psychologist, but I’d hazard a guess that he’s more than a little choked.

He has every reason to be. Unmentioned amidst all the excitement of this weekend is the fact that Sturm signed a free agent contract with the Canucks to play here for a year, and was beyond excited to be here. He moved his family, he enrolled his five-year-old and seven-year-old children into school, and he settled in for a year in Vancouver.

Instead, his one-year deal became a raw deal when he was traded six games into the season. That’s a kick in the teeth.

Truth is that, while Samuelsson spent another two years in Vancouver, he too likely made some family preparations for the final year of his free agent deal that likely seemed like a huge waste of time when he was shown the door six games in.

And while I’m not suggesting Samuelsson’s comments are simply raw grapes from the trade — his treatment didn’t always make sense, especially compared to former linemate Mason Raymond, for instance — I’m definitely suggesting the way things ended is a part of it. Consider that Samuelsson’s amusingly brutal honesty first came to light after he was left off the 2010  Swedish Olympic team and responded by telling reporters Team Sweden could go [do intercourse to] themselves.

That makes the Canucks the second hockey operation he’s torched, and when it comes down to it, the Canucks made the same mistake that Team Sweden did: they cast Samuelsson aside. And considering what Samuelsson said the last time this happened, Canucks’ management got off lucky — these comments are basically a Mikael Samuelsson birthday card.

Samuelsson also gave his opinion on the turning point of the Canucks’ series with the Boston Bruins, and he thinks things began to turn in Boston’s favour a little earlier than most.

Me, myself was in the press box during those games, but it probably wasn’t very good that (Alexandre) Burrows bit Patrice Bergeron in the finger in the first game. After that, Boston was angry. You might say that was the wrong team to fire up. They play a very physical game and I thought it would’ve been better to let the bear sleep, if you know what I mean.

Fair point. We know that Samuelsson was one of the first advocates of the Canucks’ Zen style that season, a style they got away from in the playoffs. Biting an opponent seems at odds with his ethos. In Samuelsson’s world, only comments, not players, should be biting.

Be sure to read the Canucks Army translation for a few more very honest statements and Samuelsson-isms.

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59 comments

  1. Frank N.
    July 12, 2012

    Yeah… too bad he got traded away. Always liked him and his brutal honesty. I think the Canucks as a group really benefited from that. And if he didn’t like management, maybe he kept them honest too!?
    So far I’m not a fan of Booth. I think for what he brings, he is totally overpaid within the Canucks cap philosophy. Hopefully he can pick up his game this season.
    But still would have preferred Sammuelson, or a player of his ilk (with some bite) rather than the good natured Booth.

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  2. RG
    July 12, 2012

    Watch out: he scores when he’s angry. I am not looking forward to Canucks-Red Wings games this year.

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    • shoes
      July 13, 2012

      If he scores….when angry…he must have been fairly happy in Vancouver. He was a mediocre contributor at best.

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  3. robert
    July 12, 2012

    Maybe he wants Doan to come to Detroit instead of Vancouver

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  4. Matt
    July 12, 2012

    I don’t feel bad one bit for these guys. Being traded is apart of the business side of the NHL and they are getting paid alot of money to play the game. If they were making $60-80 k a year than I would feel bad for them, but they are making way more than that.

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  5. Kenji
    July 12, 2012

    I’m perturbed about the comments re management. Gillis’s cheap shot on Hodgson to justify the trade may have been a telling symptom of lack of dignity and professionalism.

    That’s one reason to get Doan in here, as an injection of classy rep that would perhaps balance out the Canucks’s ugly reputation amongst the fans and, particularly, the referees.

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    • Anonymous
      July 12, 2012

      lol Doan and his cheap shots you mean?

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    • peanutflower
      July 12, 2012

      those are pretty strong statements based on what? “lack of dignity and professionalism”? “ugly reputation”? The fans have an ugly reputation, true enough.

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  6. arjay
    July 12, 2012

    funny …no comments from these 33/38 yr old, often injured players on the downside of their careers on what they feel for Panthers’ mgmt as they were both dumped after being traded for.

    Vancouver got a 26 yr old power forward at fair market value. (hey T. Ruutu just got 5MM and a NTC!!!).

    Another one-sided deal to Nux win column with FLA….i expect Tallon to ‘call-block” MGGM any time now (but m b AFTER the RL saga has ended)

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    • Nick
      July 13, 2012

      For Tallon, that trade was pretty much a salary dump.

      He was willing to take on a couple of old guys for half a season in order to move Booth’s contract.

      Like he did in Chicago, the Tallon strategy is to clear cap room and build through the draft with blue chip young players … which is why acquiring Luongo doesn’t really fit with his playbook.

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      • Cal
        July 13, 2012

        Yeah but he will acquire Luongo, just we’re getting back some salary for sure. I’m not completely familiar with the Florida roster, but something is coming back to Vancouver, and it aint’ gonna be pretty.

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    • Dave
      July 13, 2012

      A win? A power forward who’s soft and a liability defensively with a $4.25 mil cap hit who was a no show in the playoffs? This is post concussion Booth, not pre we’re talking about.

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  7. cableguymike
    July 12, 2012

    I like Mikael but he’s clearly on the downslide of his career. There’s a lot of mean stuff I could say about this guy’s ability to man a power play point but I’ll instead bite my tongue.

    Best of luck in Detroit. Here’s hoping Booth goes Samuelsson hunting and puts him on his ass first game.

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  8. LS
    July 12, 2012

    I’m not sure if I agree with the Raymond– Samuelsson contrast. The difference I see between the treatment of these two players is based on attitude. Raymond seems to be positive and does not complain whereas Samuelsson would clearly pout (esp. when moved of the Sedin line). I’m not saying that Samuelsson was not mistreated by management because only those two parties really know that. But I do find it interesting that he only speaks out once he has a new contract.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      July 12, 2012

      I think the treatment was based on their differing personalities. Touched on it a couple years back. But some people still didn’t get it.

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    • Cal
      July 13, 2012

      Raymond also had much more “upside” than Samuelson, and was given a season to re-hab his game. That’s the difference I see. Raymond was younger and a RFA. Samuelson was older and a UFA coming up.

      Now comes proving time for Raymond. Chances are, Raymond may not even get a full season to prove his worth if the Canucks sign a player like Doan.

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  9. Tom
    July 12, 2012

    I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary with the sturm trade. he had no contract, so I’m sure he was happy to be making money first of all. more importantly though, he was not working out in vancouver. as I recall, he hardly had any shots (I cannot remember any more details of his play).

    I can appreciate him being suprised, but I wouldn’t call it a kick to the teeth myself.

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  10. Matt
    July 12, 2012

    Oh boy, Cambo’s posting here now? Got tired of all his comments being replaced with “user has been banned by moderator staff” on the Sun and Province, I guess.

    It was a shame Samuelsson got injured in his second year and that he wasn’t able to contribute in a significant way in the playoffs. He was one of my favourite Canucks in his time here – solid two-way play, good hands, great attitude and a fun interview. I was holding out hope that Vancouver would bring him back this off-season, but I’m glad to see him back in Detroit.

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  11. KCinCan
    July 12, 2012

    Samuelsson was my favourite player on the Canucks and he brought a lot of class and grit to their play. Trades are part of the business, but I don’t think Booth comes close to replacing Samuelsson. It was a stupid trade, especially since they stuck with Raymond but didn’t give the same courtesy to Samuelsson after he got hurt. At least he’s gone to a classy organization in Detroit. Good luck Mikael.

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  12. Flames
    July 12, 2012

    Rambo is right, Canucks are a bunch of losers…….. The sad thing is the fact they are by far the best team we have in Canada at the moment….. Guess hockey is Americas game for yet another season (where the cup will go)

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    • RG
      July 12, 2012

      How do you know that the Canucks are better than the rest of the Canadian teams? Can it be that one of you Alberta hicks actually knows math?

      24 American teams to 6 Canadian, so the odds are stacked against us. Wait – do you need me to clarify the math?

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      • Lenny
        July 12, 2012

        Yes. He clearly needs you to clarify the math for him.

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        July 12, 2012

        Hey, in case you’ve been under a rock for a while, Winnipeg is also in Canada.

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        • RG
          July 13, 2012

          Yeah I know. It’s Toronto that’s in the States. ;)

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      • Cal
        July 13, 2012

        Plus Winnipeg. That makes Canada 23.3333333333% strong in the NHL.

        We basically have CLOSE to a 1/4 chance of winning the cup every year, if everything is equal. But we know for a fact in some Canadian organizations (as in the southern American ones), everything is NOT equal.

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  13. JS Topher
    July 12, 2012

    Remember when you tried to spell “perennial”?

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  14. Flames
    July 12, 2012

    P.s. until AV is gone this team goes nowhere, his style of speed combined with dirty, cheap shots and complete disregard for grit and true physical play style will mean the Canucks finish high in thee reg season but again and again bounced from the playoffs

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    • Cal
      July 13, 2012

      Are you watching the same team I am?

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  15. VanFan85
    July 12, 2012

    It looks like Cambo changed his name to ‘Flames’ and is now agreeing with his own comments. I feel bad for him, that he really has nothing better to do.

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  16. Anonymous
    July 12, 2012

    I honestly don’t see anything wrong with what he said? I don’t get why people are getting up in arms about this. It makes sense and I don’t think there’s anything offensive or dishonest about it?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      July 12, 2012

      There’s nothing offensive about it, really. It’s just an interesting thing he said, and you can see why he might have said it.

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  17. tj
    July 12, 2012

    Does it come as a surprise that the Canucks front office isn’t all lollipops and puppydogs? Sometimes the rose-coloured glasses VanFans wear are especially rosy. Management’s whole ‘selling the culture’ to potential players approach is going to wear thin and hot players will opt not to take the less pay/under-the-microscope day-in/day-out brand Gillis is selling. (This seems to have happened already.)

    Anyhoo, what’s great about Samuelson, and why I’ll remain a fan forever and ever, amen is that he is completely, unabashedly and unapologetically WYSIWYG. He was, in fact, rather gracious (for him) and cool in that interview for commenting on his appreciation for the team members. Detroit is lucky to have him.

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    • Cal
      July 13, 2012

      Couldn’t agree more. Samuelson will always go down in my list of most liked players. Sometimes an spade is a spade.

      Just because somebody is a little bit more honest than most, and may hurt some feelings along the way, doesn’t mean they did the wrong thing by speaking up.

      The NHL needs more guys like Samuelson who say “screw the book, I’m going to speak my mind”.

      Because in the end, if you anything to change for the better, you’ve gotta stand up and speak your side of the argument. The NHL PA will not save you. Unions do not give you EVERYTHING your heart desires. You want something? Use your big boy words and people will listen; just like Samuelson did. Cheers!

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  18. VanFan85
    July 12, 2012

    First Kyle Wellwood, then CoHo, now Mikael Samuelsson, and I’m sure there has been more who have spoken out about there dislike of Canucks management. There are about 1000 players in the NHL and another 600 or so in the AHL and hundreds if not over 1000 mangement type people in the league – there is no way everybody is going to see eye-to-eye. Mikeal doesnt think too highly of the Canucks management? So what? I will never fault a player for speaking his mind, but at this point he is almost a full year removed from his time in Vancouver, are comments like these really necessairy? He should be focussed and concerned about the up coming season with Detroit instead of being so concerned about what the Canucks did/are doing. What happened – happened. Its a profesisonal sports league and he is a profesisonal athlete, trades happen and should be expected, thats part of the game, take it like a man and move on instead of crying to the media about it.

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    • peanutflower
      July 12, 2012

      But notably, or perhaps not, the players speaking out about their dislike of Canucks management are not currently Canuck players right? So all of that whinging and whining and trash talking is just sour grapes and to be dismissed without further reference at all.

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    • Cal
      July 13, 2012

      The media is a conduit to his activism. He listed the management as a one line “issue”. Obviously it’s not on his mind now, and although his family and himself may have suffered from the abrupt trade 6 games into the season, his feelings are his feelings and he has every right to voice them as do you on this comment board.

      He is not “crying” as you say or whining to the media. He is making a point that drives discussion.

      Give it 12 more days (about the length of 6 NHL game days), see if this doesn’t drive RATIONAL DISCUSSION about the Canucks Management.

      Power structures must be questioned and scrutinized in order to properly examine their efficacy. It’s a widely accepted idea. Why is it so hard for you to wrap your cranium around?

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  19. AG
    July 12, 2012

    His brutal honesty was funny when it wasn’t directed at us i.e. when he told the Swedish team they could go %$&* themselves when they didn’t pick him. I think he’s a bit of a poor sport when things don’t go his way.

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    • Cal
      July 13, 2012

      Aren’t we all? If you truly believe you deserved a job, but some stoner non-educated high school drop out got it instead of you, would you not want to tell hiring management to “go Fu$%”themselves?

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  20. SteveB
    July 12, 2012

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v390/skb/misc%20stuff/random_stuff/PITB/cerealguypanthertrade.png

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    • Brent
      July 12, 2012

      Good one. The few Florida playoff games I saw Samulson was a force. I know that they want to get younger, so he would eventually go, but it would have been great to keep him for another year.

      So no story on Gragnani leaving? Another failed experiment?

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  21. akidd
    July 12, 2012

    i think that gillis really wanted to improve the 2nd line. samuelsson was hurt and in the final year of his contract. sturm was obviously two steps behind, something most fans expected when they heard about the trade. booth was the unknown. when gillis made the deal i was pretty stoked. and then booth hit the ice.

    not gillis’ most shining moment that trade. he and his scouts didn’t estimate booth’s appalling lack of instinct and vision, his selfish style of play or his muffin of a shot. samuelsson is twice as smart as booth is on the ice but he might not have been healthy enough to help the canucks much last year.

    anyway, i wish samuelsson luck. he seems like a pretty straightforward guy and i’ve always appreciated that. am pretty sure he will play a very important role for the wings.

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    • Cal
      July 13, 2012

      The problem isn’t necessarily Booth, more so than it is the fact Booth AND Kesler don’t have a proper playmaker on their line to help them both shine.

      If Daniel Sedin gets injured again, I could honestly see a 1rst unit PP or even a 1rst line (if we have enough player resources) of Sedin, Kesler, Booth. In theory, that line would be second only to the twins and Burrows/Kesler for production 5 on 5 and on the PP.

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  22. the real bob
    July 12, 2012

    If he doesn’t like the management here, clearly he’s never been anywhere Tambellini and the Oilers

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  23. Winsy
    July 12, 2012

    I have to disagree with Sammy on at least one thing; the turning point of the SCF’s wasn’t when Burrows (deservedly so) bit Bergeron in game 1. It was most definitely when Rome hit Horton in game 3 or whenever it was. I’m looking forward to HBO 24/7. He wasn’t my favorite Canuck, but he wasn’t my least either. I miss my Swedish posse. Sweeeeede!

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  24. Nick
    July 12, 2012

    I liked the Samuelsson – Booth trade a lot. Still do. It doesn’t surprise me that Mikael is quite vocal about his bad feelings.

    He was always the player most likely to complain to the reporters if he got less ice time than he wanted, or if he didn’t get to play in the top 6. It’s entertaining for fans for a malcontent to yack it up with the reporters like that, but I’m sure it didn’t play too well with other role players like LaPierre and Hansen and Higgins (all of whom I’d want on my team over an aging Samuelsson).

    Samuelsson’s no longer a top 6 player, he was never a good fit on the 4th line, and his shelf life as a player is pretty much done. I can’t believe the money he got from the Red Wings for 2 more years. They usually don’t make mistakes like that.

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  25. shoes
    July 13, 2012

    Samuelsson makes the 3rd player that has publicly stated “when a grown man sticks his finger in your mouth you may a) kiss it, b) lick it, or c) suck it…….but under no circumstances may you bite it. I sincerely hope that “brutally honest Samuelsson……takes up finger licking for a hobby if Patrice ever inserts his digit in Mikael.

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    • Cal
      July 13, 2012

      It’s widely accepted by credible reporting media that Patrice did not inset his finger into Burrows’ mouth. Video evidence shows Burrows moving his neck in order to gain a closer proximity to Patrice’s glove hand.

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  26. Bob
    July 13, 2012

    The biggest problem with the Samuelsson trade was that the Canucks management traded a right handed player for a left handed player. The same in letting Salo go and bringing in Garisson, a right sided player gone for a left sided player.

    From what I have seen of Gillis so far – not very good.

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  27. bergberg
    July 13, 2012

    Without a NTC, isn’t the chance of being traded at any time really part of the deal in professional sports? I know its rough for the family to be uprooted like that, but they know what they are signing up for when they start a family in the first place. I don’t really see how this particular trade was worse or more damaging than any other trade that has ever happened. I don’t blame the players, either, if they feel a little jilted when it happens. But in the end, they should always be prepared for it.

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  28. ryanonthecoast
    July 13, 2012

    Who cares what he thinks about management? Seriously? How many “employees” out there have good words to say about “management”? Very few…that’s for certain.

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  29. inthepaint
    July 13, 2012

    Funny, isnt it that, Toronto can have those bumbling fools in mgmt, perrenial losers, not one significant season since 1967 and Laf nation still idolizes……Vancouver is top of the league, or near it, year after year and its not enough for the whiney snivellers…..move out of your mommie’s basement and check out the real world.

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  30. JustSayin'
    July 13, 2012

    Not saying his comments aren’t valid, however, timing is interesting. Why say it now? Could it be that he’s now with Detroit and none of the big names in free agency signed there despite the fact they have been advertising they want to spend. The two last really big names are Semin and Doan. Semin is qustionable, whereas most people agree that Doan is the guy to get. Who is one of the big competitors for Doan…Vancouver. It’s part of sports, trash talk to throw off your opponent. I’m sure he’d love Doan to move there and if this could sway Doan to think the management isn’t very good, he may think it’s worth a shot. Let’s face it, Detroit has to get some big name players and Samuelsson, while good, isn’t the answer.

    Again, don’t mean to say that Samuellson that he is making this up, I’m sure he doesn’t like Vancouver management because he got traded (probably other reasons too). I’m sure he doesn’t like the Swedish national team management either because he wasn’t picked (probably other reasons too). I do find the timing of his comments interesting though. Just my opinion.

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  31. SF
    July 13, 2012

    For those talking about him holding grudges and calling him childish for talking about it almost a year after it happened — this is the first real interview he has done after the trade and if you would’ve taken the time and put the article into Google translate you would’ve known that he was asked just 3 questions about the Canucks, the rest of them were about Florida, being back in Detroit, how to replace Lidstrom and Babcock’s leadership. He DIDN’T bring up the Canucks, the interviewer asked him about his years with them, the trade and the SC finals.
    It’s not like he came out and said that Canucks management sucked and Burrows was responsible for them losing. All he said was that it was tough leaving his teammates, that he wasn’t too attached to the management and that he thought it wasn’t too smart of Burrows to bite Bergeron.
    Also in the beginning of the article he mentions that being traded is a part of the job and something you have to accept, however, it’s the family part that makes a trade hard to deal with.

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    • BigFan
      July 14, 2012

      yeah, but the dude has experience dealing with the media and knows exactly what kind of comments are going to get publicity… it is UFA season and this doesn’t help… Sammuelson is a gritty player who I liked with the Canucks, but next time he comes to Vancouver he should be booed and someone should stick there fingers in his mouth and see how he reacts… without Burrows, the Canucks never even get to the Stanley Cup finals…

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  32. arjay
    July 16, 2012

    Dave—yer right–I will restate my ‘win’ comment after your reminder that we got post concussion Booth.

    In 56 games, with a serious knee injury Booth, after being traded, coming x-continent to a new team and greatly increased travel ONLY scored 16 goals. Think it’s fair to say in a full season and a year under hios belt, Booth should easily close in on 25 goals and 50+ points.

    And he is 26, going on 27.

    For 2 38 yr olds—who Florida quickly let go, it is more like a STEAL than a win.

    Thanks for the “heads-up, Dave……i did indeed understate the scope of the Nux’ larceny.

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  33. MB13
    July 17, 2012

    So thinking two steps ahead now.

    Canucks need to fill out their roster. There’s a few free agents they covet who come at a relatively decent cap hit. They call these guys up and say, come play for the Canucks on a 1 or 2 year deal. Free agent may now say, “MG, why would I move my family to Vancouver and risk getting traded in two weeks (like Sturm)? I’ll go somewhere management understands that I’m not a stock you buy and sell”

    I think MG was short sighted in his treatment of these human beings.

    I’d be wary if I was a free agent signing a 1 year deal in Van. I’d insist on a no trade. I commit to you for a year – you commit to me.

    This means that MG might be painting himself into another corner.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      July 17, 2012

      Let’s go with your scenario: the prospective free agent goes through the same thought process you outline. Then they say to themself, “Self, you’re not Marco Sturm. You’re better than Marco Sturm.” Then the free agent jumps at the opportunity to play for one of the best teams in the NHL.

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      • MB13
        July 18, 2012

        Potentially. I just think that MG doesn’t play the human element very well. He cut loose Sturm (players won’t look fondly on that). He took Raymond to arbitration (players won’t look fondly on that).

        He bungled the Hodgson situation and then bad mouthed Hodgson on the way out – he didn’t even tell the kid he was traded but had him find out 3rd hand.

        I can’t remember the details, but why did Larscheid all of a sudden retire?

        He isn’t very loyal. Mitchell and Salo will attest to that.

        I think a lot of times he doesn’t see the forest for the trees.

        Your scenario is plausible. I happen to think mine is more plausible. And the more times he leaves players with bad tastes in their mouth as they leave, my scenario becomes more and more plausible.

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  34. gog
    July 18, 2012

    About that word (sena) you haven’t transalted from the Swedish interview, it’s the swedish word for tendon. So kind of a significant injury

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