Sunday, February 06, 2011

Ryan Kesler Is a Quiet Leader

The opening goal of Friday night's game versus the Blackhawks is scored when Christian Ehrhoff comes off the bench and immediately steps into a slapshot on the blueline. It beats Marty Turco cleanly. But here is something you might have missed:

We see, in clip above, Ryan Kesler turn back to the bench, seemingly disinterested in the goal that was just scored. He even commits the cardinal sin of leaving Ehrhoff hanging on a high five, instead coolly gesturing to the bench. Ignoring the immense sociological ramifications of being stiffed on a high five (even Gandhi couldn't handle it), what Kesler's issue here?

Well. Kesler takes his assistant captaincy very, very seriously. No time for silly high fives when there's leadership to be done.

It's important to note that this goal happens during a line change. In the IWTG, Skeeter pointed out that Cody Hodgson starts this play when he smartly puts the puck on net, low to Turco's pad, rather than dumping it in. Immediately after doing this, Hodgson initiates a line change and Ryan Kesler replaces him. But, because it's Hodgson's line that scores, Kesler foregoes celebrating the goal to ensure that Hodgson's role in it is acknowledged and the young centre doesn't miss the on-ice goal celebration. He immediately turns back to the bench and tells Hodgson to join his linemates.

It's a small thing, but it shows the selflessness and egality of the Canucks' core guys. It's an admirable moment of quiet leadership that undoubtedly meant a lot to young Hodgson.

Christian Ehrhoff, meanwhile, is still trying to to overcome the commensurate damage to his fragile psyche. Consider his turn as flail snail later in the same game: broken, he desperately tried to high-five Viktor Stalberg's face. Ironically, he may be on the precipice of the same dark times that Cody Hodgson has recently overcome. If you see him, give him a high five. He's one short.

Hat tip to forum member Hodgson99 for catching this one.


  1. Wow, I knew Kes was a leader but this is damn impressive! Good for him! Hopefully Cody can learn from him.

  2. That's quite the catch there. It's amazing how many details there are to see in a hockey game.

  3. I laughed really hard at the "...he desperately tried to high-five Viktor Stalberg's face" part. Pure gold.

  4. Omigosh, the part about Ehrhoff trying desperately to highfive Stalberg's face nearly killed me. Hilarious!

  5. Thanks for posting this. I was actually wondering about that as I was watching the game. But even if he wanted to let CoHo celebrate, he could have at least given ehrhoff a fistbump.

    I also noticed that during last season (or the year before...I forget in my old age of 28)...there were a few times when Sami Salo would score and Dank would not really...leave him hanging...but not really be interested in celebrating his goal with him. Did you or anyone else here notice that? No?

  6. Wow, the whole Aucoin family is on here now. :-)

    I don't remember seeing Dank stiff Salo, but it's possible he was just out of gas or something. Often times, rather than elation, you see relief or exhaustion on a guy's face when he scores. Not sure it really means much.

  7. It wasn't just about the celebration, kes was also looking out for coho's stats. From the province:

    "On Saturday, for example, head coach Alain Vigneault told a story about the Canucks' first goal on Friday night where Kesler was coming on the ice for Hodgson just as Christian Ehrhoff was scoring the Canucks' first goal. Kesler then jumped back on the bench so Hodgson could record a plus."


  8. Speaks to Tamby's suggestion that the leadership and respect is deep in that locker room. Sigh. If I were a man, I'd have a man-crush on Kes.


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