Northwest Athlete Profile
When Mike Santorelli first signed with the Canucks during the off-season he was expected to fight for a spot on Vancouver’s third or fourth line, and yet only six games into the season the Burnaby, BC native seems to have played everywhere up and down the lineup.
At first the well-conditioned forward shifted to play defence during the pre-season, then he surprised fans by beating out Brad Richardson (who had a solid training camp himself) to start the season on the third line, and now he finds himself alongside the Sedin twins.
So how did the one-time 20 goal scorer work his way up to playing with one of the most dangerous pairings in hockey? Hard work, conditioning, and adaptability.
“Based on the numbers, he’s our best conditioned athlete coming in here. I think he’s trying to prove a point.”
John Tortorella’s pre-season assessment made it clear that the head coach had noticed Santorelli’s effort coming into camp, but no one was ready for the “Santo Clause” to launch to the top of Vancouver’s depth chart only six games into the season.
With Alex Burrows out due to injury and Zack Kassian stuck in
Tortorella’s dog house the press box the Canucks have had to adapt quickly, and Santorelli have proven to be a perfect player for the situation.
Mike Santorelli has become John Tortorella’s Swiss Army knife, performing a wide variety of tasks for the team while thriving in every position. As a depth forward in the pre-season Santorelli was one of the Canucks’ most consistent skaters, and through six regular season games he has easily retained that title.
Roberto Luongo has been good (for October), and the Sedins continue to drive team scoring, but Santorelli has been one of the Canucks’ best skaters night in and night out, and is now reaping the benefits.
It would be easy to argue that a number of players would be better suited to line up alongside Henrik and Daniel Sedin right now, but Mike Santorelli has earned it.
While I don’t expect him to maintain an impressive 28.6 shooting percentage Santorelli has proven he can fit in anywhere with the Canucks.
John Tortorella’s love for line juggling is likely to cost Santorelli his spot alongside the Sedin twins sooner rather than later, but until the rest of Vancouver’s forwards show they’re up to the challenge I fully expect #25 to keep cutting ruts to the net alongside the talented twins.