Hard to believe the NHL’s regular season starts next week but, seriously, it does. The Vancouver Canucks continue to pare down their roster as Game 1 approaches.
Among the latest, most noteworthy cuts: Mr. Owen Nolan.
The defending Western Conference champions cut the 39-year-old winger today after three exhibition games. It’s not like Nolan, the NHL’s first overall pick in 1990, didn’t show anything in his tryout.
He had a goal and an assist in three games.
Reportedly, head coach Alain Vigneault was impressed with him and thought he “showed something” in every game. But it wasn’t enough.
I’m not sure if I like the decision. The team will start the season without veterans Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond. Could the Canucks not have used Nolan’s locker-room presence early in the season? And he showed in preseason action that he can still light the lamp.
Despite being cut, Nolan took the high road.
“When I say I’m retired, I don’t want to wonder ‘what if? What if I could’ve played one more year?’” Nolan said.
“When I’m done, I want to say ‘OK, I gave it all I had, the tank is empty.’ Right now, I don’t think the tank is even close to being empty. I’m still willing to play and play hard.”
I don’t fully agree – let’s face it, Owen, the tank is close to empty – but the man still has a bit of fight left.
Nolan hasn’t officially declared that he’ll seek another contract but I wouldn’t bet against it.
Among the Canucks’ other cuts today: veteran forward Niko Dimitrakos. Another cagey vet, goaltender Manny Legace, was released after two preseason games.
Vancouver also sent goaltender Matt Climie and forward Antoine Roussel to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.