A year ago, before he suffered his hip flexor injury, Ryan Kesler ‘Beast Mode’ was as trendy a topic to be found on Twitter as Osama Bin Laden’s death, Prince William’s wedding, or $1.20 gas at the pumps.
Those joyful days though seem very far away in the wake of the Canucks’ depressingly early exit from the playoffs.
In the midst of several factors working against the team, the out of sorts Ryan Kesler stood out as a major reason that the team couldn’t put together the playoff run that captivated fans last year until the bitter end.
He is the second line centre who was supposed to provide the bulk of the supplemental scoring, but was unable to do so as expected in the form of the ‘American Express’ line or any other form of line.
As it turned out, the compounding physical injuries to Kesler took their toll on the usually gregarious American centre and he did not look to be the same skater he was before.
The shoulder took the brunt of the injury focus this year, as the repaired hip took its time to recover from the previous season.
The physical problems also affected the mental / emotional side of Kesler’s game as his frustration at the slow recuperation shortened his patience, playing havoc with his personal approach to his play.
There is a significant faction of Canucks supporters out there who have been proposing the trading of Kes, in some effort to extract a return of some proportion.
However, this is absolute madness to consider the current reigning Selke award winner.
Kesler is still in his prime years, and with his competitive edge, there is still much more in the tank.
There are three points to consider.
Get well, but take the time to do it right. The latest projected recovery for the shoulder is 6 months, and Kes needs to take that entire time to bring his body back to its optimum level.
His importance is too vital to not take the time to do it right.
2. Easy Goin
Bring back that fun loving personality that helped keep the team loose. The tension on his face and in his interviews contributed mightily to the tight atmosphere that appeared to constrict the Canucks as the series against the Kings turned poorly.
Something was needed to break that stress, and the playful, prank loving Kesler of old could have been a salve for the team.
3. Team Player
Work with linemates to develop the chemistry needed to off load the twins’ burden. Too many times down the stretch, and in the playoffs, Kesler got stuck trying to do too much on his own and neglected his wingers as he consistently attempted to skate through the middle by himself.
That approach threw off his linemates, but a centre needs to bring others into the game, not isolate them.
Thankfully, this team still has a good window of opportunity with its core, for probably another three years, but it needs to be done right and Kesler is central to that.