Perhaps Ryan Kesler was trying to deflect. You know, the whole “Oh yeah, well, what about you?” thing. A verbal red rover, and he just called us over. It’s not as if Canucks fans have taken any responsibility for that Cup riot two whole calendar years ago… then again, it’s not as if they should. The majority of us did not flip cars, smash coffee shops windows, or embarrass the city, province, or country that one night not too long ago, in a place not so far away.
But, he still nailed us. Still hit a soft spot in our pretty weak, saran-wrapped armour. ZING.
We’re sensitive about that stuff, because as much as we know the riot wasn’t something we all did, we’re known for it and we have to share the blame. We have to accept the image it painted us with – that we painted ourselves with, excuse me – and we have to take humiliating stock in the fact that our post-game “party” was more expensive than Boston’s championship parade.
In the same way (I’ll assume, because I’ve never spoken to him), Kesler’s injuries and slumps and bouts of inconsistency – if it’s even fair to call them that – are a soft spot for him, too.
He didn’t plan to go through one of the worst luck health spells in Canucks history. He really didn’t even put himself in a position where it should have happened… it just did and it was annoying. There was nothing textbook or predictable about it. The leg injury in Game 5 against San Jose that plagued him for the rest of the playoffs and then all offseason? Healed. The shoulder he was apparently fighting to keep attached to its socket for all of 2012? Done with. The broken foot that cost him the majority of that shortened 2013 campaign, forcing him to reinsert himself into a Canucks lineup that had all but given up the fight to San Jose five minutes before Game 1? Yeah, that really happened.
One point in four games is not good enough for the guy, but so what?
(If you’re ever debating anything in your head, you really should always ask yourself, “So what?” Is this really important? Does it really matter? Is anyone getting hurt and is it anyone’s fault? In Kesler’s case, no.)
So what if he only has one goal? Is the team 3-1 and looking better than it ever has? Yeah, they are. Done.
With 78 games to go – including tonight’s festival against San Jose, which recent history shows us is sure to go off like a bucket of cold water to the face – Ryan Kesler has a lot of hockey left to play, and a lot of great hockey the Canucks need him to provide.
I sure as hell – I sure as anything – want to know I haven’t seen his best already.
Even if Kesler had Tomas Hertl’d the Devils on Tuesday, even if he’d scored four goals and conducted a post-game speech in Czech-ish broken English… I’d still want to know he had more out of him. 78 games-plus worth, to be exact. And, it’s safe to say, Sharks fans will expect the same out of Tomas Hertl.
Ryan Kesler’s heart has never been his issue. His inability to know when to deploy it, however, has.
He didn’t have to lunge for that puck in Game 5 of the 2011 Western Conference Finals, when he did something to his leg and limped to the bench, but he did. He didn’t have to block that shot last February, shattering his right foot in the process, but he did. He doesn’t have to play that way all the time, but he always has because that’s what hockey players do and that’s what Ryan Kesler does.
Only, it would be nice – once and a while – to see a different player. A more mature player. It would be nice to watch him stop, take a look and ask himself, “Wait… is this really necessary? Do I have to dive or spend my reserve tank at this very moment? Should I really be in this situation and is there any way I can get better?”
It would be nice if Canucks fans could have asked themselves that same question on June 15, 2011, too.
We all make mistakes, and we all think we deserve forgiveness or leniency or just a goddamn break most of the time. Maybe that’s what Ryan Kesler was trying to say. Maybe we all need a mirror, not just hockey players.