Ryan Kesler dismisses trade rumours
Canucks forward Ryan Kesler. (BEN NELMS/Reuters)
Not that anyone expected Ryan Kesler to publicly say otherwise, but just in case he's happy to be a Canuck.
Speaking to the media for the first time since returning from the Winter Olympics and the trade rumour firestorm that followed, the Vancouver Canucks centre said Thursday all the speculation of him wanting out is "completely false."
He hasn't demanded a trade and the club hasn’t come to him to waive his no-trade clause. The Michigan native expects to still be in a Canucks jersey once the trade deadline comes and goes next Wednesday. That's that, according to the man in the middle of it all.
"I don't want to talk about this after today and I don't want my teammates to talk about this," Kesler said following practice. "I don't want to be a distraction. We have 21 games to make the playoffs so that's the main focus.
"My heart is with this team."
When asked about a comment he made in Sochi — as he was overheard by a reporter saying that his hand injury would affect a trade — Kesler again said, "False."
"Hashtag Sochi problems?" he said. "I never commented to anybody that I wanted out."
So far this season, the 29-year-old leads the team in goals with 20 and is two points back of the Sedins for the club lead. However, his minus-10 rating is second worst among Canucks forwards. Playing in his 10th season with the team, Kesler has two years left on his six-year contract worth $30 million.
Roberto Luongo, who had dealt with plenty of trade speculations himself over the past few years, said Kesler just needs to "block everything out and stay focused on your job."
Of course, the goalie threw in some humour when asked to give Kesler advice.
"Whether he wants to go or stay, he's not going anywhere. We all know how the script ends," he said in a cheeky jab towards how his own trade saga ended with the Canucks.
As for Keslers' hand injury, which he suffered after blocking a shot in Russia, the former Selke Trophy winner said it's better than expected.
While he didn't play Wednesday against St. Louis, on Thursday he practised on the team's first unit power play and could slot in Friday at home versus the Minnesota Wild.
"It's making progress," he said. "We'll see how I feel and go from there. The couple extra days of rest helped."
In other injury news, Kevin Bieksa had a maintenance day and didn’t skate, while fellow defenceman Chris Tanev rejoined the team at practice. He has been out seven games with a broken thumb, and said he's still "day by day."