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Dear Vancouver: Trade Ryan Kesler, While You Still Can
We have to report everything as reportedly, because until it happens it hasn't happened.
That sounds obvious. But really, there are maybe only two or three true Insiders – a title they earn from their experience in their business and their relationships with those in the know – who I trust, and even they are leaning on the work or word of others, most of the time.
But this is also obvious... last season, it was reported that Ryan Kesler had reportedly asked the Vancouver Canucks and then-GM Mike Gillis for a trade. Whether it was a straight-up demand or it was a conversation between the two – the latter should be seen as natural for any athlete who respects himself, really, especially if he has a no-trade clause and especially if his general manager wants to approach him about waving said no-trade clause – is up for debate, but the possibility is certainly as real as the rumour.
Ryan Kesler wants out of Vancouver. Maybe he loves the city. Maybe he loves his teammates. Let's not take this thing too personally. He's well within his right to have had this discussion with Gillis, and it's great his new boss – Jim Benning – is having it with him now.
The grand majority of us are unsatisfied with our jobs every day, even if we sort of love them in a way, too. It's human. Again, I say, it's natural.
But the discussion has changed now, if the ever-trustworthy Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie (both of TSN, that supreme journalistic ship to Sportsnet's simple tabloid network) are to be relied on, once again.
"Ryan Kesler hasn't changed his mind," said Dreger (TSN's Insider Trading). "He wants a fresh start and to move on from Vancouver; he met with Benning earlier this week to talk about that. It's believed that Kesler still has six teams on his list that he's willing to be traded to."
(*Dreger repeated the belief that Philadelphia and Anaheim are the most courteous among the six courters. Pittsburgh is also a suitor, but their sacking of both GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma could toss some uncertainty into the paella, and who knows whether new hefe Jim Rutherford wants Kesler the way the old guy wanted Kesler.)
And then there's The Province's Jason Botchford who, when he's not turning a Joe Thornton quote into Page Six, has his ear as close to the Rogers Arena arena beat as anyone in the business (via The Score)...
"The word out of [Kesler's camp] is that, y'know, Benning's a great guy, but he's inherited a mess, and they don't think this roster has enough skill to win soon and they want to win," said Botch. "So Ryan Kesler goes back on the trade block, and we go through all of this again...
"(Both sides) they don't want this big hullabaloo and the circus that encompassed Roberto Luongo, and some of the things that we've seen around Vancouver."
Well, it's good the Canucks have learned from that last situation. Everyone else seems to have seen where they went wrong, and new prez Trevor Linden and Benning were both observers like the rest of us.
Luongo's case proved a lot, but the wake behind that Polaris left two whitecaps that tower over the rest: 1) Don't let the story get away from you, before you can't control the conversation; and 2) You have to move a superstar when his value is its highest.
Ryan Kesler's deal – which currently pays him an insanely affordable $5 million per season – expires in two seasons, meaning the Canucks would have to win the Stanley Cup in two years to justify not trading Ryan Kesler, like, right now... and do you think the Canucks are winning the Cup, with this exact roster, by 2016?
Not bloody likely.
If Kesler would like to be traded now, he's not going to re-sign in 24 months.
And even if he does, would he really take the $5 million deal he signed back in 2010, before he had a Selke Trophy, an MVP-calibre season or two, and before he dragged Vancouver to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final?
Yes, that's all in the past, but hockey players are never paid for what they're going to do. They're only paid out of honour for what they've accomplished. It happens in football, baseball, and basketball, too, and whether you disagree with the way American soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann said it, you can't argue how right he was.
The Canucks can go no further with Ryan Kesler.
Why can't they just cut the tie now and accept that he's given them a career's worth of all-star play, from when he broke in after the 2003 Draft to now, through individual accolades, an Olympic medal, and all-world playoff performances?
Vancouver: Forget this stupid idea that every trade has to be equal for both sides – sometimes, you're in a corner and you just need to fire your way out.
Kesler: Thanks for the memories, and God speed in your new home.