After the Vancouver Canucks' disappointing 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday evening, head coach Alain Vigneault publicly called out reigning Selke Award winner and second-line star Ryan Kesler on his production issues. In fairness to Vigneault, Kesler does have just three points in his last eight games played.
Vigneault addressed the media saying
"I think he has to use the players around him a little bit more so that he can get into open space and create the type of offensive chances and be the type of defensive player that he can be." - Vancouver Sun
Upon hearing these words Monday after practice for the first time, Kesler was clearly displeased with his coach in saying:
"Me utilize my players? I am going to play my game, the things that have made me successful. I know what that is and if he wants to come talk to me he is more than welcome." - Vancouver Sun
This tiff could be just what the struggling Canucks center iceman needs to get his game going. As all Canucks fans know, Kesler is arguably the most passionate player on the team.
The biggest critic of his game is himself, and he doesn't feel the need to be publicly called out by his head coach to get his game going when he knows himself that he must improve.
Perhaps Kesler's return from offseason hip surgery came too early, and was cause for concern in his decline in play. By now he should be back in form, but apparently Vigneault has other ideas. Even Ryan thinks his return hindered him at times
"The first 10 or 15 games I just didn't have it, but I feel my game and skating is back to where it should be at." - Vancouver Sun
To Kesler's credit, he does have 31 points through 41 games played this season, and could still very well reach his career high 73 points from a year ago by the end of this season. He is also plus-10 and winning 53.9 percent of his face-offs.
Vigneault alludes that Kesler needs to use his linemates more, but realistically, his linemates have been in and out of the lineup so much this season it is hard for Kesler to create any chemistry.
That chemistry seemed to have been found prior to David Booth being sidelined with a sprained knee followed up by Chris Higgins being out with an infection on two separate occasions. Now that the line is finally back together they should be gelling soon enough.
So does this tiff with the coach add fuel to Kesler's fire? Of course it does.
Was it necessary fuel? Maybe not, but Canucks fans can be sure of one thing: Kesler will return to form as a dominant weapon for the Canucks sooner rather than later. He is ready to go and his play will improve soon.
The public humiliation that it is essentially, to be called out by your head coach in front of the entire world, will only push Kesler that much harder to do better and prove not only to his coaches and team that he is still in form from a season ago, but to prove to himself that he can meet and exceed his own expectations.
John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist.
Follow John on Twitter: @JohnBainSports
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