Are the Vancouver Canucks Defencemen Cursed? A Halloween Injury Update

Joel ProsserCorrespondent IOctober 31, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 09: A trainer attends to Sami Salo #6 of the Vancouver Canucks at the end of the first period after Salo suffered an injury against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center on May 9, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Canucks defeated the Blackhawks 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you are superstitious (and really, all sports fans are to some degree), you might wonder if the Canucks are cursed, specifically in regards to the health of their defence.

Over the first month of the season, Vancouver has already racked up 18 man games lost to injury just amongst their defence. Considering they have only played nine games, that is two starters out every game on average.

And unfortunately, that situation is considered average by Canucks fans recently.

Once hale and hearty defencemen with games played streaks that stretch over multiple seasons come to Vancouver, and are struck down with injury within a few weeks. Players that stay in Vancouver suffer freakish injuries year after year.

Over the last few years, here is just a sampling of the horrific injuries suffered by Canucks defenceman.

Willie Mitchell suffered a season-ending concussion after being hit into the boards from behind by Evgeni Malkin in a game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kevin Bieksa has twice (2007-2008 and 2009-2010) suffered skate cut lacerations which severed muscles and damaged tendons in his leg, each time causing him to miss roughly half a season. Getting a skate cut is a once in a career injury, something you rarely see in hockey.

And Bieksa had it happen twice.

Needless to say, Bieksa was one of the first players to try out a new prototype Kevlar sock designed to prevent such injuries.

Yann Sauve, a Canucks prospect, was hit by a car while crossing the street while in Vancouver for training camp. He suffered a concussion.

Brent Sopel, who has twice had stints with the Canucks, injured himself during the 2007 playoffs while picking up a cracker. That's right, the man who was a defensive stud in the first two rounds of the Chicago Blackhawks championship run?

Yup, he was taken down by a cracker. 

Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis were both acquired to help stabilize the Canucks defence. Aside from their on ice skills, both players have historically been durable. Hamhuis has missed a total of five games in the last five seasons due to various injuries.

Ballard has played a complete 82 game season in four of the last five years. The one exception was 2006-2007, where he missed 13 games after fracturing his hand blocking a shot. 

For those following along at home, that is a combined 18 games missed in the last five season between both Hamhuis and Ballard. Over 820 games that is a measly two percent of games missed.

A mere nine games into the Canucks season? They have missed 50 percent of the possible games. 

Ballard managed to play four games (really three and a few shifts) before being felled by a concussion, missing the last five games. Hamhuis suffered a bone bruise after blocking a shot, and has missed the last four games.

Andrew Alberts can consider himself lucky that he only needed to miss a few practices with a swollen knee.

And no article about Canucks injuries, especially to defencemen, could be complete without mentioning Sami Salo.

I'm not going to cover the myriad of injuries Salo has suffered over the years, because that would be an article in and of itself, but just recently he tore his ACL while playing floor hockey with other Finnish NHL players during off season training.

And who can forget that Salo almost lost a testicle during the most recent Canucks vs Blackhawks series? That was a cringe worthy highlight that was played way too often during the playoffs.

Suffice it to say, if it is a body part, Salo has injured it. Estimated by Vancouver media to have suffered a total of 40 (!) injuries over his NHL career (and that is only counting injuries that caused him to miss games), Salo has played an average of only 63 games a season since the lockout.

Amazingly enough, he has never suffered a concussion, so maybe his luck isn't all bad.

So are the Canucks cursed? Do they need to sacrifice a goat or something? Should GM Mike Gillis hire a feng shui artist for Rogers Arena?

Or is it just a run of bad luck?

Luckily enough, that bad luck might be coming to end, at least temporarily, as both Ballard and Hamhuis are recovering and should be back in the lineup soon. Salo, however, is still targeting a return around the holidays.