NHL Trade Rumours: Vancouver Canucks Appear to Be Looking for an Enforcer

Kevin WContributor IIJuly 17, 2011

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 7: Darcy Hordichuk #24 of the Vancouver Canucks and Paul Bissonnette #12 of the Phoenix Coyotes exchange punches during a fight in the third period of NHL action on January 07, 2010 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

It now appears the Vancouver Canucks and general manager Mike Gillis are on the market for an enforcer after experimenting and going this past season without one.

According to Andy Strickland, a well-known St. Louis based reporter, the Canucks had talks with enforcers Cam Janssen and Eric Boulton before both ultimately signed with the New Jersey Devils.

The Canucks had been negotiating with Janssen on a two-way contract, but he opted to sign with the Devils as he felt there would be a greater opportunity for ice time in New Jersey and familiarity with the organization.

Boulton had the chance to join the Canucks, but opted to sign with the Devils for family reasons.

There aren't many options remaining on the free agent market other than David Koci and perhaps Brad Winchester.

It appears Gillis reverted back to his stance when he became general manager in 2008.

One of the first moves that Gillis made that summer was the signing of veteran enforcer Darcy Hordichuk to a three-year contract.

In the prior two seasons, the Canucks had been using Jeff Cowan as the team's enforcer. Though determined and willing to stick up for teammates, Cowan rarely won any fight and clearly was not an intimidation factor on the ice.

Hordichuk had a successful first season with the Canucks suiting up in 73 games, scoring four goals, adding one assist and finishing with a plus-1 rating.

In his second season, Hordichuk struggled at times and sat out games as a healthy scratch before being permanently taken out of the lineup altogether in the playoffs.

The Canucks completely abandoned the concept of deploying an enforcer as a means of protecting their star players and deterring dirty play, citing the best way to protect is to score on the power play.

It stood up to regular season hockey when referees more willingly called penalties, but became a different story in the playoffs as referees became reluctant to call penalties out of fear it may decide the outcome of games and playoff series.

It was evident in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins, with the extra crosschecks Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin took in the offense zone and Ryan Kesler in front of the net.

Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton commented after the series that nobody on the Canucks stepped up while he did.

"I don't want to be the sore winner and start badmouthing people over there, but I know if people on [the Canucks] were acting the way I was, I probably would have [come] off the bench and had a word about it," explained Thornton to a local Boston television station.

That's just what he did in Game 6 to Roberto Luongo.

He shot the puck into his net in warm ups and skated a lap around him before yelling something explicit.