The Canucks not only got a big, gritty winger when they signed Byron Bitz, they also did their part to ensure alliteration lovers and nickname givers have something to work with this summer. There’s Lord Byron, Blitz and, if he ever manages to play with Burrows, you’ll have Bits & Bites. Best sponsorship opportunity of the season.
The 27-year-old Saskatchewan native sat out last season when complications arose after a sports hernia surgery. He also missed most of the 2009-10 season, playing only seven games.
Bitz’s last full season was with the Boston Bruins, where he gained fans for his hard hitting style. Over two seasons he played 80 games, recording 16 points.
His signing also continues Canuck tradition of using the Florida Panthers like a second farm team. Bitz joins fellow ex-Floridians Roberto Luongo, Victor Oreskovich and Keith Ballard. At 6'5", 215 pound, Bitz may even share some ice time with 6'3" Oreskovich, pairing to make a very intimidating sandwich on the fourth line.
The right winger should provide the Canucks with some badly needed size, but his smarts also likely caught the eye of GM Mike Gillis. As a Cornell grad Bitz joins Tanner Glass and Aaron Volpatti as other recent Canucks with an Ivy league education. Gillis is known to target players who excel in the classroom as well as on the ice as part of his focus on working with players who aim to succeed in all aspects of their lives.
Overall, if he can prove that he's over any nagging injuries Bitz should prove to be a solid replacement for departing Canucks Glass and Raffi Torres, providing a big dose of sandpaper.