Ryan Kesler, the sequel.
On Nov. 9, he played against his former teammates, the Canucks for the first time. That game was in Anaheim and now comes the bookend as the Ducks play at Vancouver on Thursday.
“Get in, get out, get home … with two points,” Kesler said on Monday, following a late afternoon practice in Calgary.
This was along the same lines as his thoughts before the first Vancouver game, which the Canucks won, 2-1, in a shootout.
But this will be wildly different. It will involve a big media circus when Kesler shows up for a press conference Wednesday in Vancouver. This is where nothing is too small to be analyzed and players are poked and prodded with questions and comments. And it all starts over the next day.
A leading example: The years of continuing goalie controversies in Vancouver. Kesler offered a quick quip.
“Still going on isn’t it?” said Kesler, who was traded from the Canucks to the Ducks in July. “Yeah, there was a lot of drama there. The guys dealt with it well. They know how to deal with it.
“Do they want to? Probably not. It’s the part of playing in a Canadian market. You’re going to have to deal with that every day and at the end of the day, it’s 15 minutes out of your day, max, and then you can go home and enjoy stuff.”
Orange County is at the other end of the spectrum in terms of media and public scrutiny. He was relaxed and insightful chatting with two reporters after Monday’s practice in Calgary. Kesler talked about the differences between the markets.
“You can focus on playing hockey a lot more and just … I believe it forces us into, not forces us, but allows us to be us in our locker room more, without the media presence there. And I’ve really enjoyed that.”
Earlier that day, Brian Burke had talked about Kesler with reporters in Toronto and offered some insight into the center, dating to their days together in Vancouver. Said Burke:
“He wakes up grumpy, comes to the rink grumpy … (and) is belligerent, ugly.”
From Burke, this was high praise, by the way, and Kesler understood and referenced a “new chapter in his life.”
“It’s going well,” Kesler said. “Obviously I take this game seriously and I think that’s what he meant. It’s a job and I take passion in how I produce, how I play and I think that’s all he was saying.”
And now? Still grumpy after all these years?
“When you wake up every day looking at the sunshine. It’s hard to be grumpy every day,” Kesler said.