"If we could find an identity for that fourth line that would help us win games we would definitely go in that direction," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday after Day 1 of his club’s camp.
"Last year it took us quite a long time to figure what pieces would go there and it was still up in the air going into the playoffs. We’re hoping that some guys will step up and show us they can play on a daily basis."
"I’m still not sure yet," Vigneault said Friday. "We have an idea of what we want it to be but sometimes, for whatever reason, certain players bring a different dimension when you need that dimension.
"Having a physical line, that physicality that sometimes wears the opposition down is right, but having that speed that’s tough to handle for the other team is also a component you’d like to have."
“I feel great,” Hodgson said after the first practice of the Canucks' season this morning. “The best since I can remember, to tell you the truth. I feel solid on the ice, lighter, faster. It's a great feeling. You can always get better and there's always stuff to improve on. But that's what I can focus on now. It's not about health, it's about what I can do on the ice.
“It's great to be back and thinking just about hockey.”
“This is the best position he's been in since he's been coming here,” Vigneault said today. “He's more mature, he's healthy. He has had a very good summer of training behind him. His attitude is excellent. Combine the right attitude with a [healthy] body and we'll find out what type of player he is. He's still a very young player.”
"I had a healthy summer where I was training not doing rehab," Ballard said. "My motivation all summer was to do everything I possibly could to put myself in a position to succeed this year.
"That is all I thought about all summer. To be ready for this."
"It's so hard to get back in shape once you get out of it and there's very little you can do when you're on crutches. I have a completely different feeling this year," Ballard said. "Physically, I know I've done everything possible to be in a good position and that takes a lot of mental strain away.
"I'm not thinking about protecting myself. I'm not thinking that my first step isn't quick enough. All I'm thinking about is using my instincts."
"I wasn't happy with the way I played, I was never upset with my role," he said, even though he could have seen things from the Shane O'Brien view point.
After leaving, O'Brien criticized Vigneault for playing favourites..
"If I'm in a certain role on a good team, so be it," Ballard said. "As long as I'm playing well, I'm happy. As long as I'm helping the team, I'm happy.
"I don't know what situations are going to shake out at camp, but I'm willing to fit in wherever I'm needed."
"I don't think I need to re-establish myself," said Luongo, who twice has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender. "I had a great season last year.
"When I think about last year, there were some games that didn't go so well in the playoffs. You can look at other goalies as well. That stuff happens. That's hockey. If you look at the big picture I had a great regular season and I thought I had a pretty good playoffs, minus maybe a couple of games in Boston."
"I never assume that," he said. "I'd like maybe an opportunity.
"I haven't really proven I can play 50 or 60 games in this league yet. I have to start somewhere and build upon that. Hopefully at some point down the road, whether it may be here or elsewhere, I will get that opportunity."
"I'm here to help this team right now," he said. "I'm not going to gripe or cause any problems over playing time.
"What ever I get I will try to make the most of. If it's 20 games, 30 games . . . I am going to play as hard as I can in those games. There is no real point in starting any kind of controversy. I will just have to be a little more patient."
You know, the part where he said "I just want to go back to the player I've always been."
“Maybe that came out wrong,” he said later. “I really do want to pick up right where I was then.”
Will he just go back to being the sluggo everyday Aaron Rome, the fill-in, Alain Vigneault's pet? Or will he pick up at that pinnacle moment of his career, where he would have made one of the great hits in Canucks history had Horton not hit his head on the ice or had he been watching? Will he go on from that Scott Stevens moment where he had built his game up to the point where he was playing with Kevin Bieksa in Dan Hamhuis's absence and rocking it, or will indeed he just go back to being the player he's always been?
“It helps a lot to have a countryman on my side,” Jensen said. “He knows how things are away from home. We can talk about what’s going on in Denmark. We have a lot of the same interests.
“He’s really helping me out with the small things, the drills, the stretches and where the good restaurants are. It’s nice to talk a little Danish again.”
Hansen said seeing Jensen at training camp was an “eye opener.”
“Back when I stepped into the league, there were only two guys over here,” he said. “Suddenly there’s seven more guys pushing for jobs.
“It’s going in the right direction. I see (Jensen) and I feel instant familiarity. I know what he’s going through. It’s nice to see how he’s stepping in.”