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Canucks’ Kesler to make season debut tonight vs. Dallas

Feb 15, 2013, 2:14 PM EST

Vancouver Canucks v Phoenix Coyotes Getty Images

Vancouver center Ryan Kesler will play in his first regular season game of the year on Friday when the Canucks take on the Dallas Stars at Rogers Arena.

Kesler, 28, spent the offseason and lockout recovering from shoulder and wrist injuries — both of which required surgery — and returned to practice in a non-contact capacity last week.

On Thursday, Kesler doffed his non-contact jersey and skated on a line with Chris Higgins and Zack Kassian.

“I flipped AV’s coin and it said I’m playing,” Kesler told reporters on Friday, alluding to head coach Alain Vigneault’s ongoing joke that he flips a coin to decide which goalie to start on a nightly basis.

His return will be a huge boost to the Canucks lineup. The former 40-goal scorer had 22G-27A-49PTS last season while averaging over 20 minutes per contest.

Kesler represented the Canucks at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game and also won that year’s Frank J. Selke Award, given annually to the league’s top defensive forward.

To make room for Kesler, the Canucks put center Manny Malhotra on injured reserve yesterday, announcing that the 32-year-old veteran would not play for the remainder of the season.

  1. elvispocomo - Feb 15, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    He’s taken a lot of time to be comfortable with the rehab from the wrist and shoulder surgery, so I hope he really is fully healthy and won’t have any issues from coming back to early.

  2. loinstache - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Yeah I was actually expecting more of a March 1 start based upon the vague updates on his status. Hopefully he’s serious this time when he says he fully ready to be back… no doubt he’s a huge boost, but the Canucks are playing so well you want him to take as much time as necessary to get back to his absurdly driven 2011 form.

  3. sergeikremlin - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    That’s looking like a very deep line-up at the moment with the emergence of Kassian and Schroeder, with Booth still coming back shortly.

  4. DTF31 - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    This makes me sad. The Canucks have been embellishing calls less with Kesler out of the lineup.

  5. davebabychreturns - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    Hopefully he’s in good enough shape to perfect his diving routine for the playoffs, AMIRITE GUYS? LOL!

    • elvispocomo - Feb 15, 2013 at 6:30 PM

      Too late DBR, DTF already beat you to it.

      • davebabychreturns - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        Yeah but it was a photo finish! Look at those timestamps..

  6. kaptaanamerica - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    There are thirty teams in the league who would love to have this guy.he’s a top two Centre on pretty much every team.

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