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Gillis, Vigneault still worried about Malhotra

Nov 7, 2013, 4:32 PM EDT

Manny Malhotra Getty Images

Back in February, when the Vancouver Canucks announced that center Manny Malhotra had been placed on injured reserve and would miss the remainder of the season, some wondered if the club really did have the player’s best interests at heart.

Malhotra, of course, suffered a serious eye injury in March of 2011 when he was struck with a puck. He managed to return and play around 100 games, but he wasn’t nearly as effective as he was pre-injury.

The Canucks explained they were shutting him down for his own good, with general manager Mike Gillis saying, “The long term health of Manny Malhotra is of utmost importance to our organization.”

Skeptics, however, wondered if they’d done it for an additional $2.5 million in cap space. (The NHL, it should be noted, had no issue with the move, and Malhotra said he didn’t question Gillis’ sincerity.)

Fast forward to the present and Malhotra is six days removed from making his return to the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes, for whom he scored the overtime winner Tuesday.

What did Gillis think of that?

“I think it’s great for Manny, but I’m still, and have been, concerned about him playing,” was Gillis’ answer today on TEAM 1040 radio in Vancouver, adding he wished Malhotra all the best.

Former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, now behind the Rangers’ bench, had a similar response when asked last weekend about his former player’s comeback.

“I’ve got mixed emotions and mixed feelings about that,” said Vigneault, per NorthJersey.com. “On one hand I know that’s what he really wants to do and he’s really worked extremely hard to get another opportunity so if I think of that, I’m happy he’s getting this opportunity. But like he had a real serious injury where we felt as an organization with our medical staff he was putting himself in a tough situation on the ice. I showed him a couple of times, ‘Manny did you see this guy here?’ Most of the time he’d answer that he could feel him. In my opinion, there was a gray area there. That’s a tough one. He’s a real quality person, real quality guy. I know he wants to play. I just hope everything works out for him.”

As for Malhotra?

“I’ve always been grateful (for) every moment I’ve played in the NHL,” he told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector yesterday. “But (the injury) puts it into perspective, just how close it was to having it all be done for me.

“After everything I’ve been through, it’s special to know that there is still a (team) who believes in me.”

Then again, Malhotra admits: “My left eye is not what it was, nor will it ever be.”

  1. skr213 - Nov 7, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Maybe they should stick to worrying about whether they’re going to make the playoffs now that they’re in the very tough Pacific Division.

    • nunan - Nov 7, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      They are showing concern for a player they care about…come on. I’m booing you right now…booooo!

      • skr213 - Nov 7, 2013 at 7:55 PM

        Gullible much?? They’re just backing up their BS story of why they let him go last year!

    • hosewater2 - Nov 7, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      Hey smart guy, did Gillis or Vigneault personally call press conferences to make these statements of concern? No, they were answering questions posed to them during routine media availability.

      And smart guy, remember that Vigneault is now the coach of the NYR, and just to help you out here, no, they don’t play in the Pacific.

    • nunan - Nov 7, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      Says who? You? You have a very negative approach to life I guess…

  2. statsdolie - Nov 7, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Yes because actually being concerned over a persons well being is nothing compared to making the playoffs. Who cares about such things?

  3. ntvd7 - Nov 7, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Mike Gillis is a bit of a mystery to me….

    He let his players DIVE all over the place
    He shut down Manny when he was obviously still able to play
    He allowed the whole goalie situation to linger for far too long and signed him to that contract
    He gave the captain “C” to Roberto Luongo and god knows a goalie has enough to worry about

  4. 19to77 - Nov 7, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Gillis is just trying to justify letting Manny go now that he’s signed with another team and made an early impact. Vancouver fans never bought that his health was too much at risk to play, and now there’s obvious proof. It was a cap move, and it nearly forced an early retirement on one of the game’s class acts.

  5. prosportswashington - Nov 7, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    It must speak to a guy like Manny’s character that coaches he doesn’t even play for any more still are concerned for his well being. I think that’s what sets the NHL apart is the respect you see, and that makes it more obvious when somebody lacks that respect

  6. skr213 - Nov 7, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Good lord people. I’ve got a bridge to sell you too. They aren’t worried about his health, they’re just backing up their BS story about why they let him go.

  7. muckleflugga - Nov 8, 2013 at 3:43 AM

    they’re mainly worried manny will have:

    a career 44 goal year

    own the face off circle while leading the hurricanes to a deep playoff run [ watched in envy by vancouver supporters still grousing after their canucks go out in the first round to calgary ]

    and come out publicly how nice it is to live in a place where there’s occasional sunshine in winter, and his equipment is now mold free…?

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