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THE MOJ: Zombie fire of Elias Pettersson threatens to flare up at any time

The Canucks and EP40 may want his contract to be a non-story, but the reality is, it’s never far away

There was a recent news story about ‘Zombie Fires’ which is a phenomenon brought on by climate change in which forest fires burn beneath the surface due to warmer winter weather and then resurface to cause problems.

The Vancouver Canucks have their own version of a ‘Zombie Fire’ with the Elias Pettersson contract situation.

The 25-year-old Swede is in the final year of a three-year $22,050,000 million deal and is set to become a restricted free agent this summer.

Pettersson stated at the beginning of the year that he wanted to wait until the end of the season to negotiate a contract, which is where the story ended.

But just like a Zombie Fire, this situation has been burning below the surface since then and it flared up this week when Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Canucks have taken calls from other teams on Pettersson’s status and have been asked ‘could he be available?’.

The organization has been silent on the topic but Friedman reports that the Canucks have told inquiring parties that re-signing Pettersson is the goal.

That little snippet from Friedman led to the topic trending on social platforms with many in Canuck Nation criticizing the media for bringing up a ‘non-story’ and how it could lead to a possible distraction for Pettersson and the Canucks.

Here’s a news bulletin for you.

The contract situation is pretty much a dead story with the media covering the Canucks on a daily basis and the reason why is that Pettersson refuses to comment on it. There is no ‘distraction’ that is caused by the media.

If Pettersson is dealing with any pressure, it’s of the internal variety given the fact that he and his agents - Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry of Creative Artists Agency – have bet on him having a great year in an effort to maximize his value.

So far, the bet is paying off.

Despite his play being a lightning-rod for ‘X’ and post-game shows, Pettersson has scored 29 goals and added 46 assists for 75 points in 61 games which is good for tenth in league scoring.

Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford is willing to write a cheque that will make Pettersson and his camp happy whether it be term or compensation but Pettersson’s silence and the lack of negotiations are being interpreted by some fans as a signal that Pettersson wants out and logic tells you that possibility could exist.

You can also understand the frustration that the organization is no doubt feeling right now.

They are building what they believe to be a Stanley Cup contender and Pettersson is a key foundational piece, so much so that the contract numbers being floated about start in the $12 million-dollar-a-year range.

The Canucks have a long-term vision and a goal.

Rutherford and company hope that Pettersson has the same long-term vision and goal.

Unfortunately, they will have to wait until the end of the season to find out whether he does or not.

In the meantime, expect this story to simmer below the surface with the possibility of another flare up occurring.


* The Canucks 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night at Rogers Arena didn’t sit well with head coach Rick Tocchet, who was not happy with the number of turnovers his team committed and the undisciplined stick penalties that continue to plague the Canucks as of late. He also pointed out that some players look ‘tired’.

* Given it’s the dog days of the NHL season, we asked if the fatigue was more mental or physical but Tocchet couldn’t provide an answer. “I don’t know but you’ve got to be able to grind through these types of games. There might be some physical (fatigue)…some mental with some guys. I understand that but you just got to stick with the game plan. If the play is there, take what’s given (or) wait for the next shift if nothing happens. Some times you’re looking for more and that’s what happens – you get stripped or pucks get knocked down and then you’re flipping a coin when you play games like this.”

* The Penguins got two goals from Rickard Rakell with Lars Eller and Erik Karlsson also scoring with the latter’s being the overtime winner. Karlsson became just the fifth defenseman in league history to score 10 or more overtime goals joining Brent Burns (16), Scott Niedermayer (13), Seth Jones (11) and Kris Letang (11).

* Nils Hoglander, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser tallied for the Canucks. Miller (6-5-11) and Boeser (4-3-7) extended their individual point streaks to five games. Hoglander was appearing in his 200th NHL game.

* The organization hosted its 12th annual “Hockey Talks Night” honoring the legacy of former Canuck Rick Rypien.

* Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin took in the game. Bergevin, who finished his NHL career with a nine-game stint as a Canuck in 2003-04, has been with the Los Angeles Kings for just over two years as a senior advisor to the general manager. The Kings are in Vancouver to play the Canucks on Thursday.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media.

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