Micheal Ferland is a Cree hockey player from Swan River, Manitoba. He now plays for the Vancouver Canucks, but he’s also played for the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes. That’s the overview, now here’s the recent news.
Micheal Ferland has been injured again and has left the bubble. That means that he won’t play again for the Vancouver Canucks again during their best-of-five play-in round against the Minnesota Wild.
Specifically, on Wednesday, the Canucks announced that the 28-year-old Ferland is “unfit to play” during the rest of the qualifying round. The Canucks noted that Ferland has gone home and “will be re-evaluated” following the series.
Ferland’s 2020 Postseason and Speculation that Arises
Ferland was all over the ice during Game 1’s 3-0 loss to the Wild. Rightfully, he returned to the lineup for Game 2. After three shifts and 2:36 of ice time, he left the game with an unspecified injury. And, given the way that the NHL has dealt with the note of “unfit to play” (not that I don’t get it on one level), we are left to speculate what that injury might be.
So here’s my speculation. Ferland is a tough guy, and he’s had success being just that – tough. Before he signed with the Canucks during the offseason, he was known for his physicality, toughness, energy, and his ability to get under the skin of teams (and Jim Benning knew it well because Ferland was a one-player wrecking ball that helped eliminate the Canucks during the 2015 playoffs). Benning wanted that Ferland on his team.
What’s the Bigger Problem Here?
The bigger problem is that such an expectation became Ferland’s MO. He knew that was the expectation and that – in order to earn his salary – he had to live up to it. And, bless him, he did try.
Again, I’m only speculating; but, no one saw anything suspicious during Game 2 to suggest Ferland had been hurt. But, a fight during game one is highly suspicious. Anyone watching the series has to believe the events of Game 1 were the culprits – not Game 2. Why would Ferland take on a fight, which for a concussion victim has to be classified as “high-risk” behavior?
Even more to the point, why would head coach Travis Green or general manager Benning not take the young man (Ferland) aside and say to him something like: “Micheal, we love you as a player. We want you to have a great series and do what you do. But, we know that gritty forwards like yourself are tough to replace. So, if you get injured playing bruising hockey we all know that’s part of the game; however, given your concussion history, we don’t want you to take unnecessary chances. Specifically, don’t fight.”
I know that I added lots more words than hockey guys would use, but you get the point. You’d think someone would care about the youngster as both a person and a player. But, no one did; or, they didn’t do it forcefully enough.
Ferland’s Gone: Now What?
As a player, the Canucks are better with Ferland than without him. Now that he’s gone, Vancouver’s other forwards have to step up. And, to his credit Jake Virtanen, a healthy scratch for Game 1, did just that. He was clearly one of the Canucks most effective forwards in Tuesday’s victory.
As well, coach Green must play Loui Eriksson. Canucks fans will recall that Eriksson dissed Green big time when he was playing in Europe during the offseason. In fact, the 35-year-old Swede logged over 20 minutes of ice time during Game 2. He’ll certainly also play big minutes on the penalty kill and in a checking roll.
Losing Ferland is a blow for the Canucks but it’s also a blow for Ferland and his family. I’m not so sure it couldn’t have been avoided had someone not had a heart-to-heart with him before Game 1 began. When you’re Ferland’s age, even with the medical history he’s had, you must think you’re invincible.
He was too energetic for his own good, especially given the concussion issues he’s faced throughout his career. The list of great players who’ve had to leave the game is long – both Eric and Brett Lindros, Pat LaFontaine, Scott Stevens, Paul Kariya, Mike Richter, Adam Deadmarsh, Keith Primeau, Marc Savard, and the list goes on.
I hope I’m wrong about Ferland’s concussion. Let’s hope it’s a sprained ankle – or something that he can return from very soon. I hope he doesn’t join the long list of NHL players who have to quit the game.
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