Hearsay: Canucks’ Kesler healthy, focused

Ryan Kesler. (Darryl Dyck/CP)
July 21, 2013, 9:45 PM

Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.

CANUCKS’ KESLER HEALTHY, FOCUSED

Ryan Kesler tells The Vancouver Province he spoke with new Canucks coach John Tortorella last week. The conversation was cordial, convincing and conclusive.

“He’s going to expect more from everybody, and we’re going to need more,” said the centre. “The way things ended last year, I don’t think anybody looks at themselves as a top dog anymore. We’ve got to find our way and battle every night.”

Tortorella was an assistant coach for the U.S. in the 2010 Olympics and Kesler knows he would be of great value to the 2014 team in a similar capacity.

“He was a big key for the power play and penalty kill and a big part of our success,” added Kesler.

The more “bite” that Tortorella wants to extract from his veteran-laden club is going to tax expected Canuck participants in the 2014 Olympics like Roberto Luongo, Kesler, the Sedins and Alex Edler. But for Kesler, that may not matter. If he stays healthy, there’s little doubt he can use the first half of the NHL schedule as a springboard to Sochi.

“Right now, I’m enjoying life,” said Kesler. “It’s great. I can focus on training and not having to deal with being injured and doing rehab and everything that goes along with it.”

WILD’S PARISE GUNNING FOR OLYMPIC GOLD

Zach Parise reflects for The St. Paul Pioneer Press on how much it hurt when Canada defeated the United States for the gold medal in the final game of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

“From a hockey player’s standpoint, you win it or that’s it,” he said. “We lost the Olympics; at the time, it’s awful. When you sit back and reflect on it a few weeks later, you (realize you) still won a silver medal at the Olympics. You didn’t grasp how important and how cool that really was; you’re just so mad you didn’t win the gold.”

Parise said the American players will head to the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia with gold on their minds.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “It looks like there could possibly be a lot of returners from the last team, so hopefully we can find ourselves playing in that gold-medal game again.”

Travel and time zones will be taxing for those players who go to Sochi, Parise said, but playing in the Olympics beats sitting at home.

“There’s really no time at all for rest if you’re going all the way,” he said. “But I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

JETS’ TROUBA SET TO ‘AMP THINGS UP’

The Winnipeg Sun notes 19-year-old Jets’ prospect Jacob Trouba, who turned pro after his freshman season with the Michigan Wolverines of the NCAA, will spend the rest of the summer training with Gary Roberts and preparing for his first NHL training camp in September.

“There’s definitely things I need to improve on and those things are good to learn now,” said Trouba, the ninth overall pick in 2012, at the conclusion of the team’s five-day development camp. “I think I need to get into better shape. This was a long week and I haven’t been skating too much. Knowing I have to be ready for camp is important and that’s what I’m shooting for right now.

“It’s time to get to back to work, back to training and amp things up before camp.”

BOUMA IN THE MIX FOR FLAMES

The Calgary Sun asserts don’t be shocked to see Lance Bouma, a 23-year-old centre/left winger, playing a part in the Flames’ campaign.

“I’ve had conversations with (Flames GM) Jay (Feaster) and (assistant GM) John (Weisbrod),” Bouma said Saturday afternoon when reached in Vancouver.

“And they kept telling me I’m part of the plan going forward, so that feels good.”

The joy of his new one-year, two-way contract is only surpassed by the status of his right knee, which Bouma is happy to report has recovered completely.

“It feels great,” said Bouma, who tore both the anterior-cruciate ligament and medial-collateral ligament during a game with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat.

“I’ve been skating for a while and, all the time, without any problems or pain.”

MODANO, FIANCEE BOND OVER GOLF

Mike Modano shared with The Dallas Morning News his thoughts on having fiancée Allison Micheletti caddy for him at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe. Modano is a huge fan of the game. Together, they spend much of their time together on the golf course.

“I think that’s the great thing about it, that we have a common interest and we love to spend time together,” Modano said. “We’re always golfing, or working out together, or traveling together. It just seems to work for us.”

He caddied for Micheletti when she finished tied for third at the Texas Women’s Open at The Colony in June.

Modano said he has a lot of respect for Micheletti’s ability to compete in pro golf.

“It’s so tough mentally, but she has that side down,” he said. “She’s tough. She grew up around a lot of boys, she played a lot of sports, and she loves to compete. She’s got that edge to her.”

FEDOROV TRIED TO LURE DATSYUK TO KHL

In case you missed it heading into the weekend, Michigan Live relays a story from Russian news outlet R-Sport.

Sergei Fedorov, who is now the general manager for CSKA Moscow, made overtures to land Pavel Datsyuk for when his contract was scheduled to run out next summer.

“Unfortunately for us, Pavel extended his contract with Detroit,” Fedorov told R-Sport. “I had a meeting with him a few days before the signing.

“We had the chance to get Pavel in a year’s time, but as a person who knows what the NHL is all about, I understand perfectly well why he did what he did.”

Fedorov said Datsyuk told him that he still wanted to “grow as a player” and the NHL was the “best option” for that.

PENGUINS’ YOUNG D NOT WORRIED ABOUT TRADES

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points out that most professional sports teams refer to talented, young players in their organizations as prospects.

The Penguins prefer the tag “assets,” and have treated them as such during the past five years, dangling several such players in trades. The Ryan Whitney, Alex Goligoski and Joe Morrow trades are noted.

Do the future Penguins who gathered at this week’s Prospect Camp feel like assets?

So far, they haven’t developed a complex.

“I don’t think it makes much sense to spend a lot of time thinking about it,” defenseman Scott Harrington said. “We’re all aware of it, but I think we’re just doing our best to show the Penguins that we’re getting better. Of course, we all want to play in Pittsburgh.”

TOLCHINSKY TURNS HEADS AT CANES’ CAMP

The Raleigh News & Observer notes Sergey Tolchinsky, who scored 26 goals for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League last season, went undrafted by NHL teams this year. Using that as added motivation, the Russian winger came to Carolina Hurricanes development camp as an invitee and made the most of it, scoring twice in the scrimmage and seemingly becoming an instant fan favorite for the 3,500 at PNC Arena.

Tolchinsky, 18, was the smallest player in camp at 5-foot-8 and 164 pounds. But the Moscow native made the Canes’ management and coaches take notice with his quickness and stickhandling, and with his personality.

“He’s probably the biggest surprise or explosive guy this week who made people look at him,” Kirk Muller, coach of the Hurricanes said Saturday. “He didn’t get drafted – let’s be honest, probably people said it was his size. There’s a good example of you look at him, you get to know him, he’s got a great attitude and is a fun-loving guy and he plays hard and he produces.

“He’s a guy that I would say that really made us turn our heads.”

‘LONG WAY TO GO’ FOR SABRES’ RUHWEDEL

The Buffalo News indicates now that he is entering his sophomore campaign, Chad Ruhwedel is going to need to make an impression to stick with a Sabres team that has become dense on defense.

“He’s a good player,” said Sabres head coach Ron Rolston. “He played really well for us coming up. But he’s got to continue to grow, too, as a player. He’s really smart. Obviously you can see his feet out there.

“Good stick skills. Good at the offensive blue line. He’s going to have to continue to get stronger and work on that part of things before camp.”

Asked following the Sabres’ development camp if he thinks he has gotten adjusted to the professional game yet, the 23-year-old Ruhwedel retorted quickly.

“Oh no, I’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “I think I know that. I’m humble enough to realize that I’ve got a lot of work to do. Yeah, I got some good experience. Can’t deny that. But there’s a long way to go, for sure.”

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