Murphy’s Mailbag: What’s the latest on Micheal Ferland?

Elliotte Friedman joined Writers Bloc to discuss how the Vancouver Canucks look like they're in for the long haul, and whether or not Travis Green should be in the running for the NHL's Coach of the Year.

Alright, I know I said I wasn’t going to “investigate” the Tortorella hallway game any further. However, someone told me Kellan Lain would be happy to talk about it so I had to make the call to put a bow on this tale.

Lain currently lives in his birthplace of Oakville, Ont., and is in the process of becoming a firefighter.

Lain’s last year of pro hockey was 2016-17 in Idaho of the ECHL. He had just one call-up that season to the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. When the season was done he contemplated giving the AHL another shot or even going to Europe to play. But when his dad, Jim, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Lain decided the right thing to do was stay home to help look after his father.

He says retiring at that point “was an easy decision” so he could do whatever possible for his dad. Jim passed away in February of 2018.

Lain’s pro days are done, but he started playing Senior A with the Stoney Creek Generals last year and his team ended up winning the Allan Cup.

Murphy: OK let’s get right to this. Tom Sestito dropped a bombshell two weeks back saying you were the reason Bob Hartley started the goon squad in that fateful Canucks-Flames game from 2014. He wanted revenge for an act you committed in the minors. Is that true?

Lain: I never found out for sure what the reasoning was. But after that season I was in Toronto and I ran into Bob McKenzie and he said, “you know why Calgary did that right? You jumped Blair Jones of Abbotsford and they wanted payback for that.”

So that’s how I found out and I don’t know if that’s for sure it, but Bob usually knows the details.

Murphy: Do you remember anything Torts said pre-game besides the “starting the idiots” line?

Lain: He said “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but let Tommy handle the situation out there. Obviously I was nervous to know I was starting the game, but I never thought that was going to ensue. I had never had a 5-on-5 line brawl in junior or college or the AHL so sure enough that happened.

Murphy: And your parents had flown out for that game?

Lain: My parents (Jim and Sheila) and my brother (Brett) flew out for the game. I know my brother was pumped about it, he was going crazy. And I had fought quite a bit in the AHL and my mom never really liked fighting so she didn’t know what to take from it. But my dad was the most upset because he wanted to see me play. He was proud of me handling the situation and stuff, but he travelled all the way to watch me play and didn’t get to. At least they got to see me play a couple of more times. They caught a game in Detroit and Toronto as well.

Murphy: Forget guys who get to say they scored in their first NHL game or even on their first NHL shot. I can’t imagine many first NHL game stories are better than yours. Do you see it that way?

Lain: People still bring it up today and it’s been what, six years ago? Whether it’s my buddies if something triggers their memory or people I meet for the first time and they’re like “oh yeah, you’re that guy whose first game was a brawl with Calgary.” It’s my little claim to fame I guess. But definitely never how I imagined it happening. But something that is exciting and something I’ll remember forever and a good story to tell. I have no ill feelings about it or I’m not upset about it. It’s hockey and you never know what’s going to happen right?

Murphy: Because you only played two seconds that night, you can kind of claim you scored in your first NHL game. (Lain scored in the Canucks’ next game in Edmonton)

Lain: It was super special for me. I didn’t have the easiest route to the NHL and I worked really hard for everything I got so it was a really special moment. I just remember I got to the bench and I couldn’t stop smiling just thinking about what I had been through to get there and how excited I was. Imagining what my family and buddies were feeling like back home. It’s definitely another moment that I’ll never forget.

Thanks for this Kellan, now on to the mailbag!

There hasn’t been anything official from the club recently about his recovery. But he has been skating and my understanding is that the Canucks are going to send him to Utica on a conditioning stint as soon as he is 100 per cent ready. Obviously, this has been a very difficult first season in Vancouver for Ferland, who had been hoping to make a big impact for the Canucks after signing that four-year, $14-million contract in the summer.

But the concussion problems that dogged him for the second half of last season have re-surfaced and now he and the club must be so very careful that Ferland comes back only if and when he’s deemed healthy enough to play. And his status is even more important with the trade deadline approaching. Ferland was signed to play in the top-six with Vancouver and if he is unable to return and contribute then GM Jim Benning will no doubt be looking for someone to fill his shoes on deadline day.

I figured this one out on my own. Troy Stecher confirmed it.

Started as Sweet Lou. Morphed into Sweetness.

(For the younger generation there was a baseball player nicknamed named Sweet Lou Whitaker)

I got this question from many people since the last mailbag. So here is Brock’s response.

Seems kind of cruel that Jake would take Brock’s spot on the top line and make fun of him, too.

Peach just turned three and is so great. When I come home from games she is fast asleep upstairs. But when Peach hears my car pull up, she’ll always come down the stairs, eyes half open, and greet me with a stuffie.

We adopted Peach after she failed out of PADS training. She has allergies that are significant enough that there was no way she was going to be able to be a service dog. Although I’m certain that even if Peach didn’t have allergies she might have flunked out anyway. Let’s just put it this way, Peach was meant to be a pet. But if you’re looking to go down a similar path that we did, then check out https://pads.ca/. They do incredible work.

I wish I could give some product a plug here, but the truth is, unless my hair is a little long and unruly then I don’t use any product. Furthermore, I wash my hair with hand soap. That’s right. My skin care and hair routine is based on hand soap. Makes road life simple because I don’t have to travel with any junk.

My answer to this question is different than what it would have been back when I started the job. There is no question that covering sports for a living beats the fan out of you. Growing up, these were the teams I cheered for:

Vancouver Canucks

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Sonics

Montreal Expos

As you can see, there isn’t much championship pedigree there. The Sonics won their title when they were still the Super Sonics and I was just nine years old. So not a memory for me at all. I think 1994 could have been the greatest year for me as a sports fan. I was 24 years old and probably in the prime of my sports fandom. A title would have been a lot of fun to celebrate because I had been a sports fan for long enough to understand that “your team” winning one was not a guarantee. So I had two cracks that year. But the Expos got ripped off when the league shutdown halfway through the season and the Canucks, of course, lost in Game 7 of the final.

I started covering the Canucks full-time at the start of the 2001-02 season. And if they would have won a Cup during one of those West Coast Express years, I’m sure I would have gotten quite a bit of joy out of that. But ever since my fandom has eroded considerably. I guess I would still get some satisfaction watching the Canucks win the Cup, but it would be more based on being happy for certain individuals. I would have loved to see the Sedin Twins, or Bieksa or Luongo hoist the Stanley Cup in 2011. And now I would definitely feel good for guys like Nolan Baumgartner and Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. People I have known for many years.

The most invested I’ve been in a sporting event in the past decade was the men’s hockey Gold Medal Game at the 2010 Olympics. But one of my lifelong friends, Chris Pronger, was on that team so it was more than just cheering for my country.

Side note: after Canada won gold that night we (me, my wife and the whole Pronger crew) went to Il Giardino for dinner. After we had been seated Patrick Marleau and Brenden Morrow walked in and grabbed a table. At that moment the whole restaurant stood up and sang Oh Canada. It was a super cool moment.

My first team championship, so to speak, was the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win 2014. And it was a great moment. It was a lot of fun to see a team I’d always cheered for win it all. But was it as great as what I thought it would have been? To be honest, no. I loved that the Seahawks won, but when Monday rolled around I certainly wasn’t basking in a championship glow.

Jeff, you are so right. I have been a little negligent in my duties. Sometimes I’m a little hesitant putting all those burger shots online because I feel like I’m live tweeting his skyrocketing cholesterol. I will post one from this current road trip, but until then, how about this: I went through my pictures to find the very first one I had of Cheech dining and it was Nov. 7, 2013. Looks like Johnny Rockets in San Jose to me.

• Do the BCMC or the Grouse Grind.
• Check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
• Walk, run or bike the seawall.
• Take the time to drive to Whistler if you can.
• Grab a beer or three on Granville Island.
• The Museum of Anthropology has some great First Nations Art.
• Commercial drive for Mom and Pop shops, English Bay and Lighthouse Park.
• Have fun.

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