HOPEFUL CANUCK AIMS TO BREAK THROUGH
2009 second-round pick Anton Rodin wants to put any doubts about his surgically repaired knee to bed
It’s not even October and Anton Rodin is wishing out loud he’s never asked about his knee again. Good luck with that. He actually has a better chance of making the Vancouver Canucks. And that isn’t going to be easy.
But nothing has been cake for Rodin. A year ago, the 2009 second-round draft pick was finally pegged as a potential difference maker for a Canucks team desperate for scoring.
No one outside the organization understood at the time, but his surgically repaired knee was a problem, and a big one.
It hurt, and did so most of the time.
On the ice, he was cautious. Off it, he was limited. Almost like his legs were roped together.
“Even in training camp I had discomfort in the knee, “Rodin said.
“The biggest thing was off the ice. I really couldn’t do much. In the gym, stuff like that, it was hard to keep up the strength in the leg.
“It was pain. Every time I took a step, it hurt. It was tough.”
“I thought it was going to go away. But it never did.”
Rodin played five pre-season games last fall, a program the Canucks vehemently defend to this day, and then spent months trying to rehab the knee.
He played three times. In his third, in January, his knee buckled again. After, he could barely walk. Surgery and six months of rehab soon followed.
“I couldn’t even explain what they did in Swedish,” Rodin joked. “They took a bone out of the knee cap and were really happy.
“Before I had pain and now I don’t have it. It makes it easier to skate.”
Rodin said he could have done the surgery earlier, but doctors advised him to try and “rehab the pain away.”
“It feels so much better not to be hesitating at all,” Rodin said. “You can go hard all the time and work the legs in the gym to get stronger.”
Rodin didn’t have to come back here. There were other options. Sweden, for one, where he’s only a year removed from being the reigning elite-league MVP. It probably would have been easier than this.
But Rodin has long burned to play in the NHL.
He said there was interest from other NHL teams, but he didn’t spend much time looking into any other opportunities.
“My first goal was to come back here and now I just need to prove I belong,” Rodin said.
“We never explored it (the other options).
“I feel like I have unfinished business. I think this is a good place for me to get into the lineup.” We’ll see about that. It is encouraging a hobbled Rodin showed significant spark during last year’s preseason. That was just before a season in which Michael Chaput, Jayson Megna and Jack Skille all played 55 games.
If ever there was a roster for Rodin to crack, and get significant playing time, that sure looked like the one.
Now, he’s 26 years old and things are more complicated. The Canucks have improved their veteran depth while adding some intriguing young players like Nikolay Goldobin and Brock Boeser. Both could bring a lot of the same things Rodin does to a game.
New head coach Travis Green, however, is vowing his lineup choices will be based on merit. And if a one-legged Rodin was one of last year’s best pre-season Canucks, what’s the two-legged version going to do?
“My first goal is to crack a spot on the roster,” Rodin said. “All I can do is play my best hockey and convince them I can make this team better.”
To get that done, all he has to do is score some goals. As for the knee, he said: “I hope these are the last questions about the knee.”
Anton Rodin has shown some scoring promise in the past, something the Canucks desperately need.