Amidst all the big news about recent Canuck acquisitions, awards achieved, prospects camp, the draft, and everything else that's made this offseason fairly interesting, we may be losing sight of the fact that some beloved Canuck alumni are on their way out the door. For us at PiTB!, the greatest of these is Kyle Wellwood. Despite all the things he did well (stickhandling, faceoffs, getting the puck out of the defensive zone, fancy passing), Wellwood was overshadowed by the things he did poorly (shooting, physical presence, being normal, regular passing), and will most likely not be back. While he was unfairly maligned, and actually did a surprisingly excellent job filling the Canucks third-line center position, Wellwood never did enough to impress us on the ice. That his incredible skill rarely translated into tangible results was stupefying, and that his coach would have gleefully replaced him with any other center capable of the job was evident. But somehow, for two years, Wellwood held the spot. Skeeter appreciated what he brought more than I: looking at the stats, he was incredible defensively, despite what it looked like. I tended to flip-flop, often arguing he needed to go for not producing, right up until he scored a big goal or, more often, made a neat play that resulted in nothing. From a stats perspective, he was not incredible offensively, his 18-goal season aside. (Wellwood fancied himself a playmaking center, but only got 20 assists in two seasons with Vancouver.) Hockey or Die was downright baffled by his presence in the NHL.
What Skeeter and I both agreed on, however, was that Kyle Wellwood was weird. He was pudgy. He rarely emoted, and when he did, it looked like this. He had a soft spot for Ayn Rand's lesser works. He used a little, teeny-weeny hockey stick that made it easy to handle the puck and impossible to shoot it with any velocity. Photos indicated he didn't care much about women, preferring to ogle spaghetti, read a book, or be confused by them. Contrasted with Kesler, he appeared to be the least competitive hockey player ever, once remarking that he could not understand how Ryan could take the game so seriously. Wellwood was a strange bird.
And we loved him. We mourn for his loss. We want him back and we are fighting back the urge to be happy with the Manny Malhotra signing. Only Welly satisfies.
So here's what's going to happen: we're not going to let him go. Something tells me Kyle Wellwood is going to find another hockey team looking for a strange center, be it in the NHL (doubtful), the AHL (perhaps), or Europe (ding ding ding!). And wherever he goes, we're going to follow his career in a little feature that we would like to call Wellwood's World. Watch for the Wellwood's World update at least once a month going forward.
And Kyle, if you ever find this blog, let us know you love us as much as we love you.