In some sort of grand, cosmic joke at his expense, Wellwood wound up making his season debut in Vancouver. The quiet, self-effacing center seemed somewhat annoyed to be right back in front of Vancouver's million microphones, but it was a special treat for Canuck fans, like us, who have battled through the barrier that is the Cyrillic alphabet just to continue following his career. It was nice to finally receive a much-needed dose of Wellwoodness in English, where his trademark pathos wasn't mitigated by Google's crappy translator.
So what's new on the Wellwood front? Welly has now played 10 games with the Sharks. In those games, he's got 2 goals and no assists. Nothing special. However, he's a plus-4, and he's only been on the ice for 1 goal against (typical defensive stalwart that he is). That goal, by the way, was the much-ballyhooed Paul Bissonnette goal from the 1st of February. It garnered plenty of attention, as the rare BizNasty goal should, and nobody even seemed to notice that Welly got it back with his first goal of the season later that night ( to the highlights!).
That's right. Two weeks ago, Paul Bissonnette and Kyle Wellwood scored in the same game, and, apart from the postgame boxscore, I can think of very few other lists that might contain both names. These guys are polar opposites. After the game, Bissonnette crushed some nachos and stayed up all night partying; meanwhile, Wellwood crushed some leftover beet salad and stayed up all night reading the lesser works of Iris Murdoch.
Here's another interesting tidbit: you'll recall that there was some confusion over whether or not Kyle's pregnant partner, Bianca, was his wife or his girlfriend. In a recent interview, his brother Eric, of the Philadelphia Flyers system, cleared that up: she's his fiancee. Also, the baby is due in May, which could make things very interesting. If Wellwood tended to lack motivation before, consider how little he'll care if the Sharks are eliminated from the playoffs before his first child's due date.
That said, if you watched the first goal, or the second, you might have noticed a couple strange new things Wellwood is doing: he's celebrating his goals, for instance. He's also smiling from ear to ear quite regularly. The Sharks are 7-2-1 since Wellwood's arrival (obviously, this is directly causal), and he appears to be having the time of his life.
In a recent Russian interview, Wellwood admits that he overestimated his ability to adapt to a new country, that the snow, the cold, and the alienation prevented him from ever feeling at ease. It appears that his time in Russia gave him a new appreciation for his homeland, and a new fire for remaining in the NHL.
Vancouver fans can attest to this: Wellwood emotes so sparingly that, when he does, it really means something. Now is one of those times. He's home, he's playing for a contender with a much smaller media contingent, and he's about to be a father.
Ladies and gentlemen: Kyle Wellwood is happy.