"The First One's Under the Belt"

In his first game after returning from a fractured vertebrae suffered in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Mason Raymond reminded Canucks fans how talented he is.

Flames' defenceman Joe Piskula reminds Raymond that there are no free passes (photo courtesy of AP Photo)


The speedy RW has had nothing but an uphill ascent in his bid to return to the Canucks.  At one point, Mason was quoted as saying that he felt he would “Never be 100% again”.  To be frank, as was noted here earlier on The Canuck Way, it was doubtful that he would play hockey again during 2011.  Many hockey analysts agreed that it was the most awkward, freak hockey accident they had seen in years.

Listed at 6’0, 185 lbs, the Cochrane, Alberta native has  shown nothing but heart since the Canucks drafted him 51st overall in the 2005 draft.  Very few NHL players have had such a daunting task in returning to play any type of meaningful hockey after such a devastating injury.

In 14:35 of ice-time, Raymond has 21 shifts, and added an assist in his first game back.  Personally, I was surprised to see how often Raymond went to the ‘dirty areas’ to track down loose pucks, and as depicted to the right, was unafraid to make contact.  On a pass from Cody Hodgson, he even dove outstretched while sliding towards the end boards to try to make a play.  In other words, if one didn’t know any better, you’d never know six months earlier he had a fractured vertebrae.

It’s game one, the first one’s under the belt.  Unfortunately, it does take a little bit of time to get where you want to feel comfortable.  But for the first game, I was quite pleased with how things went.

Canucks bench boss Alain Vigneault also felt Mason had a notable return to duty.  “He had some good minutes, he had some real good shifts, he showed a lot of poise and was real confident with the puck.  So I really liked his overall game tonight.  I’m really pleased with how that all worked out.”

I’m certain that there were a large contingent of Canucks fans also pleased, if not relieved, to see how well things worked out for Raymond as he got “the first one under the belt”.

Next up, the Colorado Avalanche as the Canucks conclude their 4- game homestand.  Of note, Aaron Volpatti could be gone for the remainder of the season with a torn shoulder requiring surgery.

For The Canuck Way, I’m Larenzo Jensen.



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Tags: Alain Vigneault Cody Hodgson Joe Piksula Mason Raymond

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