October 22, 2011; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Jim Vandermeer (2) and Boston Bruins left wing Shawn Thornton (22) fight during the second period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Canucks Welcome Vandermeer's Toughness Element

The Vancouver Canucks decision to sign Jim Vandermeer raised some eyebrows after the team declined to invite the defenceman to training camp. Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault told the media last Friday that he wanted a depth puck-moving defenceman.

The team would sign defenceman Cam Barker, a known puck-mover, on Tuesday to a one-way contract worth $700,000. The signing gave the Canucks seven defencemen on one-way contracts plus Chris Tanev, who is expected to be in the Canucks top-six on opening night. With eight defencemen, the signing came as a surprise, but it turns out some of the Canucks players went to management vouch for Vandermeer.

Defencemen Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis were two of the players that did.

“He’s a fantastic person and has a good skills set and is a well-respected tough guy,” Hamhuis told the Province. “He can settle down an opposing player who might be running around a bit to get our guys off their games.

“And with him in the lineup, they may think twice about doing something silly. He doesn’t need to prove how tough he is, and we really haven’t had that type of player on our team the last couple of years.”

“I’ve played against him and know how tough he is,” Bieksa added.

Vandermeer is a hockey player not an enforcer, but he does bring those qualities with 44 career fights on his resume. The Canucks have not carried a labelled “tough guy” since the 2010-11 season when they exiled enforcer Darcy Hordichuk.

Vandermeer signed a two-way contract. He will earn $275,000 in the minors and $600,000. With re-entry waivers removed in the new collective bargaining agreement, Vandermeer will not have to worry about being trapped in the minors. However, regular waivers still exist, so Vandermeer will still need to clear waivers to be assigned to the American Hockey League.

For the jersey number aficionados, Vandermeer will be wearing #24 and Barker will be #18.

Some of Vandermeer’s work:

What have we learned? Vandermeer is always has a smile on his face when he fights even if he’s getting hammered.

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