Vancouver Canucks LW Brandon Prust got Himself in Trouble

Sep 25, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks right wing Brandon Prust (9) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks right wing Brandon Prust (9) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks should have scratched Brandon Prust against the New York Rangers.

The Vancouver Canucks did not plan on playing veteran left winger Brandon Prust on Tuesday against his former team, the New York Rangers. Rookie Jake Virtanen was set to play on the fourth line with Derek Dorsett and Adam Cracknell until Prust was “displeased” to sit out against his old team. So Prust played hockey and the Canucks played a “delicate dance“.

Sure, it was great to see Prust play against his few remaining Rangers teammates on Tuesday. It was also great to see Emerson Etem play confidently against his former team and find  a way to record his first point as a Canuck.

Did one seem more fired up to play his “former team” than the other?

You bet.

Should Prust have played? Take a snapshot of Prust’s performance against the Rangers and see how he was caught in no man’s land on the Rangers’ second goal. He missed Mats Zuccarello (number 36) drawing to the slot from the left point and left him open to tie the game.

The Rangers went on to win the game 3-2 in overtime. The bigger takeaway from the game might be this, though. Coach Willie Desjardins might be regretting how he overturned to not bench Prust.

That is how Tuesday’s game turned out for Prust. Assuring coach Willie that he should have been benched. So I ask you again. Should Prust have played? Of course, we have the benefit of hindsight.

There were other implications to Prust’s night aside from the miscue on the second goal against. Fellow teammate Alex Burrows already has a sense of what it is — a youth movement. This movement does not involve calling players up from the AHL. It involves playing players like Virtanen and Jared McCann on more nights and playing “the fringe veterans” less.

Prust should not have challenged the coach’s decision

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This, I say, without the benefit of hindsight. Forget about that play, forget about him getting benched after the goal against. The trouble began even before the game started.

Although playing against former teammates is great fun, Prust should have let this one go. And let’s face it, Prust is almost more of a Montreal Canadien than he is a New York Ranger. How many times has Prust played against the Rangers in a Montreal jersey? Many times, and by “many” I mean dozens.

That’s right — nobody cares.

I believe that Willie D should have stood his ground and benched Prust. It is about upholding the coach’s authority. If he thought Virtanen was better suited to help Vancouver to a win, so be it, Prust. You are supposed to be a leader in the room, especially with your captain Henrik Sedin gone for the next two weeks.

Act like a leader if you want to stick around, Prust. A coach’s authority in the locker room needs to be above all else. Wonder what would have happened if John Tortorella was sitting in Willie’s seat facing Prust. I bet he missed his old teammates more than he missed his former Rangers coach. Hah.

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But there is another facet to it all.

Maybe I am being too cynical here, but I believe Prust should have been shown the “yellow card” if you will, for emitting displeasure to his organization’s decision. Take the idea and run with it, Willie. Don’t just give him a “wake-up call” after just one goal in 35 games. Give him a “Torts” and add Prust’s arrogance to the list of reasons to trade the pending unrestricted free agent.

Burrows proved himself with a goal on Tuesday. He played half-injured after blocking a shot against the New York Islanders and let the coach know that he can still produce. If Prust wants to stay in Vancouver against all odds, he needs to produce himself worthy — and not show up at the coach’s office with a pout face on.

Prust should know better. And Willie, too.

Yes, I did advocate that Prust “is here to stay” for the sake of his 31-year-old leadership. But if his definition of leadership is “I want to bench rookie Virtanen so I can play against my 2011-12 team,” I promptly erase him from my list of select few veterans who should stay. With Etem and Virtanen taking over the checking role, watch out Prust. You are hitting the market sooner rather than later.

Coach Desjardins should have benched the 31-year-old Prust and not the 19-year-old Virtanen. Not because Prust is a dozen years older, but because he is muddling the organization’s plan on the youth.

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Welcome to Jim Benning‘s phone board, Prust. Contenders are calling, and you just gave your boss another reason to trade you.

Tell us what you think! Should Prust have played on Tuesday against the Rangers? What might be the outcome of this? Has Prust given Trader Jim another reason to cut ties with his veteran 31-year-old? Comment below or tweet us @FSTheCanuckWay!