The Vancouver Canucks were open about their desire to bring back defenceman Luke Schenn after the eldest Schenn brother played some of his best hockey in recent memory with the team late last season. So why didn’t a deal get done?
Some think he was chasing a ring, others think that the Vancouver Canucks just decided to go a different route. Nonetheless, Luke Schenn‘s stint in Vancouver was a rather short, yet memorable one at the same time. Schenn became an almost instant fan favourite in Vancouver from the moment he was called up.
A mid-January trade saw Michael Del Zotto head to the Anaheim Ducks, with a seventh-round pick and Schenn heading back the Canucks’ way. At the time, Schenn was playing with the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. He reported directly to the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, after the trade.
A boatload of injuries to the Canucks’ blueline saw both Schenn and his regular defence partner in Utica, Ashton Sautner, get called up to the big club. They arrived as an almost ready-made pairing for the team, and were a rather reliable third pairing for the injury-riddled Canucks down the stretch.
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Schenn set the franchise record for hits in a single game during a March 24th contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets, in which he recorded 12 hits — the most by any Canuck in a single game. This was a defining moment in Schenn becoming a fan favourite amongst Canucks fans.
Schenn was sticking up for his teammates, most importantly, his younger teammates such as Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. As I detailed a while back, Schenn provided a calming influence for the offensively minded Hughes, who was partnered with Schenn for the five games he played last season with the Canucks.
Schenn seized the opportunity, and the Canucks took notice. Jim Benning discussed how effective Schenn had been for the team and how they would look at bringing him back for next season. So why didn’t the team bring back Schenn? A couple of reasons could be the answer or a combination of both of them.
The first is the obvious one, that the Canucks just were no longer interested in him, and that they had a plan in place to go a different route. Instead, the Canucks may have been more interested in a proven option who plays a similar game in the form of Victoria, British Columbia native, Jordie Benn. Benn was signed by the Canucks to a two year deal with an average annual value of $2 million, on July 1st.
This is the reason that makes the most sense and is what I have been told was the team’s thought process when they allowed him to walk and sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. For Schenn personally, I believe signing with the Lightning shows that Schenn still hopes to win a Stanley Cup in his career. His younger brother Brayden Schenn just did it with the St. Louis Blues, and the eldest Schenn brother likely wants to bring the cup back home to Saskatchewan one more time.
The other factor in Schenn’s decision may have been the fact that he feels the Lightning have a better shot at winning the cup than the Canucks currently do. Luke Schenn said the following regarding his brother’s Stanley Cup win:
"“We went down to Game 5, 6 and 7 and supported him. I was more nervous watching him then I would be playing myself so we’re just so proud as a family and glad we get to celebrate and spend the day here with the cup. There’s no question as the older brother, you don’t want to be shown-up by your little brother so I’m not done yet, not retired yet. And maybe there’s still a window, but in saying that, I couldn’t be more proud of Brayden.”"
As usual, the Tampa Bay Lightning are among the favourites to win the Cup in 2019-20. If they can put this year’s horrendous playoff performance behind them, then maybe they have a legitimate shot at it. As Canucks fans, we should be wishing Luke Schenn the best and be excited that we’ve now got a similar, more proven player in the form of Jordie Benn.
Schenn signed a one-year contract with a cap hit of $700,000 with the Lightning on July 1st. While it’s unfortunate to see him go, both Schenn and the Canucks thought processes through the situation has been made rather clear. Both sides are likely happy and content with the decisions they made, and that’s always a good thing.