Drafted 23rd overall by the Canucks as part of the great 2003 draft class, Kesler played 11 seasons with the Canucks organization (including the 2004-05 lockout season with the Manitoba Moose.) before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks.
After five seasons in Orange County, hip injuries pretty much ended his career. Kesler last played during the 2018-19 season. He has one more year left on his six-year contract with an AAV of 6.875 million dollars and is on the Ducks LTIR list.
The former Canuck joined the Sekeres and Price Show on Monday to talk about his career, how Dave Nonis ripped into him for signing an offer sheet, his injuries, and more.
You can listen to the full interview here.
This begs the question: Should Kesler be inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour?
Why Kesler should be inducted
During his time with the Canucks, Kesler scored at least 20 goals six times. The only times he didn’t score at least 20 was during his rookie season (he scored 10) and the 2012-13 lockout shortened season. (he only scored four only playing 17 games due to numerous injuries.)
Kesler was a big part of the Canucks team that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. He registered a point in 11 out of 14 goals the Canucks scored in their second round series against the Nashville Predators earning him the nickname “beast mode.” At the time, there was talk of Kesler being a strong candidate for the Conn Smythe which he would have likely won if the Canucks managed to beat the Bruins. He currently ranks ninth in all time playoff points among Canucks.
Kesler is the only Canuck to win the Selke trophy as the league’s top defensive forward which we won during the 2010-11 season. That season was the best season of his career as he scored 41 times and managed 32 assists for 73 points and ended Pavel Datsyuk’s three-year run as Selke winner.
It isn’t just the statistics that make the case. Kesler was the type of player that would give his all for the Canucks. Even he was hurt he would still try to give 110%. (For example, he played the 2011 final with a torn groin and a torn labrum in his hip. The latter would require offseason surgery.)
During the epic four overtime game against the Dallas Stars during the 2007 playoffs. Kesler hurt broke his finger and was really desperate to get back out there. He was so desperate that he wanted the doctor to cut off his finger and spoke about it on Sekeres and Price
“I had just read this story about this guy cutting the tip of his pinky off to be able to play in like his final senior game or something,” Kesler said. ” I’m like, ‘let’s just cut it off, I don’t need it. It’s on my top hand and it’s my pointer finger. I got three other fingers and a thumb. I’ll be alright.’ The doctor kind of like looked at me like, ‘what kind of drugs is this guy on?”
Obviously, the doctor didn’t do it but the then 22-year-old Kesler played the longest game in franchise history with a broken finger.
He was a fierce competitor that was good on both ends of the ice and a big part of the Canucks special teams during their competitive years. Kesler was also a leader in the locker room and contributed plenty to the Vancouver community.
Why Kesler shouldn’t be inducted
The big reason would be because of his exit which still might leave a sour taste in some of the mouths of Canucks fans.
Kesler thought his time in Vancouver was up after a brutal 2013-14 season which saw the Canucks miss the playoffs for the first time in six years. That resulted in the firings of general manager Mike Gillis and head coach John Tortorella. Kesler wanted to be traded to a contender. He asked to be traded to one of two teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks which didn’t sit well with Canucks fans.
Jim Benning took over the general manager job and granted Kesler’s wish to be traded. He was dealt along with the Canucks third round pick in 2015 to the Ducks for Nick Bonino, Lucas Sbisa and the 24th overall pick in the 2014 draft which turned out to be Jared McCann.
Canucks fans weren’t happy that Kesler demanded to be traded to a contender and it didn’t help that he was dealt to a division rival. Every time he and the Ducks visited Rogers Arena, Kesler received boos from Canucks fans. Some Canucks fans could argue that Kesler put himself over the team and it was selfish of him to jump ship.
After Kesler scored a goal against the Canucks in January of 2016, he took a jab at the booing fans.
“I’ve scored a lot of goals in this building,” Kesler said, “that one was probably my favourite.
Some Canucks fans might also be bitter about Kesler’s comments towards Canada during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“I hate them,” he said.
However, Kesler explained his words with Sekeres and Price.
“I would never say I hate Canada,” Kesler said. “It’s where my son was born. It’s where really I grew up as an adult, and at the time I said it, I had spent over half my life there. Canada has treated me very well and no, I don’t hate Canada.
There were also rumours of him being a toxic person in the locker room but take those with a grain of salt since it is still unclear whether that was true or not.
The way things ended with Kesler in Vancouver were ugly. Fans had the right to boo him every time he played the Canucks at Rogers Arena.
However, Kesler is one of the best two-way players in franchise history and the only player in team history to win the Selke. He shouldn’t be remembered for his departure but rather a fierce and competitive two-way player that was a vital piece on the 2011 team.
Do you think Kesler should be inducted into the ring of honour? Let us know in the comments below!