Pettinger gets a second shot with the Canucks


Matt Pettinger signed a one-year, two-way contract Monday.

Matt Pettinger signed a one-year, two-way contract Monday.

Photograph by: Arlen Redekop file, The Province

Matt Pettinger always believed he could play in the NHL. Convincing clubs that his best days aren't in the rearview mirror meant staying sane in the summer and showing a stubborn streak.

When Pettinger agreed to a one-year, two-way contract Monday with the injury ravaged Vancouver Canucks — it pays the minimum $500,000 US at the NHL level — it did more than offer a replacement for injured winger Michael Grabner, who is expected to be sidelined indefinitely with suspected torn ankle ligaments.

It gave Pettinger a rare second shot in The Show with the same team. And it also gave the Victoria hockey product peace of mind after balking at a New Jersey camp tryout before opting for a 25-game pro deal with the Manitoba Moose last month.

"It's one of those weird years," said the 29-year-old Edmonton native, who will line up with Mario Bliznak and Darcy Hordichuk tonight against the New York Rangers at GM Place. "Teams are going with younger guys and pushing two-way contracts and in the salary-cap system, the big guys are getting their money and it's tough for marginal guys."

Especially for desperate tryout veterans trying to make a training-camp impression and already behind the roster eight-ball.

Mark Parrish, Dave Scatchard and Ronald Petrovicky learned that lesson with the Canucks. Pettinger didn't want to do the same with the Devils after Tampa Bay didn't offer a contract after claiming the winger on waivers early last season from the Canucks.

"It was a tough situation," said Pettinger, who has 120 career NHL points in 413 games, including 15 points in 59 games with the Lightning. "For me it was: 'If you're interested in me, then sign me. If not, I'm going to camp and put all the chips on your shoulders.' I wasn't comfortable in that situation. I didn't see too many walk-ons."

What Pettinger did see was opportunity slipping away.

There were offers to play in Europe, but it took a Moose offer after weeks of skating with the ECHL's Victoria Salmon Kings to start the dominoes falling in Pettinger's direction.

And with the Canucks having six forwards on the limp — and Moose forward Guillaume Desbiens also injured and Russian rookie Sergei Shirokov needing more minor-league seasoning — it put Pettinger back on the Canucks' radar. At least, for now.

"If it wasn't for injuries in Vancouver, would I be here? Probably not," admitted Pettinger, who has four points (2-2) in seven games with the Moose. "But you realize that hockey is a business and I've seen it before. I'm probably not the only guy that's been on the same team twice."

The Canucks acquired Pettinger in a trade with Washington for Matt Cooke on Feb. 26, 2008, but he managed just six points (4-2) in 20 games, while Cooke had seven points (3-4) in 17 games with the Capitals. At the start of last season, Pettinger got on an early roll with Manitoba and was claimed on re-entry waivers by the Lightning.

The Canucks are hoping that Pettinger can be more than just a bandage for a banged-up roster, but coach Alain Vigneault was blunt with his words to the winger.

"'You've got to make the best of it,'" he told Pettinger. "'Last year, some guys outplayed you for a position.'

"He knows how we function here and we just thought it was a good fit."

How good? We're about to find out. Maybe enduring all those endless offseason questions in Victoria was all the incentive that Pettinger needed.

"The hardest part was talking to people," he said. "'Where are you going? Have you got a job yet?' The physical stuff I'm used to, but hearing it daily from different people kind of wears on you."

If Pettinger can help wear down the opposition and contribute offensively, he'll prove a much better option than recalling Shirokov.

"We really believe Sergei needs time to understand the North American game and get his hockey situation a little more stable," said Vigneault.

Pettinger is hoping to do the same.

E-mail sports reporter Ben Kuzma at

Matt Pettinger signed a one-year, two-way contract Monday.

Matt Pettinger signed a one-year, two-way contract Monday.

Photograph by: Arlen Redekop file, The Province


More Photo Galleries

Zac Efron's temporary Vancouver home

Gallery (Nov. 2): Zac Efron's ...

See inside the fancy 5,000-sq-ft penthouse where the...


Gallery (Nov. 2): H1N1 vaccine...

H1N1 vaccine lineups in Vancouver.


Gallery (Oct. 31): B.C. Lions ...

The Felions, the B.C. Lions cheerleaders, were decked...

November 03, 2009 - 4:15 PM

BA - I addressed your fixation on AV in comments on lead story. Give it a rest. Why don't you tell us all about your experience as a professional hockey player and coach? ..... what's that?....crickets?

November 03, 2009 - 4:03 PM

I am Pettinger thank you for the job and i will score 50 goals for you Mike don't worry . HaHaHa ..... Easy $$$.

November 03, 2009 - 12:10 PM

Omigawd there's a lot of stupid comments on here.  What do people not understand about "stop gap meaasure who might turn out to be more"?   Some of these clowns seem to think the option was to sign a proven NHL star or sign Pettinger, and the Canucks opted for Pettinger.

Matt Pettinger
November 03, 2009 - 11:12 AM

Mike G is my daddy he put me on the team and pay me for doing nothing.

Matt Pettinger
November 03, 2009 - 11:09 AM

Mike G is my daddy he put me on the team and pay me for doing nothing.

Matt Pettinger
November 03, 2009 - 11:07 AM

Mike G is my daddy he put me on the team and pay me for doing nothing.

It's official guys..
November 03, 2009 - 10:44 AM

We are now the biggest laughing stock in the nhl. Its like gillis enjoys watching this team suck and fail. I hope hes kicking himself right now over the contract he gave luongo. Leave it to canucks management to royally screw this teams cap for the next 12 years.

Pierre Comeau
November 03, 2009 - 10:41 AM

A response for "to pierre comeau". What are u talking about. vancuver has never won anything in the nhl. maybe its u who needs to understand hockey history lol. The vancuver canucks have offically ZERO stanley cups so dont make things up. Man what a joke the team and citizens of bc are. get out of my country

November 03, 2009 - 10:32 AM

Hey "Nonis era returns" I agree with you . The typical Canucks fan really don't get the game and really believe that AV knows what he is doing. That is why a lousy GM can bring in plumbers and somehow they will turn into a 20-30 goal scorers and these idiot fans buy it. With full stadiums and mindless fans a owner can provide mediocracy forever.

Shirokov was given two chances, one was with Hank and he looked great playing with him, the second was on the fourth line and that won't work when one guy has talent and his linemates are goons. He is ten times better than half the team and yet fans buy AV saying he isn't ready. He is ready for the NHL, he isn't ready to be one of AV's sucky boys and that is what it takes to play on an AV team. Please start getting it folks, until AV and probably Gillis are gone we will have to put up with a lousy team as those are the type of players that will put up with this kind of bull****.

hey pierre
November 03, 2009 - 9:35 AM

uh...cheers buddy, yeah it's gotta be noon somewhere in the world huh? Sorry I'm assuming your hammered by the way you spell and write but I guess you also could be 4 years old as well.

Dean Readman
November 03, 2009 - 9:21 AM

Good for Pettinger,bad for fans,Shanahan was avaliable all summer,what he couldn't help more than that lousy Russian.They knew about Demitra's condition yet no action taken.Teams who want cups don't act thisway,new GM same old snow job,fill the building but screw the fan.Tampa,Carolina and Aniheim all win cups within 10 years,we could too if they really wanted too.

November 03, 2009 - 8:41 AM

@Same Old:  Hoping he will lead us to the cup?!!!! you are a moron.

November 03, 2009 - 8:34 AM

Perhaps, you "knowledgable fans" of the game should do some research. A lot of veterans aren't spots in the new NHL.

Pettinger has had good moments: a 20 goal season with Washington, member of the Canadian National Junior Team,  and has NHL experience playing on lines 2-4.

If your benchmark is whether he is going to bring the cup, get a life. Not even Sundin, Messier, Bure and Luongo have done that.

It's a good move by the club at this point. And, who knows Pettinger just might surprise you.

Matt Pettinger
November 03, 2009 - 8:27 AM

Easy money from the Canucks hehe...

to pierre comeau
November 03, 2009 - 8:16 AM

You really need to brush up on your grammar and spelling, your comment is barely legible! Oh, and last time I checked Vancouver has won the Stanley cup once. Better brush up your stat resources too!

Keep it clean, and stay on the subject or we might delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. You must have a javascript enabled browser to submit a comment.
Your Name
Your Comment

Breaking News Alert

Sign up to receive e-mail alerts on breaking news from The Province.