VANCOUVER – At 7:00 p.m. The encouragement started as heartfelt recognition for health care workers, but quickly became something more.
This nocturnal tumult of cries and whistles, pots and pans, has become a joy for everyone. It’s about community. This is not only to thank health professionals for putting their lives on the line to fight the new coronavirus, but also to encourage each other to continue. We may isolate ourselves, but we are not alone.
Vancouver Canucks defender Troy Stecher has some perspective on the evening ritual, not because he is in the middle, standing on the balcony of his downtown fifth floor apartment. Stecher is one of the few Canucks here.
He grew up on the other side of the river in Richmond. He saw the city at its best and at its worst, and right now it’s a bit of both.
“I just think it’s pretty cool to see the city come together like this,” said Stecher Sportsnet this week. ” It’s strong. Everyone is on their patio or their little balcony making noise. I’ve heard that there is a DJ now, but no one like that in our area.
“Seven o’clock every night, I’m on the patio making noise. “
Its noise maker?
“I whistle and applaud,” he said. “Old school base. “
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This is how Stecher also behaves as a professional. Basic old-fashioned.
26-year-old who has only spent four games in four seasons with miners since signing with his hometown of the Canucks as an undrafted free agent for the University of North Dakota, introduces himself and work hard. He does not hit his chest when things are going well, does not complain when things are not going well. This season, he could have done both.
Stecher had a bad start to the season, battling for a third match with newcomer Jordie Benn, when he averaged only 12:53 of ice time in October, seven minutes less than he had registered the previous year as a second pair defender.
There is almost no time for special teams and halfway through the year, coach Travis Green had an average of less than 15 minutes a night. But in January, Stecher started playing more regularly with No. 2 defenseman Alex Edler, his former partner, which gave him more ice time and confidence.
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Stecher sweated until the February commercial deadline, and by the time the NHL season suddenly ended on March 12, the average playing time of five feet 10 inches had dropped to 15:21. Four of his seven best TOI games this season have taken place in the last three weeks before stopping.
Stecher’s surprisingly bumpy journey through his fourth NHL campaign had the added gravity of coming in a contract year. He is a restricted free agent at the end of this season, but may not receive an eligible offer on his expiring salary of $ 2.325 million due to his reduced role and other higher priority free agents .
He loves his hometown, but there is no guarantee that he will play another game here for the Canucks.
“There was a point in the season when I didn’t feel like I was playing very well, and my agent (Eustace King) and I spoke and told him I didn’t want any more updates,” said Stecher. “I just wanted to focus on my game.
“Playing with Eddie helped. I really believe that we two have good chemistry. Confidence is the most important thing in this league, I think. If a player is confident, you will be much more successful than when you doubt yourself. It was difficult at first, maybe playing a few minutes lower. But I didn’t want it to affect my teammates.
“Every day is a new day. You just love the day you spent and try to make the most of it. Honestly, I have no idea (what’s going to happen) as it has had such an impact on the whole world, affected so many people. It’s so much bigger than hockey. So right now, I’m not even focused or concerned about my personal contract. This is probably the best way to say it. ”
When the league authorized players to leave their NHL cities a few days after closing, Stecher first isolated himself in a friend’s lake cabin in British Columbia. Interior. But he spent most of his time from downtown, where he lives with his girlfriend, Emma Vincent, and his dog, Phoebe.
The Bernese mountain dog has its own social media accounts.
“She gets 24 hours of attention,” said Stecher. “(Isolate) is in his lane. She likes it.
“It’s such a unique, beautiful city. There are so many things to do outside that I feel like you can still isolate yourself and take precautions, but you can go out and stay sane. “
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Stecher said he was receiving updates on the NHL situation from Canucks representative Captain Bo Horvat, but did not know if the suspended season would be over.
“I actually talked a little bit with my family,” he said. “Just being here and being so close to the playoffs for the first time in four years was something I really expected, something I thought our team was going to achieve. Shortening it so radically like that was pretty heartbreaking. But there was nothing you could do. You have to do what you have to do to protect yourself and your family.
“I think having that taste of winning early in the season has added some confidence to our room. I guess it was part of the struggle of the past three years and why this year has felt so different.
“With the 50/50 split with the earnings, I’m sure the players and the owners are going to want to play to recover some of the loss. I’m sure if there is a way to understand it, they will find a way. But right now, I don’t think there are many answers to anything in the world, let alone hockey. “