“It’s obviously a bittersweet day,” Bieksa said on a conference call. “It’s tough to leave Vancouver, but it’s also exciting to have a new chapter of my life and to move on to a great city in Anaheim, a great hockey team.
Words can’t explain how sad it is to see @kbieksa3 get traded. Thanks for the 10 great years and best of luck in Anaheim #heartofacanuck
A fifth-round draft pick (151st overall) of the Canucks in 2001, the native of Grimsby, Ont., has played 597 NHL regular-season games, scoring 56 goals, including 19 on the power play, 241 points and 879 penalty minutes. In 71 playoff games, Bieksa has 25 points and 122 PIMs.
‘Anaheim was the best fit [for my family]. Who wouldn’t want to play for that team? They were very close to winning the Stanley Cup, and they have the right team for that.’– New Ducks defenceman Kevin Bieksa
“It’s obviously been a difficult process the last few weeks, with my family going through this, trying to decide where we’re going to be heading,” Bieksa said in a phone interview. “Obviously, San Jose was one of my choices, but Anaheim was always at the top of my list and one of my main choices.
“Anaheim was the best fit for us. Who wouldn’t want to play for that team? They were very close to winning the Stanley Cup, and they have the right team for that.”
community,” Benning said in a statement released by the team. “It’s always a difficult decision to trade a player who’s been such a big part of an organization for so long and we wanted to make sure we did what was best for both Kevin and the Canucks.
In Anaheim, Bieksa will be reunited with former Canucks teammate Ryan Kesler and join a strong but young defence as Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Simon Despres and the promising Hampus Lindholm are 24 and under. Clayton Stoner is 30 and Francois Beauchemin is the greybeard at 35 but he’s likely to leave as an unrestricted free agent.
“I got told they were going to the market early this morning,” Murray said. “We had discussed a few things. Wasn’t going to work. He told me what he was going to get in free agency, and I didn’t go anywhere near that. We had kind of prepared for that circumstance and moved quickly on Kevin.”
Beauchemin, who reportedly would like to return to the Ducks, was their top defenceman this past season based on his ice time (22 minutes 44 seconds). He also had 23 points in 64 games along with nine assists in 16 post-season contests.
Bieksa and Kesler were teammates in Vancouver for nine seasons, and one season before that with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose back in 2004. Kesler was traded to Anaheim last summer, scoring 47 points last season as the Ducks’ second-line centre and a defensive standout.
“I’ve been talking to him throughout the process. He’s given me nothing but great reviews about the team, the players, the city, the fans, and we’ve been talking throughout the whole season. He’s very happy. His family is very happy there.”