Canucks want more from Kyle Wellwood
Conditioning not NHL calibre: coach
The Vancouver Canucks knew Kyle Wellwood's fitness level was an issue when they signed him, but are apparently trying to light a fire under the forward by going public with their concerns.
Coach Alain Vigneault took aim at the former Toronto Maple Leaf's conditioning on Sunday after a training camp session in Whistler.
Wellwood, never the most toned player even at full health, has battled a sports hernia injury the past two seasons and then cracked a bone in his foot in the spring.
"He is going to be re-tested after the first four [pre-season] games," said Vigneault. "I understand the fact he was injured and is sort of playing himself into shape and as long as we see improvements and consistent improvement, we'll work with him and give him the benefit of the doubt.
"The day that stops, it stops."
It represents a wake-up call for a player the club hoped would help replace some of the offence lost with the departure of longtime Canucks Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Trevor Linden.
The tone was a bit rosier when Wellwood was claimed off waivers and signed to a one-year deal.
"We think he's a guy that we are prepared to put a lot of time and effort into and work with," general manager Mike Gillis told the Canadian Press in July.
Wellwood finished with just eight goals and 13 assists in 59 games last season for the Maple Leafs. He didn't play his first game until early November, a big disappointment to the Toronto brass after he had supposedly recovered from the groin injury that limited him to 48 games in 2006-07.
Wellwood, 25, finished with more than 100 points twice as a junior in the Ontario Hockey League but frustrated Maple Leafs fans by periodically flashing those skills, only to be invisible in other games. He has scored 31 goals and added 77 assists in 189 games with Toronto, with just 14 penalty minutes.
Vancouver begins its preseason slate on Monday against Edmonton.
The Canucks will open the season with a home game against Calgary on Oct. 4, part of a Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader that begins with the Detroit Red Wings unveiling their Stanley Cup banner before playing the Toronto Maple Leafs.