VANCOUVER, B.C. — Ryan Stanton was a bit surprised with how it all unfolded.
The former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman, who was one of the Black Aces during the Stanley Cup run, entered training camp with a chance of making the roster. But with a flux of defenseman already here and another with NHL experience signed last summer (Mike Kostka), Stanton’s window was a small one.
When the smoke cleared, Kostka made the team while Stanton was placed on waivers and, soon after, picked up by the Vancouver Canucks. It was a strange way to end September and tough for Stanton to say goodbye to the Blackhawks’ organization and Rockford teammates. But now, ensconced with the Canucks, Stanton is enjoying his situation.
Stanton has gone from training-camp bubble player with the Blackhawks to starting defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks, and he faced his former squad and friends on Saturday night at Rogers Arena. Stanton’s had a good start with the Canucks, with a goal and nine assists as well as a plus-5 rating. He garnered three of those assists Friday night in the Canucks’ 6-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. What was originally a disappointing departure from Chicago has become a wonderful opportunity in Vancouver.
Stanton’s had a good start with the Canucks, with a goal and nine assists as well as a plus-5 rating. He garnered three of those assists Friday night in the Canucks’ 6-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. What was originally a disappointing departure from Chicago has become a wonderful opportunity in Vancouver.
“I was excited to get an opportunity and with a team that would hopefully give me a chance,” Stanton said of the Canucks. “It was a little sad at the same time, leaving the guys I’ve been with for the last few years. (Brandon) Bollig, (Brandon) Pirri and (Jeremy) Morin, and I lived with them also. It was different leaving and meeting new guys, but it was definitely the best thing for my career.”
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Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks never doubted Stanton’s potential.
“He’s a nice player,” he said. “He was a good pickup by Vancouver and we were comfortable with him in our group. He added depth to our team, and he was definitely a phone call away all last year but we were relatively healthy, rotating six and seven (defensemen). He’s been a nice fit for Vancouver. He’s a smart player, sees plays, defends well and has a good head on his shoulder.”
Stanton was on the bubble to make the Blackhawks in the fall. It came down to he and Kostka, who played 35 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012-13 before the Blackhawks signed him over the summer. It was another offseason of the Blackhawks signing another defenseman, even though they had depth at that spot in Rockford.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating. I did want to be there. But you can’t blame the moves that (general manager Stan) Bowman mad. They won the Cup, and defense was a big part of it,” Stanton said. “As a young guy in that organization, it was a tough one for me. It was frustrating not being there. But you could see from their standpoint why they’re gong out and getting those veteran defensemen.”
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Now Stanton is making his name in Vancouver, where he’s on the top defensive pair with Kevin Bieksa. Stanton said he’s enjoyed playing with the Canucks veteran.
“He’s a vocal guy,” he said. “He always has encouragement for me, gives me little tips for the game and certain (opposing) players and their habits. He’s been good.”
As far as Stanton playing his former Rockford friends, he said he’s ready. Just like he was ready to get his NHL career going, even if it wasn’t with the Blackhawks.
“I’ve been getting a couple texts saying they’re putting the puck in my corner so I should keep my head up,” Stanton said. “I don’t know what to expect. It’ll be weird seeing them out there but I’m excited for it. It should be fun and hopefully it’s a good game.”