On December 26, 2011 Canucks center Andrew Ebbett did something that he had never done in his NHL career: scored 2 goals in 1 game. If Alain Vigneault had a little more trust in Ebbett he may have put him on the ice while the Oilers pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker late in the Canucks-Oilers game, you know, to give the guy a chance at an NHL hat trick. Giving the man a chance....Now that is something Ebbett has struggled in achieving at the NHL level. In Vancouver, Ebbett is a bottom 6 checking forward fighting for an NHL job. When he was signed by Mike Gillis as a free agent on July 1 many scoffed at it because GM Gillis was not addressing the Canucks' issue of toughness. Ebbett is
small in stature, standing at about 5'9" and 175 pounds. So it is very easy to discount his potential role as a checking forward on a solid team's bottom 6. Well.....Ebbett is no quitter. You can see it in they way he plays, and maybe we should be thanking Dave Tippett and the Phoenix Coyotes for that. In April of 2011 Ebbett was a member of the Coyotes and coach Tippett said of him:
"He's been a player that hasn't found his niche in the NHL as maybe an offensive player or a top player," Tippett said. "I talked to him in training camp about finding the ability to be a role player, a niche player, a utility player, and that's the role that I saw him with our organization when we brought him in."
"He's not going to be a top-end scorer, I don't think, but he's a very intelligent player, a player that plays in a lot of those situations; it makes him very valuable," Tippett said.
And Ebbett said:
"I think that's the right word right there, versatile, and 'Tip' knows he can kind of stick me in any position," he said. "If a guy gets hurt, I can go up in the second line or third line. It's proven to be a good key for me."
Really, that is exactly what you want to hear from a guy wanting to make your team. And when he backs those words up with work ethic and results, like he is now giving the Canucks in a limited role (hello! 3 goals and 1 assist in 8 games this season)..well..he deserves a bottom 6 role in Vancouver, who obviously want more points from those kind of guys more so than goonery, I am not going to argue the toughness subject at this point. If Gillis and the Canucks are going to score a butt load of goals rather than rack up the PIM's....so be it. And right now...Ebbett...more than Mancari or Oreskovich.... is getting the job done, and the Canucks are winning.
So I tip my hat to Ebbett, who is only 28 years old and is already on his 5th NHL team. Not only is he an NHL success story...but he also knows his role, is a humble individual, and by god had a terrific night against the Coilers.
I love stories like this. It's hard to hate an underdog isn't it?