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Can Kyle Wellwood be a top 6 player in Vancouver?

New, comment released a video yesterday of an interview with Kyle Wellwood at training camp. It's good to see Wellwood in a Canucks uniform.

This interview has spawned a great conversation about Wellwood at the CDC forum. The original poster stated that he thought Wellwood lacked decisive passion in his interview and that he sounded timid and monotone.
I think Wellwood usually sounded monotone in his interviews with the Leafs. He throws out the cliches like anyone else.
But the lack of passion comment may have some substance to it. Especially when you consider what was said about him in the past.

Case #1:
A year ago, Wellwood was penciled in as Toronto's second-line centre.
But a recurring sports hernia injury held him back. After scoring 45 points as a rookie, Wellwood managed only 21 points last season and often found himself in former head coach Paul Maurice's doghouse for being out of shape. He recently broke his foot playing indoor soccer.
- Michael Traikos, National Post June 24, 2008.

Case #2:
Wellwood showed promise in the 2005-06 season with 45 points and was anointed the Leafs' No. 2 centre by then GM John Ferguson.
What followed were two injury-shortened seasons of 42 and 21 points, respectively, as Wellwood's fortunes followed that of the team's. There were also questions about his work habits in rehabilitating the sports hernia that troubled him, and when he did make it back on the roster, his conditioning came into question as well.
- David Shoalts, Globe and Mail, June 23, 2008.

Case #3:
Lack of conditioning may be the reason why Kyle Wellwood required abdominal surgery for the second time in nine months, surgery that could force the Toronto Maple Leafs centre to miss the first three weeks of the regular season.
After Wellwood missed 33 games with a sports hernia last season, head coach Paul Maurice instructed the third-year forward to hit the weights and get stronger this summer.
According to Wellwood's father, the 24-year-old took a different approach.
"He likes to take the time off to rest himself mentally," Rick Wellwood said in a telephone interview yesterday. "In the past that has worked for him. But maybe he's now going to have to do more in the summer."
Further in the article:
Despite working with Leafs strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol this summer, Wellwood seemed to accept that he would always be one of the smallest players on the ice.

"Am I one of the weaker guys? Yeah, I'm one of the weakest guys in the league, for sure," Wellwood said in July. "That's just my body type, but I'm definitely fit enough."
- Michael Traikos, National Post, Sept. 2007

Concerning isn't it? Wellwood's health will be in question probably right up to the time he gets hurt for the first time as a Canuck. Hopefully it won't be in training camp.
We'll see what the Canucks training staff can get out of Wellwood. Mike Gillis had said earlier that the Canucks is going to put a lot of effort into Wellwood. At least he is already on the ice getting ready and meeting the guys.
I am not going to judge Wellwood until he plays in game 1 of the regular season. I've seen him when he is motivated. He made it to the Leafs' top line and thrived with Sundin. (Then again, who doesn't thrive with Sundin?) That was in 2005-06. Wellwood's talent just blew me away.
Maybe playing in a new city on a new team will change Mr. Wellwood's tactics. If Wellwood finds himself playing in the Top 6 in Vancouver this season, he will definitely have earned it, as you know how Alain Vigneault works. And I really hope he can get there. Wellwood can be a point-per-game player, if he wants to. He has the skills.

Hat tip to Wetcoaster at CDC for finding all of the above Wellwood news links.

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