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Will You Applaud Kesler When He Returns To Vancouver?

Let's just get this out of the way right now.

In happier times...
In happier times...
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

On Thursday, November 20th, the Anaheim Ducks will roll through Rogers Arena in the second meeting between the two Pacific Division rivals. Of course this game is a tad different because it will be the first we see our former favorite son Ryan Kesler don the Disney-inspired Ducks uni and flop all around our ice as a visitor for a change.

Now, see? Right there. I gave in to the urge to bury the guy because he demanded an exit out of Vancouver and effectively handcuffed Canucks GM Jim Benning in the process by giving him only two teams - Anaheim or Chicago - he'd waive his NTC for (actually make that three teams, but sadly Benning can't roll back the cruel hands of time to move Kesler to the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings. Damn you science).

All things being equal, we should leave it at that. Kesler gets his wish, we get Bonino, Sbisa and a Kesler-esque rookie in Jared McCann (who, psst, may be the steal of the deal anyway) and everyone goes on with life.

Of course not.

Playing in a beautiful city such as Vancouver is something he’ll never forget. Answering the daily questions from an ever-present media in a hockey-obsessed town is something he won’t miss.

"I get they’ve got to sell papers in that city," Kesler said. "Negative stories sell more than positive stories. Saying that, that never bothered me. Obviously you get irritated with them sometimes. But the media was fine. I liked most of them."

One big issue with Kesler was the perception that he wasn’t the ideal guy to be around when the Canucks went south last season. The reported trade demand that came out of the Sochi Olympics didn’t help.

Can he be moody during a losing streak? Sure. Is he a bad teammate? Hardly, he insists.

"I don’t buy that I’m not a good teammate," he said. "You can ask any of my teammates. I know when I was traded, if I was such a bad teammate, 95 percent of the guys wouldn’t have texted me (afterward).

"That’s the problem with Vancouver. The media makes up a lot of stories that aren’t true. To be honest, I was really sick of certain media guys throwing people under the bus.

"No matter how much my old teammates say it doesn’t bother them. It affects them. It does in that city."

A quick aside: who's the 5% who didn't text him after the trade? My money is on Sestito because he probably doesn't know how to use a phone.

All of this is nothing new: the Vancouver mainstream media has a long rich history of facepalming itself - an evolving tome that was updated as recently as last week - to the delight of the rest of the league. Sadly this is just part of the deal which, honestly, is why Luongo's twitter feed when he was in the media crosshairs was such a brilliant response.

No team in any sport is immune to the fan favorite leaving. Kesler isn't the first Canuck to capture our hearts and then bolt out the door; a casual glance up to the (curiously empty) rafters in Rogers will reveal retired numbers for Pavel Bure and Markus Naslund, another pair who left or were traded out of Vancouver when - not long before their departures - it seemed ludicrous to suggest such a possibility existed.

So what's the reaction going to be when Kesler returns? I'd like to think it'll be mostly positive, putting the sour taste of his exit aside and remembering that rookie call up from the Manitoba Moose who scored his first goal against Calgary (assisted by our current team president mind you), joining the new core of the team around 2008 alongside Luongo and Mitchell, his breakthrough in 2009, his drive for the Selke and his beastmode during the Cup run. I'd like to think that, but know others will find it extremely hard - all fond memories aside - to get past the stank he and agent Overhardt left in their wake this summer.

No matter what side of the fence you fall on with Kesler, just remember this: the Ducks still have Corey Perry and he deserves every ounce of scorn you can muster. Always.