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Canucks Player Autopsy: Matt Bartowski

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Bart skates so hard he can knock the game's saviour off his stride

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Born: June 4, 1988 (Just missed Z's best peep's birth month award)

Born: Pittsburgh, PA, USA (Hmmm...)

Drafted: 2008 round 7 #190 overall by Florida Panthers

Height and Weight: 6'1" 196 lbs (185 cm / 89 kg)

Position: D

Shoots: L

Nicknames: Bart

Trader J stole acquired Free Agent Matt Bartowski from the Booins who were looking to unload screw Vancouver choose another direction.  At the time, the signing highlighted JB's keen judge of  promising hockey talent  - Matt promised to add speed and south side Boston grit to Vancouver's beleaguered blueline. However, as the season unfolded unravelled, Matt's defensive role was to provide something more. Distraction. On a limited budget.

Distraction from JB's huge dough party of 2014, the signing of pizza-slinging Sbisa. Slammed by fans and cap geeks, JB took a lot of vented spleen for the size, width and length of Luca's thick crust contract. While he could be strong physically, Sbisa's mental approach to the game made most fans freaking mental. When Sbisa was on the ice, many goals against had fresh pizza delivery assistance. That's an acquired-at-great-cost taste.

Anyhow, that was so 2014. In 2015, with a low annual payment of $1.75M (an amount some can make in 25 years of real work), JB could deflect criticism from his big budget pizzeria indulgence to this young 18 year old twenty-something-seven kid with great raw potential.

Elite Prospects said this about Matt:

A defensive defenseman that works hard for his ice time. Throws his weight around and, while not the prettiest skater, is mobile at a professional level. Calm and poised with the puck, but not usually relied upon to provide a consistent level of offense. His shot could use some work. Decision making stands out as a respectable part of his game.

That last sentence is filled with the kind of stuff the internet is filled with. There's a word for it, but it contains lots of syllables. This is a hockey blog, we prefer our simple words to have simply far less than five syllables. Suffice it to say, don't trust everything anything you read on the internet.

When I watched Bart in the pre and early season, I was impressed by his skating and puck moving abilities. Of course, I was dreaming that JB had discovered what every other GM had missed. Paul Coffey's love child.

And of course, the reality was that Bart was an average defenseman forced to play above his pay grade during the endless injury party from to November to April.

What'd he do?

Let's look at his numbers:

Buy This Jersey

Sure, there's a small numeric discrepancy for those wanting to buy a genuine Bart jersey, but did I mention his physical play? You can see that even Habs fans appreciate his Canadiens crushing powers. (Could be an American thing.)

Oh...those numbers....

Career Stats from HockeyDB

Ok..so his +/- doesn't look that good. Ben Hutton's -21 is worse tho. Sure, Ben is a rookie and that's expected. Well...Bart is a rookie too. Sorta - plus or minus a few seasons. Mainly plus. Still as many some few have said, Bart just needs a few adjustments and his game will be fine.

What'd we like?

His Mom!!!

After that special night in Denver last February, Beth Bartowski has lots (more) fans than even her son.

Her outspoken, gregarious personality was a big hit with the usually sober, reserved NM game thread commenters. (Could be a Canadian thing.)

And we liked that first goal of the season, so full of crafty potential:

Two goals in one game! He's like an offensive defenseman goal factory! He scored over twice as many goals this season than Sbisa while playing slightly less than twice as many games! What's not to like?

Uh..that other end of the ice that...

What'd we hate?

Like many on the team, he stepped deep into the depths of a big tankful of poo, the stinking poo of poor play. While he got burned pretty bad on many nights in the slumping portion of the season, his -4 in the Caps 4-1 win in January was foreshadowing for something more egregious than fans had seen in years. Or months. Weeks. Ok, days.

Anyhow, it was March 31st, in just another mean-nothing game (except to the Tanknoscenti ) and Bart had one of those bad 2D video game moments -  the game freezes. Uh..no it's worse, the brain freezes and the game continues.

The gnashing of arm chair analysis in the NM game thread didn't reach panzerotti levels of disgust. However, all were dumbstruck that a professional hockey player with years of training and discipline could be hypnotized just by his check skating past him to the front of the net for the unmolested tap in. From 196 lbs of mean D to passive spectator on ice in an instant of puck watching.

Hockey is a game of mistakes. The more mistakes a player and a team make, the more they lose. Weird game.

Despite the Ovi-controller moment, the Nucks won the game. No harm. But, all that good will that Bart's mom had created for her and her son seemed like so last month.

If one reads between the threads on NM, there's not a whole lot of Bart love any more. If there ever was.

So now what?

The one year show-me adventure is over. The tough question we at NM face, vicariously, through the mysterious and dense motives of our beloved current GM, is...Keep Bart or send him home to mom?

Some NMaristas would like this scene to play outside their twisted imaginations.

But, NHL hockey is all about family-friendly violence with role-model players spitting on TV, so...could be more like:

I don't pretend to comprehend the complex considerations that JB must wrangle with while not getting a plateful of meat 'n tators in the executive lounge, however, wouldn't be surprised if...

No matter what happens during this long dry boring (EXCEPT FOR WINNING THE DRAFT LOTTERY!!!) off season, we need to remember that Bart is family. Part of the Canucks family. Sure he was the adopted bastard child of a sworn enemy team, but he was in the family. For one measly season.

It's not like we can just kick him out onto the streets to find his his own way.  Ok, it's exactly like that, but this is a family-oriented violent sport, so we need to remember the importance of family values during this time of uncertain off season trades, signings and mass rosterbation.

Whether Bart did or didn't do it for you this season, stay cool and...