Vancouver Canucks fans have had to endure some heartfelt, teary-eyed goodbyes over the past few seasons. The Sedin twins retired. Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen got traded. The tears were even flowing when Erik Gudbranson was dealt in February, but I digress.
Now, Canucks nation has to come to terms with the departure of Alex Biega, after the journeyman defenceman was traded to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday for 25-year-old David Pope.
Emotions aside, it isn’t a huge surprise to see Biega dealt after he was put on waivers less than a week ago. While David Pope seems like a long-shot to amount to anything other than a middling AHL forward, It became clear that Biega was no longer wanted by the organization after younger defenceman such as Guillaume Brisebois and Brogan Rafferty became depth options on the right side.
Still, it brings to an end the tenure of a journeyman who battled against all odds to suit up for 179 NHL games over five seasons for the Canucks. The former captain of Harvard’s hockey team will now try to make his mark on the Red Wings, after doing everything he could to become a full-time NHLer last season.
Biega : "I always wore my heart on my sleeve, I was the #7 defenseman the past 5 years in Vancouver but I embraced my role, took pride in that role." #Canucks— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) October 7, 2019
This one is for you, Bulldog Biega
Oh, Bulldog Biega.
Your feisty nature and tenacity was a breath of fresh air on a Canucks defence that lacked substance, grit or skill.
While moments to celebrate in Canuck-land were few and far between, you had the city getting “Drunk on Biega.”
Despite being the seventh defenceman, there were moments where you looked like the best skater not just on the blue line, but on the team.
Your bull rushes up the ice while you tried to create scoring chances on your own showed us you cared. The same couldn’t be said for a number of other Canucks defenceman on most nights.
Even though you spent dozens of games in the press box, you proved your worth you were inserted into the line-up. You know how much Canucks head coach Travis Green was a sucker for hard work, so what did you do? You aimed to be the hardest-working player on the ice every time you were out there.
You showed us that perseverance can pay off. Guys in your position often don’t stick with one team in the NHL for five seasons, but that’s what you did.
You persevered after scoring your first NHL goal, then waiting 131 games and three years to bury your second one.
Most importantly, you realized that hockey is primarily for our entertainment, and you tried to put on a show every night. Whether it was an end-to-end rush or a big hit, you were engaged in every game you played.
Heck, you even spent the end of the 2018-19 season trying to prove your worth as a consistent-third pair defenceman. You had me convinced, as I went to bat for you fulfilling that role in an article last season...
Oh, Alex Biega, the only person you might be happy that you’re gone from this team is Tanner Pearson.
For the rest of us in Canucks nation however, thanks for providing a glimmer of hope of the journeyman, thanks for showing us that you cared, when it looked like no other defenceman on the Canucks did (aside from Troy Stecher perhaps), and thanks for showing us that defenceman could be fun to watch.
Canucks nation hopes you find success in Detroit, and that you continue to keep that Bulldog mentality alive and well in the Motor City.