During last summers long off-season the Vancouver Canucks GM Dave Nonis made two signing that may fans have questioned. The first was the signing of defenseman Willie Mitchell to a 4 yr./$3.5 million deal and the second was Trevor Linden to a 1 yr./$600,000 deal. Fans and media alike have questioned these moves all season long and in some instances the critics have made solid arguements.
Tonight I had the pleasure of watching the Canucks take game four from the Stars and with that a 3 - 1 series lead, the reason. Shortly, after the Canucks captain Markus Naslund made a costly turn over in his own zone and the Stars buried the ensuing shot, Trevor Linden stepped on to the ice for an outstanding shift. Linden was throwing his weight around, never giving up on the puck and creating a turnover. The puck ended up on Bryan Smolinski stick who turned a riffled a shot on goal, the rebound, was there for Linden to take. Linden had a shift that showed me the reason for the contract, in fact, he showed me a reason for next seasons contract.
In the dying moments of the game, Willie Mitchell proved to me why he is worth his $3.5 million per. Stars sniper Mike Riberio (who if you ask me is as flakey as they come) puts a puck on net that some how manages to sneak through Luongo's pads and trickle towards the goal line. As the puck is making it last push, Mitchell slides in and knocks the puck away from the the goal line. Outstanding!
Not to overshadow yet another solid performance from Robert Luongo but these two players may have silenced the critics this evening.