VANCOUVER – Some of the best words a young pro trying to establish himself as a NHL regular can hear are “you can move out of the team hotel.”
Defenceman Ryan Stanton got that message on the Vancouver Canucks’ recent seven-game road trip and with the help of his mom found some new more permanent digs in the Yaletown area. He slept — like a baby, he said — in his own bed for the first time after Monday night’s 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals.
“My mom got in Saturday and helped me find a place,” Stanton said after Tuesday’s Canucks’ practice at UBC. “It’s nice to have a place and be settled in and not living in a hotel.”
He may, on occasion, miss room service, but the hotel life was getting old for Stanton.
“It’s funny, I was talking to my mom and telling her I have been in a hotel for probably four of the last six months of my life because after the season last year I got called up by Chicago and was in a hotel for about two months there. Then I then went home for the summer for two months and I have been in hotels since the beginning of September starting in Chicago and then here.”
Stanton, who was picked up on waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks just before the start of the regular season, has been one of the nice surprises this season for the 9-4-1 Canucks.
He has taken the vacant No. 6 spot on defence and run with it, while forming an effective partnership with veteran Kevin Bieksa.
Stanton has played in all 14 games this season, averaging better than 14 minutes a night. He’s been solid in his own end and has also chipped in offensively, with a goal and four assists.
Bieksa had no idea who Stanton was when the Canucks claimed him, but has been mightily impressed with the 24-year-old’s poise.
“I didn’t know anything about him,” Bieksa said, then joking: “I didn’t know his first name until today. I was just calling him Stants.
“But he has been awesome for us and I have gotten to see it first-hand playing with him. He is a very easy guy to play with, he takes care of his responsibilities, he has been physical, he moves the puck well and he has been a great teammate, too. He has been a real pleasant surprise.”
Having lived what Stanton is going through when he broke into the league, Bieksa has been trying to mentor his new defensive partner.
“I usually like to talk to him before games, kind of give him a little prep on maybe a couple key guys or guys who have tendencies on the other team. But he has such an even-keel personality I don’t really want to mess with him too much because it seems like he has such a good calm demeanor before games. He is not rattled, he’s not too excited, so I don’t really mess with him much. It seems like he’s got it figured out and it’s working for him.”
Stanton said Bieksa has been a calming influence and credits him for helping make the adjustment to NHL life a relatively smooth one. Stanton, who had just one NHL game on his resume before joining Vancouver, said Bieksa was quick to offer encouragement Monday night after a bad read by Stanton contributed to a Mikhail Grabovski goal early in the third period that gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead.
“I made a mistake on the pinch and he was positive after Grabovski scored that goal,” Stanton said. “He was like, ‘don’t worry about it, we’ll get it back next shift here’ and sure enough he gives me a good pass D to D, I take a shot and (Ryan) Kesler bangs it in. He’s definitely a positive guy and has got little tips for me in different areas of the game on and off the ice. He has been real helpful.”
Getting to the NHL the hard way — he was not drafted after four years with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors — has made the last month even more special for Stanton, who hails from St. Albert, Alta. But he said his family is enjoying it at least as much as he is.
“My mom came down for the home-opener and then all my family came to the game in Calgary, my dad, mom, sister, brother, some uncles. And my mom is back in town so she’ll get to see the next two games this week and my grandpa, who lives here, has been to a bunch of games.
“I think it is pretty special, just hearing about my grandpa cutting out newspaper articles and stuff. I think they are pretty proud of me. I am happy for them, all the sacrifices they have made along the way, the early-morning practices, the cold rinks, everything. They are all so happy I made it here and they are proud of me.”
ICE CHIPS: Stanton’s younger brother Ty, who is also a defenceman, plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers and is a teammate of first-round Canuck pick Hunter Shinkaruk. . .The Canucks announced Tuesday that Ryan Johnson has been hired as a player development consultant. Johnson played 120 of his 701 NHL games with the Canucks in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. He will work with Canucks prospects, focusing on forwards in the system.