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Alexandre Grenier may be the answer to a question we've stopped asking

... proving that the best way to find something is to quit looking for it. Although that's also the worst way.
Alexandre Grenier
Alexandre Grenier

We've spent much of this week talking about the foot injury sustained by Chris Higgins, and the spot his recovery time opens up for one of the Canucks' young wingers. But it's worth noting that this isn't the only spot left unfilled. Higher up the lineup, the Canucks have resumed the decade-long hunt for their white whale: the third Sedin.

It seemed like a two-horse race coming into training camp: would it be Radim Vrbata, whose snipey ways led to many a twin-assisted lit lamp last season, or Alex Burrows, whose game, forged in the fires of Mount Doom (as a member the ECHL's Mount Doom Hobbitstompers), seems to fit the Sedins like two gloves?

But Jim Benning doesn't seem to be thinking in binary. When asked about the winger battle by TSN's Bob McKenzie, he acknowledged his two primary options, then suggested there might be a dark horse candidate.

"We know that Alex is a good fit with them. Vrbata played with them the first part of last year and he was really good with them, but at some point we decided that we wanted to spread our skill amongst our top two lines so we moved Radim to the second line and he got that line going.

"I've talked to Willie about it," Benning continued. "We're going to go into the preseason and we're going to try like three different players and decide what the best fit is." 

Wait, three different players? 

It got the wheels in Thomas Drance's head spinning. Jannik Hansen, maybe? Drance was one of the loudest proponents of Jannik Hansen with the Sedins -- a movement that has since converted our very own Daniel Wagner -- so this was, understandably, his first though. But then he tossed off this notion. From Canucks Army:

Perhaps Benning has another forward in mind when he invokes a third possible option to play with the twins. It's hard to figure out precisely who that forward might be though - Alexandre Grenier, maybe? - if it's not Hansen.  

And then, on Thursday, we got word of what the Canucks' lines would look like Friday night versus Calgary:

I don't like Drance. I don't like how often he's right. 

Alexandre Grenier will get a look with the Sedins on Friday, and one can't help but think that, as far as shots go, this is a pretty frickin' big one. A point or two tonight would go a long, long way towards solidifying an opening night spot. 

It's funny that more isn't being made of this, but I understand why: for one thing, the Sedins skated last game with Ronalds Kenins, which never seemed like a real possibility. And even we've made it clear that no one should read much into the preseason. But it's more than that: our mental image of the ideal Sedin linemate has changed.

Time was, when we pictured the Sedin soulmate, we pictured a tall, strapping, rugged power forward type, with more true grit than Rooster Cogburn, enough footspeed to keep up with the twins (which isn't all that much, to be honest), some finishing ability, and a right-handed shot for quicker release. Steve Bernier comes to mind (which is a rarely spoken sentence in this market, I imagine). Ryan Kesler, even.

At some point, though, rather than picturing this guy, we started picturing Alex Burrows. It's only understandable. After all, he was having the most success there. Suddenly it mattered very little if the winger was tough, or gritty, or even right-handed -- he just had to do the things Burrows does. (Go get the pucks! Keep the cyclie alive. Go to the dirty areas! Die to self! Wash six times in the river Jordan!) And Burrows was good at those things, because they are his things.

Still, let's be honest. He may be the best fit for the Sedins we've seen so far, but I don't know that anyone's ever been fully convinced he's the best fit. He's just been the best fit available. It's why, every single year, the coaching staff tries something else first. Like a reluctant monogamist, it's very difficult to shake the notion there's something better out there.

Alex Grenier could be it. He's got everything we used to want. Size? Grenier is 6'4", 210 lbs, so, check. (And speaking of checks, he's been known to deliver those, which is nice.) Finishing ability? Sure. Grenier has two 17-goal seasons in the AHL. He's also got youth on his side. Grenier is a full 11 years younger than Burrows, which could help to young up the Sedins a little. I don't want to overhype this tryout, but this could finally be the answer to the question we've, admittedly, stopped asking.

Mind you, we've seen all this before: the winger who matches the description, and should, on paper, thrive with the twins. It's never worked out. It's hard to believe it will now. Still, I was impressed with Grenier after his first preseason game. He has some real skill. It's entirely possible that, alongside two guys who can turn Byron Bitz, Wade Brookbank and Brad Lukewich into scorers, albeit only for a night or two, Grenier can thrive. 

And if he doesn't, well, there's always Alex Burrows.