Chris Tanev is one of the best defensive defencemen in the entire NHL. When Tanev is on the ice, the Canucks are a significantly better team. He even managed to temporarily turn Ben Hutton into a top-pairing, shutdown defenceman this past season.
The one issue with Tanev is that he is so rarely healthy.
Tanev was limited to just 42 games in the 2017-18 season, his lowest total since becoming a full-time NHLer. Sure, the Canucks are better with him on the ice, but that’s not much help when he’s only on the ice for half the season. His list of injuries this season approached Sami Salo levels.
It started with a thumb injury in November that cost him seven games. He missed another seven games in December with a groin injury. In his second game back from that injury he took a puck to the face, knocking out six-and-a-half teeth, but only costing him two games.
In February, he fractured his leg blocking a shot and missed over a month. He returned to the lineup in mid-March, played four games, then sprained his knee, which finally ended his season.
In total, Tanev missed 40 games with five significant injuries. It’s not like he re-aggravated the same injury multiple times; he injured his thumb, groin, mouth, leg, and knee.
The most games Tanev has played in a season is 70. If the Canucks have any hope of making the playoffs next season, they need Tanev to stay healthy.
Tanev was on Sportsnet 650’s morning show on Wednesday, and he talked about ways he can potentially prevent injuries in the future.
“I think there’s multiple angles to look at it and the team and I have discussed different ways to try and prevent those injuries,” said Tanev, “and we’re going to go about those accordingly this summer. But, I mean, once in a while things happen and there’s nothing really you can do.”
“We’ve looked at equipment and addressing certain areas where you’re more likely to get hurt,” he continued. “It should come into play next season for the start of the year. Obviously there’s certain areas where you may get hit, and you’re never going to have as much protection as you should, but there’s certain areas where we definitely can beef up and get some more protection in there.
“We’re looking at different scenarios and then you’ve got to test everything to see how it feels and then go from there.”
Hopefully the Canucks and Tanev can figure this out and come up with a plan to keep Tanev safer and healthier on the ice, but maybe they could use a little help. To that end, here are eight ideas to keep Tanev healthy next season.
1 | Adjust his equipment for shot-blocking
This is what Tanev was getting at on the radio. Tanev is one of the premiere shot-blockers in the NHL, effectively getting in shooting lanes to prevent dangerous scoring chances. Unfortunately, it’s also led to several injuries.
His thumb injury came from blocking a shot, so if there’s a way to increase the protection provided by his gloves, that’s something they could try. He already wears added protection on his skates, so there’s nothing that can be added there.
The shin pads, however, are worth considering. Tanev’s fractured leg came off a Victor Hedman slap shot that Tanev said, “went right through the side of my shin pad and broke my leg.”
Tanev evidently needs something tougher and thicker than your typical hockey shin pad, something that perhaps wraps more around the leg to provide added protection on the sides. Now, most professional-level shin pads are already going to provide a ton of protection, so maybe Tanev needs a custom job using kevlar or some sort of space-age material.
2 | Play in the offensive zone a little more often
This might sound crazy, but it might help Tanev out if he didn’t have to play so much in the defensive zone. Tanev won’t get his bones broken blocking slap shots if those shots never happen.
The Canucks had the seventh-worst corsi percentage in the league this past season at 47.72%. Whatever you may think of corsi, that number means the puck spent a lot more time in the Canucks’ end of the ice than that of their opponents. And that means more time spent grinding along the boards where an awkward collision could result in a twisted ankle. It means more chances of getting hurt blocking a shot. And it means higher odds of a puck randomly deflecting up into your face.
While it’s easier said than done, the Canucks need to figure out a way to spend a lot more time in the offensive zone.
3 | Bubble wrap
Just wrap Tanev up head-to-toe in bubble wrap. Lots of layers too, to the point that he looks more like the Michelin Man than a hockey player.
Sure, it might not help against packs of wild dogs, but those are relatively rare on NHL ice surfaces.
4 | Junk science
I recommend starting with actual science, but when all else fails, go the Tom Brady route and try everything that pseudoscience has to offer.
Insane amounts of water per day that could actually kill you from over-hydration? Worth a shot.
An “alkaline” diet that has no proven health benefits aside from the general healthiness of the food itself? Absolutely.
A certified Tom Brady body coach to help improve his “muscle pliability,” a term that no one uses other than Brady and his fraudulent non-doctor friend Alex Guerrero? Sure, it can’t hurt. I mean, it can’t hurt anymore than Tanev already gets hurt.
I mean, Tom Brady is going to play football into his 40’s so he has to be doing something right, even if Ichiro Suzuki has no clue who he is.
5 | Steal Wolverine’s healing factor
If pseudoscience doesn’t work, then you have to turn to comic-book science. Stealing Wolverine’s healing factor through the Weapon X program worked for Deadpool (NSFW). Sort of.
Strictly speaking, this wouldn’t actually prevent injuries, but it would speed up the healing process significantly. As an added bonus, Weapon X is a Canadian program, so it should be covered by healthcare.
6 | Infuse his bones with adamantium
If stealing Wolverine’s healing factor is a no-go, then stealing another page from Wolverine might: infuse Tanev’s bones with adamantium. Since adamantium is unbreakable, broken bones will no longer be a concern.
Oh sure, adamantium is a fictional metal, but there are alternatives. The super-unreliable Daily Mail reported back in 2015 that scientists had created an alloy that might be “real-life adamantium.” Since the report came from the Daily Mail, it’s almost certainly not true or, at the very least, highly exaggerated, but there has to be some sort of super-strong, nigh-unbreakable metal that can be injected into Tanev’s bone marrow without giving him blood poisoning, right?
7 | An amulet of natural armor +5
If real science, psuedoscience, and fictional science can't save the day, maybe the world of high fantasy magic can help.
An amulet of natural armor +5 provides a significant boost to armor class that stacks with other sources of armor, like those provided by traditional hockey equipment. That additional protection may provide an edge in injury prevention.
The cost, however, is significant: 50,000 gold pieces. That's a whole lot of dungeon crawls before you can afford that.
8 | Just say no to crackers
Learn a lesson from Brent Sopel. No crackers.