It has been heavily speculated ever since former Canuck, Manny Malhotra officially announced his retirement from the NHL, that he would be hired by the Vancouver Canucks organization in some capacity. The fans have been in a frenzy ever since hoping that it would come to fruition. Today the team finally made it official by announcing Malhotra has been hired as a development coach. Welcome home, Manny!
For most fans, it was a welcome homecoming. Not many players know the art of a winning faceoffs quite like Manny. 991 NHL games of experience to his name along with his knack for winning face-offs, his utter perseverance and absolute determination every step of that journey will go a long way in him teaching and coaching young players in the organization.
I can still remember that fateful game in March of 2011 when a puck went askew and hit Manny Malhotra in the eye. The silence that followed was deafening as the team, entire arena and everyone watching from home held their collective breath bracing for the worst. It was shocking, disheartening and terrifying. In one seemingly innocent moment, Manny’s playing career was put on hold indefinitely. It’s an injury that you hope to never witness or experience.
Fans, media, players and Manny all wondered if he’d lose his sight or if he’d ever be able to play the game that he loved again. He did indeed make a comeback late in the 2011 playoffs and again the following year before being shutdown by the Canucks management due to the potential risk. It’s hard to argue when they had his best interests and health at heart, but you can also see the other side that Manny was not ready to say good-bye to this game he loves. He did continue to play for a few more seasons in Carolina, Montreal and within the Columbus Blue Jackets organization before announcing his retirement this fall.
Manny Malhotra was and is a consummate professional on and off the ice. His story is one of inspiration for any player looking to carve a path in the NHL. Every time he was on the ice, he gave everything he had for every second of every shift he played. He always had his teammates backs, he knew his role and he thrived in it. Now in his newest role, he has the opportunity to help others find that same niche and thrive when they hit the ice and as they look to cement their place in the NHL.
Here’s to wherever this new chapter leads, and on behalf of all Vancouver Canucks fans, welcome back to the team, Manny! You were missed!
Can you feel it? The season is just around the corner, 38 days and counting. Hockey is coming.
As always, until next time, nuck said.