The Vancouver Canucks will get a big, physical presence back in their lineup tonight as Antoine Roussel makes his season debut against the Ottawa Senators. The six-foot, 200 pounder has not played in the NHL since last March when he tore his ACL after a collision with the New York Rangers’ Brendan Lemieux. He even admitted to TSN that's he's a bit nervous about it.
“It’s been a while since the butterfly has kicked in. It’s awesome!”
It’s clear that not only are his teammates happy to have his brand of physical hockey back on the team, but they’re happy to have the person back in the dressing room as well. Quinn Hughes spoke highly of Roussel.
“He’s a really good guy. Took care of me when I got here. I’m happy for him to be back. I know he’s been itching, he’s been working really hard. And for an injury like that, it’s a big injury, he really used the time to get better at some other things I think and he really pushed himself. So I’m excited for him tonight and I think all the boys are.
“He can piss off opponents,” said Elias Pettersson. “And the type of game he plays, it’s tough to play against. He brings it every night.
According to head coach Travis Green, the Canucks have kept Roussel in the loop by having him around the team and attending team meetings for the last month or so. Not having played since last March means Roussel had to get use to some new teammates and some new mindsets before hitting the ice again. Green also spoke of what Roussel means to the team.
“Whenever you see a guy go through an injury of that magnitude and be out that long, as coaches, as teammates, you’re happy for a player to get back in. Never mind the fact of what he brings to our group when he’s playing. People don’t see what goes on behind the scenes emotionally, the ups and downs and the hard work that you have to put in. And I’m happy for him that he’s back.”
Roussel did a conditioning stint with the Utica Comets before returning to the NHL. He played two games, recording one assist and four PIM.