Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 2/8/14
We interrupt your Requiem for the Vancouver Canucks, written for missing strings, with a rare happy tune. It’s called The Other Guy and it’s about 30-year-old Pascal Pelletier. Bo Horvat had never heard of him, and the Canucks’ outstanding junior prospect unwittingly offered a potential nickname for Pelletier — and a title for Pelletier’s career in professional hockey — when he referred to his training-camp linemate as “the other guy” during a live radio interview. It’s not like Pelletier doesn’t know he’s the other guy. More than 3½ years after signing to play in Switzerland, where Pelletier knew his European adventure might well be the end of his biggest hockey dream, the winger is having his first week in the NHL since 2009. Pelletier would be having so much fun if only the Canucks were winning. Instead, they’re 0-2 since he arrived Tuesday from the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets, although that’s not Pelletier’s fault because Vancouver lost its previous four games without him. The Canucks were missing eight injured players in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins and were down seven NHLers when the Montreal Canadiens beat them 5-2 on Thursday. Vancouver carries its longest regulation-time losing streak in 15 years into today’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And while Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows still can’t score, Henrik Sedin can’t stay in the lineup, goalie Roberto Luongo can’t steal a game to stop the bleeding, and coach John Tortorella can’t figure out his team’s third-period narcolepsy, this is still an exciting week for several Canucks. In two games, former Canadiens’ extra Raphael Diaz has averaged 23½ minutes on the Vancouver defence, which has included for the last three games minor-league call-up Yann Sauve, whose career was jeopardized when the 22-year-old was run over by a car in 2010. Rookie defenceman Frankie Corrado, 20, has been playing significant minutes due to injuries, which have also fast-tracked rookie centre Kellan Lain’s development. But the player who probably most appreciates his NHL opportunity is the other guy, Pelletier, whose 10 seasons in professional hockey have included 11 teams in four leagues over two continents. During his decade as a pro, Pelletier has played 16 NHL games, three of them for the Canucks, including a one-and-done appearance back on Oct. 25. “Absolutely, I’m proud of it,” he said of his career. “To be a pro hockey player is not easy. It’s hard work — that’s all it is. There are so many skill guys around the world. But the bottom line, you’ve got to find a way to work. “I’m the type of guy who never had anything for free. Everything I’ve had, I had to work for it. That’s the mindset I came into training camp with, and the mindset I had when I went to Utica. If you help the team, then things will be better for you, too.” But since the Canucks lost their two games with Pelletier — and because it’s always the fourth-liners who pay the price for the first- and second-liners’ lack of achievement — he could be replaced in the lineup tonight by Lain. Whether or not he plays against the Maple Leafs, Pelletier finishes the pre-Olympics schedule on an NHL roster, earning a pro-rated share of his $550,000 US minimum salary. Few people expected that. Pelletier was born in Labrador City, N.L., but grew up in Quebec City. Undrafted out of the Quebec league, Pelletier signed an AHL contract in 2004 to play for the Minnesota Wild’s farm team in Houston. But he was dispatched to the East Coast League’s Louisiana IceGators — get it, IceGators? — before ever playing an AHL game. “That was the year of the lockout and the Wild sent Mikko Koivu and a couple of other first-round picks to Houston,” Pelletier said. “It was a really tough year to start in the minors.” The Boston Bruins signed Pelletier as a free agent in 2006 and after 2½ years with their Providence farm team, the 5-11 forward finally made his NHL debut on Jan. 17, 2008 at age 24. He played six games for the Bruins and, after a trade, seven more the next season for the Chicago Blackhawks. Pelletier signed as a free agent with Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009, then was traded to the St. Louis Blues. But he didn’t make it back to the NHL. After his sixth season in the minors, Pelletier signed in 2010 with Langnau of the Swiss League. He said his girlfriend, Alix Tissot, had just finished university in Quebec and the couple were looking for new experiences when they moved to Switzerland. “I was tired of my career going up and down, so we decided to make a move,” he said. “I was ready for another challenge.” Pelletier compiled 50 goals and 109 points in 136 games over three seasons for Langnau. He and Alix wanted to move back closer to home for the birth of their first child, so on July 9 he signed a two-way contract with the Canucks that pays him $125,000 to play in the AHL. His son was born in Quebec City on Sept. 23, although mother and baby are in Utica now.
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