Cruel twist to NHL callups

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET

HOUSTON -- Josh Green won't ever get tired of being called up to the National Hockey League, but you'd have to think he's getting a little sick of airplane travel.

Green suited up for his second NHL game of the season with the Vancouver Canucks last night at GM Place, a tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Following that he would hop on a plane headed for Calgary as the Canucks prepare for a two-game battle with the Flames.

The Canucks and Flames meet again on Monday, but chances are good that Green and goalie Rob McVicar will have tickets to Winnipeg tomorrow before heading back for the return engagement.

If you're one of those sitting at home scratching your head and wondering what the heck is going on, you're not alone.

There's a simple reason for the series of transactions, which began at the beginning of this Manitoba Moose road trip -- modern-day economics.

The parent Canucks are perilously close to the ceiling of the salary cap under the new collective bargaining agreement and they can't really afford to have extra guys on the roster for non-game days, at least not at this early stage of the campaign.

BETTER WAY

So it is the players themselves who suffer, with the physical toll of travel plus the potential mental strain of wondering if there can't be a better way to get around this.

To recap, both Green and McVicar were officially recalled by the Canucks on Wednesday. McVicar flew directly from Winnipeg to Vancouver, while Green made the trek to San Antonio, Texas, before finding out Matt Cooke had fractured his jaw during practice and was placed on injured reserve. Green was subsequently re-routed to Vancouver.

From there, McVicar dressed as Alex Auld's backup in a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, while Green suited up as a forward.

On Thursday, McVicar and Green were demoted to the Moose so that their salaries wouldn't count against the cap. But they didn't meet the Moose in Houston and return to American Hockey League action because they remained on stand-by.

However, this was no simple paper transaction, McVicar and Green had to physically travel to Winnipeg for roughly a 24-hour period.

Yesterday morning, Green and McVicar were on a plane again, headed back to Vancouver for another game.

They didn't arrive in time for the morning skate, but were both in uniform again.

While it's true that every player wants to be up in the NHL, the circumstances aren't exactly ideal.

So who is to blame for this situation?

It's tough to point the finger at one culprit.

Everybody knew it would take some time to iron out the small print in the new CBA and nobody expected the transition to be seamless.

Canucks general manager Dave Nonis did a great job retaining the core of his team this past summer, while adding some inexpensive valuable parts.

When the issue of being close to the cap was raised on several occasions during the summer, Nonis said he would deal with it.

Now he's doing the best he can with the situation.

So are McVicar and Green.

The good news, as Moose head coach Alain Vigneault mentioned on Thursday, is that the players are racking up a few air miles. The bad news is that they're likely to pile up a few more in the near future before an alternate solution is found.


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