Canucks’ Coach Provides Huge Update on Starter’s Return Timeline

Just a few days after the initial placement of Vancouver Canucks starting goalie Thatcher Demko on Long Term Injury Reserve, head coach Rick Tocchet provided an update on the status of the netminder and his rehab progress on Tuesday, April 2.

According to beat reporter Jeff Paterson of Rink Wide, Tocchet said the Canucks are “pleased with Demko’s progression,” adding that the goalie is “on schedule or possibly even a little ahead of schedule.”

Tocchet says #Canucks are pleased with Demko’s progression. On schedule or possibly even a little ahead of schedule. Hasn’t been skating yet, but sounds like he’s working out off ice with training staff. Wouldn’t reveal target date for him to get back on the ice

— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) April 1, 2024

Tocchet shared the information ahead of the Canucks’ loss 6-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, April 2.

“(Demko) hasn’t been skating yet, but sounds like he’s working out off ice with training staff,” Paterson said. The beat reporter, however, made clear that head coach Tocchet “wouldn’t reveal (the) target date for [Demko] to get back on the ice.”

Thatcher Demko on the ice after morning skate here in Las Vegas to work with goalie coach Ian Clark. Excellent step for Demko, who is on LTIR until Saturday. Casey DeSmith starts tonight for 8th time in 9 games. #AnditsDeSmithnotSmith

— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) April 2, 2024

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SportsNet’s Iain MacIntyre, who was present at practice ahead of the matchup at Las Vegas on the morning of April 2, confirmed the presence of Demko on the ice “to work with goalie coach Ian Clark.”

Thatcher Demko On Schedule to Make His Comeback

Demko’s road to recovery has been (and still is) a long one. He suffered his knee injury initially on March 9 during a game against the Winnipeg Jets. Then, on March 27 and nearly two or three full weeks after he went down injured, the Canucks officially announced Demko’s placement on LTIR.

The key to the roster move, however, was that it was retroactive to the date of the initial injury on March 9. With that, the Canucks saved them from having to wait more than necessary in the event of a quick recovery.

 

As documented by Heavy at the time of the announcement, “According to the NHL rulebook, players who are moved to the LTIR during the season must miss at least 10 games.” By making a retroactive move, Demko could return as soon as April 6 when the Canucks will face the Los Angeles Kings on the road.

Touched down in the desert. 🛬 pic.twitter.com/pGkvilmCcQ

— X – Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) April 2, 2024

Demko made the trip to Nevada on April 1 along with the rest of his teammates as later confirmed by the coach in the pregame press conference, as well as by reporters talking about his practice with the goalie coach of the Canucks.

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Could Demko Still Contend for the Vezina Trophy Award?

Before getting injured, Demko was having a terrific season in the net of the Canucks. Through February and a few days into March, when he suffered the aforementioned injury, it’s not a stretch to say Demko was in the race to win the Vezina Trophy award at the end of the regular season.

Demko left Vancouver’s ice for its shelves having a 34-13-2 record in 49 games played through March 9. Once he returns, he will do so boasting a .916 save percentage and having allowed a solid 2.47 goals-against average.

For context, according to data tracked by MoneyPuck, only 12 other netminders have appeared in at least 49 games this year. On top of that, and among those in that group, Demko has the 2nd-best SV% and the 3rd-best GAA.

Vancouver faces Arizona on the road on Wednesday, April 3, with a trip to Los Angeles three days after. Demko is ineligible to return in the former but he’ll have been cleared by the NHL to appear in Saturday’s contest.

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This article was originally published on Heavy.com

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