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Wednesday March 31, 2010 10:13 pm

O’Brien benched by Vigneault

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL,

Shane O'BrienBefore last night’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault announced that defenseman Shane O’Brien will not be playing or practicing with the Canucks until Sunday at the earliest. Some thought the reason for his benching was because he showed up late to practice on Monday, but Vigneault says the issues extend further back. He’s being given some time to think about his attitude and behavior in recent weeks, then the Canucks will reevaluate the situation and determine if O’Brien is fit for the lineup.

Apparently O’Brien is going to be put on a “special” program, where he will skate by himself with skills coach Glenn Carnegie assisting. Some are speculating that O’Brien’s conditioning has come into question since the Olympics. It has been reported on Canadian radio The Fan 590 that O’Brien has been asked to shed seven to eight pounds that have been hindering his performance. After having a week off during the Olympic break, O’Brien found a way to let things slide and his playing time has been affected since.

O’Brien is a staple on the Canucks’ blue line. He doesn’t contribute much in the way of points, having only two goals and six assists in 63 games this season, but what he lacks in offense, he more than makes up for in defense. His plus-minus is at plus-16 this year, which puts him 34th in the league. His ability to slow down rushes and get in front of pucks is among the best in the NHL. His services will be sorely missed while he’s healthily scratched from Vigneault’s lineup.

It’s hard not to wonder what kind of stuff O’Brien has got himself into over the last month. Conditioning and self-discipline are extremely important at this level, and O’Brien seems to have fallen off a little and now finds himself in the hockey equivalent of the doghouse. He has until Sunday to straighten things out, but you have to wonder what will happen to him if he can’t get back into Vigneault’s good books. It’s not looking good.



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