Wednesday

Lubomir Vaic

A tiny but exciting prospect, Lubomir Vaic was a wizardly puck handler and showed some good heart and desire. He impressed many Canucks fans in that training camp. He reminded some Canucks fans of Pavel Bure, and others of another small center that had starred in Vancouver for years named Cliff Ronning.

Vaic didn't make the team, nor should have he. He was a 20 year old rookie who was in North America for the first time, leaving his native Slovakia. Vaic was sent to the AHL's Syracuse Crunch to learn the North American game and lifestyle.

But Vaic did make a good impression on the Canucks brain trust. Only a month after he was demoted, he was recalled by the Canucks when left wing Gino Odjick had to leave the team for family reasons.

"Lubie" started his first NHL game on the 4th line, but soon was moved up to the second line with Trevor Linden and Alexander Mogilny. Playing against the Penguins on November 1st, 1997. Vaic scored his first NHL goal on an assist from Scotty Walker at the 8:07 mark of the first period. Two minutes and 33 seconds later, he assisted on a Trevor Linden goal. Despite Vaic's two point effort, the Canucks lost the game 7-6 in over time.

Despite an impressive 1st game, Vaic was pretty quiet for the rest of his stay, which lasted a total of only 5 games. Vaic was sent back to Syracuse to continue his training when Gino Odjick returned to the team soon after.

Vaic had a less than impressive season in the AHL however. He failed to consistently show any of the signs of brilliance he displayed in the NHL. He only had 12 goals and 27 points. Part of the reason was he was homesick.

Vaic left North America after that one season. The Canucks also let his contract expire and no other team was interested in picking him up. Why? Good question, because he looked like a good prospect. Obviously his size was his biggest drawback - he was too small and too easy to knock off the puck and neutralize. He also lacked speed, which for a small player is necessary to have in order to survive.

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