March 30, 2010
After Vancouver Canucks defenseman Shane O'Brien(notes) arrived late and then was absent from practice on Monday, Coach Alain Vigneault tersely refused to answer any questions about it, other than to acknowledge that O'Brien was going to be a scratch for the Canucks' game against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.
Vigneault spoke about it today, and in the process revealed that the discipline handed down to the physical D-man goes beyond a night in the press box.
"Obviously, there is more to this than just yesterday's incident," Vigneault said. "So we've got a plan for Shane O'Brien. He will not be practising or be with the team until Sunday. His situation then will be re-evaluated."
Vigneault said the only way O'Brien would rejoin the team any earlier than Sunday, when the Canucks play host to the Minnesota Wild, would be in the case of an injury. "Barring there are no injuries to any of the players, he will not be joining us on this trip and his situation with the team will be re-evaluated on Sunday."
Whoa. Vigneault said "it's not a suspension," which is indeed a heavy term that could have NHLPA and locker room ramifications. Instead, he told the paper that "we have got a plan for him, a special program," which is really ominous in a Cylon/Scientologist way.
O'Brien's had a rough year with the Canucks, having been scratched for seven games in November and then three more in March while Andrew Alberts(notes) was given a look in his role as defensive defenseman. So O'Brien must be feeling peachy having given Albert an even longer audition this week.
So why was O'Brien late to practice? That electronic truancy officer known as Twitter has a theory from someone that claims to have been at the Roxy with O'Brien on Sunday night (via the Crazy Canucks).
If that scuttlebutt is true, let that be a lesson to all of you young players out there: Always set two alarm clocks after a night of being a 26-year-old professional hockey player. Or else you'll find yourself in a special program, which is never a good thing.