SHANE O’BRIEN: FUELING HIS OWN FIRE

by Ron Spence

Is anyone surprised by Shane O’Brien’s recent comments?

I mean, the kid is totally undisciplined.

There’s a fight at the end of Vancouver’s last game against San Jose and Shane is right in the middle of it.

“When they do that to our skilled guys [the Sedins], a little switch goes off and I have to get over there and help him,” said O’Brien, who intervened with Willie Mitchell and threw a punch at Clowe. “There are rules and I respect the decision, but if it happens again I’ll probably do the same thing … It’s part of the job you like to do, but coming down the stretch it’s all about being in control. It’s at the point where we need points. We’ve proved we can fight, but we have to show we can play in control — and me more than anybody.”

Then, there’s a fracas at a Canucks’ practice and O’Brien is challenging Mitchell to a fight.

He takes undisciplined penalties and is second in the league with 132 penalty minutes (in 50 games) – often hooking and slashing.

And then, he often spouts off on the way to the penalty box.

Symptomatic of his lack of self control is his battle with the lbs. It was a major problem in Tampa Bay, and he arrived in Vancouver significantly overweight.

He’s also has a history of speaking out of turn.

After his trade from Anaheim to Tampa Bay he slagged his former coach.

“No disrespect to the way Randy Carlyle coaches, that’s just not me,” O’Brien told Whicker.”I never really felt like I was doing anything, just chipping it out … In Anaheim, for me and my partner, it was chip it out, put it off the glass. They didn’t really want us jumping in at all.”

Mark Whicker, of The Orange County Register, wrote that “[Obrien] was not supposed to go below the top of the offensive zone circles [in Anaheim]. Coach Randy Carlyle didn’t even like him to skate with the puck.”

His lack of discipline got O’Brien in trouble with Torts in Tampa Bay.

“…Shane O’Brien is a healthy scratch tonight for the first time this season,” Damian Cristodero wrote last April, “that after he was kept off the ice Friday by coach John Tortorella to, as the coach put it, have his own ‘private workout.’ Torts wouldn’t address anything beyond that and O’Brien today decided it is in his best interests not to say anything.”

And a week later.

“Why was O’Brien benched the final five games of the season?” Cristodero continued. “In coach John Tortorella’s eyes, he was making the same mistakes over and over. He also lost a small bit of control over his weight, came in one day a couple pounds over his prescribed weight. Both things combined got him benched. O’Brien said the air is clear after Monday’s meetings, but he won’t forget the embarrassment of being benched.

‘Fuel for the fire,’ he said.”

O’Brien fuelled the fire in Vancouver last week.

“He [Gillis] just said fight more and be more physical … I’m not happy about it. I’m at the point in my career where I need to play to improve, and if they don’t think I’m worth playing to see if I can develop — and they just want me to be a fighter — maybe it’s not the right situation.”

O’Brien did recognize, however, that he should be keeping quiet.

“I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to sit here and say all the right things that I’m just happy to be a part of the team. I want to improve as a player and stay in the league as long as I can. You can’t do that from the press box.”

Shane apologized, but didn’t really take responsibility for his comments – he blamed it on something called frustration.

“Mike Gillis never told me I had to fight. He was just talking to me about playing physical. Maybe I took it the wrong way. As a frustrated player, you want to be in the lineup. No one likes losing and it’s just a tough situation. I didn’t help it by doing what I did and apologize to Mike Gillis and the Vancouver organization and fans. It was just a lot of frustration.”

What O’Brien doesn’t understand is the frustration that his lack of discipline has caused – the Canucks in general, and coach V in particular.

When your pk has gone south, you don’t need someone taking penalties every game.

O’Brien admitted that he had made a mistake when he took on Minny’s Derek Boogard.

He also made a mistake when he challenged Mike Gillis – for a number of reasons.

Now is not the time to be talking about teams condoning fighting – it’s becoming politically incorrect.

Also, the Canucks are mired in legal battles over the Steve Moore incident and whether the team had told Bertuzzi to attack the Colorado player.

But most important, Gillis is new to the GM game and was challenged by one of his players – a marginal one at that.

Gillis had to act, or he would have looked weak – to his players and the league.

So he re-acquired Nathan McIvor, who will take O’Brien’s place.

Should Shane O’Brien be traded before the deadline, he will be with his 4th team in less than two years.

That should tell him something.

Hopefully it will add “fuel for the fire” so that he can “play in control.”

Shane O’Brien has never denied that he’s a fighter. He’s freely talked about it.

“I had to fight to stay on the team,” O’Brien told Mark Whicker, “I was a boy fighting men, basically. It seemed like it was happening every night. I took some lumps, no doubt about it, but I learned a lot, too.

“And, yeah, I got a reputation pretty quick. The crowds got on me. Milwaukee was brutal. They had signs: ‘I thought an Irishman could fight.’ They were all over me.”

“If a guy comes into my corner,” he told the Vancouver media when he arrived in B.C., “I’m going to make it as uncomfortable as I can for him within the rules. Obviously throughout my career, I’ve been known to get in there and mix it up. I have no problem doing that. I want to be a tough player to play against every night.”

“I then gradually improved as a player,” he told Ben Kuzma on January 25, “and I’d like to think that I can play and fighting is something I can do. I don’t have to do it anymore, but I don’t mind doing it.”

Then, less than a week later he commented on his meeting with Mike Gillis.

As well as being undisciplined, Shane O’Brien is also inconsistent.

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