by Ron Spence
Jason Krog signed a one year one-way $700,000 deal with the Vancouver Canucks, leaving an offer to play in Russia’s Continental Hockey League (KHL).
“Before I signed any deal in Russia, my agent put together an out-clause and went to the NHLPA with it to make sure it was fine,” Krog said. “I wasn’t worried at all because I thought we took the proper steps.”
“I can’t worry about [making the Canucks],” Krog said. “It’s out of my control. All I can worry about is coming in good shape and trying to prove myself. I’ll focus on making Vancouver and see what happens.”
The Canucks were hoping to get a player who would either stick in the Big Tent, or play well in Manitoba. The signing helped them from a depth perspective with Moose centres Brad Moran and Colby Genoway opting for contracts in Europe, and Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund lost to free agency.
In 74 games with the Moose, Krog scored 30 goals, along with 56 assists and was a plus 25.
So far in the AHL post season, he has scored 4 goals, along with 7 assists in 10 games.
JASON KROG TALKS ABOUT HIS CAREER
Krog won the Hobey Baker Award winner in 1998 – 1999 but never lasted in the NHL with the Islanders, Rangers, Ducks or Thrashers.
Krog failed to make the Atlanta Thrashers at the start of the 2007-08 and was sent to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He scored 36 goals and 112 points, winning the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the league’s top point scorer, the Willie Marshall Award as the top goal scorer and the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s MVP.
He helped the Wolves to win a divisional title and the Calder Cup.
Leading the post-season in scoring, Krog was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as last year’s playoff MVP.
Jason failed to stick with this year’s Canucks and has spent most of the season in Winnipeg.
HOW IMPORTANT HAS JASON KROG BEEN TO THIS YEAR’S MANITOBA MOOSE?
Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote on April 30th:
“There have been a few personnel moves in Moose history that stand out above the rest and the off-season signing of centre Jason Krog has moved its way into that queue. Depending on what happens during the next couple of months, it could jump to the front of the line.
Krog was in the thick of things again Sunday as he led the Moose to a 3-2 win over the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs before an announced crowd of 9,681 folks at the MTS Centre.The 33-year-old had a goal and an assist to help the Moose to their league-leading 49th win, and it’s no coincidence that his arrival in Winnipeg has resulted in the club’s best-ever regular-season performance.
With his two points on Sunday, Krog now has 29 goals and 54 assists for 83 points and the second-highest season total in franchise history, behind Bill Bowler’s 93 in the 1998-99 campaign of the old IHL.
For our money, Krog is not Manitoba’s MVP, with that honour going to goalie Cory Schneider, but the slick centre is surely the most effective offensive player the club has employed since Bowler.
“He’s the best offensive player in the league, that’s for sure. Jason has the experience and he’s been doing it his whole career,” veteran defenceman Nolan Baumgartner stated. “He makes plays. We kind of hit on this the other day — he’s like Michael Jordan. He does give pucks away sometimes, but like Jordan says, you don’t score on 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take. Krogger kind of has that mentality. He knows he can make the plays, so he tries them and more often than not he’s successful.”
Krog was in on two of Manitoba’s three goals Sunday and his feed to Jason Jaffray on the winner stood out for Baumgartner.
“He can change a game. You get the puck in his hands and he makes things happen. We count a lot on him and he knows it,” Baumgartner said. “That last goal, most players just take that puck and throw it up off the boards. The puck is rolling and Krogger has the patience to get it flat and the vision to find Jaffray moving up the ice and the ability to hit him with the perfect pass.”
Revisionists will recall Randy Carlyle swapping Russ Romaniuk for defenceman Brian Chapman as the best trade in franchise history, and last spring’s move to bring Baumgartner back into the fold was also a shrewd manoeuvre.
Moose GM Craig Heisinger put together his list of wants last spring and Krog was near the top, but the reigning AHL MVP and scoring champion made the decision to sign with a club in Russia.
Events unfolded and the Moose were given a last-minute crack at Krog, and with very little hesitation chose to swallow a $700,000 price tag and brought arguably the best player available at the AHL level to Winnipeg.
That’s a lot of money for an AHL player, but Krog has not disappointed statistically or in any manner.
Baumgartner believes Krog’s abilities make this Moose group out of the ordinary.
“He makes us different than other Moose teams that I’ve been on. I’ve never played with a guy like that. Look at the scoring — all of a sudden he’s in the top five,” Baumgartner said. “He certainly makes us better.”
The move, however, was not made to pile up regular-season accolades. The only benefits that really count will be those reaped in the post-season — something Krog fully understands
“It’s something that’s not said but it’s expected. They expect it and I expect it,” Krog deadpanned, speaking in his usual soft voice that was barely audible over the pumping stereo in a vibrant Moose dressing room.
“Everyone in here wants to win and hopefully I can help out and make that happen.”
After a slowish start to the season, Krog has piled up the points while his team has rolled hot in the second half. A Stanley Cup finalist with the Anaheim Ducks in 2003, Krog says he loves the second season.
“The playoffs, the game is that much faster and intense. I like pressure and I like intensity and hopefully I can boost my level a bit higher once the playoffs begin,” he offered.
Krog doesn’t lead out loud. He’s quiet and fun-loving. Like a peewee star who loves to score, win and collect his pop and fries after the game.
“He doesn’t play just to play. He cares. He might look like he’s carefree, but deep down he cares about the guys in the room and winning,” Baumgartner said. “Getting him, it shows the commitment of the organization and management. Bringing him in, it shows they want to win.”