by Ron Spence
I watched Eddie prowling the Canucks’ blue line for 6 1/2 seasons, and thought that he was Bobby Orr on one shift, and Rory Fitzpatrick on another. His play ranged from brilliant to terrible, and I just watched him – my stomach in a knot, and my mouth open.
He was the Rainman.
A half a decade ago, I was sitting in the media room – in the bowels of GM Place – talking to an executive in the Stars’ hierarchy. He told me that every team in the league was talking about Ed Jovonovski – they all coveted him.
I explained to him that you don’t know a player from watching his highlight tapes. You have to watch him play game in and game out.
The Phoenix Coyotes liked Ed and signed him to the big contract, making him the NHL’s 25th highest paid player at $6.5 million per year – with two years remaining on his contract after this season.
This is Ed’s third season in Arizona, and he played well his first two years in the desert, having a career-high 51 points (12-39) last season.
This year, however, he has started off poorly. In his first 9 games, he had neither a goal nor an assist.
His coach was also frustrated and paired him with his former partner.
“We feel that maybe Eddie can take off, knowing [Zbynek] Michalek’s so defensive-minded,” Wayne Gretzky said. “That may get Eddie more involved in the play offensively.”
“I know he’s got good skills,” Michalek added. “He proved last year how good and valuable he is to the team, and we need him to get going. I think he’s playing well, just wasn’t getting bounces. I think it’s a matter of time, and I hope this helps him get there.”
Jovo got a bounce a couple of days later, and broke a 2-2 tie against Calgary, with a low slapshot from the blueline.
This didn’t impress all of the Yotes’ faithful, however.
Following the Phoenix win in Calgary, Gintonio’s readers wrote:
James1234: “If Jovo wouldn’t have played tonight the score would have been Yotes 3 – Flames 1. Other than the goal he was awful. He cost us 2 goals on 2 awful giveaways! PUT HIM ON THE BENCH OR USE HIM AS A FORWARD!”
nativedevil49 responded: “James….sounds like the usual night for Jovo…2 turnovers and weak play are pretty much his game and have been for the last 2 years…Jovo was a monster with the Canucks but has been less effective here as he seems to get worse every game…he’s a liability for sure…he will not get moved easily with his inflated salary and it’s probably too late this year….at least they won….”
Hockey247 didn’t agree: “I love how you pathetic people love to criticize jovo… Yet when he scores you cheer for him and when he is one of the few players that goes out in the community you show up to get autographs.. You people make me sick.. Last season he might give the puck up but he ended up creating offensive chances to make up for it.. This season he said it himself I’m off to a slow start…I have an idea why dont all you bandwagon jumping fans go over to the SUNS section because we all know how pathetic their fans are.”
yotesfan25 agreed with the first two: “JOVO is garbage. His turnovers kill this team and demoralize our goaltenders. The only thing going for him last year was his offensive production – now without any offensive production and still the continous turnovers in our own end makes him a huge liability on the ice. We need people in there who can move the puck responsibly.
On another note the guys played a gritty game last night.”
A fifth writer, Yotelover wrote: “I can’t believe anyone is sticking up for Jovo. He is so old NHL! Too slow to play defense and an absolute plus for any opposing forward. Anyone can catch him and he’s a terrible passer. The only thing in his favor is he can shoot the puck and he’s big enough to play power forward. I think James has a great Idea on how to make him earn his keep. It won’t be the first time a defenseman turned winger.”
These comments echo what many of us heard, and read, during Ed’s days in Vancouver.
The Canucks – under Dave Nonis – were wise to let Jovo and his $6.5 million fly south. They have both Willie Mitchell and Mattias Ohlund – at $3.5 million each – for roughly the same salary.
The Canucks have been slagged throughout the years, but they sometimes make the right decisions.