To hear Chris Tanev tell it, he fully expected to remain in Vancouver as he approached unrestricted free agency after the 2019–20 season.
The former Vancouver Canucks defenceman appeared on Friday’s edition of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast with Elliotte Friedman and detailed some of the process that led to him leaving B.C. to sign a four-year deal with the rival Calgary Flames.
Now a pending UFA in Calgary, there has been plenty of talk in Vancouver about a potential reunion with Tanev, who played for the Canucks from 2010 to 2020. Now 33, Tanev remains a top-four stalwart with the Flames.
Here’s an excerpt from Tanev’s conversation with Friedman:
Elliotte Friedman: The summer you became a free agent, did you ever envision a day that you wouldn’t be in Vancouver anymore?
Chris Tanev: I was curious if you were gonna ask me this. I did not, no. I thought I was for sure gonna be back in Van. It was right after the bubble, obviously a lot of COVID stuff, and so I was just waiting and waiting for a contract, waiting, and they’d tell Wade [Arnott], my agent, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming.’ I mean, I think they were trying to make some other moves, and I was on the backburner, which was fine. It’s part of the business of hockey. But I definitely didn’t envision not being in Vancouver. […] When I didn’t have an offer going into free agency, it was sort of like, oh baby, it’s going to change. I was sort of upset by it all.
Tanev added that the Canucks made him an offer a couple hours into free agency, but he had already decided by then not to go back and to instead sign with a team that made him feel wanted. Instead of returning to the Canucks on what would’ve been a two-year deal, he signed with Calgary for four years at a $4.5 million AAV.
The veteran right-handed defenceman also spoke at length about his time in Vancouver, including the realities of Henrik Sedin’s final years with the club.
The former captain — and Daniel’s twin — remained highly productive until his retirement in 2018, but as Tanev noted, he put up with significant off-ice challenges to remain at his best.
“The twins did a lot of stuff that people don’t know about,” Tanev said. “As Hank got older his back wasn’t great. He literally couldn’t walk sometimes and he’s out during the game being the best player on the ice. Like no one knows about it.”
The Flames are firmly in selling mode, even after defeating the Canucks by a 5–2 score at the Saddledome on Thursday night. With Tanev in the final year of his contract and the Canucks reportedly looking to add a right-shot defender, could a reunion be in the cards?
We’ll just have to wait and see. The Canucks will return to action on Saturday night to take on the Seattle Kraken at Rogers Arena.