VANCOUVER — Loui Eriksson said he didn’t mean to disrespect Travis Green with offseason comments he and the Vancouver Canucks coach “don’t really get along 100 percent.”
The 34-year-old forward, who has three years left on a six-year contract with an average annual value of $6 million, spoke to media here Wednesday for the first time since telling Swedish website hockeysverige.se in May that he doesn’t “get the same trust from Green” as previous coaches and expressed concerns about his role and lack of offensive opportunity.
“I think it got overblown a little bit, it’s nothing to disrespect the coach,” Eriksson said. “All I did was being honest, and me and Travis have talked about it and I think we are on the same page.”
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Eriksson had 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in 82 games with the Boston Bruins in 2015-16 but has 76 points (32 goals, 44 assists) in 196 games since signing with the Canucks on July 1, 2016. He was a healthy scratch in March for the first time in his NHL career and last season had 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 81 games.
“I have a lot of respect for Travis and think he’s a good coach, it was just a question I got from the Swedish newspaper, they asked about my production in Sweden, it’s been so good and I had a record there, and I was trying to be honest with my answer and it hasn’t been the same in Vancouver,” Eriksson said. “It got overblown.”
Eriksson has seen his offensive role diminish since arriving in Vancouver, with more penalty killing responsibilities and checking-line matchups, and fewer opportunities on the top power play and top-two forward lines. After averaging 2:28 per game on the power play his first season in Vancouver, Eriksson played 1:16 last season, 13th among their forwards.
With the Canucks adding veteran forwards J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland, it would seem there is less of an opportunity for Eriksson to play a top-six role this season.
“It’s a little bit about confidence too; if you feel good, you play better,” he said. “It depends what role you have on the team too, and where you play and that’s what I was trying to explain. When I played in top minutes and power play you get more chances to produce and I have always been a player that plays a good defensive two-way game and if I don’t produce, I can help the team in different ways, to play good defense and be a shutdown winger.”
Eriksson has 580 points (244 goals, 336 assists) in 921 games with the Dallas Stars, Bruins and Canucks.
“I don’t know really what’s going on behind the scenes, but it hasn’t been working out the way it should have been in Vancouver for me,” Eriksson said.