Former Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (left) gives Everett’s Gabe Goncalves advice during a Thursday practice session at the Angel of the Winds Arena. Bieksa was practicing with the Silverips to get ready to play for Team Canada. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Former Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (left) gives Everett’s Gabe Goncalves advice during a Thursday practice session at the Angel of the Winds Arena. Bieksa was practicing with the Silverips to get ready to play for Team Canada. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Former NHL player trains with Silvertips

Kevin Bieksa is preparing to play in the Spengler Cup for Team Canada.

EVERETT — When Kevin Bieksa, a 13-year NHL veteran, decided to accept an invite to play for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, in late December, he needed a rink to train on. But Bieksa, who resides in Southern California, didn’t have many local options, especially during the hockey season.

He decided to explore some possibilities in the Pacific Northwest in hopes of possibly finding a junior team to skate with. While perusing the rosters and schedules of Western Hockey League teams in the United States, Bieksa stumbled upon two of his former teammates at Bowling Green State University — Everett Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams and assistant coach Louis Mass.

“I thought, ‘Oh, this would just be perfect to skate with them for a week,’” Bieska, a 37-year-old defenseman, said.

Bieksa, sporting a helmet and pants with the Anaheim Ducks’ logo on them, has skated with the Silvertips this week, taking part in drills and participating in extra conditioning once the players leave the ice.

“It’s good to have him up and teach our guys a bit,” Williams said. “We (Williams and Mass) haven’t seen him in a few years, so it’s nice to reminisce about our college days a little bit.”

Williams and Mass overlapped with Bieksa for one season (2000-01) at Bowling Green; the Silvertips coaches were seniors and Bieksa was a freshman.

After the conclusion of his college career, Bieksa went on to play 13 seasons in the NHL — 10 with the Vancouver Canucks and three with the Ducks.

Bieksa and Williams lost touch over the years, Bieksa said, but his agent linked up with Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson, who provided instant approval for Bieksa’s plan to skate with the Silvertips.

“I think the exact words that came out of (Davidson’s) mouth were, ‘If Kevin Bieksa wants to skate with the Everett Silvertips, I’m not even asking the coaches. He’s skating with them,’” Bieksa said.

Bieksa wasn’t the only unusual face at practice this week. Dwayne Blais, a skills coach and consultant for the Washington Capitals, helped out with practice Monday. Silvertips center Riley Sutter is a signed Capitals prospect.

Bieksa isn’t in town to coach, but he took it upon himself to provide insight to Everett’s players throughout the week.

“Obviously it works both ways,” Bieksa said. “I’m here to get back into skating shape and game shape and practice with the team… but also I’m here to help these guys out.

“I’ve always prided myself on learning from other people and not thinking that I have it all figured out. (I’m) always watching other guys and things that make other guys successful and adapt them into my game. I’m giving tips to some of these kids out here, but I’m not telling them what to do. … I love helping guys out because I’ve seen so much over the years and I’m grateful to pass it on.”

Bieksa played in the NHL last season with the Ducks, but his contract expired and he didn’t latch on with another team. His availability provided an opportunity of a lifetime for the Silvertips players, many of whom grew up watching Bieksa play for the Canucks.

“Oh, It’s unbelievable,” said Roman Seeley, the Silvertips’ youngest defenseman. “(I watched him play in) the NHL when I was younger and now I’m skating alongside him. He’s teaching a lot that he knows, and it’s really cool experience. I’m making the most of it.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

WIAA sets new deadline for spring sports championships

The organization says if school returns by May 4 it will still hold “some sort of culminating event.”

The Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. smiles from beneath a pile of teammates who mobbed him after he scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees on Oct. 8, 1995, at the Kingdome. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
POLL RESULTS: 1995 is the season for positive M’s memories

More than two-thirds of voters said their best Mariners memories come from Seattle’s first playoff run.

Former Washington football coach Jim Lambright dies at 77

He spent nearly four decades with the Husky program as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

Mariners’ Gonzales on no opening day: ‘It’s definitely weird’

The Seattle starter says he’s encouraged by MLB’s coronavirus deal, but hopes pitchers are protected.

UW coach Lake still hopeful for football in fall

‘I think we are going to have a season and I think it’s going to be a memorable one,’ the new coach says.

UW’s Stewart declares for NBA draft

The freshman sensation led the Huskies in scoring, rebounding and blocks in his only season at UW.

Seahawks bring back Mayowa to help pass rush

A member of Seattle’s 2013 Super Bowl team, the 28-year-old had seven sacks last season for the Raiders.

Wimbledon canceled for 1st time since WWII

The virus forces the cancellation of the tennis event for the first time for any reason other than war.

Seahawks cut ties with safety Thompson, tight end Dickson

The moves create an additional $5 million in cap space as Seattle searches for pass-rush help.

Most Read