Sven Baertschi’s phone rang just after midnight Friday morning, moments after he had crawled into bed.
He’s glad he answered it.
It was the Canucks, telling him to hop on a flight five hours later to join the team in Winnipeg.
He had trouble falling asleep after that.
“I maybe got an hour and a half of rest,” laughed Baertschi after practice Friday. “I’ll hopefully get a little more tonight.”
That may be easier said than done.
It looks as if Baertschi will draw into the Canucks line-up Saturday against the Jets; he skated alongside Bo Horvat and Jannik Hanse, in place of Ronalds Kenins, Friday.
Baertschi has 66 NHL games under his belt, so it’s not big league debut nerves he’ll be trying to sleep through, but there’s pressure that comes with making a good first impression with a new team.
Getting to know new teammates is hard in itself.
“It’s tough coming in like this,” said Chris Higgins, whose stall is next to Baertschi’s in the Canucks dressing room.
“Being the new guy is tiring, not only are you trying to get up to speed with everything going on with the team, but you’re trying to get to know the guys as well.”
Higgins said introductions are usually short and sweet because overwhelming the newcomer isn’t going to help him.
“It takes time to get comfortable with everyone and everything and with your place on the team. That doesn’t happen for most guys until they feel like they’re contributing on the ice.”
The 22-year-old had no problem with that in Utica scoring seven goals with six assists in 12 games after being acquired by Vancouver.
A fellow Canucks rookie is taking Baertschi under his wing to help ensure a smooth transition – and hopefully similar numbers – for the newbie.
“I’ll be like his role model,” laughed Horvat, who is sharing a room with Baertschi. “I’ll definitely get to know him a bit and make sure he’s ready to play. It can be tough, so I’ll be there for him.”
There’s bound to be a prank or two pulled on Baertschi, presumably by veterans, to help settle his nerves, but on this day the newcomer was privy to watching one pulled on Eddie Lack.
Someone stole one of Lack’s dress shoes, so he marched around the dressing room in search of it after most had left the rink. Then Alex Burrows appeared out of nowhere with the black shoe, claiming it had been placed under his suit jacket.
The two hugged it out and Lack was able to brave the cold and walk back to the hotel.
Is that what’s in store for Baertschi? Maybe worse?
Sleep tight, Sven!
Baertschi, Baertschi, Baertschi!
Sven said he’s heard every pronunciation and read every spelling of his last name possible. And that I’m allowed a few free passes because let’s be honest, I’m bound to muck it up. The word SCORES! is tricky when the adrenaline is pumping. I’ll start practicing now for SCORES! BAERTSCHI!
Derek Jory (@NoJoryous)