The one thing Vancouver Canucks fans have learned about head coach Alain Vigneault is that when he forms an opinion on a player, that opinion is hard to budge.
He never seemed to take to defenceman Keith Ballard last year, while journeyman centre Alexandre Bolduc, who is now with the Phoenix Coyotes, would seemingly get chance after chance.
Asked about the composition of his fourth line Sunday, Vigneault said he was keeping “a real open mind,” while seizing up the contenders.
Eventually, when Ryan Kesler (hip) and Manny Malhotra (eye) are healthy, Maxim Lapierre is expected to centre the fourth unit, but his wingers are hardly cast in stone. The Canucks imported a bunch of fourth-line types this summer, including Byron Bitz, Mike Duco, Todd Fedoruk, Mark Mancari but also have holdovers such as Victor Oreskovich and Aaron Volpatti.
In all, Vigneault said he had about six or seven candidates for the fourth line, but that number could swell based on who wins jobs on the second and third lines, and who’s leftover looking for work.