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Kevin Bieksa
KBieksa.jpg
Born June 16, 1981 (1981-06-16) (age 37)
Grimsby, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight 206 lb (93 kg; 14 st 10 lb)
Position Defence
Shoots Right
NHL team
Former teams
Anaheim Ducks
Vancouver Canucks
National team Flag of Canada.svg Canada
NHL Draft 151st overall, 2001
Vancouver Canucks
Playing career 2004–present

Kevin Bieska (born Kevin Francesco Bieksa on June 16, 1981) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman who is currently a defenceman for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League (NHL).

After a three-year career in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OPJHL) with the Burlington Cougars, he was awarded a scholarship to Bowling Green State University.

Kevin was a one-time All-CCHA honourable mention during his four-year tenure with the Falcons of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).

He graduated from the university with a bachelor's degree in finance and was a two-time CCHA All-Academic honourable mention in 2003 and 2004.

Following his freshman year, Kevin was selected 151st overall by the Canucks in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and joined their minor league affiliate, the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League (AHL) upon graduating.

He earned AHL All-Rookie Team honours in his first and only full season with the Moose, before joining the Canucks as a regular member in 2005–06.

Kevin is known as a physical and aggressive defenceman.

Playing CareerEdit

MinorEdit

Kevin grew up in Grimsby playing minor hockey for the local Jr. Kings program of the OMHA's Niagara District BB-E league before graduating to the Stoney Creek Warriors of the OMHA South Central AAA League.

He played part of the 1997–98 season with the Stoney Creek Warriors of the OHA Golden Horseshoe Jr.B and the Jr.A Burlington Cougars before being drafted by Don Cherry and the Mississauga IceDogs in the 19th round of the 1998 OHL Draft. He wasn't signed by the Ice Dogs and pursued an NCAA scholarship three years later.

Junior and UniversityEdit

Kevin began a three-year Junior A career with the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) in 1997–98. He recorded 37 points over 48 games in his second season with the Cougars and 33 points in his third.

He was drafted into the major junior Ontario Hockey League (OHL) by the Mississauga IceDogs, but opted to play college hockey in the NCAA instead.

In the 2000–01 season, he joined the Bowling Green Falcons of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).

After a 13-point regular season in 35 games as a freshman, Kevin helped the Falcons become the lowest-seeded team in League history (ninth) to advance to the CCHA semifinals. He scored his team's lone goal in a 2–1 defeat to Michigan State University before the Falcons were eliminated.

In the 2001 off-season, Kevin was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks with the 151st pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He returned to Bowling Green to complete his four-year college career after being drafted, recording 15 points in the 2001–02 season.

He was named an alternate captain to D'Arcy McConvey prior to his third season and subsequently improved to a college career-high eight goals and 25 points in 2002–03.

Kevin was chosen by Falcons fans as the recipient of the W. G. Grinder's Grinder Award and was a co-recipient of the team's Jim Ruehl Award as the best defensive player with Jordan Sigalet. He was also given his first of two consecutive honourable mentions as a CCHA All-Academic.

While playing in his fourth and final college season in 2003–04, Kevin scored seven goals and 22 points in 38 games while leading his team in shots on goal He earned an honourable mention to the All-CCHA Team and received the Falcons' Howard Brown Award as the coaches' selection for best player.

Manitoba MooseEdit

Following Kevin's college career, he signed an amateur tryout contract with the Manitoba Moose, the Canucks' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, on March 24, 2004.

During his tryout, he was involved in an off-ice incident with teammate Fedor Fedorov. According to then-Canucks General Manager Brian Burke, several Moose players had gone out together when Kevin accidentally spilled Fedorov's beer.

While Kevin apologized and offered to buy him another beer, Fedorov challenged him to a fight outside of the establishment, resulting in Kevin knocking him down with one punch. In recounting the story, Burke has recalled wanting to sign him the next day upon hearing of the incident.

Kevin went on to appear in four games with the Moose to close out the 2003–04 season, notching two assists. He remained with the Moose in 2004–05 and scored his first professional goal on the powerplay in a 3–2 shootout victory against the Cleveland Barons on November 11, 2004.

Kevin finished his first full professional season with 12 goals and 39 points in 80 games. He was chosen as the AHL Rookie of the Month for March after recording two goals, 11 points and a +11 rating in 13 games and was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team after his first full professional season.

Kevin's 39 points broke Kirill Koltsov's team mark of 32 for points by a defenceman, set the previous season. Canucks Assistant General Manager Steve Tambellini lauded him for his quick adjustment and development from college hockey to the AHL.

During the campaign, Kevin was given the nickname "Juice" by Moose goaltender Alex Auld, a moniker that continued into his NHL career with the Canucks. He described the origin of the nickname as a "funny story that's been escalated to the point where it's bigger than it should be" and was based around him "drinking juice."

Kevin entered the Canucks' 2005–06 training camp as a projected competitor to be the team's sixth defenceman, but three days into prospects camp, he suffered a high ankle sprain after colliding into the boards with another defenceman. He was reassigned to the Moose on October 3, 2005 and missed the first month and a half of the 2005–06 season.

While sidelined, Kevin was named an alternate captain to Mike Keane by Moose Head Coach Alain Vigneault on October 29, 2005. He made his return to the lineup on November 11, 2005 against the Rochester Americans.

In his second game back, he notched two goals and an assist on November 15 against the Grand Rapids Griffins in a 6–5 shootout loss.[16]

Vancouver CanucksEdit

With 16 points through 20 games with the Moose, Kevin was called up by the Canucks and played his first NHL game on December 19, 2005, against the Los Angeles Kings. He was called for a roughing penalty ten seconds into his first shift and played 10 minutes and 45 seconds total in a 4–3 shootout loss to the Kings.

The following month, he notched his first NHL point, an assist to Markus Naslund in a 3–2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on January 5, 2006.

He remained with the Canucks until near the end of the season, as he was reassigned to the Moose on April 8, 2006 to make room for the return of Ed Jovanovski from injury. He finished the season with six assists in 39 games for the Canucks, averaging 16 minutes of ice-time per game.

On August 17, 2006, Kevin was re-signed by the Canucks to a two-year, one-way, $1.05 million contract.

Early in the 2006–07 season, he scored his first NHL goal on October 13, 2006 against Vesa Toskala in a loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Kevin rapidly developed into one of the Canucks' top blueliners and finished the season leading all team defencemen with 30 assists, 42 points and 134 penalty minutes while also tallying a career-high 12 goals. Paired with stay-at-home defenceman Willie Mitchell, he was also regularly given a shutdown role against opposing teams' top forwards.

At the end of his first full NHL season, he was awarded the Canucks' Babe Pratt Trophy as best defenceman and Fred J. Hume Award as the unsung hero. He went pointless over nine games in his first Stanley Cup playoffs in 2007.

Kevin suffered from two stomach oblique muscle tears during Game 6 of the opening round against the Dallas Stars, sidelining him for five games before the Canucks were eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round.

On July 9, 2007, the Canucks acknowledged Kevin's breakout season and signed him to a three-year, $11.25 million contract extension. The first year of the deal (in the 2008–09 season) saw him make $4.25 million while the remaining two years were set at $3.5 million. He had one more season left on his original contract at $550,000.

A month into the 2007–08 season, Kevin suffered from a severe calf laceration in a game against the Nashville Predators on November 1, 2007.

After battling with forward Vernon Fiddler against the boards, Fiddler's skate slashed him across the back of his right calf. He was helped to the bench, leaving a trail of blood behind him on the ice.

Although originally expected to miss two months, he ended up missing more than half the season with 47 games. Before returning to the lineup, he was assigned to the Moose for a one-game conditioning stint. Bieksa managed 12 points in 34 games with a team-worst –11 rating.

Kevin continued rehabilitating his calf in the off-season after the Canucks failed to qualify for the playoffs, admitting that his leg had not fully recovered upon his return, but injury troubles continued early in the 2008–09 seson as just two games into the season, he injured his knee while attempting to hit Wayne Primeau in an October 11, 2008, game against the Calgary Flames & was out of the lineup for a week.

On November 4, 2008, he was re-injured after taking a puck off his skate against the Nashville Predators. He played through the injury for two games before learning that he had suffered a bone fracture in his left foot.

Kevin returned to the lineup after missing seven games. Despite missing ten games in total, he established a career-high 32 assists and 43 points, first among team defencemen.

Without a no-trade clause in his contract with the Canucks and seen as an emerging offensive defencemen throughout the NHL, Kevin was routinely the subject of trade rumours.

In the 2009 off-season, one such trade rumour was central in a feud between general managers Mike Gillis of Vancouver and Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On a Leafs TV documentary on the 2009 NHL Entry Draft that aired in September 2009, a segment involves Burke speculating that the Canucks had offered Kevin to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a package that included forward Alexandre Burrows and a first-round draft-choice in exchange for Tampa Bay's second-overall selection.

The documentary was immediately pulled from airing again and the Maple Leafs received a warning from the League.

Kevin suffered the second serious cut to his leg in three seasons in the 2009–10 season.

During a game against the Phoenix Coyotes on December 29, 2009, he bodychecked opposing forward Petr Prucha, whose skate cut into his left leg, above the ankle. It was revealed six days later that he sustained severed tendons in his ankle. He was sidelined for three-and-a-half months, missing 27 games.

The injury marked the second time in three years that Kevin missed significant time due to a skate cut on his leg. As a result, he was limited to 55 games, notching three goals and 22 points. On the last game of the regular season, he scored his first two-goal game in the NHL in a 7–3 win against the Calgary Flames on April 10, 2010.

Playing the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Kings in the opening round of the 2010 playoffs, Kevin scored his first NHL post-season goal in the series' sixth and deciding game. His goal against Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick tied the score at 2–2 in the third period, en route to a 4–2 Canucks win.

The Canucks were then eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks the following round for the second consecutive year. Kevin finished the playoffs with three goals and eight points in 12 games to lead team defencemen in scoring.

Following the defensive acquisitions of Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis in the off-season, Bieksa was once again involved in trade rumours.

Despite being several million dollars over the salary cap, General Manager Mike Gillis asserted after signing Hamhuis that the Canucks were "keeping Bieksa."

Regardless, in order to get under the salary cap, Kevin seemed the strongest candidate to be traded. He was among six defencemen (with a salary over $3 million) who was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the subsequent season, had seemingly fallen out of favour with Head Coach Alain Vigneault and did not have a no-trade clause in his contract.

On a July 2010 airing of TSN's "Off the Record", Kevin conceded that he expected to be shopped around by the Canucks, stating, "I can put two and two together." The Province newspaper at one time reported that up to 10 teams were in talks with Vancouver for acquiring him.

The situation changed later in July after Canucks defenceman Sami Salo suffered from a torn achilles tendon while playing floorball in his native Finland; the injury put the Canucks back under the salary cap and speculation about a trade quieted.

During the 2010–11 season, Kevin's offensive production decreased, but he was lauded by the media and Head Coach Alain Vigneault for improving his defensive game.

He had often been criticized in the past for making high-risk plays that resulted in scoring chances for the opposing team, but his play improved to become more responsible in the defensive zone.

In February of 2011, Kevin suffered a fractured bone in his foot. While playing in a game against the Minnesota Wild, he sustained the injury while blocking a shot. While he finished the game and initial x-rays came back negative, a subsequent CT-scan revealed the fracture. He became the sixth Canucks defenceman injured at the time. After missing 15 games, he returned to the lineup in late-March.

Playing on a shutdown defensive pairing with Dan Hamhuis, Kevin's season-ending +32 plus-minus established a personal best by 31 points (his previous career-high was a +1 in 2006–07) and ranked second in the NHL, one point behind Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara. Complementing his strong defensive play, he recorded six goals and 22 points in 66 games.

With the Canucks winning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history, the team entered the 2011 playoffs as the first seed in the West.

After helping Vancouver advance past the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators in the first two rounds, Bieksa scored a double-overtime winner in Game 5 of the third round against the San Jose Sharks to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994. The goal came after fellow Canucks defenceman Alexander Edler's dump-in had bounced off a stanchion along the boards.

With Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi unaware of the puck's location, Kevin took a slapshot from the blueline to win the game. Facing the Boston Bruins in the Finals, the Canucks were defeated in seven games. He finished the playoffs with 10 points over 25 games.

Kevin's five goals led all playoff defencemen while his average ice time of 25 minutes and 40 seconds per game was first among Canucks players. It was revealed after the Canucks' elimination that several players had been playing with injuries (including Kevin), who had suffered a bruised medial collateral ligament.

Having played the final year of his existing contract, he addressed his pending unrestricted free agency by telling the media he was ready to re-sign for less than market value in order to remain with the Canucks.

Shortly thereafter, on June 27, 2011, Kevin signed a five-year, $23 million contract extension.

The deal came with a no-trade clause and was reported to be front-loaded, with him making $7 million in his first year, followed by $4.5 million, $5 million, $4 million and $2.5 million annual salaries.

Anaheim DucksEdit

On June 30, 2015, the Vancouver Canucks traded Kevin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Two days later, he signed a two-year, $8,000,000 contract extension that runs through 2017-18. The deal includes a full no-movement clause.

He struggled heavily during his first season with the Ducks, recording 15 points in 71 games, his worst points-per-game rate since his rookie season.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1997–98 Burlington Cougars OPJHL 27 0 3 3 10
1998–99 Burlington Cougars OPJHL 48 8 29 37 83
1999–00 Burlington Cougars OPJHL 49 6 27 33 139
2000–01 Bowling Green State University CCHA 35 4 9 13 90
2001–02 Bowling Green State University CCHA 40 5 10 15 68
2002–03 Bowling Green State University CCHA 34 8 17 25 92
2003–04 Bowling Green State University CCHA 38 7 15 22 66
2003–04 Manitoba Moose AHL 4 0 2 2 2
2004–05 Manitoba Moose AHL 80 12 27 39 192 14 1 1 2 35
2005–06 Manitoba Moose AHL 23 3 17 20 71 13 0 10 10 38
2005–06 Vancouver Canucks NHL 39 0 6 6 77
2006–07 Vancouver Canucks NHL 81 12 30 42 134 9 0 0 0 20
2007–08 Manitoba Moose AHL 1 0 1 1 2
2007–08 Vancouver Canucks NHL 34 2 10 12 90
2008–09 Vancouver Canucks NHL 72 11 32 43 97 10 0 5 5 14
2009–10 Vancouver Canucks NHL 55 3 19 22 85 12 3 5 8 14
2010–11 Vancouver Canucks NHL 66 6 16 22 73 25 5 5 10 51
2011–12 Vancouver Canucks NHL 78 8 36 44 94 5 1 0 1 6
2012–13 Vancouver Canucks NHL 36 6 6 12 48 4 1 0 1 8
2013–14 Vancouver Canucks NHL 76 4 20 24 104
2014–15 Vancouver Canucks NHL 60 4 10 14 77 6 0 0 0 9
2015–16 Anaheim Ducks NHL 71 4 11 15 99 6 0 1 1 2
NHL totals 668 60 196 256 978 77 10 16 26 124

InternationalEdit

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2014 Canada WC 5th 8 2 2 4 4
Senior totals 8 2 2 4 4

Awards & AchievementsEdit

CCHA AwardsEdit

  • All-Academic (honourable mention) (2003 and 2004)
  • All-CCHA (honourable mention) (2004)

Bowling Green Falcons AwardsEdit

  • W.G. Grinder's Grinder Award (fan voted) (2003)
  • Jim Ruehl Award (best defensive player; co-recipient with Jordan Sigalet) (2003)
  • Howard Brown Award (coaches' selection) (2004)

AHL AwardsEdit

  • AHL All-Rookie Team (2005)

Vancouver Canucks AwardsEdit

  • Babe Pratt Trophy (top defenceman) (2007)
  • Fred J. Hume Award (unsung hero) (2007)

Career RecordsEdit

  • Manitoba Moose franchise record. Most points by a rookie defenceman (39 in 2004–05) (surpassed Kirill Koltsov (32) in 2003–04)

Playing StyleEdit

Kevin is known as a two-way defenceman with the Canucks, capable of playing in all situations.

Throughout Kevin's NHL career, he has been placed on shutdown pairing with such defensive partners as Willie Mitchell and Dan Hamhuis.

Offensively, he regularly jumps into the rush and has led the Canucks in defensive scoring in 2006–07 and 2008–09.

Kevin's play is characterized by aggressive and competitive components. He also earned a reputation as a fighter early in his career in the AHL.

Personal LifeEdit

Kevin's parents are Al Bieksa and Angela Lombardo. He has two brothers named Marty & Bryan.

He also has a stepmother named Lori and two stepsisters named Terri Lynn & Jennifer.

Al father works in the Ontario Federation of Labour and coached his three sons during minor hockey.

Kevin began playing minor hockey in Grimsby before joining AAA teams from Stoney Creek, Ontario. He attended Blessed Trinity Secondary School in his hometown.

He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in finance and a 3.42 grade point average.

During Kevin's tenure with both the Manitoba Moose and Vancouver Canucks, he became close friends with teammate Rick Rypien, who committed suicide in August of 2011 after years of clinical depression.

He was the first Canucks teammate that Rypien confided in regarding his mental health.

When Rypien took his first personal leave of absence from the Canucks in the 2008–09 NHL season, Kevin took him into his home to live with his family.

Having a close relationship with Rypien, he was involved in many of the ceremonies following his death.

Kevin was a pall bearer for Rypien's casket at his funeral in Alberta and he later presented Rypien's family with one of his game-worn Canucks jerseys during the team's pre-game ceremony in Rypien's honour in October of 2011.