By Ken Wiebe
The Winnipeg Sun
WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Although he did his best to hide it, former Columbia Inferno right wing Jesse Schultz was a bit down about not being a late addition for the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic.
The game was in his home arena, after all, and the 23-year-old from Strasbourg, Sask., was off to the best start of his professional career with 23 goals and 37 points to lead the Manitoba Moose in both categories.
Those emotions took a turn for the better late Monday night when he found out he had been recalled by the Vancouver Canucks for the first time in his young career. The Canucks made it official yesterday afternoon, and Schultz, who signed as a free agent on July 31, 2003, met the team in Glendale, Ariz., for Tuesday’s game with the Phoenix Coyotes.
“Yeah, it was tough, but I thought I’d enjoy some time off and get some rest,” Schultz said after arriving in Arizona.
That plan changed when Manitoba Moose general manager Craig Heisinger called him with the good news.
“It was a bit of a surprise. The nerves kicked in right away, but obviously I’m very excited (to be recalled),” said Schultz, noting he calmed down a bit after talking to Alexandre Burrows, who has made a smooth transition and been a solid contributor with the Canucks since making his debut. If Canucks captain Markus Naslund was unable to go last night, Schultz was set to step in and play his first NHL game.
Naslund did play, though Schultz will stay with the club for the time being. The Canucks play the Calgary Flames on Friday night and the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Canucks general manager Dave Nonis said Schultz is showing signs of the player he watched in the Western Hockey League.
“Jesse has come to the realization that hard work is the difference to being a good junior and a good pro,” Nonis told the Sun before arriving in Winnipeg. “We knew he had some obstacles to overcome, but we also knew that he had a gift that not everybody else has … the ability to score goals.
“A couple of things have happened. From Year 1 to 2 he made a big jump, and from Year 2 to 3 he made another big jump.”