Have hockey stick, will travel. At 30, Adam Cracknell of Victoria, known for his drive and work ethic, is still chasing the dream. As a result, there isn’t much of the continent he hasn’t seen as a pro.
Now the arc of that career brings him back to B.C., where he played for the Juan de Fuca minor hockey organization, Saanich Braves of the Island Junior League and Kootenay Ice of the WHL.
The journeyman forward signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks for a reported $575,000. It’s a two-way contract, meaning Cracknell would be paid that rate only in NHL games, not those in the minors. He had an assist in 17 NHL games last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets before being traded to the St. Louis Blues and finishing the season in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons and Chicago Wolves.
Cracknell has played 82 NHL games, with Columbus and in a previous stint with the Blues, and has six regular-season goals and 17 points in the big league. He also had one goal in 10 playoff appearances with the Blues as a member of the energy-jolt CPR Line with Christ Porter and Ryan Reaves.
There isn’t much he hasn’t seen, which will give him that veteran poise that the young Canucks prospects have yet to attain.
“I’m not young anymore, but with that comes having no more nerves heading into training camp,” said Cracknell.
“At this stage, you know the calibre and speed to expect. There’s nothing new. I know I have to standout in a different way and play a big, physical role.”
All those years in the minors, from the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL to Quad City Flames and Peoria Rivermen of the AHL, means Cracknell is hardly an unknown quantity as the Canucks look for depth players to fill out the bottom end of their roster. Hockey is a game of interconnections. The Canucks likely noticed Cracknell with Chicago last spring when the Wolves played the Canucks-affiliate Utica Comets in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs. Then there is the Glen Gulutzan connection as Cracknell played for the Canucks assistant coach in the ECHL with the Wranglers — including two seasons against the Victoria Salmon Kings.
“We went to the Kelly Cup ECHL final during my second season in Las Vegas and I’m sure Glen had some input [into the Canucks decision to sign him],” noted Cracknell.
The six-foot-one, 216-pound right winger — selected in the ninth round of the 2004 NHL draft by the Calgary Flames after registering 42 goals and 93 points in his final WHL season with the Ice — knows it’s rare and special for a player with B.C. ties to return to play for the Canucks.
“Most of the people on the Island cheer for the Canucks and I hope to keep the ferries busy [with family and friends],” chuckled Cracknell.
“I’m definitely excited and looking forward to the opportunity.”