VANCOUVER, B.C. – Defenceman Shane O’Brien apologized as he returned to the Vancouver Canucks following a one-week exile Sunday.
“I made a mistake, I’m human and things happen, but, being a professional, it’s no excuse,” O’Brien told reporters after participating in a morning skate before the Canucks hosted the Minnesota Wild at GM Place. “It’s a privilege and an honour to play in the NHL. I made a mistake and I learned from it and did my time.”
O’Brien was banned from team workouts and a California road trip after he reported late for practice last Monday. The 26-year-old rearguard also revealed he was eight pounds over a 227-pound weight limit set by the club.
“Obviously we’ve been fighting all year to put ourselves in the position we’re in and, for a distraction like this to come above winning games and getting ready for the playoffs, I owe my teammates a big apology,” he said.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t quite ready to forgive and forget. O’Brien was a healthy scratch against the Wild as Vigneault sat him for the fourth straight game.
“He just asked me what my weight was and said I’ll be practising with the team but not playing,” said O’Brien. “I was 227 this morning. I was 235 when I stopped playing. All year, I’ve been between 230 and 235, but they want me under 230 and it’s my job as a pro to meet their demands.
“I guess I slipped up a little bit with that over the Olympic break and that’s not very professional. Obviously they weren’t too happy about it.”
But O’Brien, who has run into trouble in the past for taking foolish penalties and claiming that management had ordered him to fight, was not about to complain about his punishment.
“He’s the coach and he’s the boss and he gets paid to make those decisions,” said O’Brien, who is in his second season with the Canucks and becomes a restricted free agent this summer. “He did what he felt was good for the team. I’m not in a position to argue it. I made a mistake and, when you make a mistake in life, there are consequences and I know that.
“You have to be a man to step up and take the punishment – and I feel I’ve done that.”
O’Brien fell out of favour even though he has reduced his penalty minutes to 79 from 196 last season and is currently a respectable plus-16 while the Canucks have battled a barrage of injuries to defencemen.
“I think I’m a good team guy, but, at the same time, I was late for practice and that was unprofessional and disrespectful to my teammates,” said O”Brien. “So it was a little embarrassing, but you move forward.”