Tyler Myers beginning to have big impact on Vancouver Canucks

Tyler Myers lists off some of the nicknames he’s acquired.

“Big Easy, Big Tags,” the Vancouver defenceman said with a chuckle.

Note a trend?

When you stand six-foot-eight in sock feet, big becomes part of your description. The only person taller in the NHL is Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara.

Couple Myers’s long reach with a stick that is 66 inches long and he becomes a very difficult man to get around. Or get away from.

“Certainly, with as long a reach I have, as long a stick, I want to make that an advantage for me,” Myers said. “The faster I can close on guys, the faster I can get my stick out there and try and get a stick on the puck.”

For most of his career the 229-pound Myers has been more of a finesse player, but since signing with the Canucks last summer as a free agent he’s tried to become more physical.

“There are situations where I’m able to reach so far, I’m able to get stick on puck (and) there might not be that opportunity to engage the body,” said the 29-year-old who was born in Houston, Tex., but grew up in Calgary. “I feel like as my career has gone on I’ve gotten more physical.

“Especially this year I tried to implement that in my game a little bit more. I think it’s a big part of our identity here in Vancouver, playing a physical game and making it hard for other teams to get into tighter areas.”

At six-foot-eight, Vancouver defenceman Tyler Myers is not hard to pick out on the ice. (Getty Images)

Myers came to the Canucks after five seasons with the Winnipeg Jets. In 47 games with Vancouver he has four goals, seven assists and 58 hits while averaging 21 minutes, 41 seconds in ice time. He is second on the team with 72 blocked shots and 29 takeaways.

Making the transition from how the Jets played to the Canucks’ way of doing things hasn’t always been smooth.

“Coming in you don’t realize how much a different system can be ingrained in your muscle memory,” he said. “You don’t realize how much you are just used to doing other things.

“There is an adjustment you have to focus on mentally. You have to watch some video and try and make that change as quick as possible.”

On the ice, Myers doesn’t make flashy plays like rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes, but he’s had a role in the Canucks becoming a legitimate playoff contender.

“He’s added a lot,” veteran defenceman Chris Tanev said. “He’s a really big rangy guy, skates really well. He has some offence in his game and gets up the ice.

“He’s a smart player. He’s a big man with a long stick and a really good stick. He does a lot of things the average fans doesn’t see. How he changes plays just by his stick placement or knocking pucks out of the air.”

Some fans were critical when the Canucks signed Myers to a five-year, $30-million US contract.  The criticism grew louder when he didn’t score a goal until 29 games into the season.

Since then, Myers scored two goals and added an assist in a Dec. 29 win over Calgary and notched the game winner in a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Jan. 4.

“It always feels good to score,” Myers said. “To do it on a new team brings a little extra emotion.”

Myers was picked 12th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008 draft. He played all 82 games during the 2009-10 season where he scored 11 goals and 37 points and won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

Those were the most goals and assists Myers has registered in a season. He shrugged when asked if his rookie campaign might have raised expectations over his scoring ability.

Myers’s 66-inch long stick makes it difficult for opposing forwards to navigate. (Getty Images)

“Tough to say,” he said. “That was a long time ago. I don’t know if that is a question for me.”

Myers played five full seasons in Buffalo before being traded to Winnipeg in February 2015 in a deal that sent Evander Kane to the Sabres.

During his time with the Jets, where a lower-body injury limited him to just 11 games during the 2016-17 season, Myers had 29 goals and 85 assists while averaging 21:40 minutes of ice per game.

Canucks coach Travis Green likes the size Myers has brought to the Vancouver back end plus his ability to play on the power play.

“I don’t think we talk about (Myers) like he’s got to get 40 to 50 points,” Green said. “We just want him to play good solid hockey and the points will come.

“I remember there was a time 10 or 15 games into the season when he hadn’t scored. I pulled him aside and told him he was playing really well, don’t stress about the goals and assists. Just play good solid hockey and good things will happen.”

Myers understands his contract brings expectations.

“Coming into a new team you want to do well,” he said. “You try to get out of the gate quick.

“Coming into this year I’ve had the experience of being around for a while. I know how to handle things. I approach each game the same way I have the last few years.”

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