Wayne Gretzky's greatest advantage on the ice was not his skating, or his size, or his shot. Aside from his superior understanding of the game his greatest attribute was he worked harder than everybody else.
In Vancouver these days, the love-in with rookie Elias Pettersson is reaching near ridiculous levels. Not so ridiculous as to compare him to Gretzky, but there is an interesting parallel with 99. Sure the fans love "Dekey Pete's" creativity, quickness and shot, but what they love most is he is the hardest working player on the ice.
It's only 3 games into his rookie season, but it is fair to say he is their best player and very quickly emerging as their leader. He works especially hard without the puck, showing great defensive acumen especially considering he has not played center for a couple of seasons.
And fans don't need to be reminded about his play with the puck. He is as slippery as an eel, making his lack of size no disadvantage. He has great vision to make plays but his shot is so good that it, too, must be respected. Defending opponents are caught a bit of a standstill while they learn how to deal with this new star.
Hopefully next year the likes of Quinn Hughes, Johnathan Dahlen, Adam Gaudette, Olli Joulevi and Thatcher Demko step up and are difference makers too. Because this Canucks team is still dreadful.
As a group they are completely lost in their own zone and it is a harrowing misadventure at times. And the goaltending remains sub par. What is most frustrating about all this is the Canucks knew all of this based on last season, yet brought back the exact same group of defenders and goaltenders. Surely they did not expect the group to get much better did they?
Pettersson is the badly needed breath of fresh air in Vancouver, but it will still be a long season on the west coast.