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Long wait is over: Winger Andrew Ebbett back in Vancouver Canucks' lineup

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Long wait is over: Winger Andrew Ebbett back in Vancouver Canucks' lineup

The Canadian Press
By:

VANCOUVER - Andrew Ebbett's long wait has come to an end.

The Vancouver Canucks winger was pencilled into the lineup for the first time since November 10 for Wednesday's game against the Detroit Red Wings.

The hiatus resulted from a fractured foot suffered while blocking a shot in a game at Los Angeles.

"It's been a long six weeks," said Ebbett after Vancouver's morning skate. "It's the longest I've ever missed playing. So it's been frustrating at times, especially when you see some opportunities at times."

Recently, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault opted to use defencemen Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts as wingers because of injuries and the club's decision not to call up players from the minors. But Ebbett, who signed as a free agent in the off-season after splitting 2010-11 with Phoenix and its AHL farm club in San Antonio, was not healthy enough to play.

The 28-year-old Calgary native had worked out mainly on his own before joining the team near the end of its five-game road trip at Raleigh, N.C. last week.

Ebbett said his foot has caused him no trouble since he resumed skating.

An undrafted journeyman, Ebbett began his pro career on a minor-league contract with Binghhamton of the AHL in 2006-07 after four seasons at the University of Michigan. He has also toiled in the Anaheim, Chicago and Minnesota organizations.

The Canucks signed him as part of a group of newcomers inked to add more forward depth and shore up their third and fourth lines. But he and other newcomers Steve Pinizzotto (shoulder, out for season) and Byron Bitz (recuperating from hip surgery) suffered injuries that hampered the effort until now.

Wednesday's contest was only Ebbett's sixth of the campaign. He was a healthy scratch in 11 of Vancouver's first 15 games. But he had played three games in a row and scored a goal against the Kings before he was injured late in the L.A. game.

"He's been so good for us earlier on when he was in the lineup, and he's a guy that works extremely hard," said winger Alex Burrows. "He's a very versatile player that can play an offensive role and a defensive role. He competes really hard."

Vigneault slotted Ebbett into the left-wing spot on the fourth line alongside centre Max Lapierre and right-winger Dale Weise.

"It doesn't matter to me if it's the third, fourth line," said Ebbett. "I'm just excited to be back in the lineup."

Wednesday marked Ebbett's second chance to play the Wings this season. His first game as a Canuck was in Detroit on October 13.

"Somehow, I've played these guys quite a bit," he said. "I played them in the playoffs two of the last four years. So I know the team pretty well."

Now, he hopes to see his teammates more often.

NOTES: ... Canucks D Keith Ballard remained out of the lineup for the second straight game with back spasms. Rome is out three to four weeks with a broken thumb suffered at his usual defence position. ... Vigneault planned to make a decision on whether to return minor-league call-up Mark Mancari after the game. ... Detroit coach Mike Babcock praised captain Nicklas Lidstrom, a seven-time Norris Trophy winner, for participating in an optional morning skate while adding many of his players do not have the same compete level. ... Wings forward Jan Mursak, who has missed 32 games with a fractured ankle, took part in the morning skate.

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Long wait is over: Winger Andrew Ebbett back in Vancouver Canucks' lineup