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VIDEO: Ryan Kesler is healthy and ready for Canucks, Team USA
Ryan Kesler is healthy. No, seriously. For real.
"Two years, finally healthy," Kesler told E.J. Hradek of NHL Network, at the Team USA Olympic orientation camp on Tuesday.
"It feels good to have a full summer of training under my belt for the first time in who knows how long. It's positive, everything is positive on my front."
In Kesler's last full season, 2011, he led the Vancouver Canucks to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance and picked up the Frank J. Selke trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward.
He also notched 41 goals and 73 points in 82 games. In 2010, Kesler finished with 75 points.
Since that unfortunately fateful Game 7 against Boston, though, Kesler struggled through two injury-flushed seasons. He put up 49 points in 77 games in 2012 (and had surgery the following offseason) and 13 points in just 17 games last year.
Finally healthy, Kesler will once again second Vancouver's second line. This time, however, he'll have to suit the standards of the Canucks' new coach, John Tortorella.
"I have spoken to him a couple times," Kesler told Hradek. "Talking to him, he is going to hold everybody accountable, which I like.
"He expects hard work and he expects everybody to play the same way, which is hard, intense work and everybody to block shots, which, you know... It's going to be good."
The Canucks will need him healthy to challenge for a Cup, but so will Team USA.
Kesler was one of the driving forces behind the Americans' silver-winning squad in 2010, registering a goal in the team's gold medal loss to Canada, and also teaming with Patrick Kane in what was – perhaps – the Olympic tournament's most dynamic, imposing duo.
No. 17 also scored the greatest empty net goal of all-time (no joke) against Canada in the the tournament's round robin.
All that would seemingly make Kesler a lock to crack 2014's team, but he's still four years removed from Vancouver 2010, and Russia's larger ice surface is something every country is aware of.
"It's going to be a big factor," he said. "It's the same game, but it's played differently. The coaching staff's done a good job of making us aware of that... playing overseas in Europe, we haven't had much success, so we want to prove people wrong this time.
"We're going over there to win gold."