VANCOUVER — There are the changes you see coming, and the changes you don’t.
With 14 years in the NHL, Alex Edler had learned not to be surprised. And then 2020 came along. And between the first and second waves of COVID-19, the Vancouver Canucks defenceman also saw three good friends leave the team in free agency over the span of 24 hours.
While the 34-year-old was theoretically aware of his senior standing on the team before Oct. 9, the free-agent departures of Jacob Markstrom, Troy Stecher and Chris Tanev, his longest-serving teammate, made Edler understand keenly that he is the last of a generation of Canucks.
With Tanev following Markstrom to Calgary, the second longest-serving Canuck is 25-year-old captain Bo Horvat, who arrived in Vancouver as a teenager in 2014. Edler has been on the team since 2006.
Think about that — eight years of his career, and not a single teammate remaining.
“Sometimes you see it coming, sometimes you get a little surprised over it,” Edler said Wednesday in an interview from his Vancouver home. “Those three players, personally, they’ve all been very good friends of mine. I played with Tanny a long time on the same team (since 2011), playing a lot together. So it was hard to see him leave. Also with Troy, we’ve built a relationship off the ice as well as on the ice. And then, of course, Marky, I’ve been very close with…