VANCOUVER – It isn’t exactly your typical summer romance.
The Vancouver Canucks love Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. The franchise players are restricted free agents, but are willing to fully commit to their National Hockey League team with new contracts.
This should be the start – or extension – of beautiful friendships.
Instead, with a week until training camp opens, the best and most important players on the Canucks are still unsigned and figuratively far away. Pettersson has returned to Vancouver from his summer home in Sweden, and Hughes remains at his off-season base in Michigan.
In professional sports, absence doesn’t always make hearts grow fonder, but Canucks general manager Jim Benning said this week there have been no signs of animosity in negotiations that have sputtered all summer despite innumerable phone calls between the GM and agent Pat Brisson.
“We have a good relationship,” Benning told Sportsnet. “There’s no angry sides. We’re just trying to work through it to figure out how to make everybody happy.
“We’re in constant communication with Pat Brisson and his group. The communication’s good and we’re just trying to figure out how to get to some common ground from their perspective and our perspective. They’re important players in the future of our team and our group but these are complicated deals.
“We talk every day or every second day. We’ve got a week before main camp starts, so we have time to get it…