In one of my favorite Tommy Larscheid rants a couple of years ago – and if I remember correctly this particular one was after the Canucks failed to qualify for the 2008 playoffs – Tommy said that the Vancouver Canucks would never win the Stanley Cup until Canucks management expressed that anything less than a Stanley Cup win was unacceptable. (I’m obviously paraphrasing but I think you get the gist.) While Mike Gillis falls short of saying such in an interview on TEAM 1040 yesterday, he still set some lofty expectations of his squad – in my opinion, much loftier expectations than has been placed on this team in a long, long time.
“I think we’re one of four or five teams that are considered to be capable of winning the Stanley Cup. But you have to have a lot of things go your way that are out of your control. Injuries play a major factor. I think our team is really deep in every area. I don’t think we have a glaring weakness that needs to be addressed at this point in time, but injuries and different things can change that. You know, I feel really good about the team we have. I think it’s deep, I think we have a lot of key elements, but these guys have to come together and perform, and we have to get a little lucky.”
With Francesco Aquilini signing off on players’ paycheques totaling more than $69 million this season (give or take Kevin Bieksa’s $3.5 million), I’m sure everyone in the Canucks organization – from Aquilini to Gillis to Alain Vigneault to the players – is aware of these expectations and their pressure to perform and win. But to be aware of it is one thing. For Mike Gillis to publicly lay down the gauntlet is another.
Consider this another culture change for this organization. The Canucks are no longer content to just make the playoffs as they were in 2007. They’re no longer satisfied with winning Northwest Division titles; they’ve won the division 3 times in the last 4 years. They want to get further than the second round of the playoffs. They now expect to contend for the Stanley Cup and Mike Gillis has made no bones about expecting it.
It’s refreshing to hear. And if the Canucks win the Cup in June, I’m sure Tommy will be quick to say, “I told you so.”