Apr 082014
 
Source: Canucks.com

Source: Canucks.com

I was at Rogers Arena last night to see the Vancouver Canucks lose 3-0 to the visiting Anaheim Ducks.  It’s crazy to think that just three short years after witnessing the Canucks clinch their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy (on March 31, 2011), I was watching them being eliminated from playoff contention for the first time since the 2007-2008 season.

With three minutes to go in the third period, a very audible “Fire Gillis” chant broke out in the arena and it went on for a considerable amount of time.  Obviously, the Canuck faithful are restless and are demanding a change – whether it be Gillis, Tortorella, or maybe even both of them.

With the Canucks playing two of their final three regular season games at home (Thursday vs. Colorado and Sunday vs. Calgary), I went to Twitter to ask what other chants we might expect from the crowd.  You responded, and thus we have the Top 10 Chants That Are Likely to Break Out in Rogers Arena:

10.  “Ref You Suck!” – submitted by @Adamcanucks17

9.  “Go Leafs Go!” – submitted by @jehovasvictim

8.  “Bring Back Lu!” – submitted by @FearTheBeard13_

7.  “Shoot the Puck!”

6.  “Blow Canucks Blow!” – submitted by @BlahvBlahvBlah

5.  “We Want AV!” – submitted by @maggiecanuck

4.  “We Want McDavid!” – submitted by @elliottneck

3.  “C-H-B! C-H-B!”

2.  “We Want Free Beer!” – submitted by @waterboy99troop

1.  “Woe Canucks Woe!” – submitted by @MartinvandenH 

Mar 112014
 

titanic-canucks

Do you have your life vests on, Canucks fans? If not, grab a door floating in the choppy waters and hope for the best! Because the Canucks are sinking.

We’ve known this for a while now, haven’t we? With every trade GM Mike Gillis made in recent years the return seemed to be less and less, at least it seemed to me anyway. It was like, when the Canucks ship started leaking, Gillis started trading giant buckets for teacups. David Booth? Well that didn’t quite go as planned. Keith Ballard? He didn’t get to reach hipcheck greatness because that’s hard to do from the press box. Zack Kassian? Those flashes of potential haven’t sparked into what we were told they would. And then away went our “number one goalie” Cory Schneider. And then away went our old… I mean new number one goalie. And now the sweetest Swedish kid in the league with a smile brighter than the sun is drowning, locked in the third class cabin as the Titanic that is the 2013/2014 Vancouver Canucks goes down.

So let’s first talk about Lack. What angered me the most last night about the Canucks’ third period meltdown is the way a few fans hung the whole thing on the newly-appointed, unexpected starter. And when the attacks were coming from the same people who continuously defended every single goal Roberto Luongo ever let in… well, it’s a miracle I didn’t punch my Twitter timeline in the face. You know why you should have apathy for Lack even more so than you did for Luongo? Because Lack is a rookie. Lack didn’t have a so-called outstanding record on another NHL team before he landed the #1 spot. Lack also isn’t making MILLIONS of dollars. Luongo was making $6.71 million a year. Lack makes $850,000. Also Lu came into Vancouver as the starter. Lack was supposed to be in the clearly defined back-up role this year. Schneider was declared the number one guy last year. Lu was supposed to be traded. Then Gillis traded Schneider and re-crowned Lu, and we all thought we know what was what. Even I accepted what I considered the biggest mistake this franchise had made, and jumped on the Luuuuu bus. Then Gillis gave Luongo to Florida. This isn’t supposed to happen to Eddie Lack yet. So with all due respect, Luongo-mourners, STFU and blame the right person for this mess – Mike Gillis. Not Eddie Lack.

As for John Tortorella, I think we all agree he’s a failed experiment. But I doubt there’s a single thing we can do about it until the season – and playoffs – are lost. Then, just like Rose did to Jack, we can unhinge Torts’ fingers from the reminants of the Canucks and watch him drift to the bottom of the ocean… or into a commentator position for NBC.

Let’s get some things straight, fellow Canucks fans, since we’re going to be treading water with each other for a while – and fighting for space in lifeboats – can you please stop whining that “real fans” don’t “attack” their team. Because, well, it’s not true. The Montreal Canadiens have arguably the most passionate and dedicated fan base in the league and yet, they boo their players on a regular basis. They don’t have to be in a long-term slide, they will boo the Habs after one bad game in a solid season. When things got really rough in the late ‘90s, they stopped buying tickets. Yes, the great Habs, an Original Six franchise, winners of 24 Stanley Cups, had low tickets sales. Canadiens fans expect nothing less than the best.

If fans truly do make a difference in the motivation and playing ability of a team (I don’t think we do, but some of you think it) then complaining and getting angry at your team isn’t a bad thing. In my opinion, if you keep dumping money on them for expensive tickets and merchandise when they drop 7 goals in 1 period, you’re part of the problem.  Why would the Aquilinis change anything if they’re still making giant bank? They won’t. The biggest reason an owner wants to win a Stanley Cup is because it increases sales. So then it makes sense that an owner would feel more pressure to make huge, sweeping changes if the see their revenues decreasing.

And please keep in mind there is a difference between expressing your discontent and giving up all together. I will still watch the Canucks on TV, when I can, without making it the priority it used to be. I will still hope for a miracle. I still want them to win. Most of the angry and vocal fans feel the same way. But we know better than to follow them blindly and sink with the ship. This is not something that can be fixed with hugs, people. The Canucks need an overhaul, not lifeboats.

Mar 032014
 
Source: Getty Images via NHL

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini and GM Mike Gillis.
Source: Getty Images via NHL

This week could be the most important week for the Vancouver Canucks organization in a long, long time.

First, let’s set the background.

The Canucks can’t win. They’ve lost 9 of their last 10 games, and have only won 6 games (6-14-4) since Christmas.

They can’t score. They’ve managed to score 3 goals in a game just 4 times since the calendar turned to 2014, and their 2.33 goals per game average this season is their lowest since 1999, when their roster included illustrious players like Peter Zezel, Harry York, Bill Muckalt and Darby Hendrickson.

The Sedins are having their worst seasons, well, ever. As so are Alex Burrows and Alex Edler.

Off the ice, it’s not much better. Ryan Kesler wants out. GM Mike Gillis is on the hot seat, if not with the owners, then certainly with the fans. Interest in the team is down. Tickets sales are down. Corporate sales are down.

But perhaps the cherry on top?

The Canucks somehow managed to bungle what should have been a great celebration of hockey – the Heritage Classic at BC Place – and instead turn the focus once again to the obviously strained relationship between the team and Roberto Luongo.

When word got out on Saturday night that the Canucks were starting rookie goaltender Eddie Lack at the Heritage Classic, reaction from Canucks fans was swift. And it was mostly negative. In fact, while goaltending controversies usually tend to divide Canucks fans, the decision to sit Luongo for this unique event instead united them. Perhaps it’s the existence of social media, but even in the dark years of the Mike Keenan/Mark Messier era, I don’t remember so much anger directed at the team – and management – as was directed at them yesterday.

The scene at BC Place this afternoon was surreal. Lack, who had played his guts out all year, was getting booed, not for his play, but rather because he wasn’t Luongo. Luongo, who most had written off last year, sat on the bench, unhappy, angry and refusing to speak with the media after the game.

If there was ever a perfect prelude to the week the Canucks are supposed to start sending season ticket renewals (and selling playoff ticket packages), everything that’s transpired in the last week – together with the lack of on-ice success the last couple of months – were definitely not it.

These should be interesting times for this organization. It’s no secret that Canucks fans are fickle, and in fact, the appetite for all things Canucks has dwindled in the last couple of seasons. All you have to do is look around the arena and see the empty seats, or see the suites which no longer have corporate sponsors attached to them (for example, the Best Buy Club is now just Club 500 and the River Rock Club is now just The Club), or view the frequent ads for ticket promotions not seen in several seasons.

Certainly, the Canucks will have their work cut out for them as they start reaching out to season ticket holders. In 2011, at the peak of their success with this current core, the season ticket renewal rate was at close to 99%. They even managed to build a long wait list for new season ticket holders. But in the last couple of seasons, that renewal rate has decreased. At the season ticket renewal event in 2012, a Canucks account rep stated the renewal rate was around 97%; this season after the lockout, the same rep stated it was at around 95%. Already for next season, the organization is expecting an even lower renewal rate – I’ve heard rumors it could be as low as 85%. The wait list has helped in the meantime; however, they’ve already exhausted most of it.

Which brings us back to this week.

The NHL’s trade deadline is this Wednesday, March 5th, and with core players such as Kesler, Luongo, and perhaps even Edler in play, the Canucks have a prime opportunity to reshape their roster and re-inject some hope for the people who invest big dollars in them.

The question is how GM Mike Gillis goes about accomplishing that.

Ideally, any trades for Kesler, Luongo and Edler – all still very good players, regardless of what Twitter says – should net the Canucks some good, young players, which should speed up the rebuilding process. Kesler alone is attracting a lot of interest, and if Gillis plays his cards right, he could net the Canucks at least one, maybe two, young, top-6 forwards and some high draft picks. Imagine adding the likes of Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Brandon Sutter, Derrick Pouliot and/or Beau Bennett to a youth core that already includes Eddie Lack, Zack Kassian, Chris Tanev, Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Nicklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce and Frankie Corrado.

That’s not a bad group to start a rebuild. But do they inspire enough confidence in their season ticket holders and corporate sponsors? I mean, nothing says “give me your money now” than we’ll be good in a couple of years.

The other side of the coin is the need for this organization to make the playoffs. A couple of years ago, it was estimated that each playoff home game brings in roughly $2-$3 million in revenue. Even assuming the team makes it and flames out in the first round, that’s still a lot of money – almost enough to buy out David Booth in the off-season – especially for an owner who already has a lot of money tied up in developing his office towers around the arena.

So do they start the rebuild now – and start selling hope now? Or do they make another push, with this most of this current core intact, and hope to catch lightning in a bottle? For those who do invest thousands of their hard-earned dollars on the team, what would they rather see?

It’s obvious the Canucks, not too long removed from the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy wins, have gone stale. It’s obvious fans are mad – a lot of them already speaking with their wallets – and want change.

This week, the team has an opportunity to respond. It will be interesting to see how they do.

Dec 112013
 

With the recent emergence of Mike Santorelli as a legitimate piece of the Canuck Puzzle, it’s clear Mike Gillis is the guy you want next to you on “Black Friday”. This guy can find a bargain. And while he’s had the disapointments that every GM has during their tenure, he’s also had an abundance of pleasant surprises. Sure, the “fairweather fan” is quick to point out the Keith Ballard debacle or the Luongo/Schneider escapades but the true fan can see that, despite those controversies, Gillis has put together a pretty successful squad. He has brought in players to complement the core and has developed a cache of depth to account for injuries and ailments.  Not only that but we’ve seen the most successful Canuck team in the history of the franchise and numerous records broken in his era. This list compiles the mark Gillis has made on the Franchise since his induction as president and general manager.

Here are the top 5 Mike Gillis Acquisitions:

5) Manny Malhotra: A faceoff percentage among the league’s top 5 and 30 points. What every coach wants their third line center to do and what Manny Malhotra did. Unfortunately, a freak injury disrupted what could have been a symbiotic relationship between player and team. But for the few years Manny was here he was effective both on the ice as a player and in the dressing room as a leader.

4) Mikael Samuelsson: This trigger happy swede put up 106 points in 155 games for the Canucks before being traded to the Florida Panthers. His game fit in nicely with the Canucks both on second line duties and with his fellow compatriots the Sedins. The Canucks miss his 30 goals to this day.

3) Christian Erhoff: Acquired in a deal with the San Jose Sharks, Erhoff proved to be an offensive force on the blueline. The german had a seeing-eye shot and tremendous puck-moving skills helping the Canucks to a league-best powerplay. Unfortunately his stay was shortlived as his elevated play allowed him to sign for a bigger contract with the Sabres.

2) Chris Higgins: The ultimate utility player, Chris does it all. He plays a hardnosed game with a bit of touch and is the type of player teams covet in the spring. It’s no surprise Mike Gillis resigned him after initially trading for Higgins at the deadline as a rental.

1) Dan Hamhuis: Hamhuis is the type of player who makes those around him better. His arrival instantly brought out the best in Kevin Bieksa’s game and together the two became one of the more dominant shut-down pairs in the league. Hamhuis is a mainstay on the backend for the Canucks and is the only player besides Luongo to get shortlisted for Team Canada at the upcoming Olympic Games.

Honorable mention: Pavol Demitra, Maxim Lapierre, Mats Sundin, Cody Hodgson.

Oct 072013
 
Clay with Marie and Arielle

Clay with Marie and Arielle

After a tumultuous and unpredictable season (and off-season), Roberto Luongo is back in the crease as the Vancouver Canucks’ undisputed number one goaltender.  There is no doubt that the past 18 months have taken its toll on Bobby Lu.

Thus, I proudly present to you Luongo’s Lament to the tune of Phil Collins’ hit Against All Odds.  And I’m so proud to welcome my friends Marie Hui and Arielle Tuliao as the featured vocalists.  You’ll see that they are lovely, talented, and amazing.

With Cory Schneider returning with his new team – the New Jersey Devils – on Tuesday, I thought it would an appropriate time to present this song.  Enjoy!

 

Sep 102013
 

[The Vancouver Canucks enter this season facing more questions than they have in recent years. In this preseason series, we'll try and answer a few of them.]

Canucks GM Mike Gillis and new coach John TortorellaPhoto credit: PNG

It’s hard to believe that training camp is upon us, and the Canucks take to the ice in a preseason tilt against the San Jose Sharks only a week from now.

Much has happened since the Canucks got swept by those same Sharks a short four months ago. GM Mike Gillis fired coaches Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown. He hired John Tortorella, Mike Sullivan and former Stars head coach, Glen Gulutzan, to replace them. He didn’t trade Roberto Luongo. He traded Cory Schneider instead for a promising prospect in Bo Horvat. Maxim Lapierre wasn’t re-signed. Neither were Derek Roy, Manny Malhotra, Mason Raymond, Andrew Ebbett and Cam Barker. Keith Ballard was bought out. Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli were brought in. At his year-end presser, Gillis promised a reset of this organization, and you can argue that he did.

The question is, did he do enough?

On the one hand, there was certainly a long list of casualties – hardly a surprise after a disappointing, second consecutive first round exit. But despite the number of roster changes, the core of this Canucks team largely remains the same. Look at the lineup again: the Sedins and Alex Burrows are most likely to remain the top line; Ryan Kesler will again anchor the second line, and have a combination of any of David Booth, Chris Higgins, Jordan Schroeder and Zack Kassian alongside him; whoever is left will join Jannik Hansen and newcomer Brad Richardson on the third line; Tom Sestito and Dale Weise will continue to provide some muscle a couple of minutes a game; and the entire back end will return, with the exception of Keith Ballard. Sure there’s room for a kid or two to make the team out of training camp, but by my count, there’s about 11 forwards and 5 defensemen returning. And Roberto Luongo.

Seemingly, the biggest change for the Canucks this off-season occurred behind the bench. Personnel-wise, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

Some reset, huh?

Jan 292013
 

Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

As I’m writing this, I’ll admit I’m drinking a bit of Mike Gillis’ kool aid.

In an interview on TSN last night, Gillis preached some patience on the Canucks’ 2-2-2 start this season.

I’m inclined to agree.

All things considered, the Canucks’ start was probably as well as could be expected. They’re still missing Ryan Kesler and David Booth, 2/3rd of their second scoring line, and with a shortened training camp and no exhibition games, it’s obvious most of the rest of the lineup are still in preseason mode.

But before we start a “Fallin’ for Drouin” campaign (or is it “Fallin’ for Mackinnon”?), there are some positives to take here.

While most of the vets have struggled, the Canucks have received more than expected contributions from the likes of Mason Raymond, Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder and the Dutch Gretzky. Jannik Hansen has also been noticeable and Chris Tanev has probably been their most consistent defenseman. Coincidentally, these are pretty much all the players, give or take Andrew Ebbett, who were playing some hockey either in the AHL or in Europe during the lockout. Maybe something for players to think about in 2020.

May Ray, in particular, looks more like the May Ray from 2009/2010 rather than the May Ray whose career was almost ended by a cheap Johnny Boychuk hit in 2011.

At least through a few games, Kassian looks to be a good fit with the Sedins. Right-handed shot, power forward with good hands, good instincts and a good nose for the net. He’s also shown that he’s not afraid to play bodyguard for the twins – ask Ben Eager.

Schroeder has some obvious speed and skill, and as Gillis points out, he hasn’t really hurt the team on the defensive end. I mean, in his NHL debut against Calgary, he had a particularly memorable sequence in which the Flames bounced him around like a pinball, but if anything, he showed he’s got a hard compete level.

Of course, this isn’t to say there aren’t cause for concerns.

The Sedins look out of synch. For all of their offensive zone starts, they don’t seem to be generating as much offensive pressure as they normally do.

The defense looks out of synch. It probably speaks volumes when the pairing of Tanev and Keith Ballard (!) is the one defensive pairing left untouched. Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison have been shuffled around already.

The special teams aren’t so special. The powerplay can’t score and the penalty-kill can’t kill penalties.

And already in 4 of their first 6 games, the Canucks couldn’t hang on to leads like Dustin Diamond couldn’t hang on to his dignity.

So should we worry?

As magnified as things seem in a shortened season with little room for error, I think 6 games is still a small sample size to adequately judge this team. Like Gillis says, let’s wait a few more games before we step off the ledge or jump off the bandwagon. In the meantime, hopefully the kids can keep it up and the vets can pick it up. And hopefully, it’s not too late by then.

Oct 112012
 

@iam_canuck

On the day that the Vancouver Canucks were supposed to open their 2012-13 regular season in Calgary against the Flames, I check in with another two Canucks fans about their favourite and not-so-favourite players, preferred dinner guests and of course, the lockout.

Crystal (@iam_canuck) was born in Abbotsford, BC, and has hop-skipped around the western provinces (except Alberta) before settling where she currently resides in Winnipeg, MB.  She lives with her parents, sister, and her equally Canucks-crazed brother.  She started watching hockey in February 2010 (during the Vancouver Olympics!), and latched on to the Canucks since she was living in BC at the time.  Her secondary love is basketball and she has played it for longer than she can remember.  She’s living her dream of playing at the university level right now at Providence University College.  While playing ball, she’s studying Communications and Media and hopes to someday work in sports journalism or reporting (she would love to take over Derek Jory’s job).  Her other interests include rockin’ out to country music, hanging out with friends, and watching movies.

Dan (@vancitydan) is currently between professions, and open to new opportunities.  Born in Calgary, he moved to BC before four, and feels homesick without the purple mountains’ majesty about.  Having been schooled mainly in the classroom of life, Dan has worked in a variety of businesses as a manager, and truly enjoys helping people.  A lifelong photographer who went from making his living as one to being part of a team of professionals helping movie makers realize their creative visions.  While he first hit the ice in full Bobby Orr regalia at age four, Dan has been a Canuck fan since three years later, when the team joined the NHL in 1970.  He fully agrees that Dale Tallon got unfairly compared to Perreault, loved how Andre Boudria played, and still cannot fully understand how Vladimir Krutov went from one of the best power forwards in the world to a cautionary tale for overeating in one year.  Vive le Vancouver restaurants!  Currently one part of the team of many fine writers at NucksMisconduct.com.

1. Who is your favourite current Canuck and why?

Crystal:  I have struggled with this question forever.  When people ask me this, I usually rattle off my top 5 or 6, simply because I love them all.  But since I have to narrow it down, I tend to be drawn not only to the best players on the ice, but the guys with awesome personalities off the ice as well.  Having said that, Cory Schneider, Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler are the main guys that spring to my mind.  Watching these guys do interviews are some of the most entertaining, hilarious moments of the season for me.

Dan:  My favourite Canuck is Kevin Bieksa both for his style of play and his talent, and because he’s one of the most community-oriented guys on the team. Plus, come on:  he is obviously one of the funniest and toughest guys on the team, no matter what that punk Vern Fiddler says!

2. Which Canuck would you not miss if he wasn’t on the team? Why?

Crystal:  Dale Weise.  Hands down.  It’s not that I hate the guy; it’s just that I like him the least.  Okay, I kinda hate him.  It’s mainly because back when he had his Twitter (and wasn’t using it wisely), I made a harmless comment about him doing so.  He responded not-so-nicely to me.  Ever since then, I haven’t been so fond of #32.  There’s also the question of production for Weise.  He’s never been a prominent player.  Not even close to prominent actually.  He’s been… present.  That’s all I can say for him.

Dan:  I don’t want to answer that question, as it will make the guy I pick feel bad.  You have Mason Raymond who falls down too much and Keith Ballard who isn’t worth his cap hit.  I do think that Ballard would be better on another team where he would have more opportunity.  So, if I had to answer (and it sounds like I do), I would say Ballard should be traded somewhere where he’d get more ice time.

3. Who would you rather have dinner with: Alain Vigneault or Mike Gillis? Why?

Crystal:  Alain Vigneault.  I want to see if he chews gum throughout dinner as well.  No, seriously I’d like to pick his brain!  Last year the team had a lot of different line combinations (most of which didn’t work), so I want to hear the logic behind that from the man himself!  I also just would like to get to know him.  I feel like we know tons about the players, their families, etc., but AV is kind of in the background.  He’s a really funny guy who I think would be entertaining to talk to!  I also want to find out if he can impersonate Cory Schneider as well as Cory can impersonate him.

Dan:  Alain Vigneault.  Though I would enjoy hearing about the travails of coaching the team, I am almost as interested in hearing about his time as “Bam Bam” as a St Louis Blue.  As well, I want to hear what it’s like to have millions of British Columbians “couch coaching” your every move.

4. What’s your general mood with respect to the NHL lockout?

Crystal:  The regular season is supposed to be starting today, which really made me think (and cry).  I should be donning my jersey, getting super pumped for my Canucks to pummel the Calgary fLames on opening night in their arena.  But I’m not.  Which is sad, because all summer I was literally counting down the days to October 11.  One of the things I hate the most about this situation is the fact that the Canucks were supposed to be coming to Winnipeg on February 9, and my brother and I were going to go.  Now we can’t.  Stupid lockout.

Dan:  A growing indifference, tinged with the realization that I would probably come running back!  The NHL knows they have Canadians in their back pocket.  I do feel that even this Canadian is reaching his breaking point if there is some foolish reason for no season.  Grow up Gary!

5. What’s your prediction of the date of the next NHL regular season game?

Crystal:  Being the positive person I am, I don’t really want to say that I don’t think there will be a season at all this year.  So I won’t.  I’m hoping for a October 25 start, although you and I both know that won’t happen.  At the rate the NHL/NHLPA talks are going, I think the most realistic goal, as the great Wayne Gretzky has already predicted, is for the Winter Classic on January 1.  Until then, I guess I have evenings free to do schoolwork.  Ugh.

Dan:  Late November or early December.  The Winter Classic will be the impetus for a deal.  So, when the Canucks win the Cup next summer, the haters will talk about how it deserves an asterisk.  #EmbraceTheHate!

Jun 272012
 
Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

1. Some fallout from the NHL Draft: Is it possible that, after the Cody Hodgson fiasco, the Canucks are doing more “background checks” on possible NHL draft picks? I found it interesting when Mike Gillis said that Brendan Gaunce has “good parents, good potential, and good leadership”. Wait, good parents? Sounds familiar.

2. You could make the argument the Canucks were ecstatic that Gaunce was available to them at pick 26. Outside of the offensive upside, there isn’t a ton separating Gaunce and Hodgson. Gaunce wore an ‘A’ for Belleville last season and is close to a lock when it comes to getting a spot on the Canadian world juniors team next winter.

3. Are the Canucks just steering clear of drafting WHL players completely? The club has now made 25 consecutive selections without taking a single WHL player. The last was Morgan Clark (2008, 7th round), and for the last ‘successful’ WHL pick outside of the traded Michael Grabner, you’d have to go all the way back to 1995 when Brent Sopel was a 6th round selection.

4. There was a rough reception for the Canucks on Day 2 of the draft, when they selected all overage players with their remaining picks. A lot of people cried uncle when the team could easily have signed the players over the summer without sacrificing picks. Perhaps the club wants to draft more mature players who could be ready in 2 years as opposed to 3 or 4.

5. How sold are you on the “draft the best player available” mentality? The Canucks certainly aren’t, given most of the drafted players could’ve been available later.

6. One team that didn’t draft the best player available was the Calgary Flames, who took Mark Jankowski when they could’ve arguably had him in the second round. Canucks fans who went through the Patrick White fiasco in 2007 know the pitfalls that can follow when a marginal prospect goes in the first round.

7. The Canucks didn’t make qualifying offers to Victor Oreskovich, Marc-Andre Gragnani or Andrew Ebbett, allowing all to become unrestricted free agents. Oreskovich and Ebbett aren’t total surprises, but steps had to be taken for Gragnani to avoid becoming a UFA in the first place, so the fact the club didn’t extend a qualifying offer is a bit shocking.

8. The problem with Gragnani is that he’s a good to great player in the AHL, but a fringe player in the NHL. Either the Canucks didn’t think he was worth a contract, or Vancouver has another defenseman coming into the system soon…

9. Also sounds like Aaron Rome won’t be returning to the Canucks. Unfortunately, the biggest impact Rome had in a Canucks uniform was for his hit on Nathan Horton which arguably cost the Canucks the Stanley Cup. Rome certainly wasn’t an impact player on the blueline during the run, but the team had been crippled by injuries beforehand so his suspension didn’t help matters.

10. With Rome and Gragnani cast out by the Canucks, who’s going to fill the void? It’s been floated around the Twitterverse that Sami Salo will be back for another year, but that still leaves a spot or two on the blueline open.

11. You can put together an opinion that Vancouver is opening a roster spot for high-profile UFA Justin Schultz to come to the Canucks, but nothing can be certain at this point. You could also argue the Leafs traded Luke Schenn so that they could free a roster spot for Schultz as well.

12. Is Toronto off the table for the Canucks and Roberto Luongo? Trading Luke Schenn, who was rumoured to be offered straight up for Luongo, certainly seems to answer that question.

13. Florida is said to be the frontrunners for Luongo now, but GM Dale Tallon questions whether or not the Cats can fit a gargantuan contract like Luongo’s into the equation, though reportedly, Florida ownership have no problems having to pay Luongo ten more years.

14. The other problem is the Canucks are said to be asking for one of Florida’s top young players: Erik Gudbranson, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dmitry Kulikov, and Quinton Howden. The first two are unlikely acquisitions, given they were top three selections in the NHL drafts the last two years.

15. Big congratulations are in order for Pavel Bure, who was elected to the HHOF yesterday. As a fan who grew up idolizing Bure as a child, the Russian Rocket spawned a generation of hockey fans in this city. And whether or not you believe he deserves to have his jersey hanging in the rafters of Rogers Arena, his place in the Hall is simply unquestioned.

Apr 242012
 

If you missed Mike Gillis’ post-season comments on Tuesday morning, you missed quite a bit. Here’s some of the points Gillis made, and a brief reaction on those comments.

Gillis says the Canucks play dropped off after the Boston Bruins game in January.

Hard not to agree with this sentiment. The Vancouver Canucks and the media billed this game as one of, if not the biggest game of the season. They looked emotionally and physically spent after the win and the intensity of their play dropped off substantially afterwards.

Gillis: “I have every bit of confidence in Alain [Vigneault].” … “Re-evaluation starts with me first. I’d like to be here.”

Gillis doesn’t like the stress of his job, but he enjoys the challenge. It sounds like if his services are retained, so will Alain Vigneault. Is it easy to suggest that either both of Gillis and Vigneault stay or both of them go, with no in between.

Gillis: “I spent more time on Cody [Hodgson] and his issues more than anybody. Cody did not want to be here. I don’t regret doing it… I’d do it again.”

This was the bombshell. Gillis threw Hodgson under the bus, saying that he explored several trade options and that there was a list of six players he would trade Hodgson for. Zack Kassian was on that list.

Gillis: “We have confidence in both of our goalies, and I know a lot of teams are envious of our situation.”

Without giving away too much, Gillis acknowledged that the team will re-evaluate their goaltending situation and go from there. He didn’t rule out the possibility of both goalies being back next season.

Gillis on Luongo: “If you take a look at his body of work, you’ll see that he’s an elite-level goaltender. We’ve got a ton of confidence in Roberto.”

Gillis on Cory Schneider: “It wasn’t by accident he was played in big games. We wanted to see if he was as good as we thought. He is. The emergence of Cory as such an outstanding young goalie has changed the landscape.”

A little more on Luongo and Schneider. To borrow an old quote from last June, Gillis did an admirable job of pumping both goalies’ tires and perhaps their trade value as well. He refused to pick one over the other.

Gillis: “I think we need to get younger, I think we need to get bigger and stronger.”

This seemed a little confusing, given the Canucks traded for Zack Kassian but didn’t play the kid. It does, however, indicate the Canucks are going to aim to have Kassian one day playing top-six minutes. It also gives you an idea that the club will keep Ryan Kesler down the middle and David Booth on the wing for the foreseeable future but expect them to look to add another piece.

Gillis says the Canucks won’t change their style of play despite the success of defensive teams this postseason.

Pretty self-explanatory, but also confusing given the Canucks struggled to score and receded into a defensive shell down the stretch. The Canucks style of play got dry and boring, and the team will need to re-invent themselves if they want to get back to a high-octane style.

Gillis says he’s not going to give up on Mason Raymond, but he needs to take a step forward.

Bombshell number two. Most people had Raymond left for dead at this point, but it sounds like he will be back. The patience from management and coaching staff is likely waning, however, so Raymond will be qualified over the summer and will have no choice but to be exponentially better.

Gillis has not talked to his players so it’s too early to suggest who will go and who will stay.

Gillis’ way of saying ‘no comment’ without showing his cards. He keeps things under wraps so it shouldn’t be expected he’s going to give an indication of who will and will not be on the roster next season. If history has shown anything, though, Gillis will make a significant move.

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