[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.]
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?