Archive for the ‘Slew Foot Burrows’ Category

The Canucks will need to get big minutes out of big Shawn Matthias against the Kings Thursday.

The Canucks will need to get big minutes out of big Shawn Matthias against the Kings Thursday.

Times have changed and the franchises have gone in different directions since the Kings ousted the Daniel-less Canucks in 5 games en route to their first Stanley Cup.  The Kings are coming off their second Stanley Cup and have, in some ways, a better roster that helped them take the cup in previous seasons and in other ways one which has grown a little stale.  The Canucks, meanwhile, have rebuilt on the fly, and coach Willie Desjardins has them playing an up-tempo forechecking style of play which keeps opponents defense on alert and their forwards pinned in the neutral zone.

Tale of the Tape

Season Overview
Season Record (NHL Rk) 32-21-13 (17) 38-24-4 (13)
Division Rank 4 2
Conference Rank 9 6
Home Record 21-7-7 18-12-1
Away Record 11-14-6 20-12-3
Division Record 10-4-6 12-8-3
Conference Record 19-9-9 19-15-3
Goals For 180 189
Goals Against 170 179
Streak Won 1 Won 2
Justin Williams LA
3 pts in last 2 GP
Marian Gaborik LA
4 pts in last 4 GP
Kyle Clifford LA
2 pts in last 2 GP
Brayden McNabb LA
3 pts in last 3 GP
Jake Muzzin LA
3 pts in last 3 GP
Tyler Toffoli LA
0 pts in last 3 GP
Radim Vrbata VAN
6 pts in last 5 GP
Daniel Sedin VAN
11 pts in last 10 GP
Dan Hamhuis VAN
5 pts in last 6 GP
Jannik Hansen VAN
11 pts in last 13 GP
Eddie Lack VAN
2-0-0, 1.50, .957 in last 2 GPI
Alexandre Burrows VAN
0 pts in last 3 GP
Canucks fans are hoping the return of Tanev solidifies their playoff bid.

Canucks fans are hoping the return of Tanev solidifies their playoff bid.

Other Intangibles:

LA:  The Kings talismen are not getting it done as a whole.  Other than Jeff Carter and, lately, Gaborik, who missed some games with an injury, the Kings have had some trouble finding regular contributors on offense.  Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, and the all- but-finished Mike Richards have had trouble finding the back of the net this season. Going into the game vs. the Canucks, who do a pretty good job of shutting down other teams top lines, these players will need to produce.

The win against Colorado was a big one, but the Avs started rookie netminder Calvin Pickard who was pulled in favour of Reto Berra.  While Canucks’ Eddie Lack isn’t exactly Patrick Roy, he is a legitimate NHL caliber goalie, so the Kings will have to be accurate.  Although the Kings have been a little up and down this season, they have a tendency of playing well against the Canucks and are not bothered by having their backs up against any wall, ever.  L.A. is also a very good road team, at least when it matters, have a day’s rest and just finished playing in higher elevation.

doughty kopitar vrbata

Kings’ all-stars haven’t been, while Canucks’ Vrbata has been tremendous.

Vancouver:  Rogers Arena hasn’t been indomitable for the Canucks and they haven’t beaten the Kings all season.  Their record against Pacific teams is only 19-15-3 and the Canucks have traditionally struggled against bigger more physical teams, which the Kings are.  Still, the Canucks have shown signs of becoming more “Kings-like” in recent months, adding younger legs and bigger bodies throughout the lineup.

Some of those legs and bodies are playing quite well for the team, as in the case of the Dorsett, Matthias and Horvat line.  They’re not setting the NHL on fire exactly, but Desjardins is getting timely production and using them in big minutes.  As well, the Canucks have assembled a formidable back line of stay-at-home defenders who take no prisoners and make sound hockey plays.  The wins against San Jose and Anaheim in the last week are much bigger character-builders than wins against the Avalanche and Oilers in a two week period which saw the Kings go 3W-4L.

The Canucks would love it if Alex Burrows could find the net again.

The Canucks would love it if Alex Burrows could find the net again.

Advantage Canucks:  Even though the Kings have a tendency of producing big wins when they need them the most, Thursday’s game feels like a Canucks win.  The key scorers for Vancouver have been consistent, while the supporting lines do what they’re supposed to do.  The Canucks are getting healthy at the right time, though they are still missing key D-man Kevin Bieksa.

More importantly the Canucks mental health has improved dramatically since the January 1st loss to Los Angeles while the Kings, say what they will, have been a little shaky.  As the Canucks younger players begin to arrive now, the Kings key pieces are slumping at the wrong time. The traditional size mismatch still favours the Kings but is not as dramatic as before.  This game will be close, but the Canucks should have enough to get their first win of the season vs. the defending champs and all their hubris.


Read Full Post »

new canucks

If the Canucks will go anywhere in the next few years, these guys will need to work.

Ok, so I’ve been a bit busy working with other things.  I know, I know, what could be more important than blogging for no recognition, pay or credit on my own site to a world of people who don’t leave comments and don’t reblog the site?  It seems unfathomable that I should have taken such a layoff, given the enormous boon of dividends that online blogging provides.  It truly is a wealth of rewards.

irish settler

“Work is thy own reward!”

But, in the interest of fueling the long used saying that “work is its own reward”, a saying surely initiated by some poor sap toiling away for some unscrupulous bastard in the early colonial years when half of Ireland was convinced that starting a farm in the Hudson Bay lowlands was a great idea, I will continue to provide the world with my invaluable insights.

So, I will preempt this all by explaining that, while I have been away from blogging about the Canucks, I have not been away from the work that is hockey.  In fact, just the other day I was at a Giants game during which my date received a souvenir to the head by ways of a flying puck.

A pool of blood, five hours in Burnaby General Hospital and six stitches to the scalp on a first date was definitely not the kind of reward that work should provide, but it did serve as a reminder, of sorts, that there is a silver lining. In the world of calamities, and a pencil thin scar just below the hairline not being the worst of calamities one could think of, I got to thinking about the game of hockey again and how the work of it is represented in life and life represented through it.

stack burger

Seriously, the Milestones stack burger? Well worth the work.

Tonight, however,  I took the safe route.  Work, nonetheless, but safe.  I decided to get a stack burger at the Cambie Milestones, where there were, literally, more people serving than actual customers and Patrick Hernandez’s “Born to Be Alive” blared in the background as the Canucks worked for a 1-0 lead.

A little work to find Craft paid off.

A little work to find Craft paid off.

Later, I decided to work at hunting down a more vibrant atmosphere and cabbed it to Athlete’s village where I sat on the long bar at the eponymously named tavern “Craft”, admiring the Canucks efforts on one of the many screens, the sports version of a silent drama playing out in front of me as more contemporary music than the stuck-in-the-eighties Milestones could provide (but did I mention the stack burger?).

Tonight I watched something I haven’t seen since maybe 2011, and no, I’m not referring to two clowns from Toronto who were cheering on the Ducks out of spite that their team can’t seem to make the playoffs in a year when everyone is actually trying to lose games.  I watched a team.  A real team.  Working.

The truth is that I’ve been there, watching, praying, hoping and lamenting every day, every game that it would finally culminate in what I saw today against Anaheim.  The Canucks have arrived, and they’ve done it through hard work, proving that it truly is its own reward.

horvat vs burns

Bo Horvat worked Brent Burns and Stanley Cup winner Niemi for his 9th goal.

I’ve been working hard watching this team closely all season, and I probably had lots to say about Willie Desjardins being selected to coach the Canucks, the trade of Ryan Kesler, or the promotion of Bo Horvat, the play of Ryan Miller, both good and bad, the surprising consistency of the team, the sucking of Kassian, Vrbata as an all-star, the rise of the Dorsett’s and the Mathhias’s, the injuries and then the resurgence of Kassian along with Eddie Lack finding his game again, but, hey, why work at recapturing all of that when another more appropriate saying (in this case) trumps them all:

Go Canucks.


And keep working.

Read Full Post »

Jim Benning will be the hockey scientist the Canucks always needed in order to recode the team's DNA.

Jim Benning is the will be the hockey scientist the Canucks always needed in order to recode the team’s DNA.

He’s not a Harvard lawyer, but a solid hockey man from hockey roots — someone who understands the game from the inside out.  Jim Benning has all the potential to be exactly what the Canucks have always longed for since the days of Pat Quinn. The first order of business for the former Canucks D-Man will be to find a coach who can create the exciting “brand” of hockey which newly appointed president Trevor Linden longs for.  In order to do this, Benning will likely read the irony written on the walls of the team’s asylum.  Kesler must go, but first things first.

Benning understands how delicate the balance is in the Canucks dressing room.  After a year of the recently dispatched John Tortorella, the Canucks can ill afford to hire another defensively minded coach who attempts to mold offensively gifted players like the Sedins into the pre-halcyon days when all they did was cycle the puck in the corners like a conveyor belt.  The Canucks do not need a “name brand” coach.  They do not need Barry Trotz.

After the failed Tortorella experiment the Canucks need to shift to a coach who will work with the offensively gifted veterans who want to win now, and bring along the young players who need to be inserted in positions to have success.  Enter Portland Winter Hawks’ Mike Johnston.

Mike Johnston would be the ideal candidate to coach the Canucks for the next five to six seasons.

Mike Johnston would be the ideal candidate to coach the Canucks for the next five to six seasons.

This hire makes a lot of sense.  Johnston has a history with the Canucks going way back to 1999 when he and Jack Mcllhargey were named as assistant coaches to the Marc Crawford led teams, teams which featured none other than current Canucks’ president Trevor Linden.  Additionally, the rise of Henrik and Daniel Sedin coincided with the arrival of Johnston, whose last season with the team in ’06 saw the twins reach then career highs of 75 points.

The rest of Johnston’s resume is impressive.  After two more years as an associate coach of the L.A. Kings where he and Crawford coached a young Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, Johnston was offered a job as a GM/Coach of the Portland W’interhawks.  This is from their website:

After taking over early in the 2008-09 season, Johnston and his staff led the Winterhawks to the biggest turnaround in team history in 2009-10, improving the team by 48 points. The Winterhawks made the playoffs for the first time in four years, knocking off Spokane in overtime of Game 7 in a thrilling series.

Following the season, eight Winterhawks were taken in the 2010 NHL Draft, tying a franchise record.

The Canucks need to hire a coach to work with a unique roster of seasoned pros and young up and comers alike.  Mike Johnston could do that.

The Canucks need to hire a coach to work with a unique roster of seasoned pros and young up and comers alike. Mike Johnston could do that.

Since 2010, the Winterhawks have competed in the last four consecutive finals, winning once.  His track record with young players is undeniable, even leading the Canadian Juniors to an undefeated record and a gold medal in Russia in ’09, the first time in seventy-three years.  If that’s not enough of a case to hire Johnston as the Canucks new coach, Johnston understands the business of hockey from a managerial standpoint, meaning that conversations between him Benning and Linden would be that much more enriched with regards to player movement.

Canucks want Pouliot.  Johnston coaches Pouliot.  Do the math.

Canucks want Pouliot. Johnston coaches Pouliot. Do the math.

Adding to all of this is the Canucks interest in young Penguins’ defenseman Derrick Pouliot who could come Vancouver’s way via a Kesler trade, a trade Ray Shero was unwilling to complete but a new Pittsburgh GM might.  Pouliot has blossomed, starred and emerged as a champion for none other than the Portland Winterhawks under none other than Mike Johnston.

Additionally, when Johnston was suspended in a rather heavy handed manner by the league for, essentially, paying for his captain’s cell phone bill it was none other than his assistant Travis Green who stepped behind the bench and won a championship.  The season after, the Canucks hired Green to coach their minor league affiliate, the Utica Comets.  Rumour has it that Tortorella didn’t consult Green with regards to player movement.  This would be another area which would be instantly resolved with the hire of Johnston as Canucks coach.

Team-builder Mike Johnston wasn't on the ice for this win, but Travis Green, now Utica Comets' head coach, was.

Team-builder Mike Johnston wasn’t on the ice for this win, but Travis Green, now Utica Comets’ head coach, was.

Linden has offered that the team is in search of a “career coach” and in that respect Johnston meets all criteria.  He began at the collegiate level in Canada in 1985 moving his way all the way up to coaching alongside Crawford at the Nagano Olympics where he coached not only the Great One but also, again, Linden himself.

His teams are known for speed, offensive stability, defensive mobility and immense success.  He has won at every level and has the maturity to handle veterans as well as the skills to handle young players.  He isn’t a Harvard lawyer, just like Benning and Linden aren’t, but he does hold a Master’s degree… in Coaching Science.

Linden, much like his role model Pat Quinn, is a loyal Canuck.  Already he has proven that loyalty by extending to a former Canuck and comparative model, Cam Neely, who gave back to the team that drafted him by allowing for a quick hire of former Canuck Jim Benning.  Jim Benning has a home in Portland where he would have undoubtedly caught a few Winterhawks games here and there.  This is a franchise once coached by Canucks’ Ring of Honour inductee, Harold Snepsts, and the same team for which Benning played in his junior days.

Even Hockey Night’s Elliotte Friedman touched on Johnston explaining the obvious connections:

The final name was team-specific to Vancouver: Mike Johnston of WHL Portland. Linden made it clear the GM should hire the coach, but the two have a history. Anyway, just some different names.

Just one person’s opinion here, but if the Canucks want that old-time feel they should seek to reestablish that Canuck connection by hiring another lost brother in Mike Johnston, but the only question would be, would he want to leave his position as GM of the Winterhawks to accept the relative instability of an NHL coach where he hasn’t won the big one?

If the Canucks are going to add youth to the lineup, they will need a coach who understands how to coach it.

If the Canucks are going to add youth to the lineup, they will need a coach who understands how to coach it.

Winterhawks owner Bill Gallacher has said he “wouldn’t stand in Johnston’s way”, should the coach want to move up to the NHL.  Admittedly, the news on the Canucks coaching front has circulated around current assistants or Barry Trotz, but given the current direction of the team, owned by two Vancouver locals and die-hard fans, presided over by a local legend, and now managed by a former player, the hire of Mike Johnston  would complete the cycle.

Read Full Post »

New President Trevor Linden will need to determine if there's any more juice left in the Canucks' core?

New President Trevor Linden will need to determine if there’s any more juice left in the Canucks’ core?

Is it a  retool, a reset a refresh or a rebuild?  It’s a known fact that the Canucks are breathstrip thin in the offensive ranks and are in need of serious help all over the roster.  Even a quick glance at this year’s playoffs will tell any Canucks fans who watched the game closely that the team is neither strong enough or quick enough to compete with any of the remaining eight teams in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Trevor Linden gives the Canucks a face that's difficult to hate.

Trevor Linden gives the Canucks a face that’s difficult to hate.

Newly appointed President of Hockey Operations, Trevor Linden, knows a few things about playing the north/south game, and will be looking to understand what the franchise holds in current talent vs. what the franchise needs vs. what it can afford. But without a GM and a coach his job is significantly more difficult.  Linden will have to prove that he’s not just a figurehead, and soon.

It is assumed that the team returns with Sedin as their primary scoring center and Kesler as the team’s premier two-way pivot and not as the  slow defensive pass-first center and a swashbuckling right winger as under the Tortorella regime.  Even so, with Mike Santorelli’s health in question (and a UFA himself) the team will be looking to add a quality player as insurance in the middle at the three spot, while bolstering the lines with quality scoring wingers.

The other assumption is that the Canucks new direction is a departure from the old direction.  Former President/GM Mike Gillis’ s main strength was to scour other teams’ rosters in order to mastermind a roster.

GM Gillis’s acquisitions were mostly misses anyway.

In the case of Dan Hamhuis, Mikael Samuelsson and Manny Malhotra, the strategy seemed to pay immediate dividends. In other cases such as in Jason Garrison’s or Mike Santorelli’s, the results are still in the balance.

Mike Gillis's acquisitions often made the Canucks the target of league-wide scorn and mockery.

Mike Gillis’s acquisitions often made the Canucks the target of league-wide scorn and mockery.

The list of failures, however, is lengthy: Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Hordichuk, Ryan Johnson, Curtis Sandford, Pavol Demitra, Rob Davison, Mats Sundin, Andrew Raycroft, Tanner Glass, Marco Sturm, Dale Weise, Andrew Ebbett, Byron Bitz, Steve Pinizzotto, Mark Mancari and Alexander Sulzer all arrived to the Canucks via free agency and were never better than just roster filling support players for a core that he neither drafted nor traded for.

Rest assured, Trevor Linden’s philosophy will be to search from within to succeed from without.

Linden will not be as involved with the free agent chase, unless to sign his own, for nothing says “F-U” to other GM’s in the league more than signing their players for more money than they’re worth, a talent for which Mike Gillis appeared to have a penchant.  If Linden is the second coming of Pat Quinn, the talents of other teams’ player development and scouts will will take a back seat to his own.

The Linden regime’s first move will determine what the team is doing going forward.  A Ryan Kesler trade for youth and draft picks, for example, would indicate a movement towards rebuilding.  A signing of a big name UFA like Paul Stastny, Andrei Markov or Dan Boyle, for example would indicate a reloading.

And then, of course, everything depends on what the team’s new GM’s philosophy is and, ultimately, who the new coach is too.

If the Canucks acquire the right combination of management and coach, a veteran UFA like Dan Boyle might find Vancouver an appealing choice.

If the Canucks acquire the right combination of management and coach, a veteran UFA like Dan Boyle might find Vancouver an appealing choice.

Linden’s most pressing concern is to fill the gaping management hole with a seasoned professional who has numerous connections league-wide.  The next step is to find a coach whom the players will enjoy playing for.  In the end though, Linden’s most critical stamp on the team will be to repair the bridges Mike Gillis burned in his five-year tenure with the team.

Perhaps it isn’t a retool, reset, refresh or rebuild inasmuch as it is a re-engineering of the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks and their fans are hoping  these bridges hold this time, because the franchise is one collapse away from a protracted period of futility.


Read Full Post »

It might be time to let longtime Canuck Ryan Kesler go in 2014.

It might be time to let longtime Canuck Ryan Kesler go in 2014.

The Canucks can compete as soon as next season with a few decisive roster moves but a few things have to happen first.  Here is a top ten list of things to do in Canuckville this off-season to turn last year’s roster of  spare parts into a unified and up and coming team, in chronological order.

  1. Trade Ryan Kesler.

    Even if he wants to stay, the Canucks’ forward was and will continue to be a distraction.  If Tortorella was right about one thing, it was that Canucks fans need to forget about 2011.  That Selke trophy and those 41 goals are distant memories now, but the player still holds his value across the league.  To avoid an Iginla situation,  at the first available moment the team must trade him to acquire what they really need.  See number 2.

  2. Acquire a young “can’t-miss” offensive defenseman.

    If there is one commonality between all previous cup winners it is that they all had a defenseman who could skate, shoot, and move the puck.  Think about the previous ten Stanley Cup champions and their premium defenseman:

    The Hurricanes were the only group to win without a dominant D-man in the last 10 years.

    The Hurricanes were the only group to win without a dominant D-man in the last 10 years.

    2013:  Chicago Blackhawks — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook,
    2012:  L.A. Kings —  Drew Doughty
    2011: Boston Bruins  — Zdeno Chara,
    2010: Chicago Blackhawks — That combo of Keith and Seabrook again
    2009: Pittsburgh Penguins  — Kris Letang,
    2008:  Detroit Red Wings — Nicklas Lidstrom (who also won in three other finals)
    2007: Anaheim Ducks — Scott Niedermayer (who also won with the New Jersey Devils in 2003)
    2006: Carolina Hurricanes –Leadership of  Brind’Amour and goalie Cam Ward.  Oilers did have D Chris Pronger.
    2005: No playoffs due to lockout
    2004:  Tampa Bay Lightning — Dan Boyle

  3. Compliance Buyout David Booth.

    I’m not sure I need to explain this to Canucks fans, or any other fans for that matter, but David Booth would have been a disappointment if he were being paid half a million and change.  Unfortunately, the club has been saddled with his $4.5 million over the last three years. The likeable Booth has unfortunately not really lived up to any part of his end of the contract, and is now healthy enough to use a buyout on.  This must happen if the Canucks can do the next logical thing in number 4.

  4. Overpay Paul Stastny.

    The Canucks can now dangle near Sedin money at the 28 year-old player.  He was a big part of Colorado’s resurgence this season and also has developed a strong two-way game.  Is he a better defender than Kesler? Not yet, but he is a better distributor of the puck which is what the Canucks need on the power play and on their second line.  The Canucks need goals and Stastny plays more like a true centre rather than the converted winger Kesler is.  Unfortunately, the Canucks will have to pay big bucks to gain the centre’s services.

    The Canucks would have to do a good sell-job on the Av's centre, but he's a good fit for the second line in Van.

    The Canucks would have to do a good sell-job on the Av’s centre, but he’s a good fit for the second line in Van.

  5. Find a backup mentor for Eddie Lack.

    J.S. Giguere is another free agent who may come at a nicer price tag than most.  He’s at the tail end of a brilliant career and would provide the kind of stability behind Eddie Lack that, say, a 38 year-old Roberto Luongo would provide — can get in when called upon, but is no threat to the throne.  Meanwhile, Lack could benefit from an experienced netminder giving him tips along the way.

  6. A right winger with pedigree and/or leadership.

    The Sedins are not going to do much more with Alex Burrows, that much is proven.  After a season in which the former “third Sedin” went half a year without scoring a single goal, and injured every part of his body in the process, the Sedins need a trigger man who can bury the puck on the right side.  I suggest Radim Vrbata or Ryan Callahan depending on what kind of cap space is available.  Marian Gaborik is also a free agent, but will command top dollar.  How about dangling an opportunity to play with the Sedins for Daniel Alfredsson?  It’s all doable.

  7. Sign UFA’s.

    First, Chris Tanev.  The Canucks need to lock this player up long-term.  He is simply too important to let go.  He is not the dominant D-man they need, but he is the steadiest and most reliable player former GM Mike Gillis was ever able to acquire on his own intuition.  Tanev might cost the Canucks in the 3-4 million zone, but he is too important to the team.  Second, Zack Kassian.  He’s still on the cusp of becoming a legitimate contributor but there were some signs last season that the hulking winger was willing to take on the challenge.  The game vs. Buffalo when he poured in 4 assists was utterly dominant.

    Kassian will have to fill the net more often next season after he signs.  He's no longer just a kid.

    Kassian will have to fill the net more often next season after he signs. He’s no longer just a kid.

  8. Roll out the rook.

    Bo Horvat’s time is now.  The Canucks must give him every opportunity to make the big leagues, especially after he has accomplished everything there is to accomplish at the junior level.  Linden’s leadership and advice will serve the young Horvat well and could make the Canucks competitive as soon as next season.

  9. Find a scoring left-winger.

    It’s also time the Canucks had a proper NHL second line, and with the addition of Stastny, all the Canucks need to do is find him some skill to work with for a season or two while the younger players develop.  If all goes according to plan, a second line of Stastny, Kassian and Michalek wouldn’t look half bad skating after the Sedins with their new winger.

  10. Salary dump Alex Edler.

    It’s time the club admitted what they have in this player.  Benning is the second evaluator of Alex Edler to come in from an objective standpoint and say what this player once was:  a dominant defenseman who could move the puck and put opposing forwards on the ice with shocking hits.  By rights, this is the player the Canucks needed to have develop  more than most but he is verging upon becoming a bust.  By lifting the 4 million from the Canucks books, they can acquire a higher draft pick and/or a prospect while shoring up a better winger for the newly acquired Stastny.  It’s time to say bye to Edler, and the Canucks could look like this:  http://www.capgeek.com/armchair-gm/roster/20191






Read Full Post »


The Canucks should act fast to sign the heads-up D-man Chris Tanev and make him part of the new core of the team.

The list of free-agents on the team is Mark Donnelly-thin, and after the Canucks shed some cap weight by trading 85% of Luongo’s contract (but 100% of his services… can’t he play 8 more games for us?), there is room for addition.  The Canucks chances of making the Stanley Cup playoffs are now about as strong as the chances of Phil Jackson retaining the services of Mike Woodson.

This off-season is the most important in the franchise’s last ten or so, and certainly the most pressure the “retooling” Mike Gillis has ever faced.  Here are the top likely candidates to be re-signed, and to be let go by the Vancouver Canucks this off-season.


The Kassian contract will demonstrate the team's commitment to the player as a cornerstone of the franchise.

The Kassian contract will demonstrate the team’s commitment to the player as a cornerstone of the franchise.

Alberts, Andrew » D Age: 32 $600,000 2014 (UFA)  Estimated Contract:  Will not sign

At some point the hulking defender will be better than someone else’s top six in the NHL.  I’m guessing this off-season both the team and the player will decide to part ways after three seasons of steady service on the depth chart.  With things going south in Vancouver, Alberts might want to play for a team which isn’t going younger, and the team may want to see what they have in Utica defender Frankie Corrado, who is waiting in the wings.

Kassian, Zack » R Age: 23   Salary: $870,000 2014 (RFA)  Estimated Contract: $2, 250,000/3 Years

Mike Gillis acquired Kassian for his only semi-successful draft pick in Cody Hodgson so he will seek to make Zack a part of the long-term future of the team.  I imagine the big forward will get a contract which represents his current value and his trajectory.  If he can be a 20-goal scorer, a contract in the neighbourhood of two million per season for four years could look like a bargain.

Tanev, Chris » D Age: 24    Salary: $1,500,000 2014 (RFA) Estimated Contract: $3,750,000/4 Years

Tanev will be seeking a contract in the range of $4,000,000 per season.  Given his importance to the team, and what they’re already paying Alex Edler, the Canucks would be well served to meet Tanev around that mark.  He won’t come cheap after he took the one year 1.5 mil to begin this season.

Santorelli, Mike » C Age: 28 $550,000 2014 (UFA)  Estimated Contract:  $2,500,000/3 years NTC

Santorelli was headed for a big-time raise up until he tore his labrum.  Now that the shifty center is on the mend, the team holds some strength in the negotiation process to determine his worth going forward.  It seems as though Santo has found a home with the Canucks, but it’s entirely possible that he will find other suitors in the NHL in a weak year for free agents.  Gillis will probably have to whip out the “no-trade” clause, for whatever it’s worth on the Canucks, in order to retain the free agent’s services.

Schroeder, Jordan » C Age: 23 $600,000 2014 (RFA)  Estimated Contract:  $830,000 / 1 year

Another Gillis Draft pick which appears to  be headed to make it or break it territory in the next season.  The diminutive center needs to show something special next season and may take a quick one-year deal to prove himself worthy of more money in ’15.  It’s a risky ploy though, as Schroeder has been injured frequently in his young career.

The Canucks may have a disgruntled D-man or two to re-sign this summer.

The Canucks may have a disgruntled D-man or two to re-sign this summer.

Weber, Yannick » D Age: 25 $650,000 2014 (RFA)  Estimated Contract: Will not re-sign with Canucks

Weber’s displeasure at not being used on the first unit power play, in addition to being sent for a conditioning stint in the minors halfway through the season will mean that the Swiss national will be seeking a contract which is with another team.  I would expect the team to offer him something under a million, and Weber requesting a trade if the team offers him a qualifying contract at all.

Read Full Post »

Roberto Luongo went from the chosen one, to the scapegoat to the martyr.  How will he be remembered in Vancouver?

Roberto Luongo went from the chosen one, to the scapegoat to the martyr. How will he be remembered in Vancouver?

Never has there been such a divisive force in Canucks history.  When Canucks fans think of the best goalie to ever wear our colours, the statistics would indicate that it was always Roberto Luongo, but when Canucks fans think of Canucks who have given service to the team and community, other names come to mind:  Trevor Linden, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Markus Naslund, Stan Smyl, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows, Kirk Mclean.

Now that a couple of weeks have elapsed since the biggest trade in Canucks recent history since, perhaps, the trade to acquire him, Roberto Luongo’s legacy is worth considering.  Just what is it that he contributed to the Vancouver Canucks and our community and did he truly bleed the Canucks’ colours?

In his later years with the team, Luongo became a caricature of himself as "strombone1" took over.

In his later years with the team, Luongo became a caricature of himself as “strombone1” took over.

For such an important player, it seems his worth was all related to the ups and downs of what ensued on and off the ice.  This is not to take anything away from Luongo’s time with the Canucks own charitable work with Canuck Place, his sponsorship of a box at Rogers Arena for underprivileged children to watch games and his patience overall with a Vancouver fan base running on anxiety and post traumatic stress from narrow losses in two of three Stanley Cup Finals, for in that sense Luongo has been pulling the company line.  But, when someone’s heart isn’t in it, it just isn’t in it and, other than the time leading up to the 2011 run, Luongo’s heart hasn’t been in it, let’s face it.

Fans are quick to point out that this is a mess created by Gillis, and in that respect I agree.  There was an opportunity to make Luongo a longtime Canuck by simply challenging him to accept a fair contract for market value and typical terms, rather than a lifetime contract, with too many guarantees and the unorthodox granting of the captaincy role to a goaltender.  Mike Gillis would surely take that one back beyond any contract he’s signed. Ever since that day, there has been a slow erosion in the relationship between team and player which led the team to trade him back to Florida for virtually nothing.

Many Canucks fans will cite the Schneider and Luongo controversy as the beginning of the end.

Many Canucks fans will cite the Schneider and Luongo controversy as the beginning of the end.

But, still, the question remains “why Florida?”.  Here the player is to blame for where his heart truly lies, in every sense of the word “lies”.  It is understandable when Cory Schneider looks like the next real deal that Luongo wants to be traded to a team with at least a playoff opportunity, but now that Florida seems destined for lottery picks for at least the next two seasons, the limitation in destinations appears like a lifestyle choice over a career move.  The brighter sunlight and dimmer media lights seems suited for a goalie whose battered confidence is in need of low-pressure easy street for a while.

Florida offers friends and family, a warm place to read a paper on a sun deck and expectations that are non-existent — a far cry from Vancouver, where the inhospitable winter months, with weeks of rain and sleet in the four hours of daylight are a metonym for the narrow and grim focus the city attains for their beloved Canucks.  Living in Vancouver every day of one’s existence isn’t as easy as it looks in the sunny pictures.  You have to have a methodical and hardened type of focus to make it through those months, a type of focus that would allow one to, say, survive an onslaught of seemingly insurmountable pressure when what one would rather do is be in a sunny destination relaxing with a Mai-Thai in a swimsuit.

Luongo's legacy... can't keep his mouth shut.

Luongo’s legacy… can’t keep his mouth shut.

In the end, Luongo will be remembered for a number, the number “1”.  “1” as in one raised arm to inform the referee about a penalty as Corey Perry blows an easy one by him in overtime of the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.  One bad contract and one bad decision to make him the sole captain of the team.  One Stanley Cup finals run during which the team lost by one game.  One bad trade to the one team he wanted to go to in the one market that doesn’t care whether there’s an NHL team or not in their city. One gold medal… not two.  One larger than life player, riding a fine line on social media as “strombone1” who couldn’t put the team on his back the one time they needed him to in the one game that meant the most for the franchise.

One bad decision after another, Luongo wasn’t sent to Florida because it was a good trade.  He was sent there because everyone needs to move on from one weird era of Canucks history.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: