January 12 2013 12:16PM
(Editor's Note: To think that a week ago we were sitting around worrying about whether pettiness might prevail and cancel the 2013 NHL season. How quickly our mood has shifted after a flurry of a week gave us everything from a Luongo to Philadelphia rumour to a short-lived Twitter beef between Roberto Luongo and the Iron Sheik...
Anyway, in anticipation of the start of the shortened 2013 season, I figured I'd reach out to a handful of Canucks fans who I like on Twitter and get their take on the upcoming season. So I got at the likes of original shapper @mariomontega, Ritch Winter's bane @taj1944, hard hitting sports analyst @socialassassin2, our old pal @tinfoiltuque, long-term Canucks blogger and funny lady @alixiswright37, the streaky @kesrows and smart dude @ryanbiech; and asked all of them them five pertinent Canucks related questions headed into this season:
- The Canucks are seen as contenders going into this season, but are you confident they can live up to expectations? Should the city hold off on planning the President's Trophy parade? Why or why not?
- How much do the Canucks need to acquire in a Luongo trade for you to be satisfied with the return?
- Which Canucks player is the most important to the team's chances this season? Least important?
- Finish this sentence: if the Canucks fall short again this year they should ______?
- If you were giving advice to a Canucks fan who was considering joining Twitter, what are the five accounts you would recommend as "must follows"?
Big thanks to the "Group of Seven" who participated in this post (and all got their answers to me on time). Hopefully their take on Canucks issues is a refreshing change of pace from the long-winded, Vigneault-apologist nonsense that you're used to reading around these parts. Click past the jump for some quality shap, some comedy and a quick, unscientific gauge of what Canucks fans are expecting from their team going into a lockout shortened season.)
The Canucks are seen as contenders going into this season, but are you confident they can live up to expectations? Should the city hold off on planning the President's Trophy parade? Why or why not?
I'm going on record again that this team will not win with coach AV. I feel upfront we have a lot of holes and we don't have the fire power unless we get something good in return for Lou. I mean Raymond, Booth, hurt Kes, and an unproven Kassian aren't contenders to me. The defense is ok, but to me it's a bit overrated at times, we've got good 3rd and 4th guys, not solid 1 and 2's.
In a lockout shortened season, it's hard to make predictions. If the expectation is they're gonna win the Stanley Cup, then no, I don't believe that will happen. I'm not convinced they're gonna win their division. As long as the Canucks make the playoffs, which they obviously will, they'll be a legitimate threat in the West.
A shorter season could benefit the Canucks, considering they're an aging team. How long Ryan Kesler remains out of the lineup will have a huge impact on how well they do in the regular season.
I am someone who believes the window is closing on the Canucks. The Sedins are now on the downside of their careers, which doesn't mean they're still not great players, but expecting more than a point per game from them might be wishful thinking. The pressure and urgency to win the Stanley Cup should be at an all-time high.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks miss the playoffs in this shortened season. With Kesler being out at least a month, they’re only a one line team. On top of that, the defensive core has less depth than the previous 2 seasons. The top 6 includes a couple of guys coming off nagging injuries. They’re just one injury away from being in serious trouble on the backend. Only thing that may save them is their cupcake division.
As Canucks fans, we all recognize the Presidents Trophy as the most prestigious award in hockey. Sadly, a three-peat this season is very unlikely and we may have to console ourselves with a Stanley Cup instead.
Let's be honest. This season has all the makings of a blindfolded speed dating mingler. Nobody has the slightest clue what they're going to go home with. Every team will have to deal with conditioning and most likely inflated injury issues. The regular season will be war of attrition usually reserved for the playoffs. Not exactly a preferable environment for bold predictions.
While most player's decision to remain home during a short lockout may have been beneficial, expect an extended lockout to be detrimental to a solid start. I predict February to look a lot like the standard October.
The Canucks current lack of Kesler as a second line center could hold them back from being a contender. If the guys thrown into that replacement role don't work out, there's a lot of pressure put on the Sedins to score every night. Not that the Sedins are scared of pressure. They eat pressure with their meatballs.
Let us hope that David Booth feels like hunting for goals. I'm confident the Canucks will make the playoffs, but I don't think there will be a President's Trophy three-peat.
I am confident that they'll be able to win their division, but due to the 48 game schedule, the President’s Trophy may be harder to obtain as it's basically a sprint.
Given that the other NW teams have not greatly improved, the Canucks winning the President’s Trophy is still pretty plausible. I just don’t know how I will feel about the three-peat being overshadowed by the asterisk of the lockout shortened season.
They'll certainly make the playoffs, likely as the top seed in the west, and possibly as 1st overall. So I suppose that makes them contenders. I'm never confident they can live up to expectations, because those expectations are always inflated. And because I'm a Canucks fan and I expect failure. That said, I'm pretty sure Canucks fans can count on a threepeat.
How much do the Canucks need to acquire in a Luongo trade for you to be satisfied with the return?
If they can get one of: a solid top 6 fwd or top 4 D prospect or a top 4 D, then I'd be satisfied. If they can avoid taking on an anchor of a contract in return, that's even better. I have low expectations of what a Lu trade could bring because of his horrendous contract.
I don’t think the Canucks faithful will be satisfied, unless we are talking about getting Gradiner, Kadri and a 1st round pick as a return; but that is not happening. What I am hopeful for with the eventual Luongo trade, is a piece to help us now ( Bozak), a piece for later (Kadri) and then a piece that gives the Canucks the freedom at the deadline to make another deal (1st or 2nd round pick) at the trading deadline.
I will be satisfied with more than Tyler Bozak and less than Nazem Kadri. Come on down, mystery Leafs prospect! A draft pick might be nice too. I'm not picky about which round.
Let's keep in mind I'm behind the curve on the nuances of the new CBA and how 'The Luongo Rule' affects contract value and appeal.
I don't want Luongo to go. Never have. But the bucket is now full and it's time to move on. In a shortened season, it's all about filling holes. The chasm that is Canucks depth at center due to Kesler's delayed return has to be the first thing addressed. A capable center (hopefully along with a pick or prospect) will have to do. Schneider's new contract has goalies taking up too large a slice of the pie.
The amount of cap space cleared will help enable management to address any roster concerns going forward. I hate it, but it's all but done.
Need at least one 2nd/3rd line forward (Bozak), good prospect (Kadri) and a 2/3 round pick.
This is a moving target, it seems. Being a realist, I haven't set my expectations too high for the return. When I heard the rumors regarding Gardiner and Kadri, I was pleasantly surprised. I think two players at that level would be ideal. It depends how many teams are really interested in Luongo. I'm not convinced Philadelphia is really "in it".
I think personally you have to get a solid young piece (prospect) and a vet that can step right in and help the team. Lou's cap hit is cheap for a solid #1 guy.
Which Canucks player is the most important to the team's chances this season? Least important?
This seaon rides on 17 for me, if he's not going ASAP were going to have some problems. I think Mason is least important as he's not a top 6 or a bottom 6.
This is a great question. I'm gonna go with David Booth. When the Canucks acquired Booth, I was quite excited. I had been a fan of his for a while and thought he would be a great fit here. Although there were flashes of good play, there wasn't nearly enough for me. Of course, the knee injury didn't help. I think he has to increase his production to be considered a quality second liner, which is what he is getting paid like. With Ryan Kesler out of the lineup, Booth will be depended upon to provide the offensive spark on the second line.
Also, Ryan Kesler is obviously a huge part of this team. He's one of the top second line centres in the league. He does everything for the Canucks - kills penalties, great on the pp, adds a physical element and is a very good leader. Being without him for a significant chunk of the season will cripple the team.
The least important? That's hard to say without being insulting. I'll go with whoever ends up backing up Cory Schneider. In a 48 game season, you have to assume Schneider will play around 40 games, leaving very few games for the backup.
The most important player to the Canucks success is easily Ryan Kesler. This team is only an elite team when Kesler is healthy. Without him they turn into a one line team. When he’s in the line-up everyone else slots in perfectly. As he’s shown in the past he can carry a whole line by himself when healthy. Hopefully, he doesn’t rush back because he’ll just end up breaking down again.
The least important player is Mason Raymond because well.. it’s Mason Raymond.
Don't like harping on it, but management made a decisive change in direction and it will have to pay off...goaltending. Schneider has been admirable waiting in the wings for his shot at as a starter. He has that opportunity now. Canucks success hinges on him as much as anything right now. I don't expect him to have much of a safety net behind him on the bench this season, so it's sink or swim time. As much faith as I have in him, it's a whole new ballgame now.
Honourable mention goes to the D corps. I'd like to add a bunch of pressure on Garrison, but I'll give him a 24 game pass. Edler is the one player who I would really like to see re-gain his form from a season ago. He has all the tools, but somehow managed to look lost at times during last season. With the loss of Salo and Ehrhoff, Canucks need the combination of steady defense and production. (Note: Steady defense is not applicable to Ehrhoff).
Henrik Sedin is the most important. So help me, Duncan Keith, if you take out Henrik this time I will track you down myself. The least important is Keith Ballard, much to my sadness. If he's not traded, you just know AV will try and scratch him 40 out of 48 games.
Most important - Schneider. Schneider needs to put the critics to rest as quickly as possible; otherwise there will be a constant cloud of doubt over the new #1.
Least Important – Kassian. Either he shines and gives the Canucks another option for their roster (which is what I want, and expect from him); or he falters, and gets the minutes he needs in the AHL.
Most important: Ryan Kesler. The sooner he comes back and is legitimately healthy, the better. The Canucks are going to struggle if they have to use Ebbett and/or Schroeder as 2C for an extended period of time. And Kesler's two-way play and ability to play all three situations is difficult to replace.
Least important: Dale Weise. No 'splanation necessary.
Finish this sentence: if the Canucks fall short again this year they should _______?
Re-evaluate how they've built their top 2 forward lines, especially if their failure to score again leads to their demise in the playoffs (2011 BOS, 2012 LAK). Most specifically, it might be time to land an elite RW to play with the Sedins. Sedins are on the other side of the slope of their career. Give them an elite scorer to close out their time in Vancouver.
The common response will begin with ‘Fire’ and finish with a coaches initials; but I don’t think that is what is needed.
If this core can't get it done, the Canucks should turn to their youth and allow Jensen, Gaunce, Schroeder, Kassian and Connauton have a shot at making an impact with the 13/14 roster. Rather than just being fill-ins, they could fill out the already existing lineup with the players that have been drafted and developed within the system. This will result in the Canucks letting Malhotra, Raymond, Lapierre and Higgins to walk at the end of the year. That sort of turnover would be needed after two straight disappointing seasons.
Pay for my therapy bill! Then they should probably slice Vancouver away from the rest of Canada to protect other people from the riot. But honestly, they should fire AV and make some ginormous player changes.
If Canucks fall short this year, they should ship Vigneault to the Yukon where he can trap away to his little heart's content. AV to Canucks coaching is what Cloutier was to Canucks goaltending...great regular seasons coupled to uninspiring playoff performances.
Alain's contract renewal was based on an agreement (so I understand) that he would get away from a narcoleptic trap system to, at the very least, a more balanced system with some semblance of aggressive forecheck. Those Presidents Trophies we fawn over are proof that he delivered the goods. He implemented a balanced structure of hard checking with defensive responsibility.
Here's the problem: Playoffs. His tendency to revert to his old ways is maddening. Everything runs fine until a lead is established, when inexplicably, a passive one man forecheck and reactionary defense will sustain a one goal lead for forty minutes. If he could just run a playoff series with the mentality of 'doing what got us here' instead of falling back to his comfort zone, I would expect much more positive results.
If the Canucks fall short again they should fire AV. He survived 2 years ago because of a great save by Luongo in OT vs the Hawks and I still don’t know how he survived the last season. He’s a good regular season coach but when it comes to making adjustments in a playoff series only a few coaches are worse. Since he got to Vancouver he hasn’t won any playoff series in which his team was the lower seed. Only reason he’s still around is because he’s Gillis’ puppet.
Tough question to answer because you have to see how things play out to give an appropriate response. If I had to reply right now, I would say fire Vigneault. I was quite surprised they didn't can him last season. He's been here a long time and it's no secret, the communication between him and certain players hasn't been great. I think he has mishandled players at times and played favourites too often. I don't think AV is a bad coach, as he has a tremendous record behind the Canucks bench. I just think the message has gotten stale and it's time to move on.
Go Gangnam style just kidding b. FIRE AV AND MG!
If you were giving advice to a Canucks fan who was considering joining Twitter, what are the five accounts you would recommend as "must follows"?
Depends what you're looking for. Do you want #hardhittinganalysis? Do you want someone who blindly cheers for everything the team does? Do you like some laughs mixed in? My favourite Canucks-related people on twitter are:
- @strombone1 - the unverified account of Roberto Luongo is fantastic. Very funny and self-deprecating. Gives you a new appreciation for the man behind the mask.
- @tinfoiltuque - the ex-Canucks Army writer is a favourite of mine. He's a very passionate fan who calls it like he sees it and drops in some laughs a long the way.
- @taj1944 - A true diehard Canucks fan. Of the people I follow, nobody seems to live and breath for the Canucks more than him. He's good at digging for information on twitter.
- @botchford - the true insider. He knows things. Best media member in Vancouver on twitter.
- @camcharron and @ThomasDrance - I put these two characters together because I view them as a team on twitter for some reason. Both tweet A LOT and provide great analysis, especially if you're into fancy stats. Cam brings a very unique brand of humor to the table. Thom puts in a lot of time and hard work running the best Canucks blog online. I disagree with these two on a regular basis but it always stays respectful.
There are SO many people I could've included on the list. There are a lot of great bloggers and regular Canucks fans on twitter. The #shapcrew are a group of fans who deserve to be recognized for their passion and willingness to call a spade a spade. They're also pretty damn funny.
- @botchford -> First and only inductee to the Shap Hall of Fame
- @kevinisingoal -> No one breaks down the goaltending position better and provides great insight on the Canucks.
- @strombone1 -> Best account on Twitter. Rumoured to be a famous athlete’s account but don’t tell Blake Price that.
- @TheStanchion – Always entertaining and can get you a 100 followers in an hour.
- @arome27 – Needs no explanation, best D-man in Canucks history (tell him to unblock me)
Last season I saw a blog run a list of 50 must follow Canucks twitter users get lambasted for exclusion. I would personally like to take this opportunity to thank Drance for limiting me to five (what could possibly go wrong?).
In all honesty, some of the panel would have been included in my picks. So I will cheat by including them, except @thomasdrance, don't follow that guy.
- @botchford best media follow
- @strombone1 best temporary Canucks account
- @thestanchion photoshop guru, insomniac
- @camcharron purveyor of fine #fancystats, occasionally clever
- @sircanuckles levity, random rational thoughts
Honourable mention: @notafullcolon Yes, it's a real name
I know I left out very important people...blame Thomas.
Special thanks to Drance for including me in a group I have much respect for. Go Canucks Go.
Wow. Only 5 is tough. The Canucks twitter-sphere is fantastic.
- Hosea Cheung @hosea24hours is a great source for timely everyday Canucks news. I'm not sure if he ever sleeps.
- Guts McTavish @gutsmctavish24 hilarious puppet and 24 Hours columnist. He constantly cracks me up and is fun to tweet with during games.
- Grainne @KeithMallard has my favourite twitter handle ever. If you want to talk about Alex Edler's play on the ice or fashion off of it, she's your woman.
- Kate @kleine_snowdrop understands how wonderful the Swedes of the NHL are as well as appreciating Keith Ballard as I do. Friendly and great to have a Canucks conversation with.
- Pass it to Bulis @passittobulis A delightful mix of funny tweets and smart Canucks opinions by two of my favourite Canucks bloggers. They put my blogging and creative output to shame.
I'll assume the obvious ones are covered, such as the Canucks official account and their players, Province/Sun Canucks beat writers and, of course, everyone from CanucksArmy (past AND present). Those are givens. Here are five more: @taj1944, @SocialAssassin2, @beantowncanuck, @Sir_Earl, @choderama
I always have insightful, entertaining convos with these folks.
(Editor's Note Part Deux: Big thanks again to Taj, SA2, Kesrows, Ryan, Alix and MAMO! Double thanks to Cam - it's nice to see his writing back at Canucks Army where it belongs - for proposing this idea to me. I really enjoyed putting this post together and reading the results, so I hope you do too and I might do this more regularly going forward - even though the formatting is a massive pain in the ass).