Presidents' Trophy banners fly forever

Thomas Drance
July 28 2014 12:40PM

The Vancouver Canucks' new management team seems content with what they've accomplished so far this offseason, based on how they've operated over the past three weeks. Since locking up arbitration eligible defenseman Chris Tanev in early July, the club has been content to lock up 2014 first-round draft selections Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann to entry-level contracts and take care of the housekeeping in Utica (with deals for guys like Brandon DeFazio). The Canucks roster as it stands, is the one we'll see on the ice to start next season.

On the surface its been an offseason of upheaval, punctuated by a new president, a new general manager, a new coach, a new friendly but decisive style of operating, a new franchise villain, a new oft-criticized star goaltender, and a handful of new players - none of them, really, top-of-the-lineup pieces (Radim Vrbata, aside). Looking a bit deeper though, at least in terms of the organization's posture heading into next season and the into future, the changes seem cosmetic.

In the big picture, what's the difference between the 'reset' of the summer of 2013 and the 'retool and reenergize' of the past six weeks? Cap space and decisive action. Aside from that, the goals of the franchise and the identity of the core is unchanged. 

Let's unpack this a bit further after the jump.

We'll start, as we must, with Mike Gillis - clearly the best general manager in the mostly sordid history of Vancouver's National Hockey League club. On Gillis' way out the door, the thing that stood out to us was a strategic incoherence. Gillis' moves often baffled fans, sometimes for good reason (the Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider saga), sometimes because his motives seemed incoherent. This was a team with a "window", that made rebuilding moves like showcasing and trading Cody Hodgson for a future asset of little short-term consequence. This was an aging club that traded a star goaltender for an 18-year-old.

This "strategic incoherence" infuriated and puzzled Canucks fans, but there was nothing incoherent about it. Arguably it's in the lifeblood of the organization, the one thing that - through three different management teams - the Canucks have remained eerily consistent about. The Canucks franchise, under the stewardship of the Aquilini family, does not, and will not, rebuild. At least not willingly. 

This point was driven home and further developed by two of the franchise's most beloved figureheads last week, and it's worth unpacking the statements in full. The first comes from new president Trevor Linden, who explained his goals and gave a quick 'state of the franchise' overview during an interview with CKNW AM 980 last week:

"I think when you look at our team, we feel in fairness to Daniel and Henrik and Alex Burrows and Hamhuis and Bieksa, certainly Ryan Miller - we need to give these guys an opportunity to win. Obviously we're in a bit of a transition phase here, we've added some real good players to our prospect pool this draft, so we need to work these guys into our lineup in a winning atmosphere. Bringing young guys into a situation where you have a chance to win is really important, so we need to create that environment and that's what we're trying to do."

There's a couple of telling touches in that quote, most notably the "Obviously we're in a bit of a transition phase here," line. This new Canucks management team isn't kidding themselves, they know they're not contenders, especially not in the Pacific Division as it's currently comprised. Regular season success though isn't just an end in and of itself, it's a means to an end in Linden's formulation. It's "really important" to bring in and develop "young guys" in a situation "where you have a chance to win."

The new look Canucks recognize that they're in a "building mode" of some kind, but they're eschewing the "re-" prefix. They're still committed to propping up a foundation that has looked cracked and moldy for several years now.

Continued Linden, on the subject of how many points he thinks the Canucks will finish with next season:

For me it's about being in the top-16 so, I don't know where that goes, and certainly on the Western Conference side of things, it's a dog fight. [...]

When you look at rosters, you look at depth charts, and you put them on the wall and you pick your teams and if we were all doing that you wouldn't bother playing the games. The reason we have the season and play the games is those intangibles, it's how your team comes together, it's how they gel, it's how they play, it's the trust they have in one another, it's the belief in the system they're playing. So that's what we're going to focus on now, my focus is that we're one of the top-16 teams because we want an opportunity at the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It would seem that Linden got the memo. He knows how and why former Canucks general managers Dave Nonis and Mike Gillis were dispatched. In Vancouver the mantra is simple: make the playoffs, or else!

Henrik Sedin also touched on the Canucks' "Banners don't fly forever (at least ours don't... we don't have any...)" posture further in an interview with Ornskoldvik-based media outlet Allehanda last week (via google translate):

Over there the objective must be to win every year. That is the goal we have. Vancouver does not attempt to rebuild the five years in the future as many teams (in the NHL) do. We invest every year. We may not have as good a team now that we had for (the last) six or seven years, but I think that many young (players) can take steps in (their) development. We have (acquired) a good goalie (Ryan Miller) who ought to be able to win a lot of games for us. [...]

The chance (of winning the Stanley Cup) is always there. (The NHL is so even). One feels that (if you can just) get (into) the playoffs, you can win. See the New York Rangers, as no one believed. They took almost it all the way. Winning the Stanley Cup is the only thing that drives both me and Daniel.

For Henrik Sedin, one suspects, the desire to win now and compete every season is genuine. More than genuine, it's part and parcel with the driving competitive force that motivates any athlete. For the organization, it's difficult believe that the "win now and later!" thing is really based on a player development philosophy, or a desire to be "fair" to the likes of the Sedin twins. It seem much more likely that the Canucks have built a business model, and that model requires playoff revenue. 

I'd add that there's nothing cynical about a business model based on competing for the postseason annually, the Canucks are a business (not a public trust) and under the ownership of the Aquilini's business has been good. More often than not, the hockey has been too (though not last season, my goodness). 

The merits of cynicism aside though, the Canucks' compulsion to be good every year continues to be a motivating force, maybe the motivating force, that makes sense of the club's decision making. Why else do you trade Ryan Kesler for a package with a 26-year-old forward as the centerpiece, or deal two top-100 picks for bottom-six pieces like Derek Dorsett and Linden Vey? Why else do you both push to trade up for the first overall pick at the NHL entry draft, and then turn around and sign an aging veteran like Ryan Miller in free agency? 

Taken as a whole, the only way those deals make even a hint of sense is if you're trying to have it both ways; attempting to compete in the short-term, while keeping an eye on building for the future.

Despite all of the failure of last season and all of the changes this summer, the club's posture remains unchanged, their faith in this Sedin-led core unshaken. If the roster renovations that Linden and general manager Jim Benning have overseen actually improve the club's depth and allow the Canucks to keep up with just one of the three Californian behemoths, then an uncomfortable question will be kept at bay. If not, it'll be open season, and fair to ask whether or not the organization's perpetual balancing act is actually productive if the ultimate goal is to bring Lord Stanley's Cup to Lord Stanley's Park.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 NM00
July 28 2014, 01:31PM
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"Mike Gillis - clearly the best general manager in the mostly sordid history of Vancouver's National Hockey League club."

Apparently he'll be entering the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Chris Osgood...

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#2 Cale
July 28 2014, 02:05PM
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@NM00

And *your* suggestion for best GM is...?

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#3 NM00
July 28 2014, 02:24PM
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@Cale

Drance is making the claim about who is "clearly" the best we've ever had even though it's hardly clear.

One can assume it's for the same delusional reasons he has offered in the past (nonsense about W-L, salary cap and business wizardry).

My vote would go to the men who were (mostly) responsible for bringing in the core of the 2011 team.

Even though I wouldn't hire any of the last three management teams in 2014...

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#4 GeezMoney
July 28 2014, 02:24PM
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The Canucks are always under pressure to be a winning club, regardless of whether or not this team is an out of the gate Stanley Cup contender. The fact is Vancouver fans find other things to do when the team stinks (and no, I don't believe that makes them lesser fans. In fact, I would argue they are much smarter than most). That costs ownership money. FA isn't interested in taking a hit for FIVE YEARS in order to build another era of Canucksamania. He wants his money.

I'm not sold that blowing up the ship is the way teams win Cups year-in, year out. The 2011 team was a partial product of the hap-less Messier years -- which led to Brian Burke's hiring and his threats at relocation (because fans weren't coming out) -- and some pretty good West Coast Express days. Basically, the team was opportunisitc with trades it made and did draft some pretty good players in the early 00s.

Now, the GMMG terrible drafting record has hamstrung this team. Yet, there is every reason to believe this team can make the playoffs. I'd rather they stink this year, get a generational start and then win multiple Stanley Cups. But that thinking hasn't got the Islanders anywhere. I'm hoping the Canucks avoid a total rebuild.

Then again, any repeat from last year's performances and we won't have to worry abour rebuilds. It'll be thrust upon us.

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#5 Defence77
July 28 2014, 02:31PM
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If winning is your only criteria for evaluating the "best GM in Vancouver" than you have to pick Gillis, however that is not my criteria.

My criteria for the best GM would include factors like: quality of drafting and trading, post season appearances, quality of signing free agents, and winning regular and post season.

I don't thing Gillis was the best GM we had, he inherited a team that had many of the pieces that he rode to the team's success.

He did make some good signings/trades like Malholtra and found some good free agents like Tanev.

However his overall drafting choices were marginal at best.

He signed the worst deal in history of the team by giving Luongo 12 years, he traded Luongo and Schiender away for a bag of pucks, a first round draft pick, Mathias and Markstrom.

I like what the team has done so far as a whole (still not sold on the Miller signing - as I don't see why he wanted to play for us, if he wants to win) and agree the Canucks are not contenders. They have given themselves a chance to make the playoffs, even if it is a small one. And that is what they want.

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#6 NM00
July 28 2014, 02:35PM
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@Defence77

"If winning is your only criteria for evaluating the "best GM in Vancouver" than you have to pick Gillis, however that is not my criteria."

One would think that the clueless 20 year old kids that believe in winning DNA would have been touting Ray Shero as the best GM candidate for Vancouver...

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#7 ffgrr
July 28 2014, 02:52PM
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Don't forget the 20 million dollar man Gillis signed. That not only brutal, but completely useless Mats Sundin, 2 years, $20,000,000 contract to be a "mentor."

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#8 NM00
July 28 2014, 03:00PM
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ffgrr wrote:

Don't forget the 20 million dollar man Gillis signed. That not only brutal, but completely useless Mats Sundin, 2 years, $20,000,000 contract to be a "mentor."

Just imagine if Sundin had played the 2nd year of the contract and, as a result, the Sedins had tested free agency.

Gillis would have been fired after 3 years and the Canucks would have been rebuilding...

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#9 Dangerous territory
July 28 2014, 03:01PM
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Great article Drancer!

I think this management team is walking a fine line here. From my perspective, they look somewhat incompetent --- like they're trying to play both sides. It looks like they don't even know which direction they're going. Like Canuck fans have a bunch of aloof managers directing this team.

I don't think it's possible to have it both ways. Continually make the playoffs every yr, and pray one day they'll win a Cup. This fan base doesn't care if they make the playoffs every yr. They only care if they win the CUp. And we all know this current team won't win the Cup. So why delay the inevitable. It just seems ludicrous that Linden/BEnning can go on the radio station every week and speak the same incoherent mumbo jumbo and the fanbase is ok with it. If it were Gillis saying "our goal is to make the playoffs", fans would riot. So now someone else is saying it - and it's suddenly OK? Have fans expectations changed?

How do you build a strgon future for this team without high draft picks? IF they continue to give big $$ contracts to old/aging UFAs (Vrbata/Miller) - how can they hope to get high draft picks? And if they think they can build a contending team with middlgin draft picks every yr - how are we expected to believe them? The exact same scouting staff that has led this team to bottom 10 rankings league wide re: prospects is STILL scouting for this team. EXACT.

There is no logical reason this management team is taking this 'stance' other than $$. You don't build a cup contending team in this league by hoping and praying by the hockey gods. You need decisive decision making and direction. Something Linden and BEnning have no given to this team.

Looking forward to mediocrity.

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#10 JDM
July 28 2014, 03:43PM
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Pretty surprised Drance panned the Linden Vey acquisition. For a 50th overall pick that seemed like pretty damn good value. Basically Jeremy Morin value. Given his AHL production, he looks like he should've been a first round pick, and is further along in his development than whoever we would have taken at 50 (i.e. McKeown).

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#11 Peachy
July 28 2014, 04:28PM
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NM00 wrote:

Drance is making the claim about who is "clearly" the best we've ever had even though it's hardly clear.

One can assume it's for the same delusional reasons he has offered in the past (nonsense about W-L, salary cap and business wizardry).

My vote would go to the men who were (mostly) responsible for bringing in the core of the 2011 team.

Even though I wouldn't hire any of the last three management teams in 2014...

So, which one?

Not the one who was out-GMed by a potato in the 2013 off-season I hope?

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#12 Kevin M
July 28 2014, 04:36PM
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Drance I am tired of your bias against the new team. To state that Gillis was the best gm, come on what did he accomplish other than extend some very good players, who did he acquire that helped the team, who did he find in free agency who made a difference. Like Burke in Anaheim, Gillis inherited a team on the cusp of stardom and he proceeded to screw it up.

Miller is a temporary stop gap for 2 years to allow Lack to develop without all the pressure, makes sense to me. Getting rid of Gillis and Trots, probably means another 15 points in the standings. You have two aging elite forwards who might be able to perform for another couple of years at a point a game, what do they need, a scoring winger, so you go get one for 2 years while your young players develop. Why is this a dumb move? You have a disgruntled pain in the butt 2nd center who does not give you a lot of options, so you get what you can for him and hope that will help the team. What would you have done in that situation, had him stay? Good luck, screw up your second line.

This is your second "they refuse to admit they are rebuilding article", it is enough. They are moving to try and establish that it is not necessary to tear down everything to succeed. Vancouver unlike your town of Toronto, does not like losing. Toronto fans will show up for the Leafs when they look worse than the Marlies. Please pick another topic for your next rant.

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#13 Chungus
July 28 2014, 05:05PM
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@Dangerous territory

I believe I understand the point you are making but I don't really agree with it. I think making the playoffs consistently is only the beginning of the path to winning the Cup that Benning/Linden foresees. They have stated many times that they want to develop a winning mentality and continually inject young talent into the roster over the years. If you are making the playoffs consistently, I believe that is a winning atmosphere where internal competition can develop. We are already seeing how strong competition within the roster could develop during the next season with some of our prospects like Jensen and Bo. Even Miller will be feeling some pressure with Lack right behind him. Last season felt like the team collectively just gave up and everyone was acclimated to losing. I'm personally excited to see if we can get the best of all our players if some young players are vying for their place on the roster potentially bumping out some of the older, more complacent guys on the roster. Everyone does better when their jobs are on the line. *Except Gillis and Torts lol.

Of course, winning makes money for the owners; but I don't think Linden/Benning have too much stake in this besides keeping their job. I'd like to think that they are not just puppets.

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#14 acg5151
July 28 2014, 05:16PM
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The last two years it felt like Mike Gillis went from one mistake to another, and it felt like he put himself in between a rock and a hard place. Even so, he deserves a lot of the credit for putting a good supporting cast together behind the Sedins. Nonis and Burke were able to get good players but tjey were incapable of building the depth needed to win the cup. Gillis did a solid job at the deadline in 2011 and witboit it we probably wouldnt have made the SCF.

That being said, 2011 was three years ago and I dont see this roster making the finals. Then again, no one thought the 06 Oilers would even make the playoffs. You never know.

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#15 NM00
July 28 2014, 05:37PM
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@Peachy

Probably Burke would be #1 for me.

Although that might be because I think he had the hardest task of the last three general managers.

Looking at W-L, though, misses the point just as much as it does for Osgood...

But what exactly do blunders committed trying to rebuild the Leaves have to do with the work in Vancouver?

The work that, you know, allowed the Canucks to contend for over a decade before rebuilding became a legit concern?

Neither Burke or Nonis appears to have adapted to the times the way that someone like Lombardi has.

Oh well.

Luongo isn't as valuable as he was in his early twenties either as the save percentage environment has changed.

So it goes...

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#16 PB
July 28 2014, 07:26PM
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@NM00

When it comes to building a competitive team through drafts and trades (pre-the crazy money FA era), there is no way that Gillis, Nonis or Burke come even remotely close to Pat Quinn. Yeah, eventually the wheels fell off with Quinn but come on, his picks included Linden, Bure, Nedved, Slegr, Odjick, Peca, Aucoin, Walker, Ohlund, Sopel and Cooke. His trades brought in McLean, Adams, Courtnall, Ronning, Momesso, Diduck, Babych, Craven, Brown and Hedican. He picked up Gelinas off waivers. No one else comes close to best GM for this franchise unless you restrict your view to the last decade.

I don't disagree with the general gist of the article about the Canucks' schizophrenic ways. I do disagree with the characterization and relegation of some recent moves with the same relentless (and rather narrow-minded) pessimism on display on CA -- how does Vey all of a sudden become an automatic bottom-six piece (Dorsett, sure)? Why is the Kesler trade just about the inadequate Bonino and nothing about three younger players with potential for an aging vet?

You have to look really hard to see this as identical to last summer. These changes are hardly cosmetic. Will they result in immediate success -- hardly. But it is a far better path than the lurching into madness we did last year.

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#17 Dangerous territory
July 28 2014, 07:29PM
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Chungus wrote:

I believe I understand the point you are making but I don't really agree with it. I think making the playoffs consistently is only the beginning of the path to winning the Cup that Benning/Linden foresees. They have stated many times that they want to develop a winning mentality and continually inject young talent into the roster over the years. If you are making the playoffs consistently, I believe that is a winning atmosphere where internal competition can develop. We are already seeing how strong competition within the roster could develop during the next season with some of our prospects like Jensen and Bo. Even Miller will be feeling some pressure with Lack right behind him. Last season felt like the team collectively just gave up and everyone was acclimated to losing. I'm personally excited to see if we can get the best of all our players if some young players are vying for their place on the roster potentially bumping out some of the older, more complacent guys on the roster. Everyone does better when their jobs are on the line. *Except Gillis and Torts lol.

Of course, winning makes money for the owners; but I don't think Linden/Benning have too much stake in this besides keeping their job. I'd like to think that they are not just puppets.

This brings up another question I have. What does "developing prospects in a winning environment at the NHL level" have to do with long term prospect success? And how does that correlate into team success? I haven't seen any data that suggests this is the best method to develop players at the NHL level. And if they want to develop prospects in a winning environment, why not build a strong AHL team? That's where prospects hone skills to make it to the NHL, why not develop them successfully at that level?

When this new management team talks about 'developing players in a winning environment at NHL level", it's clearly a cop out IMO. It's a way to support their plan of 'having no plan'. Build a strong AHL team, develop prospects the right way. Bring them onto a NHL team that has clear direction - so the fans don't put enormous pressure on said team to win a Cup when it's clear their roster isn't capable of it.

This management team has created uncertainty in the market place. Uncertain what expectations the team has for the upcoming season and beyond. Uncertain if we should expect them to win the Cup, or just make the playoffs. When their is uncertainty in the marketplace, it leads to speculation. That speculation puts undo pressure on the team to perform to levels in which they likely aren't capable of. This team is floating in space with no feet on the earth, but still a visual of the atmosphere.

It's not how you run a successful business. I have no idea what they are doing.

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#18 NM00
July 28 2014, 07:54PM
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@PB

With all due respect to Quinn, I was too young to remember that era and haven't really examined his record thoroughly.

You're right, though, that he may be the best GM in franchise history.

However, from what I recall, the 1994 team was more of a Cinderella story than a legit contender like the teams in and around 2011...

While I like the process of basically turning Garrison into Vey and, considering how handcuffed Benning was, don't have an issue with the Kesler trade, this new management team hasn't done anything particularly compelling yet.

And it's going to take something pretty aggressive to get the Canucks off the Flames disaster path that they are currently on.

Although if Benning can rebuild the farm system, it'll be a huge step in the right direction.

He doesn't have to be the GM of the next contending Canucks team to put the Canucks back on the right path...

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#19 PB
July 28 2014, 08:12PM
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@NM00

The 94 team was pretty underwhelming in the regular season which followed two stellar (and reasonably dominant) regular seasons and playoff crash outs. Post-94 was 2 years of playoff flops followed by several years of pure garbage until 01-02. Sound familiar? Interestingly there didn't really seem to be a plan until we lucked out with the Sedins and some thievery trades (Bertuzzi and Naslund and later on Luongo et al).

I agree that really what we need to do is focus on rebuilding the system. As the article suggests, that may not be within the Aquilinis patience meter. But for all his other boneheaded moves, I'm starting to think Gillis' lack of attention to detail when it came to the farm system is the worst part of his legacy. It's one thing to be a terrible drafter. But couple that with having no seeming plan once the Jets went back to Manitoba was criminal. We had an excellent run with the Moose and what prospects we had came up through that system. What the hell was the plan with the Wolves? Why would we build a new farm team in Utica and not even put the most obvious star of all there (Top Sixtio, that hometown hero)?

I wonder if minor league capacity was beneath Gillis' need to pay attention to it.

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#20 andyg
July 28 2014, 08:25PM
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@Dangerous territory

I am not a numbers person but I will bet you that winning teams at the nhl have top end ahl teams. They go hand in hand.

I think they have been real clear on the direction. Develop at the AHL level and push to make the playoffs at the NHL level. They have not left any spots at the nhl level to put any youth. (Someone will need to blow their socks off to make it)

Trying to win every year is what any quality organization is supposed to do. THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE WON'T BE DRAFTING IN THE TOP 5 NEXT YEAR!

This is another one of those years that could go any way. Would you rather just know that we are going to totally suck?

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#21 RandomScrub
July 28 2014, 08:34PM
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@Dangerous territory

Your question about "developing prospects in a winning environment at the NHL level" is an intriguing one that I feel could use some data behind it.

Conversely, there seems to be an overarching assumption that the best way to "rebuild" a franchise is to trade all veterans for prospects/picks, get in the race for the first overall pick for a few years, then start pushing for increasing success after some time, bringing in some veterans to bolster the young new core, etc.

Anecdotal evidence suggests both that while teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago had their share of high picks before winning championships, Edmonton had three #1s in a row and can't get into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Detroit remained near the top of the league for a 20 year run (that just happened to coincide with Nick Lidstrom's career) and must not have picked in the top 14 once (don't quote me on that - anecdotal evidence!) winning 4 cups spread out over that timeframe.

Has anyone run any numbers to any degree of complexity to test the relative historical values of "complete rebuild" vs. "developing prospects in a winning environment" in terms of it's likelihood of success of leading to a Cup?

I think that could be interesting, although the transition to the cap era could be an issue...

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#22 Drams
July 28 2014, 09:07PM
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I think that this management team has, so far, been decisive. I look forward to seeing what happens at the trade deadline to get a real sense of what direction the team is going in. I'm tired of the Canucks giving away futures for temporary hope, quickly snuffed out by a trip to California.

I hope that when the trade deadline rolls around they are able to deal some players and allow the younger guys to step into the lineup without much of an effect on play.

Also as to this notion that they want to develop the prospects in a winning NHL environment- which prospects? Tanev, Sbisa, Vey, Kassian? I doubt there are any prospects on the team come October, unless a big trade happens.

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#23 Drams
July 28 2014, 09:09PM
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If Tanev comes to camp weighing less than 195, trade him to the East for the sake of the team and himself.

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#24 JCDavies
July 28 2014, 09:11PM
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"It seem much more likely that the Canucks have built a business model, and that model requires playoff revenue."

How wise is it to build a business model based on a requirement that is unlikely to occur a significant portion of the time...

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#25 JCDavies
July 28 2014, 09:12PM
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"The Canucks are always under pressure to be a winning club, regardless of whether or not this team is an out of the gate Stanley Cup contender. The fact is Vancouver fans find other things to do when the team stinks"

I hear this all the time. It is the teams that are losing money and struggling to survive that are really under pressure. It is hard to think of many hockey markets that are in a more enviable position. Canucks fans should feel insulted that they are being used as scapegoats for the decisions of management.

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#26 Chungus
July 28 2014, 09:17PM
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@Dangerous territory

I believe you are right that the nucks need a strong AHL and they are working on that with their draft picks. In the past our drafting has been poor or our picks have been traded away. This has a trickle down from the top to the bottom. At the NHL, we have no incoming talent to push current players to perform for their roster spot, at the AHL we have too few quality prospects for our team. I believe that's why our team has stagnated over the past couple of years. Hopefully, our current prospect pool pans out and Benning drafts well in the future, and improvements in both departments can be made.

It makes sense that success goes hand in hand for both teams.

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#27 Doug Broome
July 28 2014, 10:27PM
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If winning the Stanley Cup is the only thing driving the twins, as Henrik observes, the build vs rebuild question may be moot as soon as it's apparent this team isn't a contender. At age 34 the Sedins obviously realize they only have a few more chances to hoist the chalice, and a request to move to a contender perfectly understandable. The problem is that they are franchise players key to two president's cups, and the team won't be getting a franchise player in return.

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#28 drancefan
July 28 2014, 11:25PM
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Good to have u back Drance. 3 years ago we were all spoiled to have a Canuck team that hardly ever lost and T Drance the lead writer on CA. Damn I miss those days :'(

Sometimes I wonder though, if we had it too good back then and forgot what it is to be a Canucks fan in the first place. Being a Nucks fan doesn't/has never meant being a perennial cup contender, nor does it mean tanking it. Being a Canuck is all about scrapping it out as the underdog, trying to make the playoffs, and rolling the dice against a stacked team on paper if you do... and u know who doesn't forget that? Trevor Linden. God bless el presidente!

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#29 NM00
July 29 2014, 10:09AM
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Drams wrote:

If Tanev comes to camp weighing less than 195, trade him to the East for the sake of the team and himself.

He's been working out with Kyle Wellwood and Shane O'Brien so I doubt it will be an issue...

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#30 J21
July 29 2014, 12:20PM
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Anyone else kind of shocked that NM00 is too young to remember the Quinn days? I always just assumed he was a curmudgeonly old man.

That means this is effectively the first down period of the Canucks he's seeing.

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#31 NM00
July 29 2014, 12:56PM
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@J21

Actually I began watching intently after the mid-90s lockout during a so-called down period prior to the WCE hitting their stride.

If I didn't know any better I also would have assumed NM00 is a curmudgeonly old man...

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#32 orcasfan
July 29 2014, 02:37PM
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The idea that Canuck fans are OK with the team losing/not making the playoffs is nonsense. All it took was one season of losing and not making the playoffs this past season, and the season-ticket renewals/sales cratered! Imagine what three or four losing seasons would do to the business! Just look at how much PR work has Linden & Co having to do just to regain some of the season ticket sales.

I don't know what Drance expected or hoped for from the new management team as far as retooling/rebuilding is concerned. After all, they have only been at it a couple of months! I think it is unfair to assert that Linden & Co are putting their faith in the old core. Obviously, they are not going to air publicly what their internal discussions have been. It just so happens that all the "core" players have NTC's. But that hasn't stopped Benning to some extent. We know that Burrows was asked to waive, and declined. Who else?

A rebuild is not going to be finished in one off-season, for gods' sake! I think it is safe to assume that most of the remaining core players are going to have to prove themselves this coming season, proving that last season was an outlier. If they fall short, Benning will not hesitate to trade, either at the deadline or draft. But I doubt it will all happen at once.

Look at Detroit. They have been successful for 23 continuous years. They have not relied on top draft picks (from tanking). They have maintained a high quality veteran core while introducing well-developed young prospects slowly into the line-up. Of course it takes a commitment to a quality AHL team and coaching staff. This is what the Canucks want to model.

I'm happy with the moves the new management have made - trades and drafting. I'm looking forward to see what the new coaching staff can do with this interesting mix of players. And, I don't have high expectations. If they make the playoffs - great! If not, it will not be a failure! As someone has said before, "it's a process!"

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#33 Ted
July 29 2014, 05:15PM
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I think Gillis was a poor GM. He started off well and did some good detail work (sleep doctor, bugging Bettman regarding travel, diet improvement etc); made a nice trade for the 'Hoff and got us some depth pieces (Lappy, Higgy etc).

Sadly, Michael D shat the bed over and over again. The Booth and Ballard trades were failures. The goalie fiasco. Handing out no trade clauses like candy. Poor talent evaluation (how many forwards did he obtain that are still in the top 6. Any stud D on the roster). Since 2008, how many forwards, after round 1, did we draft and have played, for any meaningful length of time, with the Canucks - it's a round number....yes,that's right: ZERO!

So, I don't know how anyone can say Michael D was a good GM. He was given many key pieces and failed to turn the roster over to continue the winning ways. I don't think he could evaluate talent and I don't think he was well liked by other front offices (which can cause issues when making deals with other clubs).

I think Pat Quinn did a good job. I wasn't a Nonis fan but he did get us some significant players. Burke made some bold, positive moves. Even Keenan made a great trade when he dealt Linden for Bertuzzi and McCabe. Michael D put us in a big hole. Hopefully Benning can dig us out.

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#34 Doug Broome
July 31 2014, 09:56PM
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@J21

Lever-Boudrias-Ververgaert rule! And Monahan-Meehan-O'Flaherty Paulin Bordeleau and Bobby Lalonde!

FIVE DOLLAR TICKETS FOR THE NOSE BLEED SEATS! But my all-time favourite memory at the Pacific Coliseum: Peter Mahovlich sitting on an out-of-crease Tretiak in the 72 Armageddon series. Funny. I had more money to spend when I was 24 than at 66. Curmudgeon

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#35 beavis
July 31 2014, 10:05PM
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Gillis did not suffer "strategic incoherence" in dealing with the Schneider/Luongo saga.

His hand was forced by Schneider's demand to be traded unless Kesler left town; a reasonable request when the "teammate" sleeps with your wife.

I know people want sources, and this has made its way to Twitter. It was mentioned in the Canucks draft "coffee shop insider" dialogue between Michel Falcon and Don Falconer.

Look for yourself: http://vansunsportsblogs.com/2014/06/27/the-newest-canuck-insider-this-guy-eavesdropping-on-a-phone-call-at-jj-bean/

It's not that I'm a huge Gillis supporter, but in this case he deserves a break.

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#36 Ted
August 01 2014, 10:32AM
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beavis wrote:

Gillis did not suffer "strategic incoherence" in dealing with the Schneider/Luongo saga.

His hand was forced by Schneider's demand to be traded unless Kesler left town; a reasonable request when the "teammate" sleeps with your wife.

I know people want sources, and this has made its way to Twitter. It was mentioned in the Canucks draft "coffee shop insider" dialogue between Michel Falcon and Don Falconer.

Look for yourself: http://vansunsportsblogs.com/2014/06/27/the-newest-canuck-insider-this-guy-eavesdropping-on-a-phone-call-at-jj-bean/

It's not that I'm a huge Gillis supporter, but in this case he deserves a break.

Yeah, disagree. Gillis was a moronic boy amongst men. He had many opportunities to make moves but thought he could wait until he got what he wanted. That didn't quite happen, now did it.

So, no, he doesn't deserve a break. The bottom line is results and he didn't get them. They came close to a Cup but he inherited key elements of that team. How many players did Michael D obtain that you can say are franchise cornerstones and that you can build around? Exactly. One would think he could've obtained one superstar in his 7 year tenure.

It's going to be a long time before we make a Cup final again.

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#37 beavis
August 01 2014, 11:25AM
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@Ted

*sigh*

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#38 andyg
August 02 2014, 02:45PM
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@beavis

So did't Cory marry this lady shortly there after?

Sounds like a story that has been stretched a bit!!

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