March 10 2014 05:43PM
Mike Gillis is going through a tough time at the workplace these days. The team he has been in charge of overseeing since April 23, 2008 is in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time during his tenure, which speaks to both how successful an organization the Vancouver Canucks have been over the past handful of seasons, and how far they've fallen this season.
The past week or so, in particular, has likely been the most difficult one of his regime. First he was forced to trade away the best goaltender in the franchise's history, for what essentially amounted to spare parts (a bottom-6 forward, and a prospect goaltender whose stock has plummeted exponentially), largely due to the handcuffing contract he had signed him to back in '09.
Then less than 24 hours later, the trade deadline came and went without the largely talked about and much anticipated Ryan Kesler trade ever going down. We don't know the details, but there have certainly been what I'd characterize as believable rumours circulating that a potential deal was nixed by meddling ownership. Obviously, this has been refuted, but where there's smoke, there tends to be fire.
But maybe the most questionable, beleaguered subplot of all: the "solidarity"/crisis goatee that has crawled down from his face to his neck. As it turns out, maybe the reason for the new look has to do with the fact that he hasn't had the time to shave; writing a letter to your season ticket holders can prove to be a time-consuming activity, I'd imagine.
March 10 2014 02:10PM
Things are bad in Vancouver, but at least these guys don't have the keys to the car.
There are lots of questions in Vancouver right now, as you'd expect from a situation that has gone south in a hurry. People are wondering which players will be back for the 2014-15 season. Even more rampantly, though, people are beginning to question whether we're in the final stretch of the Mike Gillis Era in Vancouver (and as an extension of that, if John Tortorella's days are numbered as well).
Most of that stems from the rumours of the ownership's meddling in the Ryan Kesler negotiations at the trade deadline. It's difficult to decipher what's true and what isn't, but the general rule in these cases is that where there's smoke, there often tends to be fire.
The team the Canucks face on Monday night in Vancouver, the New York Islanders, know a thing or two about meddling ownership and front office incompetence. Heck, Garth Snow and Charles Wang can't even complete a routine fist bump. So how are they supposed to run an NHL team properly?
Sure, it's apples to oranges, but remember: it can always be worse. We don't have to look too far for a great example of that tonight.
March 10 2014 10:54AM
If you've been following me on Twitter over the last few days, you'll have noticed that I haven't exactly been too complimentary of the Vancouver Canucks' top prospects. Taking it even a step further, I guess you could say that, overall, I hold a pretty negative view of the long-term future of the franchise.
It's not that I don't think that guys like Bo Horvat, Brenden Gaunce, and Hunter Shinkaruk can't or won't turn into useful NHL players; it's just that we need to establish what are reasonable expectations for these players moving forward. The fact of the matter is that aside from Hunter Shinkaruk, not a single prospect the Canucks have in the system has produced at a high enough level that you can say with any degree of confidence that they'll be a top-6 NHL forward.
The focus here will be on Bo Horvat since he was recently ranked as the #1 prospect in Vancouver's system, #12 in all of hockey by The Hockey News, and the 6th best prospect with no NHL experience by International Scouting Services and Buzzing the Net, but it also applies to Brenden Gaunce to a lesser degree. We'll look at some of the arguments in favour of Horvat, examine the validity of these arguments, and look at where NHL top-6 centres really come from. I suggest you get comfortable, because this is a pretty hefty read.
March 08 2014 11:57PM
Photo via Rich Lam/Getty Images
If there's one positive thing to take away from tonight's game between the Canucks and the Flames, it's that, for at least another night, we've been spared from referring to the team's performance as "rock-bottom" (for what would be, unofficially, the 128128121291205th time this season). It most certainly looked like we were headed towards that all too predictable outcome for a while there, but in the end the Canucks wound up prevailing by a 2-1 for the first time in the post-Roberto Luongo Era, so let's shelve that phrase for now. Just don't put it too far out of reach.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, these two teams decided to forgo the fisticuffs from the last time they met up, settling for a game of hockey instead. While it wasn't all that entertaining, at least it wasn't a completely embarrassing sideshow.
But let's not fool ourselves: it's a testament to how far the team has plummeted - and in turn, how much we've needed to lower our expectations - that we're reaching for stuff like this as positives. This was a game in which they won and got the two points, but beyond that, if you're the Canucks you may as well burn all of the tapes and deny that this March 8th game was anything beyond a figment of everyone's imagination.
March 08 2014 03:13PM
After getting plowed 6-1 in a critical game against the Dallas Stars and falling all the way to 28th in the league in scoring, the Vancouver Canucks return home tonight to Where It All Began and face the Calgary Flames. We all remember what happened last time these two teams met in Vancouver, and we all know that since that fateful night, the Canucks have just 3 wins in 15 games stretched over two months. The pre-post-Torts era that began that 1st intermission has been nothing short of hapless, uninspired, and just putrid.
Fortunately for the Canucks, and unfortunately for fans of the Canucks, Flames, or just hockey in general, Calgary has been hapless, uninspired, and just putrid for pretty much the whole season. They're just as anemic offensively as the Canucks, so this game is gearing up to just be an absolute barnburner. We may see three goals scored! Are you excited yet!?