Image via NHL.com
Prior to yesterday’s Heritage Classic, Assistant GM and Cap Magician Laurence Gilman referred to the 2013-14 season as an “anomaly” for the Canucks, presumably largely due to the laundry list of injuries the team has dealt with over the season.
The loss to the Ottawa Senators was the 63rd game of the season, and only two players had suited up for each and every one of them: Jason Garrison and Daniel Sedin. You can shorten that list to just one after tomorrow’s game in Phoenix, as it’s looking more and more like Daniel Sedin could be out for an extended period of time.
Read on for a look at how this affects things moving forward, both on and off the ice.
— Renaud Lavoie (@LavoieRenaud) March 3, 2014
When the French Bob McKenzie speaks, you listen. Same goes for Jason Botchford; in his “Provies” following yesterday’s game, he speculated that “Daniel Sedin tore his hamstring and won’t be back any time soon“.
We don’t have any definitive word on the exact severity of the injury, but those two guys are pretty plugged in, and I think it’s fair to go under the working assumption that he’ll miss an extended period of time.
When trying to tackle the question of “how this’ll change things”, let’s start by purely focusing on the on-ice ramifications. And the sad part is that I’m not convinced it’ll affect the team’s situation all that much. It’s a damning statement to make about a player who will be making $7 mil/season for the next 4 years, and will likely go down as the best goal scorer in the franchise’s history, but the numbers don’t lie.
The Canucks have managed to score more than 2 goals as a team just twice in their past 18 games, and one of the main culprits is Daniel, who can’t buy a goal to save his life. He has 1 goal in his past 25 games, which was a shot that ping-ponged off of a number of bodies before finally finding its way past Steve Mason (all the way back on December 30th). Some mind-boggling stuff.
In the short-term, we’ll likely see Tortorella do some juggling to fill the spot on Henrik’s left wing. Maybe this means we’ll see some more Zack Kassian on the top line (which, despite his legitimate success next to David Booth, I’d like to see). Maybe we’ll see Chris Higgins get bumped up for a while, who has 3 more goals on the season than Daniel to begin with.
The best part about Henrik Sedin is that he makes everyone around him better, and I have little doubt that he’ll boost whoever it is that’s fortunate enough to draw the assignment(we’ve seen this in the past). As Henrik’s injury prior to the break showed us, Daniel is more and more a passenger than the one driving the bus. I’m sure they’ll miss him, just not all that tangibly.
Looking at the fallout from this news on a grander scale, though, the way in which it affects the team’s approach at the deadline is probably a juicier angle. There’s two ways to tackle it:
1) Mike Gillis and Co. are feeling the pressure from ownership. If they don’t make the playoffs, their jobs could be in jeopardy. Based on everything that has been written and said about Aquilini, this unfortunately doesn’t seem overly farfetched. This sort of stuff typically leads to ill-advised, panic trades inevitably always leads to a whole lot of head-shaking when looked back upon.
My one rebuttal: regardless of whether we agree or disagree with particular individual decisions that have been made of the tenure, we’re not dealing with morons here. I can’t possibly believe that a person with any semblance of rationale at their disposal (which they presumably would have, if they’ve gotten to where they are) would watch this incarnation of the Vancouver Canucks and think to themselves “hmm, we’re just a move away. Let’s tinker!”
I refuse to believe this. Sure, we’ve seen teams misjudge their place in the league’s hierarchy before. But the 2013-14 Canucks have been so, very, clearly mediocre for long enough now. This isn’t a fleeting phase, it’s a reality. Which leads us to..
2) You never want to see a player get injured, but on a larger scale, if Daniel Sedin missing a few weeks solidifies the patient, calculated approach which we’ve been led to believe they’re taking, then it can be viewed as nothing but a blessing in disguise.
The reality that the Canucks – a team currently just 5 points out from being 25th overall in the league standings – weren’t going to be making noise should’ve been abundantly clear. But people come to realizations at different speeds, and maybe, just maybe, DANIEL SEDIN (or maybe, the idea of him and what he represents rather than the player he actually is at this point) being taken out of the fold will convince even the biggest optimists out there that this just isn’t the year.
UPDATE: A few hours after posting this, word broke that Darren Archibald would be called up by the team. This comes as somewhat of a surprise to people who have been waiting for Nicklas Jensen to make an appearance with the Canucks, but it makes some sense that they’d like to see him continue to develop and work on his game in the AHL. I assume that Archibald will draw back into the 4th line grinder role he has played in his 11 games with the Canucks this year.
With Archibald having been called up on two different occasions already, we’ve covered him in length at this point. Basically, he’s a big guy who can skate well for his size, has a solid set of hands, and it’s because of his continued development that he projects as someone who could reasonably fill a 4th line role very effectively one day. He hasn’t necessarily shown that in his time up with the team yet, but it has been in a small sample size, and I still believe.
We’ll have to hang tight and wait a while longer for the #JensenTrain. That’s the bad news. The good news? I’ll just leave this right here..