How the Vancouver Canucks Can Learn from the Seattle Mariners


Now, I know. It’s hard to compare sports, especially hockey and baseball. But the parallels that can be drawn between the two can show that the Canucks can learn from their Pacific Northwest counterparts success, and downfalls. 

More after the jump.

In the winter of 2013, the Mariners signed a top free-agent in Robinson Cano despite many other offers, shocking the MLB world. Vancouver signing Ryan Miller this off-season sent far less shockwaves, but it garnered the same reaction from the scribes. “Nice signing, but with the toughness of the division and the lack of talent around him, it’s hard to see them making any movement in the playoff race.” 

The Mariners went on to an 87-75 record, only missing the playoffs on the final game of the regular season.

Now they had some things go their way, like most teams do. The Texas Rangers, a leader in the American League for a few years, fell to the bottom of the division (worse than the perennially woeful Houston Astros) and the Mariners capitalized. The Canucks need to hope for the same in their division. It’s widely thought that the Kings, Ducks and Sharks have the divisions three desired spots locked up, while the Central Division has five teams that have playoff caliber rosters, which would push the Pacific to just three participants. 

Vancouver needs one of these five teams to fall, Texas style, and capitalize. 

The one thing that pushed Seattle to where they were was break out seasons from their young talent. Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, and Ladner B.C.’s James Paxton are just a few of the young stars that broke out and had massive career years to catapult the Mariners into relevancy. The Canucks can only hope for the same from young players like Zack Kassian, Nick Bonino and Linden Vey. With break out seasons from those young players, the Canucks could solidify their top 6 and take the pressure off of leaders such as the Sedin twins or Alex Burrows.

Depth free agent signings and trade deadline acquisitions helped the Mariners more than they ever could have hoped. Logan Morrison, who fell out of favour in Miami, came to the Mariners with very low expectations and was the spark plug the Mariners needed to get to where they ended up. Derek Dorsett, acquired in an offseason trade, is a scrappy forward could provide the spark the bottom 6 needs to be feared among the league. While he doesn’t strike fear in opponents on his own, he could potentially take the load off younger guys in the bottom six to perform more offensively while he does the dirty work. 

The Mariners also acquired Austin Jackson at the trade deadline, a speedy guy that could compliment the likes of Cano and Ackley. The Canucks may have already done the hockey equivalent, signing Radim Vrbata in the off-season to benefit those Swedish twins we have. If the Canucks acquisitions can perform as well as the Mariners did, we could be in for an exciting year.

Lastly, the Canucks just need to perform well under low expectations. They may need Ryan Miller to steal a few games for them, just like Felix Hernandez stole 11 of the 22 games won when he appeared, with a final score of 2 runs or less in the Mariners favour. The Canucks have the odds stacked against them with the former Stanley Cup champions in their division, but don’t count them out yet. They could finish the Cinderella story the Mariners couldn’t. 

  • West Coast Express

    I think the Av’s may be your Texas Rangers face plant team, but the Dallas stars are now fully legit. Hawks, Blues, and Wild are all locks, as are the three Cali teams, and in my opinion the Stars are right there with them. Can we make the playoffs? I think so. But, we are going to have to play inspired hockey to get out of the first round against any of those teams. On the bright side maybe other fans will finally cheer for us; everyone loves an underdog right!?! 🙂

    • Calling seven teams locks to make the playoffs two weeks into the season is a bit much. If I was a betting man, those are the teams I’d take too, but none are locks until they’ve actually locked up a spot. If one of those teams gets into injury trouble like Vancouver or Detroit had last year, has their goalies under perform, or one of the myriad other things that can happen to a team over an 82-game season, they could quickly find themselves on the bubble or out of the playoff picture all together.

  • Granted, those are points of correlation, but that’s not anything learned.

    If the Mariners had any methods or tricks in wringing consistent performance out of young players, THEN that would be a lesson for the Canucks.

    I’m pretty sure that the Canucks have been looking for Kassian and Hansen to improve and take pressure off of Burrows and Higgins for years, but what do the Mariners have to teach them about it?

    Hoping for a division rival to fall isn’t a lesson. That’s what every bubble team hopes for every year.

  • So you’re saying the formula to barely missing the playoffs with an aging, mediocre core is for new players to overperform and for another team to crater.

    There’s nothing to learn here Mr. Henderson. The Mariners were lucky (but still missed the playoffs).

    The Sedins are old. We have 2 and a half decent third lines, one prospect with a real ceiling on a first line who did not break camp and a blueline that has 2 top tier defenders.

    We aren’t competing yet and I’d rather have the better draft pick than flame out in the first round or just squeak out of the playoffs.

    That is the road of the leafs and the flames.

  • RandomScrub

    I’m afraid this analogy doesn’t really teach us anything or draw any especially relevant conclusions. Furthermore, calling Bonino a ‘young player we’re hoping can break out’ given the fact that he’s 26, was third in scoring for Anaheim last year, and who is more likely to regress, seems like you lack understanding about the nature of the given player, especially since it’s been so thoroughly broken down on this very site. As matching last years (Anaheim PP inflated) point totals would be seen as a pretty big success, I don’t know who’s expecting him to “break out”… I appreciate that nobody gets paid here, guys blog out of the love for the game and all that, but I’m afraid I have to agree with NM00. This isn’t the strongest content. They could finish the Cinderella story the Mariners couldn’t? Yes, they could make the playoffs or they could not make the playoffs. This post is basically tautological. I say this as someone who really respects Canucks Army, too. I hope constructive criticism is seen as helpful and not just trolling/flaming.

  • RandomScrub

    Please share your thoughts on the parallels between the Canucks and the Bossier–Shreveport Battle Wings of the ArenaFootball League.

    I’m sure it couldn’t be any worse than this attempt.

  • RandomScrub

    I love the hate and condescension that blogs provoke. I want my money back too! How dare anyone say anything about anything! What about what I think?! Won’t someone please think about the children? Why can’t my team win and all the supporters of every other team realize they are terrible people and quit their jobs and die?

    • RandomScrub

      The hate and condescension aren’t going anywhere.

      But the efforts would be better directed towards the groupthink delusion on here as opposed to a high school level analogy between a baseball team and a hockey team.

      Simply because this product is free does not exonerate these bloggers from their artistic responsibilities to their consumers…

      • RandomScrub

        Your snark was pretty mild in the original post–there’s nothing necessarily wrong in comparing two sports franchises and how they’re run but as several people have pointed out this wasn’t a particularly effective or convincing attempt to do so.

        I just think that you get what you pay for from any online source (though I’d argue that some of what you can find on CA is far better than some “professional” far) and the indignation aimed at some substandard fare is a little misplaced.

  • RandomScrub

    You all know it isn’t actually a REQUIREMENT for you to read each and every article posted on Canucks Army right?

    If the topic doesn’t interest you, don’t read it.

    It’s their blog, they can post whatever they like.

    • RandomScrub

      Too many posts on CA lately would be more appropriate on Nucks Misconduct.

      I suspect many CA consumers do not want to see a watered down product.

      So, yes, Captain Obvious, nobody is being forced to read each post and nobody is being paid a membership fee.

      But that does not mean we have to be complicit as this blog jumps the shark…

  • RandomScrub

    I’m struggling with the comparison.
    A. Due to several years of struggling the Mariners have developed one of the deepest farm teams in the MLB in terms of pitching (Hultzen, Paxton and Walker) and have drafted and developed several key young positional players. Seager etc.
    B. Cano is an all star player in the prime of his career while Miller is a reclamation project late in an admittedly impressive career.
    C. The Mariners have arguably the top ‘Ace’ in the MLB to build around. The Sedins are premium players but its hard to argue the Canucks have the same kind of franchise player.
    If you really want the Canucks to steal the Mariners blueprint they would have to blow the team up and commit to several losing years while they stock the system with high draft picks and focus on developing talent.
    The Jays might be a better comparison of a team that continues to bring in high priced big names to compete in a tough division but hasn’t developed the ‘in house’ talent to become a legit contender.