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.
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.