Graphic Comments: It’s Miller time and boy do I need a drink


Well, it’s been over a week since the Canucks held their annual Summer Summit event for season ticket holders. It’s basically an orgy of wasted food and discounted merchandise followed by a chance to hear from the Canucks brain trust and even ask them a few questions.

As you can expect, it was a complete train wreck this year, given some of the player decisions the team has made lately. You can watch it in all it’s glory here.

But the one thing I’m still not quite over is the bomb dropped by Jim Benning in response to fans voicing their displeasure at the Eddie Lack trade. I’m not even sure Benning intended to let this one out of the bag, but he did. 

And oof.

The Canucks could have moved Ryan Miller and his $12 million contract, but chose not to. Instead, they chose to move the cheaper, and better, Eddie Lack.

So yeah. I need a drink.

Think about that for a minute. The could have freed up much needed cap space and kept the better goaltender.

Cheaper and better. Not or. And.

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Well, if that doesn’t show a complete, er, lack of common sense, I don’t know what does:


But maybe there’s a method to Benning’s madness.

Maybe this is all part of the plan to finally rid Vancouver of one of its most lingering problems: the neverending string of goalie controversies.

I mean, the fewer NHL calibre goalies you have, the lower the chance of a controversy, right? RiGHT?!!

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Please tell me that’s how it works. #sigh

Anyway, on to my other favourite topic: Luca Sbisa. When last we left the $3.6 million man, he had been upgraded from simple pylon, to Stanley Cup. Well, for me at least.

But last week, head coach Willie Desjardins was on TSN1040 saying that he expects Sbisa to have a “real good” year:

This, of course, is something we’ve come to expect from Willie. Many pixels have been spilled over the past year from bloggers trying to decipher the difference between “good” and “real good”. But I think this time, Willie has gone too far.

When it comes to Luca Sbisa’s performance on the ice, it can either be good or it can be real. It can never be both:


How’s that for a little dose of reality?

Anyway, my point is this. We are now stuck set with Ryan Miller as the clear starter here in Vancouver for another two years, and Sbisa being good in scrums for at least three years. So it’s time to come to grips with that and move on.

And what better way to do that than beer. Lots of beer. 

Maybe some Miller Lite. I hear it’s not filling, unlike the Canucks’ net behind Miller and Sbisa.


You can also check out the monthly collections of Graphic Comments over at The Sporting News.

  • Goon

    Advance stats have shown Miller did a better job stopping high danger shots while Lack was good at middling and easy. Miller was making adjustments to his style of play and many of his weak goals could be due to this. When the games were tight miller gets better. I’m not saying lack wasn’t good but Miller is too. Sbisa on the other hand…..

  • Goon

    Yet another “sky is falling” article from the fine folks at Canucks Army. It’s summer folks. Rip open the blackout shades! Turn off Morrissey’s “10 Songs to Kill Youself By”!

    Is the team going to be a contender next year? No.

    Are a boatload of 1 year deals going to expire? Yes.

    Let the team play out next season and see how it goes.

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      This is a fun game…

      Do the Canucks have a top-ranked farm system? No.

      Do the Canucks have an elite young prospect set to take over from the Sedins when they retire? No.

      Do the Canucks have any high-ranked young defense prospects in their system? No.

      Is Vancouver a attractive place for free agents to sign? No.

      • Smbdragon

        Actually the farm team looks pretty good and that group went deep into the playoffs.

        The canucks do have elite prospects, im not sure you can label anyone on any team as successors to team stars like the sedins.

        Yes they do have top D prospects. 6’9 Tryamkin “the russian monster” specifically. This guy can be your franchise player, like chris pronger was. Also like what I see in Pedan and Cedarholm, with pedan being further along. Subban looks great offensively.

      • Smbdragon

        You missed…

        Do Canuck fans think their team is stale? No.

        Do Canuck fans care? No.

        Do Canuck fans care about winning the SC? No.

        Do Canuck fans drive like A-holes on game nights? Yes.

        Do Canuck fans cause the majority of accidents on game nights? Yes.

        Do Canuck fans give BC and Van residents a bad name? Yes.

        Are Canuck fans the most arrogant fans in the league? Yes.

        Is next season going to be more of the same? Deservedly, yes.

        Will 50 years show up with nothing to show for? Amen, YES.

  • Goon

    Yeah, it’s hilarious how the pocket protector crowd blatantly ignore advanced stats (such as high danger shots) or relevant stats (such as wins) when it doesn’t serve their purpose – which would seem to be running a GM who led the club to a hundred point season out of town in favour of some proven pathetic career loser who never dropped his gloves on the ice in his life, like Kyle Dumbass or Tyler Bellows.

    This know-nothing twit should write up a venn diagram where the circles are labeled “axe” and “grind” and the intersection is “yellow journalism”.

    The club kept a Vezina winner. Oh the shame!

    • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

      “Yeah, it’s hilarious how the pocket protector crowd blatantly ignore advanced stats (such as high danger shots) ”

      I suspect that virtually everyone paying attention to advanced stats is fully aware that the NHL’s location data is notoriously unreliable and have decided not to fully adopt stats based on unreliable data.

      Once the NHL fully implements its tracking software, I expect that location-based stats will become widely adopted by the analytics community.

  • Orville Wright

    As a season ticket in row 2 in the end that the Canucks defend twice I could not believe how many times Lack had no idea where the puck was and it hit him in the shoulder. If he was not 6″5″ he wouldn’t be in the NHL. Too many games there were rebounds dropped right in front of the crease. Anyways the number one thing that Ryan Miller is far superior at is his puck handling. Goalie puck handling skill is not measured currently by any advanced stat yet anecdotally the goalies considered excellent puck handlers such as Brodeur or Mike Smith can post higher wins with a smaller save percentage. I could not figure out how Brodeur was getting 19 wins(39 games) with a .901 save percentage and Schneider 16 wins(45 games) with a .921 in 2013/14. It took watching a game to see how much Brodeur’s stick handling skills helped a pretty slow defense. Anyways my personal opinion is Miller is in fact the better goalie ( though not elite ) and in addition Markstrom will be as good as or better then Lack in the back up role. Our goaltending tandem is better as Miller/Markstrom then Lack/Markstrom however not as likable. I though the advanced stats crowd was supposed to look past simple narratives and meaningless stats to uncover the truth in what is going on. Perhaps some one so inclined should attempt to see how goalie puck handling skills affect wins and possession stats.

  • FlamesRule

    Jim Benning was being transparent.
    To portray him as some doofus who let the said trade inquiries slip is beyond dumb. Nobody knows what the conversations entailed, how much money the Canucks would have to eat, or what was offered.

    Eddie Lack was seen as a backup obviously, no matter how much the guy was loved. Time will tell if he’s a bona fide starter. I’m over it.

    Sbisa is an enigma, JB and WD seem to think there is something there obviously, I’ll put my trust in their hockey instincts over any blogger or fans who love to slog their decisions. I’m optimistic.

    I can’t wait for all the flip flops.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    Couple points:

    1) Free up cap space for who exactly? Franson? Thankfully Benning is in charge and knows that is not the right direction. As he stated in his presser, they are building up a stable and will free up cap space when it makes sense to do so (i.e. when they have young players constantly knocking on the door). Free cap space this year only locks up cap space in later years (i.e. signing free agents that don’t add to the long-term culture), when the Canucks will actually need cap space. In 2 to 3 years when the young guys are pushing (and the Sbsia contract is over – for everyone who feels the need to bring up that contract), Benning will have excess trade pieces and cap space.

    2) I love Lack as much as the next fan but can anyone honestly say he was the goalie of the future? Is he really better than Miller? I don’t believe the answer to either of those questions is yes. Also, given the technical tweaks Miller made last year, I expect he has caught up and will be better next year.

    I like how Benning doesn’t react to the “chicken littles” in this market. He has a vision and is willing to make the tough choices to achieve it. I was getting sick of Gillis changing direction every two years. Benning knows what wins: skilled players with character who can shoot/score and are tough to play against.

  • andyg

    I find it encouraging that every rip against Benning has to include Sbisa yet JB and Lidster were both Nucks d men with some 60 years of pro hockey experience behind them.
    You guys need a drink. Hell,you need to take the summer off and just drink.

    • Dirty30

      By your logic the Oilers should be hoisting their 13th SC in a row right now.

      On another note, the author of this article can make fun of as many goalies as her wants, but beer is sacrosanct and Miller-lite is not beer, it’s something used to rinse bird-poop off of windshields.

      • FlamesRule

        I find it telling that Benning and Lidster have Stanley Cup rings (while you and I have none) and yet the Nucks defensive coach and GM (both with said rings and actual NHL rearguard careers) have decided Sbisa is good enough to warrant a contract.
        Lidster,the former Canucks captain with nearly 1,000 NHL games and Benning with 600+ games (also once said to be the best Canucks d man during his years here)actually have an opinion that counts.
        Safe to say that I will go with their opinion of Sbisa over yours.

        • FlamesRule

          I think Lidster and Benning’s coaching and scouting resumes speak for themselves. However I don’t think that there’s anything that guarantees a great playing career equals a great eye for talent. Randy Carlyle was a pretty stellar offensive defenseman but we’ve seen what his eye for talent on the Leafs was…

          I think Lack is a better goalie than Miller but not that much better and I’d rather have the prospect and Miller/Markstrom than rolling the dice on the two Swedes. Lack is a great personality but has yet to prove that he can really shoulder the load for a full season or in the playoffs. Maybe that happens in Carolina and it’s definitely worth the gamble they took but he’s nowhere near the value that some in this fanbase seem to think he is. Or apparently on this blog.

        • Dirty30

          And again, by your logic Wayne should have been the winningest Coach in NHL history.

          Being a good or great player may provide some insight into the game and a specific position, but if Benning and Lidster go by their experience to judge a player in the game as it is played now, then you get Sbisa as an example of using potentially outdated metrics to evaluate a player.

          So until Sbisa proves his worth or gets traded then Benning can wear that decision until either one happens.

          It goes with the job.

  • Smbdragon

    another amazing attempt at real journalism.

    why don’t you bloggers of this site just write blogs about how much you guys really hate this team and what they have done?

    oh wait you already do or at least try to and pass it off as subjective journalism as you must believe we the posters and readers of said garbage are too stupid to see through your BS writing.

    oh wait but Lack was so cool on twitter!!! yup he’s clearly better at tweeting than Miller so ya he’s better at playing goal lol.

    what an absolute joke this site has become.

  • Smbdragon

    Keeping Miller was about the future!!

    I was as mad as anyone knowing they could have traded Miller and maybe signed Franson, but then I calmed down and thought about it all for a minute.

    Let’s say Benning trades Miller, then we have Lack and Markstrom next year at

    • Dirty30

      For some reason posted, but I will continue…..

      We have Lack and Markstrom for next year, but after that? Let’s say Lack does well Canucks make playoffs but lose first round again. Now we either let Lack walk Asa FA and go with Markstrom, or resign Lack at 4.5-5 mil for 4/5 years??

      Miller is 6mil but only 2 years. That is enough time to figure out if Markstrom is a #1 goalie or let Thatcher Demko develop. Seems to me Benning saw more potential in Markstrom so decided leaving Lack for the next 5 years as a starter is not in the Clubs best interest, and I agree.

      Lack has maxed out his potential and being flexible is much better than Lacked…. I mean Locked up! Eddie was entertaining and stepped up nicely, but I would rather see if Markstrom can bring up his AHL season and see what Demko has to offer.

  • Smbdragon

    Basically Benning is doing nothing different from the Canucks past.

    The Sedins grew up playing under the West Coast Express, then when it’ was time for Naslund, Morrison/Tuz to move on, The Sedins stepped in.

    Miller, Sedins, Burr all are leading while the young guys grow into their roles as leaders.

  • Smbdragon

    How dare you criticize Benning, you chicken-little, hair-on-fire, mathlete troll, momma’s-basement liviving blogger! Benning is a genius professional with half a century of hockey expertise! Best GM in NHL! Everything is awesome!


      • Graphic Comments

        That is the same rookie GM that provided 41 wins and 101 points for you ever grateful armchair loons.
        Imagine spending your whole adult life successfully managing hockey player development,scouting,drafting and clubs only to come to the Great Vancouver where every local loonie thinks they can turn out a semblance of the same record Benning did working 16 hours a day while they lay on their couch drinking beer and smoking weed.

  • Smbdragon

    It’s articles like these that this blog is beginning to get reduced to. I love CanucksArmy, and I love the statistical insights they give into the team and prospects alike; but it seems there’s been a trend of ‘the sky is falling’, ‘this mgmt doesn’t know what do to’ posts that make me tear out my hair. I could honestly care less how terrible you guys think this team is going to be, if I needed to hear that, I’d read Tony Gallagher. But I came here to escape that emotionally-driven, non-calculated kind of writing. I know this blog is going through that emotional, depressing part of its’ life, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

    • andyg

      The problem with using stats for looking at next year is that they have no way to forecast what the youth will do.

      Take away Kevin and add Corrado and Clendening. Remove 3 veteran forwards and replace with rookeys. All they see is what was subtracted.

      I see a team with more speed and enthusiasm. I see more depth in the farm than last year.

      If they struggle then we draft higher. It is what is called building on the fly.

      • andyg

        I can get that, but there’s plenty of other topics than ‘what will the team end up doing next year’ which is speculation anyway, if they wanted to dive into potential rookie impact they could look at the probable lineup step-ins and go over their strengths and what they might bring to the lineup, look at some bounce-back candidates from the numbers, maybe even link to some other great blog posts if they were really starved for ideas, all of which would be a lot better than doom and gloom article without any insights that you couldn’t already find wading through the mess that is the CDC forums.

        I mean, the only reason I’m ticked off is because I know the writers here are better than the articles being written.

  • Orville Wright

    So looking at the goalie stats from last year Ryan Miller was 12th in the league at SA/60 at 28.24. Eddie Lack was 33rd in the league at SA/60 ( 1500 minutes required/all situations. ) This is easily the largest variance between teammates that met the requirement of 1500 minutes. As an example Jake Allen is 1st and Brian Elliot is 3rd./ Johnathan Bernier is 38th and James Reimer is 41st / Jimmy Howard is 6th and Petr Mrazek is 19th. ( For 2013/14 Lack was 7th and Luongo 21st) Based on playing 60 games as a starter that’s 1694.4 shots on Miller and 1858.2 shots on Lack. Based on career save percentages (.915 for Miller and .9166 for Lack ) that’s 141 goals given up by Miller and 155 by Lack. I believe I have read somewhere ( please feel free to correct me ) that the estimate is 3 goals extra equals either a win or point. That’s either around a 5 or 10 point difference in the final standings. A pretty significant amount in trying to make a very tight playoff race. Anyways, all I’m really trying to point out is that especially among the same team maybe save percentage doesn’t tell you the whole picture about a goalies contribution and we can think a little harder and stop pretending goalies are Voodoo.

  • Dirty30

    If either of you ever played one game as a d man,never mind 600-1,000 NHL games and won a cup you would have some shred of credibility with your arguments.
    Lidster and Benning have and you and I have not.
    Sbisa was playing in the NHL as an 18 year old.
    Sbisa has 4.5 full years or 362 NHL games to his credit at 25 years of age.
    Sbisa played top – 4 on a team that won 48 games and logged in with 101 points.
    Sbisa arguably held up Bieksa who at the age of 35 just cashed up for $8m for two years and will be 38 years old.
    Again,Sbisa is 25 years old and I am betting he is the better d man when Bieksa is getting $4m and Sbisa is at the prime of his career at 27 and $400k less per season.

    • Dirty30

      You’re so right. The best example of your argument is of course Mike Milbury with his 750+ NHL games who clearly gained all the insight we don’t have and as a result proved to be an excellent judge of talent.

        • andyg

          Oooh you’ve put me in my place.

          It’s funny how Bruce Boudreau (who never I guess played the game) and Bob Murray (who again I guess never played the game, especially not as a defenseman) seemed to never see Sbisa properly.

          I really do hope that Sbisa turns it around — he’s young enough that he might. He’s clearly got the tools with a decent shot and good mobility. But it’s his decision-making that is troubling/puzzling, not just the weird brain f*rts that have him delivering the puck straight up the slot, but the many many times he simply can’t seem to figure out how to make the simple play up the boards or off the glass and ends up with not only killing any possibility of a breakout but leads to extended wasted energy in his own zone as forwards come back to help get a puck out that should have been a long time ago.

          And the whole “I/we played” is cheap and stupid. Lots of people played and played well. It doesn’t make them any better at management, any more than the fact that Roger Neilson didn’t ever play pro or that Scotty Bowman didn’t make it to the NHL hampered their ability to be great coaches.

          • andyg

            The leanth of contract that was given to Sbisa is right. We will know by the end of it what we have. If he can improve his decisions then he is worth the money.

            The tools are there.

          • andyg

            Where have I heard that before?

            I’ll wager to say the next season will be just like the last.

            And before you know it, summer will hit and the same topics and words will be written again.


          • andyg

            It is not about putting you in your place. You asked me if I watched him play and I have. I also have insight as I played the position.Making every comparison in the history of the NHL to support your dislike of Sbisa and his game is not going to change the facts of the matter.Slamming a Canuck you dislike over and over is as insightful as calling others cheap and stupid.

          • andyg

            I’m not sure why you felt the need to justify Sbisa’s contract (which was the original discussion) on the basis of Benning and Lidster’s insight alone — and then used that expertise to openly dismiss any criticism. If you have specific qualities you see in Sbisa that lead you to think that the money, the term and the commitment to him as a top-4 d-man makes sense I would love to hear those rather than simply an arrogant dismissal of anyone who you assume hasn’t played the game. I don’t dislike Sbisa as a person; but he’s a player whose signing appears to me to block the advancement of other better options (Corrado’s development for one), is costly and hamstrings our ability to possibly pick up someone else (though the FA market is weak; I’d still go with Ehrhoff over him), and hasn’t shown either through the eye test or more meaningful analytics that he has greatly progressed. By all accounts his best season in the NHL (or most impressive) was his rookie one with Philadelphia. It is surprising to me therefore that he has not progressed and it is confusing to see what it is that the management see in him. What exactly do you see?

    • andyg

      Scotty Bowman, never played a single game in the NHL, best god damn coach to ever get behind the bench of an NHL team.

      His son Stan, never played a game in the NHL has won 3 cups in 5 years as the Hawks GM.

      Dean Lombardi, never played a single game of even Div 1 NCAA. GM of the team that won two of cups the Hawks missed.

      Peter Chiarelli, never played a single game in the nHL. Gm of the tem that won the other.

      So, of the last 6 cup winners, the GMs of those teams have exactly ZERO games played at the NHL level and only Chiarelli played even Div 1 NCAA, none played a game in Major Junior.

      Sorry but your little thesis of what makes a good judge of talent stinks worse than Chilliwack in the spring.

      The whole played/didn’t play shtick is so sad it’s laughable you think that is the measuring stick of success at the front office level of the NHL.

  • Dirty30

    Mike is an analyst now.
    Never won a cup.
    Never scouted. Never developed players.Never in charge of players or a draft.
    Has pretty much zero credibility in hockey circles because of his anal views.
    Milbury is a Don Cherry,and the reason both are analysts for bozos instead of getting paid to decipher and select talent for billionaires.