Sven Baertschi’s Entitlement is his Downfall, #MyColumn

Homeless Baertschi

Not all is sunshine and roses where the Canucks youngest players are concerned. Like a litter of dogs, the alphas have pressed themselves upon mothers milk and left the runts behind to starve.

As one might expect, the lactate praise and ice-time that secretes has proven insufficient for the pack.

While Jared McCann leads the team in goals, Ben Hutton in assists among defencemen and Jake Virtanen murders, Sven Baertschi has left a decidedly faint impression in his nine games this season.

I’d like to think that I have a firm enough grasp as to why Baertschi has struggled to this point in the Canucks season. One we’ll touch on, on the other side of the jump. 

For the sake of journalistic integrity, I’ll qualify my theory by pointing to the authentic purveyor of this ugly truth. I require myself to be more than the typical lowly blogger; ones who probably never played the game; live in their mother’s basement, and the like. So instead, I look the guidance of The Province’s Ben Kuzma. Kuzma is a staple of the Vancouver Canucks beat and has been covering the team for as long as I can remember. Only makes sense that this epiphany would strike him first…

This really does make one think. I mean, the parallels are almost endless. Both were acquired by Jim Benning; both had prolific scoring rates in the AHL and a track record of offensive potency spanning as far back as junior. I’ll be damned, they were both acquired at the cost of a second-round selection to boot. They’re basically the same player if you think about it.

Digging through the vault of the since estranged Vey’s first season with Vancouver, one can see the extent to which entitlement derailed his season – perhaps his career. Acquired to provide the Canucks with scoring punch down the middle, Vey was handed a first unit power play role as the floater in the slot. 

Did it matter that he had a beer league shot? Hardly. Was his inability to find and exploit even the most obvious passing lanes apparent to all? Certainly. Yet there he remained, for the better part of the first half of the season.

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Is Baertschi getting an extended look on the first unit power play, alongside the Sedin twins? Not necessarily, but he is seventh among all Canuck forwards in power play ice time this season. He’s getting his opportunities, no matter how sparse. When Baertschi begins to capitalize on them, it’s likely he’ll be rewarded. Can’t be handed these things, you see.

As a secondary scoring option, though, one might reasonably expect Baertschi to contribute a sizeable chunk of the club’s offence at even strength. That hasn’t been the case to this point, as Baertschi’s 0.72 pts/60 is second lowest among Canucks forwards. Now, that might be 0.72 points per sixty more than Bo Horvat, but that’s beside the point. Let’s stick to the matter at hand: accountability.

This isn’t anywhere near the level of offence the Canucks were hoping for from their Suisse sniper, especially given the second line role that they’d hoped to establish him in.

Therein lies the problem, though. With this younger generation of stars, everything has to be earned. This is especially true of players from wimpy neutral nations, like Switzerland. Let Baertschi float through conflict, refuse to engage in battles along the boards and he will. It’s in his nature. As soon as he was handed that second line role, he stopped trying, in all likelihood.

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It doesn’t really matter that the Canucks are shooting at just a hair above 2% at even strength with Baertschi on the ice. If Baertschi didn’t feel entitled to a league average on-ice sh%, then perhaps the Canucks would be more proficient with him on the ice. 

All this is food for thought. I think with a player like Virtanen, the Canucks were right to pencil him into their lineup last May, regardless of his mediocre production end-of-season production. The reality is, such a move was never going to create a sense of entitlement in Virtanen because he’s from a country that refuses to be entitled. With Baertschi though, handing him the second line role has proven a disaster.

He’s entitled and it shows.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    Ehlers may not have murdered anyone but he is 4-4-8 in scoring with 15 minutes playing time. Virtanen is 0-2-2 in nine sheltered minutes.
    Virtanen should go back to junior to improve his hockey smarts.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    A country that refuses to be entitled…..

    Players from wimpy neutral nations…..

    Hardly the adjectives one should use when evaluating a player after just twelve games into his tenure as a Canuck.

    Sven has 2g 3a in those 12 games.

    Horvat has 1g 1a in 11 games this season,Dorsett has the same points total as Sven and Virtanen is at the bottom.

    Very early to write off Baertschi and it might be best to leave the evaluation to those that are capable of doing it.

  • wojohowitz

    The stats cited are bias and self-serving. Botch disagrees;

    Not everyone agrees that Baertschi should be a healthy scratch. In his own interview with TSN 1040, Botchford believes that making Baertschi a healthy scratch won’t help his development. In addition, Botchford cited the fact that Baertschi is the only Canucks forward with a plus SAT rating (34 shot attempts for, 30 shot attempts against).

    According to Botchford, a creative player such as Baertschi will need time to develop chemistry with sharpshooter Radim Vrbata.

  • mgg

    It doesn’t help that his P/60 was calculated using 1 assist when in fact he had 2 at 5v5. Not that it really matters P/60 at 5v5 of 0.72 or 1.44 – close enough.

    In all situations he’s only 2nd in A/60 and A1/60 on the team. More importantly he is dead last (with a few others) in G/60 – a known playmaker in juniors and the AHL should be a goal scorer in the NHL because that’s how it works, no?

  • mgg

    My thoughts on Sven are that he is trying to make a game change and that’s tough…

    When a guy is always a scorer, but then is told you have to be a two way player you get caught in “in decision” land. I think Sven is thinking too much about not making mistakes at this point and which has frozen his natural offensive abilities. I don’t like the Vey comparison because Vey is the ultimate tweener. If he loses weight he is too slight, gains wieght too slow, too short to PBS a grinder, not skilled enough for top six….

    Sven will be fine, just can’t jump him in the first 10 games of the year and call him a bust.

  • Dirty30

    Vey was nothing but gloss to placate the Coach. WD should have taken the car or cheap rent in Yaletown instead.

    The moment Sven got picked up you could count the minutes to the end of Vey’s NHL career.

    Sven has better size, more speed, is more of a natural scorer but — and it’s a big but — not a great 200 foot player at this point. There’s no reason he can’t develop that aspect of his game and that transition will take time.

    Given half the opportunity afforded Vey, Sven can be twice the player.

    Even if he peaks as a Mason Raymond or Chris Higgins, he’s still half the cost for a decent stretch.

  • andyg

    Part of building around youth is learning that there will be ups and downs. Horvat is trying a little too hard instead of letting the game just happen. Sven came in with a lot of pressure on him this year. Both management and fans need to be patient.

    Some will make it and some won’t.

  • Possej Syhr

    Check Sven’s Corsi. A cool 55%. That’s a first line driver of the play and tilter of the ice.
    Willie D(unce) wouldn’t know a real player if he hit him in the head with a slapshot.
    When will this team use analytics?

    Statistically yours,

    • Possej Syhr

      Next thing you know, “The Provies” will hire a European stats guru named Yrrehc Nod who starts mocking Moneypuck, who then comes back with an eye-test rebutle. The world isn’t ready, people!!!

      I have to say, I think you guy(s?) did a way better job of this article. I’m hoping the nationality insinuation is tongue-in-cheek, because that would absolutely suck if that was true, and I don’t think it is. BUT, I do think it’s a great way to suggest that Baertschi’s style of play compared to his peers could be less likely to convince a coach to cut him more slack while he’s developing/adjusting.

      Horvat defends: awesome, that’s exactly what we want.

      McCann scores: geez.. I certainly don’t doubt that he has a nose for the net, but he’s still a kid… is he going to hold up?

      Virtanen hits: well at least we know he isn’t going to get hurt out there.. and man, can he make the other team put their heads on a swivel. Maybe the scoring will come.

      Baertschi… flies around, carries the puck well, seems to be starting lots of plays, but almost all if these promising plays has come up dry. Is that success-in-the-making, or a deficiency in his ability at the NHL level?

      All I can say is that I hope they are giving him the same chance, because the types of plays he’s trying to put together rely much less on pure skill and much more on smarts. Now I’m not saying that either Virtanen, Horvat, or McCann aren’t smart, but I am saying that they have a specific set of tools that allow them to succeed in much more apparent ways while they learn and develop the other aspects of their game. But if/when Baertschi is able to translate his game to the NHL-level level, the role he would play on this team will be enormous. It’s well worth the investment of a 2nd round pick, and well worth investing in his development by providing him with a regular place in the lineup.

  • Possej Syhr

    From what I have seen on TV and what I read from the fancy stats, Sven will be fine as long as Wille D does not place him in the press box too often and kills his confidence.

    He’s looks like he’s got high end talent and will be a force given time to develop and mature.

  • Possej Syhr

    Trust me guys, this is exactly why the Flames got rid of him, not an NHL player. He’s 23, he is what he is, and it ain’t much. The main problem though is that he won’t adapt, he has consistently demanded to be used as a top 6 forward when his results don’t warrant it, this is why he will never be a full time NHL player…. have fun in Europe Sven, thanks for nothing.