Ire and Ice

You know the Vancouver Canucks’ season is drawing to its inexorable conclusion when the team’s biggest media apologists have nothing better to do than to pick fights with the lowly basement dwellers here at Canucks Army.

What started out as a fairly level-headed, and generously qualified, critique of the notion that people want the Canucks to focus on rebuilding and developing younger players but can’t handle the losing that comes with it quickly degenerated into figurative, if not literal, mud slinging:


Alas, it turns out MacIntyre actually doesn’t live by this Jim Taylor adage. A scant 24 hours later he waded right into the mud pit, accusing Canucks Army writers of eating human flesh. Or something. I don’t really know. The point is maybe we can’t believe anything he tweets, either.

But before we climb in the pit with him, let’s recap the issues here, and there are two of them.

The first is that this market supposedly can’t handle a rebuild. It is something we have heard before from Canucks’ President Trevor Linden, so it shouldn’t surprise us to see that MacIntyre is singing from the same song sheet. But as I pointed out almost two years ago, what this market really can’t handle is repeated mediocrity with no end in sight:

This team is slowly getting worse. The core is aging and/or being shipped off one piece at a time. Yes, there are some potential younger pieces coming along, but not nearly enough to fill the holes. The fans, as a whole, see this and if there’s one thing this market has had enough of, it’s mediocrity.

But if the expectation is that the team will continue to get worse for years, the bleeding of season ticket holder support will continue until such a time as those expectations turn positive.

And almost two full seasons later, that’s exactly where this franchise finds itself.

The second issue MacIntyre takes with the fanbase is that we apparently want it all. We want the Canucks to develop players and we want them to win. First of all, maybe he should take that up with Trevor Linden and Jim Benning, because that’s exactly what they’ve said they want on repeated occasions. And he should know, he’s printed their claims without batting an eyelash on more than one occasion.

But as Jackson pointed out, what we at Canucks Army, and many among the fanbase, are doing is criticizing the decisions being made, not the outcomes of the games. Linden and Benning claim that they want to develop players, but their coach is out there trying to win games at the expense of developing them. And sometimes he’s doing both simultaneously, like when he wouldn’t give Baertschi a chance to play in an offensive role:

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Anyway, I digress. My point is this: when I see Baertschi scratched in favour of Cracknell I shake my head at the poor decision making that ices an inferior roster and increases the likelihood of losing the game. But then, I also think that in the long run, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Another loss is another game closer to that higher pick and the potential of selling at the deadline. 

That is what people are upset about. No one that understands what this team really is and what they need to do to improve and compete again cares if they lose to the Penguins. They care that the lone offensive bright spot to come along in months is forced to ride the pine after scoring a highlight reel goal in his first game with the team.

And this brings me to MacIntyre’s 750-word roll in the mud pit, which breaks down as follows:

  1. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but bloggers can never hurt me.

  2. You bloggers don’t have access to players, coaches and managers.

  3. You don’t even want access to players and coaches, because that would just make things inconvenient.

  4. Heck, you guys probably can’t even write up a shopping list. haha

  5. Math is hard.

  6. Because I have to face Willie Desjardins, I’m not willing to criticize him.

  7. You are all zealots worshiping at the altar of analytics and defending your religion all costs (instead of accepting the learned wisdom of hockey men who’s lives and livelihoods are devoted to the game).

  8. You would never find anything creative like literature at Canucks Army.

There’s a lot to dissect here, but let me focus on just three things.

First, two writers at Canucks Army have press credentials with full media access to Rogers Arena. Writers for Canucks Army have asked questions at press conferences and have interviewed players. Perhaps they don’t have the “special” access to Linden and Benning that MacIntyre apparently has, but maybe there’s a reason for that.

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Secondly, the implication is that all the writers at Canucks Army do is rely on statistical analysis and nothing else. Again, this is simply untrue. There were no “impregnable figures” in Jackson’s original post, nor in the underlying arguments. MacIntyre is apparently mistaking logic and reasoning for math, but more on that later. What I do want to say now is that I can guarantee you that writers like Ryan Biech and Jeremy Davis easily watch more hockey in a week than MacIntyre does in a month.

Finally, I take issue with the notion that you would never find something as creative as a poem, or say an homage to Charles Dickens, at Canucks Army. The implication being that the basement-dwelling nerds here at Canucks Army can’t appreciate the game for what it is: a game. But the fact is, you can do both. You can appreciate the beauty of the game and seek to understand it, and understand how it works.

The truth is, I don’t begrudge him from appreciating the game the way he sees fit. If you look back over human history, people have been staring up at the stars for thousands of years, both in appreciation and in worship. And, interestingly enough, when some finally started to wonder why they moved the way they do, it was the zealots defending the status quo that persecuted them. MacIntyre would apparently prefer to rely on received wisdom over analysis and reasoning to explain how hockey works. Good for him.

I hope he’s not letting his ire over the fact that some of us appreciate what happens on the ice it in a different way eat him alive from the inside.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.




  • Steamer

    Finally, some kickin’ poetry on the site!!! But, no mention of the author of the work? The one & only Robert Frost, who spoke at JFK’s innauguration so long ago that the Leafs were champs! Personally, think a little mud-wrestlin’ with IMac & Graphic Comments might sell some tickets – likely more than the Canucks are drawing – maybe Aquilini should book it? More poetry, less Megna:)

  • bobdaley44

    Rebuild? Giving young players who don’t track pucks with authority and can’t play defence ice time is rewarding unacceptability. Take Boucher for instance. Watch him forecheck and track pucks. Thats right he doesn’t very well and people want WD to play these guys and reward them for mediocrity. Why is Baertshi a decent NHLer now? It’s because he learned to track pucks and play D. You don’t have a 200 foot game you don’t play. If Crosby can play hard two ways players like Boucher,Goldolbin and Virtanen better. Keep the work ethic mandatory and young players will know whats expected unless of course we want to be like the Oilers with no culture and rebuilding for ten years. Mcdavid was their turning point without the fluke of getting him they’d still be losers. Keep working hard Nucks and try to win every game you can.

    • I am Ted

      Yep. This. I don’t want Willie back but he has been good for developing kids. For the most part, the kids have to earn it. So, playing Cracknell over Sven at that time – I was for it. It probably made Sven think and maybe even pushed him to be a better player.

      The CA bloggers are quite often juvenile and idiotic with their commentary. So, I can’t blame others for making fun of them. I can’t. They are ‘authors’ of their own demise especially when they post comments under other names to generate heated discussions.

      I do like the information CA posts. They’re usually the first ones to get to a lot of Canuck news. It’s too bad they have to actually also try and post some ‘editorials’ and ‘insight’. Honestly, look at the editor who changes his own twitter name to Jerk and other childish names. And these clowns want fans to take them seriously? Right.

  • wojohowitz

    It is easy enough to find fault on both sides. JMc uses an old Province trick of the cheap sensationalist mis-leading headline to sell newspapers – or in this case page hits, but unfortunately IMac doesn`t work for the Province so we can`t say; `What goes around comes around`. On the other side IMac comes back with an elitiest, alienating attitude of; hobbiest/blogger who`s never been invited to the Swedish consulate, never interviewed Willie, never asked the players tough questions face to face and (what really gives him away) probably has to pay to get in.

  • Dirty30

    On one side we have “it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game” and on the other side “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” crowd.

    I prefer the first — and there are times it’s there for this team … but the Coach seems to be in the latter crowd and management doesn’t know which crowd to join.

    With no hope of the playoffs show me the prospects, some different looks, some different plays, some excitement and yes, some discipline. And sit out the injured vets and play for honour and the spirit of the game. If the twins want to berate guys, let them. They have earned that right.

    On the OP, IMac really did a lousy job of responding to criticism and some of his points were meaningless — stats are stats, and they can be informative but they’re not the problem, it’s a Coach who makes little sense in deployment and can’t put together a PO after three years of trying that’s the problem.

  • Waffles

    IMac writes like CanucksArmy is irrelevant. Yet, he goes out of his way to respond – if CA was really “beneath” him, he would’ve just ignored the article. The fact that he responds gives this site more legitimacy. Hope he enjoys giving CA additional readership.

  • NucksCup

    #Realfans don’t mind losing one bit and can totally go through a complete rebuild if we see good asset management. I actually don’t even care about the results during a rebuild…they don’t matter. Sure it would be nice to finish lower in the standings to have better odds at drafting a franchise altering player with a lottery pick BUT a team can still rebuild a champion without a lottery pick. It just takes consistently good asset management over time. #Realfans simply want to see good asset management during a rebuild and deployment of players that will lead to development of young prospects into stars that give us a chance to actually do something in the playoffs not just make them.

    The truth is that this isn’t a playoff team and that shouldn’t have been the goal since Lindenning took over. The goal should have been restocking the prospect cupboard and our supply of draft picks. Then Lindenning should have gone about developing these assets. Eventually out of the crop of assets a few stars could emerge that would lead the Canucks into the playoffs with a shot at actually doing something. #Realfans know that this could take time and WE ARE TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT!!!!! What we don’t want is exactly what Lindenning is/are doing…performing horrible asset management while trying to make the playoffs. They have set this franchise back years!!!

    And for the love of Stanley the coach has to be on board with development as the number one goal not winning. Willie’s deployment is absurd. It is so absurd it is almost laughable. Actually it is beyond laughable, it is facking mind splitting.

    Plain and simple, that is what #realfans want.

    ps- Can the Canucks spring for some communications classes for the coach and GM. I can’t hear another “like” and “real good”. Please put an intelligent sentence together…try performing one interview where you don’t say “like” or “real good”.

  • GLM

    I think we all can all agree that MacIntyre defending/supporting the Canucks’ “retool”, but also having a “you can’t have both” opinion is inherently flawed. But likening yourselves to pioneers persecuted by religious zealots is a bit much.

    Though Imo, MacIntyre is right about the hyper criticism this team faces whenever it makes a move, which is where this whole argument derives from.

  • TD

    I couldn’t agree more with a couple of the people that posted. Baertschi and Granlund were written off by Calgary and WD had turned them into 20 goal scorers. Part of that development might mean sitting a way more talented player who refuses to play defence in favour of a less talented pro who understands how to work and play both ways. Edmonton let their kids run the show and they wrecked most of them. They played regardless of the mistakes they made. At first they were good offensively, but the team lost because of poor defensive play. Then Eberle, NH, Yak and even Hall stopped scoring at the same rate while still never learning to play a complete game.

    I want to see the kids play, but would rather they learn to play properly, even if it means benching them for a fourth liner. Those are the lessons that will either turn them into players or let management know they need to be replaced. It’s funny how differently people view coaching and how a player is developed. I don’t want to assume anything about the writers, but Willie’s coaching and development seems evident. Unfortunately, he lacks the depth with the Nucks and Comets to play players that will keep the fans happy. What’s funny is that I’m not even a Willie fan, but to listen to the writers you would think that the young kids are floundering. There aren’t enough of them, but they are doing way better than expected. Baer, Bo and Granlund should all end up scoring 20 or more this year.

  • Neil B


    While Jackson McDonald’s article has some good points–and one glaring flaw that McIntyre completely ignored, which is that Granlund and Sven are producing at solid second-liner production levels in today’s NHL, and Horvat is producing like a low-end 1C or an elite 2C; and the way they got to the point where they exceeded personal expectations was through precisely the same process that Boucher and Goldobin are going through now–it is really, really begging the question to call the article a “fairly level-headed, and generously qualified” take. The article calls him out in the title; the first words in the article are ‘Ian McIntyre’; he is the only reporter, beat or otherwise, named or quoted. Yes, there are intersting points in the article; but the way the article was written, McDonald makes McIntyre the Judas Goat of all MSM. To then pretend that it was an innocent take, and McIntyre is somehow a bully coming done on you guys, is at best, disingenuous.

    It was an interesting article, written to pull eyes by picking a fight with someone with a bigger audience, in the hopes that he would respond & drive traffic to the website. In that effort, I would wager that it worked. So kudos to McDonald for pulling it off.

  • Bud Poile

    “But as Jackson pointed out, what we at Canucks Army, and many among the fanbase, are doing is criticizing the decisions being made, not the outcomes of the games.”

    That’s not true. There’s a consistent CA whining about Benning and player acquisitions such as Gudbranson,Sutter and Dorsett while the vast majority of player acquisition and development accomplishments dwarf the selective whining that never ends.

    “First, two writers at Canucks Army have press credentials with full media access to Rogers Arena. Writers for Canucks Army have asked questions at press conferences and have interviewed players.”

    Jackson doesn’t and IMac’s response was firmly levelled at him.

    “What I do want to say now is that I can guarantee you that writers like Ryan Biech and Jeremy Davis easily watch more hockey in a week than MacIntyre does in a month.”

    IMac’s response had nothing to do with Jeremy or Ryan.

    I could go on but what’s the point? CA should have tried to use the negative exposure of their site and upped their material content to attract new readers.Trotting out ‘Graphic Comments’ and his childish graphs and assertions further supports IMac’s case and cause.

  • Freud

    The CA critics place a lot of self-worth in “knowing hockey”. Most of what they know is just old, tired, basic information that has been regurgitated by the mainstream media over the years. An example – face-offs are important. When evidence is shown to dispel these old, tired myths, its a knife in he back of the critic’s ego. It’s hard to accept you’re largely wrong about something that defines a big part of you. So, most CA critics begin to rage against the opinions. When they repeatedly lose the opinion debates, they begin to rage against the writers because accepting the ego hit is too painful.

  • Coach Stuart McMillan on objective versus subjective. Some may find it amusing and applicable to the never ending story.

    Objective = subjective

    Athletes, coaches, therapists, support staff, their interactions and their shared experiences are the core of the training process. With all the recent attention on objective data collection, progression metrics, and measurement technologies, the industry has seen a reduction in the respect for the subjective – the importance of the ‘soft sciences’; the communication; the interaction; the day-to-day reality of the coaching process – and a concomitant reduction in coaching quality.
    From a Heideggerian phenomenological point of view, there is no separation between the objective and the subjective; it is not possible to interpret anything bereft of subjective judgement: “Understanding is never without presuppositions. We do not, and cannot, understand anything from a purely objective position. We always understand from within the context of our disposition and involvement in the world”