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Photo Credit: always90four.com

Dumb Luck Follows Canucks, But For How Long?

We’re almost through the first week of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and so far, the hockey’s been great. The Edmonton Oilers have lost on the ice and the concourse alike, and the puts the San Jose Sharks only 15 wins away from securing the Canucks a first-round pick.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the Canucks immediate fortunes are hard to look at positively. They’re in the thick of a coaching hunt, again. They’re tweaking the rebuild.

Then there’s the matter of the Draft Lottery, and the grim reality that nothing seems to go the Canucks’ way, save for the odd coach’s challenge this season. From the 1970 Expansion Draft to sweeping a California road trip to finish the 2015-16 season, the Canucks just seem to have the worst luck.

In 2005, when the NHL came back from the lockout, a certain teenager from Coal Harbour, Nova Scotia was inserted into the draft lottery. Watching in awe as the teams were eliminated from the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes, TSN would go to commercial with only 10 teams remaining.

This was it, this… was the moment. And they didn’t even get close.

So, when the Canucks finished 28th last season and the chance to get the 3rd overall pick became a realistic possibility, we all knew better, the Canucks were never getting that lucky. It was predetermined that hockey wasn’t going to be that nice to Vancouver. Olli Juolevi may turn out to be a fantastic choice and could anchor the blueline for years but until then, he’s not Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine or Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Listening to the Canucks Army podcast this week with Satiar Shah and J.D. Burke, my thoughts echoed what Shah had to say regarding the Canucks chances on April 29th. He felt, as I do, that the Canucks were due for something good to happen and that this lottery was the time for it to take place. It’s still a few weeks away but you can’t help but be kind of excited for the chance at a game-changing centre.

It’s been a pretty awful run of luck for Canucks fans and I’m sure the team feels the same way as well. You think Canucks president Trevor Linden doesn’t think about that post in Game 7 every now and then? How about Pavel Bure shooting it across the goal line or Nathan Lafayette? My social media namesake says it all, never forget.

The other unlucky thing – perhaps luck is the wrong word here — is that anytime a generational talent became available the Canucks weren’t terrible enough to draft him. They’ve had the option to trade for higher positioning but management has never had the gusto to spring for that player and give up something to get something.

As the season ended and the search for Vancouver’s next coach gets nearer, what kind of luck will follow this struggling franchise? All signs point to Travis Green as the next bench boss and from all accounts, he’s a pretty solid choice. But didn’t they say the same thing about Willie Desjardins? We’ve already seen what hockey has handed the Canucks when they axed Alain Vigneault and he went to the Rangers, then again after they axed John Tortorella and he went to the Jackets.

I can only hope that Desjardins doesn’t land on a team that goes on a serious run next year, it would be so typical for that to happen to the Canucks. The problem with luck being blamed though is that the team has kind of done it to themselves. Retooling on the fly since 2012 would have worked had management actually done that but now it’s a full-on rebuild.

Changing a few things internally and moving on from players that weren’t going to be part of the future could have kept the Canucks afloat but they’re at the point of restructuring the foundation and that’s how the rebuild has come to the forefront. It never needed to get this far.

Scoring a bit of luck in 2017 would really be a welcome change for the Orca faithful, and maybe just maybe, we can all believe in something that seems possible again. The Canucks aren’t anywhere near the end of this disaster but Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier would move the needle forward a fair amount.

I am fed up with how much the Canucks have been given the short end of the stick for decades and I really think it’s our time to see things go their way for once. The Canucks have had first-time coaches and first-time GMs, it would be nice to make the first overall pick for the first time as well.

Tough to say how long this lasts for Vancouver but I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t gone their way a few times as well. Skill basically goes out the door when you throw the pads out in desperation or happen to be the only player that sees a puck bounce off a stanchion.

There’s the old saying “you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good”. I’m really not sure where the Canucks fall in this category but it would be nice if they were good again.

    • Ronning4ever

      One of the gutsiest, most successful trades I’ve ever heard of on the draft floor. Well…that and the NJD somehow getting Cory Schneider for a 9th round pick.

      • Seth

        Agreed. That said, the Sedins weren’t slated to be generational talents (who I would feel be the likes of Crosby, McDavid, Matthews etc).

        Most of the time, if they are generational talents, no one would give them up in a trade… Only one I can think of was the Eric Lindros trade – but him and his father had the Nordiques already over a barrel, so they had to move on that one.

        You really think Pittsburgh would have given Crosby up after he was so highly touted? Maybe only a GM of the likes of Milbury would have…

  • Mellowyellow

    I’m not sure how anyone can correlate the logic between a bad draft luck in the 1970 expansion draft all the way to a bad season and getting the 4th pick last season to having bad luck.. I think had the canucks been say in the pingpong scenario in the last couple of drafts and never won it.. sure.. thats bad luck.. its a stretch for you to suggest losing say in ’94 and bad expansion draft in 1970 and getting the 4th pick.. So we have a art ross and hart trophy winner should we consider him to be bad luck also?..

  • Rodeobill

    Always hoping for the best, but anticipating the worst. I feel ya. Silver lining is you get really happy about little things other teams don’t even bother to talk about (Sutter’s face off percentage, or spisa learning to not turn over the puck). Imagine how excited we will get when we actually become competitive again!

  • Van94

    Really though this is the first time in modern history that pretty much everyone including (I think) ownership has accepted that we are forced into a full on rebuild. And are a good ways along that road. Not possible to pick lower than 5th this year and they all pretty damn good to that point. Not everything has worked out as Benning planned ; just like everyone other GM in the league. But he is consistently acquiring better than average players. If a GM keeps doing that some of them will turn into home runs. I think we’re going in the right direction. I hope Benning gets another couple years before we bring in the next Gillis or Nonnis.

  • TD

    Patrick scares me with his injury history. That would be the Canucks luck. They get first overall, but he busts with injuries. I’d be happy with any of the top 4 centres in this draft and win the lottery for Rasmus Dahlen next year.

    • TrueBlue

      Lucking out to draft Patrick and having ongoing injurinrs plague his career is literally my nightmare.

      But yes please let’s draft Dahlin next year. Please. Yes.

    • Neil B

      Not sure that one (perhaps deliberately?) over-long recovery from sports hernia surgery is equivalent to being injury-prone. But whatever. If Mittelstadt was in a conventional NHL career track, I think he’d be ranked much higher. If Hischier were North American, he’d likely be scored higher (even if not ranked higher). There are probably 5-6 legitimate 1C prospects in the first round, and some pretty decent D prospects as well. I don’t think it’s going to be a bad draft; just average, following a couple very rich ones.

  • Burnabybob

    In the end, the Canucks have no control over the draft lottery. And the crummy luck they’ve suffered in the past has no bearing whatsoever on what will happen on April 29th. Fact is, the Canucks are mathematically most likely to pick 4th in the draft. They may even drop to 5th. Canucks management needs to prepare for that, and the fans need to accept it.

    The good news is that at least one of Gabe Vilardi, Casey Mittelstadt, or Timothy Liljegren will be available to the Canucks, which would help them address their two biggest needs: a first-line center and a mobile, offensive defenseman.

    I agree that the short term is going to be painful for this franchise, but they’re headed in the right direction.

  • Steamer

    “…anytime a generational player became available the Canucks weren’t terrible enough to draft him.” – Let’s not neglect those unforgetable drafts when GM’s overlooked the generational players available, eg: 1977 ( Bossy ), 1990 ( Jagr ) – so many more. What about if Canucks fall to 5th & the big 4 centres – Patrick, Hishier, Vilardi, Mittlestadt – are all gone?
    Do they go for Liljegren or Tippet, or go for another centre, eg: Cody Glass?

  • Seth

    Oh… dumb luck is the opposite of what follows the Canucks. It would be more of a curse. Dumb luck is no matter what they do, fortune smiles upon them. Sort of like Forrest Gump in the movie.

    I was seriously wondering what dumb luck the Canucks had, so I clicked on this article…

  • truthseeker

    It’s got nothing to do with luck. It’s probability.

    Here again…another article that seems to not understand the concept of a lottery and odds.

    Last year we picked pretty much exactly where the math said we should. That’s NOT bad luck. That’s reality. That’s the canucks getting exactly what they were supposed to get. Nothing more nothing less.

    What was luck was the Jets winning the lottery. If we wanted Liane we should have played BETTER so we would have been in the spot that landed him. It’s a LOTTERY.

    Interesting how everyone is basically writing off Juolevi practically like he’s a bust. I don’t recall Dubois doing anything of importance in the NHL this year, yet you put him up like we “missed out” on something. And what about the other “generational” winger in Puljujärvi? Are you writing him off too? Should the Oil have passed on him? Taken Tkachuk instead…haha…..all 13 goals and now he’s the most amazing missed opportunity in Vancouver since Gretzky….lol . Tkachuk is a joke. A dime a dozen winger. You people are ridiculous.

    As bob below there, correctly stated, and seems to be one of the very few who actually understands, we will pick 4th or 5th this year. Prepare for and accept that, because that is what “should” happen. If we actually win one of the lottery positions then bonus.

    But really….shut up about “luck” and canuck curses etc….it’s boring and old and has no basis in any reality. Just moronic superstition.

    • DJ_44

      That’s not quite how it works. Luck, or perhaps more neutrally labelled as chance, is the single most important thing that matters when it comes to picking 1 2 or 3.

      #1 was not the highest probability slot for the Leafs last year. However, Matthews wears #34 in blue and white. That was luck, pure and simple: they beat the odds (or probabilities). They had a better chance at selecting #1 then other teams(20%), both not against all teams (#4 was their most likely position at 47.5%).

      The Canucks got #5, which was the highest single probability(37.8%), however they had a higher probability of selecting either #1-4 (48.3%).

      To sum up, luck is the single most influential element of the draft lottery (hence the name) — some teams require more of it than others.

      • truthseeker

        No they didn’t have a higher probability of picking in the top 3. The top three are not combined odds….lol. Each of the top three picks are a separate lottery. They draw for number one. Then they draw for number two and then number 3. Each time the odds for the canucks stayed roughly the same. 11 % or so for each drawing of the lottery.

        You don’t get to add them up and say we had a 30ish percent chance at the top 3. lol. You can, however add up the percentage of the NON lottery spots as those are the odds of us NOT winning any of the lottery picks.

        The lottery is based on probability. Yes it would be “lucky” if we win it, but it’s not going to be “bad luck” if we don’t.

        • Neil B

          Yes, picks 1-3 are separate events; however, they are not independent events. Picks 1-3 are “dependent events”, rather than “independent events”. The team that wins #1 cannot win #2, and so on. And the odds do change–they stay in ratio to each other, excluding the odds of the team that won the previous round. The odds that we do not win are cumulative, and (relatively) easy to calculate. We have roughly a 65% chance of not picking 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. QED, we have a cumulative chance of winning either 1, 2, or 3 of roughly 35%.

          So, while our likeliest single result is still 4th, we do have slightly (very slightly) better odds of getting one of the top 3 picks than we do of getting #4.

          • truthseeker

            They do the draw for the first pick. Our odds are 12.1% to get it. So basically we have an 87.9% chance of not winning the first pick.

            Now, let’s say the Av’s win for the sake of simplicity. What are our odds then?

            Well…they are 14.774 to win the second pick. 85.226% to NOT get the second pick.

            So what if Vegas wins the second pick? Then what are our odds for the third? 16.899 or 83.101 against.

            And that’s a best case scenario in terms of the higher odd teams going ahead of us. It only gets worse for us if a long shot wins the lottery.

            http://nhllotterysimulator.com/

            Run it here….it will tell you each time what our odds are for every possible situation.

          • Neil B

            @truthseeker: Yes, we could add up each of the odds for each possibility of winning; but there is the principle that all odds are a zero-sum game; thus, calculating the easiest result (in this case, that we get nothing), subtracted from 1.00, gives us the cumulative odds of winning one of the top 3 picks. In your example, for instance, 0.879×0.85226×0.83101=0.615457 etc. Subtracted from 1.00, our odds in this example of getting one of the top-3 picks is 38.45%.

            Of course, that’s just a best-case example. If NYI, Tampa, and Philly get 1-2-3 respectively, then our odds of supplanting one of them is much less. when you aggregate the odds, you get 35.2% (Tankathon, My NHL Draft) or 35.3% (Bleacher report, doing their own special rounding, I guess).

  • TheMoustacheofDaveBabych

    ” is that anytime a generational talent became available the Canucks weren’t terrible enough to draft him. ”
    They have two. If you think otherwise, you might be writing about the wrong team.

  • Dirty30

    The irony of all this sweating the balls hoping for some great pick is that hockey is so much a team sport. It wasn’t Matthews that got the latest game winning goal for the Leafs, it was a fourth line call-up who made the most of his opportunity.

    Getting a top line centre is necessary but not sufficient to make this team a contender. This team continues to lack depth that makes a difference. And Megna, Chapstick and Skille are not sufficient nor necessary to this team’s depth to be successful moving forward.

    And don’t forget that probability is not certainty — unless the odds are 100% in your favour, there is always the possibility that even with 99% probability, you could still lose.

    No matter where the Canucks pick in this draft, it will be an upgrade on some player currently on the roster but not enough to plan any parades.

  • Ranger2k2

    This team has always had a bit of bad luck, bad timing and being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The Canucks had one of their best defensive prospects (of all time) tragically killed in a motorcycle accident at a very young age. Lost out on giant pin wheel (for a generational talent). We have also had a long line of individuals involved with the club that have made a lot of really really bad decisions. We had a hammered up executive call up Gretzky and turn him off from signing with the club. Had fans riot twice after losing out on game 7 in the finals (I am convinced that they would have rioted the 2nd time even if the the Canucks had won). We have also had two lockouts during the prime of our most talented players careers (Bure, Sedins). I hope that a draft lottery win would maybe turn around the fortunes of this franchise but I am not holding my breath. Misfortune and poor choices are the trademark of the Vancouver Canucks franchise.

  • Oilbucket

    It doesn’t matter where the Canucks pick, looks like they blew their pick last year. I would think trading the pick to replace elderly might be a good option.