The Flying Take: The Goldobin Story, Burkie’s Takes, and the Great Reddit Showdown

There’s an old story, likely apocryphal, that Abraham Lincoln once recounted in a speech as he campaigned to be America’s sixteenth President:

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

It’s something we all ought to keep in mind as the season progresses.

The Canucks entered Los Angeles last night having lost eight consecutive games. In reality, they hadn’t played badly enough to deserve their record; much in the same way the underlying numbers suggested they were getting lucky early in the season.

The team will have stretches like the one they just went through. Elias Pettersson will go quiet now and then. But it’s looking more and more like we can also expect him to have nights like the one he just had in L.A. with relative consistency.

It won’t be enough to keep the Canucks competitive on most nights, but it will be enough to keep them watchable. It’s a nice change of pace.

1. In any other season, Nikolay Goldobin’s emergence as a top-six forward would be a big story. He’s first on the team in shot attempt differential, second in overall assist rate, third in points per 60 minutes, and third in overall points. The book on Goldobin has always been that he’s a liability defensively, but so far this season, he’s producing more than he’s giving up: Goldobin is just one of only four Canucks with a positive goal differential. Before adding an assist in last night’s game, he was producing at a rate of 0.6 points per game, which is better than Wayne simmonds, Jakob Silfverberg, and Mats Zuccarello. Detractors will point to the fact that he’s scored just four goals thus far, but he’s still on pace for 13 goals and 49 points. If he finishes the season in that ballpark, would you take that? I think I would, especially considering he was an early candidate for waivers before the start of the season.

2. Goldobin’s numbers have been juiced a little thanks to the fact that he’s played the vast majority of his shifts with Elias Pettersson. Of that there is no doubt. He’s also been racking up a lot of secondary assists, which are generally less indicative of offensive contributions than primary helpers. At first glance, you might assume that means that Goldobin’s production is about to go off a cliff, but thanks to the wonders of microstatistics, we can see that it appears to be completely sustainable.

Over the first ten games of the season, Goldobin was first on the team in primary shot contributions (passes leading to a shot on goal), and second in scoring chance rate, according to data tracked by Corey Snazjder. Considering Goldobin struggled to produce offence early in the season, this is an incredibly good sign.

And yet the market has been surprisingly quiet about it. Outside of Daniel Wagner’s must-read hype piece about why the data loves him, there’s been very little love for Goldobin in what’s been a breakout season for him. Why?

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3. Goldobin’s chilly reception in media circles stands in stark contrast to the praise Jake Virtanen has earned. In many ways, their seasons have mirrored each other. Both are on pace to destroy career-highs in points, but Goldobin is on pace for just 13 goals, and Virtanen just 10 assists. Both have had some luck through the first quarter of the season, albeit in different ways, and both have undeniably benefited from stints with Elias Pettersson. But one has been a far bigger story this year.

Maybe it’s just because only one of them has an alcohol consumption-related campaign attached to their success, but something Jason Botchford said in his recent Q&A with the good people of reddit’s Canucks community got me thinking.

Botch was asked about players responding to so-called “stupid questions” Elias Pettersson has received over the course of a season:

Sometimes what you guys see as dumb questions are media’s attempt to have some fun with him. For example, [Jeff] Paterson asked last night about him calling the penalty. It was a fun question set up for a joke or a laugh from him. He didn’t take it that way, gave his death stare and so it goes. Either way, he can do what he wants. I’m not criticizing but I do think the media looks for way to lighten things up especially after 6 straight losses.

Goldobin’s not a native English speaker. Virtanen, on the other hand, has quickly established himself as a good quote. That matters more than you might think. Any player who’s willing to give you something you can use is probably going to get more favourable coverage than someone who stonewalls. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact of life.

If Goldy ever becomes a talker, watch out.

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4. I mentioned Botchford’s AMA last week, so now that the event has come and passed I thought I’d offer an update. For those of you who aren’t aware, an AMA is an informal question-and-answer period between a public figure and the users of a certain community (in this case, the Canucks subreddit).

It was, to my disappointment, remarkably tame. /r/Canucks can be spicy even at the best of times, but they kept it PG for the most part, apart from a few notable exceptions.

The closest thing to a confrontation came over Botch’s change of heart on the subject of a potential Chris Tanev trade, of all things. It was kind of anticlimactic given the animosity the community has shown not just Botchford, but much of the Vancouver hockey media over the years, but it’s good to know I can still expect the trademark pedantry I’ve grown to love.

5. Here are some of the best tidbits from Botch’s AMA. (Responses edited for clarity).

On Edler:

Wish he was healthy all year. He’s been incredibly productive on the power play and i really see this year as a season where both his TOI and point totals get jacked enough to get a premium return. His side has asked for an extension but Canucks have said nah. They need to make room on the left side. I feel like currently we’re headed for a trade.

On Nikita Tryamkin:

I believe he wants to return but the Canucks are ambivalent about bringing him back. I hope Jim changes his mind but i heard they were leaning toward looking to deal his rights.

On Jim Benning acquiring more draft picks:

Honestly, I don’t think it’s in his nature. I think he’s a bit restless even now as it’s going to take some time for Gadj, Lind, Dahlen, Gaudette to develop. They’ve been told to/have agreed to not trade any picks but trading for them is still not a priority. Now, if he could get a first for Edler, would he? Sure.

On the Bobrovsky rumours:

I don’t think Jim is preparing a slide show presentation, but you can definitely see the seeds for this one to grow. You know the relationship he has with Clark and I think Clark is in Jim’s ear on this. Plus you know this D is going to get younger and needs stability and you know that Jim is big on paying for a goalie.

On moving to The Athletic:

I’m in 100% control of my time management. I can folo the stories i think are important. I don’t have “assignments” – I don’t have daily deadlines. For example, I did a section on Horvat the other day in the Athletties. I worked on that for 2 weeks and had multiple interviews with Bo and Travis. That wouldn’t happen in the pre-Athletties.

Not everyone is a fan of his style, but I think he’s made the media environment in Vancouver much more interesting than it was when I was growing up, if nothing else. If you haven’t yet, go give the thread a read. There’s some good stuff in there.

6. Brian Burke turned some heads this week with his response to the Carolina Hurricanes much-ballyhooed victory celebration, the “Storm Surge”:

He’s earned his fair share of “old man yells at cloud” jokes, which I have no issue with What I do have an issue with is how many people have buried the lede, which was Burke’s funny exchange with John Shannon at the top of the clip:

John Shannon: Why don’t you like the slow clap in Carolina?

Brian Burke: Cause I don’t.

JS: People are having fun!

BB: I don’t need a reason.

JS: Yes you do.

BB: No I don’t.

JS: You do in television.

BB: No, I don’t like it.

JS: In our business, you have to give a reason.

BB: Actually, I don’t. I’m a guest on this show.

Call me crazy, but it’s a breath of fresh air to hear someone in hockey just admit they don’t like something inconsequential without any attempt to reverse-engineer a reason why it’s actually really important. The media landscape, particularly the sports media landscape, would be a lot healthier if that happened more often.

For the record, you can like it when players show some personality and have fun and still think the Storm Surge is hokey pageantry.

In fact, you might say Carolina’s victory celebration qualifies as fun in the same way that Brian Burke on the Sportsnet panel qualifies as refreshing. It’s the closest we’re going to get in a league that presents itself in a boring and monotonous way, but it’s not quite grounds for celebration.

The warm response the surge has received and the backlash to Burke’s frankly amusing comments on it are a reflection of just how little variety hockey fans are accustomed to. It’s okay. We understand you like fun. You don’t have to pretend to like the Cane’s poor approximation of it.
7. Last night the L.A. Kings gave a moving tribute to recent Hall of Fame inductee Willie O’Ree, the first black man to appear in an NHL game. It makes you wonder if Larry Kwong will ever get the same honour. He may not have had the same impact on growing the game, but he did break the NHL’s colour barrier nearly ten years before O’Ree laced up for his first NHL game. Kwong passed away in March of this year, just two days after the 70th anniversary of his lone NHL game. O’Ree’s induction has opened the door for other nominees of his ilk, and Kwong would be a worthy addition.

  • bushdog

    burke was so drunk he pissed himself on the forces plane. you like a goof like that? he’s no different that williams – big mouth, big attitude and monster ego. he only gets airtime because he ruffles feathers with his stupid remarks and that reflects directly on the people who hire him. i would never let him in my rink or on my network. he disgusts me

    • Winger Petey

      Stupid and ignorant attempt at trolling. Burkey drafted the Sedins, won a cup in Anaheim and is a multi millionaire with a very fine wife… remind us, what have you done lately?

        • TD

          I like Burke, but I wouldn’t want him running the Canucks in 2018. He has not changed with the times. He still loves “truculence”. Size has to come with speed and skill, not just the old school knuckle draggers. The Capitals and Jets are two of the biggest teams, but their players are big and talented, not just out to goon or be physical after the whistles. Toronto and Calgary both let Burke go in favour of more skill and less truculence.

    • Holly Wood

      I don’t know there mr Kearns. Burke is a Providence grad, plus a law degree. Played pro in the AHL, been in the Gm seat of 5 NHL clubs, has a SC ring.. What part of him never was?


    The Jake v Goldy part is ridiculous because Jackson says in “media circles” not with the fan base.
    Look at Botchford’s part. Media has deadlines, multiple assignments. Jake is an easy quote. Fans are rooting for Jake because he is a local boy that is big, fast and cost us a #6 pick. Goldy cost us Hanson. Also, James speed and size mean he brings a different dimension beyond scoring. If Goldy is scoring, he just a guy.

    Burke is Burke, love him or hate him, you wait to see what he has to say.

  • I am Ted

    Bloggers comments regarding Goldy: “I think I would, especially considering he was an early candidate for waivers before the start of the season.” Um, care to give us a source for this? I am quite sure Goldy was never going to be waived. Stop making crap up unless you have a source.

    • Jackson McDonald

      “When you look at who the Canucks already have signed for next season, it’s clear that something has to give. A player that played significant time with the Canucks last season will need to get put on waivers, get traded, or injured. Since only two of those three can (or rather should) be done intentionally, we should expect someone to get traded this summer or waived after training camp.
      That player could be Goldobin. The Canucks have several young prospects on the wing vying for a spot in the lineup and added two more veteran left wingers in Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller. Goldobin, who is waiver eligible this coming season, might end up the odd man out.”


      • rediiis

        That is the first trash I have ever done. I thought Schaller was an awful FA pick up. Gaudette should be on a wing in his place. Roussel is a mess and don’t bring up his 3 games with multiple points. He was brought in for consistency and physicality, but not #2 in penalty minutes. It would be fine if he could score, but he will go 20 games between points. Goldy was a great trade and this fleecing will get better by 2024.

      • TD

        Are you quoting another media article that is speculating on who might get waived and counting that as a source? A source is someone in the know, usually someone within the organization or someone who insider knowledge. PTIB is media who is paid to speculate and write articles. You may as well have been quoting yourself Jackson.

        • Jackson McDonald

          You’re moving the goal posts now. I never said anywhere that the team or insiders were saying he would be on waivers. I said he was considered a candidate to be on waivers at the start of the season and it took me five seconds of googling to find someone who was saying it at the time.

          If you’re saying it shouldn’t have been taken seriously because no insiders were reporting it, then fair enough, but I never said they were. If you’re saying I made it all up for some reason – don’t know why I would do that – then that’s demonstrably false. Not sure what your problem is

          • Freud

            TD told us the Eriksson signing was the move that put Vancouver into Stanley Cup contention. TD suggested Eriksson was so valuable, they would have given $9m a year to Eriksson.

          • TD

            I agree that there was speculation that Goldobin could be put on waivers by media and fans. But I am Ted asked for a source and you responded by quoting PTIB. My comment was PTIB is not a source.

          • TD

            As for Freud, show me where I said. If you can’t please quit making up stuff I said. I won’t bother calling you names or making stuff up about you, but either back up your made up comments or please stop making them.

      • LACANUCK

        To defend Jackson, it has been a numbers game from day one! As an entrepreneur, I don’t generally defend socialist that cover meritocracies that reward performance with $, but I will!
        We all want Jake and Goldy to succeed, but there is a numbers game. If Goldy doesn’t score and make linemates better with his skill, then what? He doesn’t have the other intangibles others do. San Jose let him go for a reason, there was a long play, with minimal chance he could beat out the guys they had. We sent Hanson, who was a bust in SJ. There is a chance for Goldy, but literally until Sven… “get well soon” and to lesser concern, Brock, comes back, he is on borrowed time.
        No hard feelings Jackson, since I see you read all or most comments. Politics and Sports literally have nothing in common. I was a teacher before I owned my own company and hated when teachers would say, ” Why do athletes get paid millions of dollars and teachers get paid nothing?”
        My response, as a teacher, was ” The day 25,000 people want to pay to watch me teach is the day I’m jealous.”
        Hopefully you will get paid a lot of money to cover a “kids game” that millions of people across the world watch because they love their country, city or just need to have fun. Life is life and death… sports is pretend life and death. You write well, my suggestion is to either write political or sports. No one can do both well, without pissing everyone off.
        Look foreword to reading your stuff going forward. Especially Mon Mail… that’s the hard one.

        • steviewire

          Goldy is third on the team in scoring, and Wagner at PITB has made the case using micro-stats that he makes his line mates better. Is that not everything you would expect from a second line winger? Why would he be on borrowed time?

  • Dirty30

    Minor point, but your numbers go 1,2,3,3,4,5,6

    Goldobin vs Jake: the former just oozes skill and at times seems disinterested in playing a complete game (though that has changed) so he’s basically a player with potential who hasn’t reached it.

    Jake was ranked somewhere between the Titanic and the Hindenburg for disasters in drafting since better players were available who are lighting it up.

    With Jake improving his game and his open personality he’s a classic ‘local boy makes good’ story.

    Goldy will always be expected to perform at a high level while anything you get out of Jake is gravy.

    • DJ_44

      I am willing to bet if you offered Goldobin or Virtanen to any team in the league, the team would snap up Virtanen in a heartbeat.

      Goldobin has skill like Burmistrov has skill. To me, the two are directly comparable. Burmistrov would always try to slow the game down when everyone was playing with pace and attacking. Goldobin does similar crap.

      Goldobin was terrible in the LA game. There is little other way to put it. He may win (and usually by way of a fortunate bounce) a board battle in either offensive or defensive zone. I would far rather see Gaudette on the left side of PP1 until Boeser returns. If a loose puck in near that side of the rink it is cleared by the PK.

      Edler’s penalty on the PP last night was a direct result of the lazy passes and play that is Goldobin’s hallmark. He got “stuck” on the ice in for the PK last night after the 4v4 …. which basically made it a 5v3.1, since he only took up space.

      Time to sell when his value is high. Boucher (for now), Dahlen, MacEwen are all better options on the left wing.

      • TheRealPB

        Except that you are ignoring the exact play that you are calling — on the Gagner PP goal the only reason that happens is because after Pettersson bobbles the puck on the right side, it goes around to the left, the Kings player has a clear line to it, Goldobin tracks it down, takes it away and gets it to the point man who snaps it down to Pettersson-Horvat-Gagner-net. That goal does not happen without Goldobin’s hustle on exactly the play you are saying he doesn’t do.

        • DJ_44

          For every “hustle example” trotted out by Goldy supporters, there are 5 or 6 where there is not hustle. Count the number of “battles” he wins in the game; I would think it is under 30%. He is one of the players that seems to look to put other teammates in bad positions. This says nothing of his poor reads and decision making; only of his general disinterest and lack of effort.

          • It’s ironic steviewire that you discount DJ_44’s comment for lack of statistical evidence and then immediately say you’re opinion is valid based on the games that you’ve watched (as opposed to statistical evidence).

          • DJ_44

            I do not believe the “statistical evidence” is being examined properly, or perhaps more appropriately, the correct metrics are being looked at. Has Goldobin’s play improved? Unequivocally yes. Is he a valid, producing (in the overall sense) top 6 winger? Meh.

            The reason why Goldobin “looks” bad on the ice (other than his lack of effort), are is the danger his mistakes place the Canucks in. One example off that immediately comes to mind is the lazy pass to Edler on the PP, which Edler took a penalty. Edler took the penalty because of the position Goldobin’s actions placed him in: it is on Goldobin.

            What about a simple metric for board battles won? Or how many times is the zone cleared by the opponents PK via Goldobin’s side of the ice.

          • Just-One-Cup

            Yes – who are we to dismiss the comments of an armchair expert like DJ_44… i mean with pearls of wisdom like this…

            “Poulliot is an NHL defenseman. Hutton is not.” – DJ_44

            “I would suggest we are a lot further ahead than one year ago. Poulliot has been pleasantly surprising and can be considered free money”. – DJ_44

            **mic drop**

          • Hey steviewire, what I’d like to see from Goldobin is production when he’s not with Pettersson. Based on my eye test, Goldobin was ineffective in games without Pettersson. Goldobin *could* be an exceptional complimentary scorer with Pettersson but I see him as a terrible, non-producing hockey player without. Which makes Goldobin an anchor, you can’t play him anywhere else in the line-up. At least Eriksson can play defence. In my mind, a Top 6 winger drives play, Goldobin does not. Boeser does it, Baertschi is starting to become a legit 1LW (which I did not believe he could be until this season), Virtanen is getting there too.

            Goldobin is an Anson Carter waiting to happen, will demand big bucks during his negotiations this summer. Best to flip Goldobin at the trade deadline to a desperate GM (c’mon Chia, hang in their buddy) and get some good future assets.

          • steviewire

            You are entitled to your opinion. Unfortunately for you, your opinion is not backed up by any statistical evidence. I have watched most of the games and do not think he is disinterested or lacking in effort. My opinion is that you are suffering from confirmation bias

          • steviewire

            Forever 1915 I was merely giving my version of the old eye test. My own confirmation biases dictate that I will notice when he hustles and recognize his puck retrieval skills. Daniel Wagners piece on Goldys microstats certainly indicates that he makes his linemates better. It was pointed out in this article that he has a positive point differential. He is third on the team in scoring. What more do you want from a top six winger? I should point out that creative offensive players take more chances and are prone to giveaways as a result. You know who always makes the right play and rarely gets caught out of position? Loui Eriksson

          • steviewire

            Goldy was still generating plenty of chances for himself and his linemates while Petterson was out. Unfortunately this team is lacking in finishers, and I guess you could put Goldy in that category as well.

          • steviewire

            If we had a glut of play-making forwards on this team I’d agree he should be flipped at the deadline. But really who else has that vision and creativity? Besides the obvious big 3 only Baertschi

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        The only conclusion I can come to is that you haven’t actually watched the games. Or you have tinted glasses on. Sorry but your take is awful.

    • El Cid

      Well I have a story about my diaper rash and that healed unlike this group of Whale Farts! How long will you let the chef keep dead whale before you eat it? Benning has to go…….But I think we could start another 8 game streak.

  • Kanuckhotep

    There was never any question about Goldy’s talent but with his heart which is showing more and more. Who would argue that Hansen for Goldobin was not one of Benning’s best trades? Actually quite delighted with Jake’s progress. Don’t you think a lot of other teams would love to have his power forward style on their club? It’s just taken awhile. And perhaps Burke isn’t exactly the Dalai Lama in decorum but have always appreciated his knowledgeable point of view as one who has managed at team and league levels. He’s definitely nobody’s fool. Would you rather listen to Burke or Grapes?

    • Kootenaydude

      I like both Burke and Grapes. They have been around at all levels and are a wealth of information. They don’t butter it up and speak their mind. They have forgotten more about hockey then any posters on here will ever learn. Just the facts

  • Nuck16

    I would be in favour of dealing Tryamkin’s rights depending on return obviously. I love his tool set, but his problem is between the ears making the prospects of his long term success a coin toss and even if he gets there, it will be a roller coaster ride.

  • TheRealRusty

    I was one of the minority who was steadfast in my long term optimism for Hutton, Goldy and Jake when the mob was ready to run all 3 out of town last year. Credit when credit is due to Green for showing tougher love on the trio than I would have liked, but his gamble it seems to have paid off in spades. Now is the time to look at value 3-4 year extensions for all 3 if we can get them to sign to reasonable contracts in the $2.5-3 million range. Maybe look to flip Goldy and Hutton (with 1 or 2 year term remaining) for future assets if they do not fit into the long term organizational plans.

    • Kootenaydude

      I don’t see how Hutton doesn’t fit into this team in the future. He’s a young LHD that can play when he shows up in shape. Hutton, Hughes and Juolevi are probably our future LHD. As for Goldy. I think we just expect more goals if he’s going to play on Petterssons line. He is improving though and starting to understand he has to play a complete game. Same with Virtanen. He used to skate around aimlessly and play 9 minutes a game. Last night he played over 20 minutes. I’m happy with the progress of these three players.

      • TheRealRusty

        Not saying that he isnt, but having him to a 3 year contract will open up options for management depending on what is in the prospect pipeline. As a general rule I would encourage a more proactive approach to the management of contracts. Always make a earlier decision on younger pending UFAs (27-28 year old). Selling them at their highest value for high picks (before they get signed to anchor contracts or they walk away as UFAs) will allow for a constant replenishment in the farm system (assuming good scouting dept).

        note: there should be a max of 6-7 core players on the team, with the rest either graduating prospects or replacement level players (ie. your bottom 6 forwards and your 3rd defensive pairing).

      • It’s highly likely that it will be Hughes > Juolevi > Hutton. With Hutton making $3M+ in the future, can we justify paying him that much as a bottom pairing defender? Didn’t we just go through that with Sbisa? As soon as Hughes and Juolevi are ready to assume Top 4 LHD responsibilities (1-2 years), Hutton should be traded for future assets and replaced with one of the other LHD prospects in the pipeline (e.g. Brisebois, Rathbone, McEneny).

          • Hutton’s inconsistency doesn’t make him worth a $2.8M player. Need to see more production from him over multiple seasons but the CBA will force Benning to start negotiations at $3.1M. Hutton will probably demand more, even though he hasn’t earned it. Just look at the last contract, he got paid on potential and ended up not even keeping in shape until this offseason. He should have known better.

            I can see next year’s LHD roster being Hughes/Edler holding down the Top 4 with Juolevi or a more seasoned LHD from Utica coming up. If you resign Hutton, it’s only with the mind to flip him within the next year.

          • Defenceman Factory

            If you re-sign Hutton it’s so you can flip Edler. If Edler gets re-signed he will have to come cheap if there is any trade protection in that deal.

  • bobdaley44

    Reason Goldy doesn’t get the love Jake gets is because Goldy still can’t battle on the boards and is one dimensional whereas Jake has a far more wide ranging tool kit. He can skate, hits like a truck, can shoot the puck and he can win battles.

    • Dank22

      The play started with Jake using his speed and muscle on the forecheck against #7 on the Kings. He chased him down behind the net and rubbed him out in the corner. All Goldy had to do was to do his usual soft, fancy stuff and Jake got it to Gaudette. Goldobin could never and would never be making this play that Jake or his other teammates make every single game.

      Goldobin can’t even reliably make consistent passes on the PP that doesn’t cause a turnover or puts his teammates in a tough situation. On the 4-on-4, him and MDZ got the unit hemmed in the entire time until it became a Kings PP. You know Green isn’t deliberately putting Goldobin in to PK. It’s that kind of weak sauce, the lack of will or bite that makes him a placeholder. His offensive game is good, but it’s certainly not high end. Drop him from being Pettersson’s wingman for a few games and you will hardly even notice him again.

      Everyone is doing the dirty work, while Goldy gets the favorable match ups. He’s fine, I like him but let’s not get carried away. As this team improves, his weaknesses are going to make him expendable. Brock will return and Baertschi, when healthy is a much better NHL player than Goldobin. When prospects like Dahlen is ready, placeholders like Sven and Goldobin are primed to be moved.

    • Bud Poile

      As much as I tend to agree with Jake’s attributes I watched as Goldy battled on the boards,flipped the puck open to Jake who slap-passed to Gaudette for his first NHL goal.
      Everybody fawned over Jake and not a word for Goldy,who made the initial play.

      • DJ_44

        Goldobin got in the way; calling it a battle is a bit much. Credit where it is due: was there when he need to be. If one were objective, the play was 75% Jake for the initial pressure that caused the turnover, 10% Goldobin for being in the right spot and 15% Gaudette for the finish.