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Festivus 2018: The Airing of Grievances

Today is the most important day of the year for my people, and by “my people”, I mean anyone who consumed a lot of ’90s sitcoms. I’m talking, of course, about Festivus, the fictional holiday invented by Frank Costanza in a season 9 episode of Seinfeld. 

I’m not big on holiday traditions, but there is one integral part of Festivus I’ve always been able to get behind: the Airing of Grievances. So, in honour of the holiday season, I went around to some of my favourite people from the world of Canucks Twitter and asked them to air their biggest grievance surrounding the Vancouver Canucks. The qualifications of the people feature range from “longtime host of the Vancouver Canucks’ broadcast on Sportsnet Pacific” to “guy in my group chat who says funny things about the Canucks sometimes”, and the answers reflect that diversity. The fine folks of the Smylosphere covered everything from social media presence to a comment uttered by a former Canucks player over 15 years ago.

I extend a sincere thank-you to everyone who replied. I couldn’t get you all a gift, but I assure you a donation has been made in your name to The Human Fund.

Gráinne Downey (@wholegrainne, Formerly CanucksArmy):

“My grievance with the Canucks is that Francesco Aquilini doesn’t live tweet enough games. His tweets are genuinely hilarious and we as a fan base need more of his vague observations and insistences that they are playing with a lot of energy or whatever. In 2019 I want Aquilini to fully immerse himself within Canucks twitter. I want Aquilini to start Twitter beef with Uber while doing a celebrity takeover of the official Lyft account. The on-ice presence is chaotic and pretty fun this year, it’s time to make the off-ice presence the same.”

Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects):

“As a very public Seinfeld fan, there was no way I’d miss out on a Festivus-themed piece from CanucksArmy. I’ve got grievances to air about all sorts of things, but I’ll try and stay focused despite the glimmer coming off of that magnificent aluminum pole. This year, my grievance with the Canucks is their deployment of Troy Stecher. The 24-year-old, right-shot defender has shown flashes of being an important all-around piece in a position that is embarrassing thin throughout the organization. In his rookie season, Stecher was given a healthy dose of power play deployment (2:43 per contest). He produced eight power play points and was a competent distributor. He didn’t wow anyone with his shot, but he got pucks through on a consistent enough basis that it kept the opposition honest. This season, Stecher has averaged just 21 seconds of power play time. This despite Alex Edler being on the shelf for a prolonged stretch. Even with Edler healthy, I wouldn’t shy away from giving Stecher a look on the top unit if it became stagnant. At the very least he should be a mainstay on the second unit. It’s not just offensive deployment that needs improving. Stecher has the wheels and the anticipation to be an effective penalty killer. This topic has been dug into in recent weeks so I won’t get too crazy here, but with increased PK time, we can see how effective Stecher can be. The Richmond-native has one more season left on his contract after this year. He’s likely going to be battling for the third protected spot for blueliners in the upcoming Seattle expansion draft. In order to know what this third-year pro is truly capable of, it’s time to put his feet to the fire. Roll him out in all situations for a lengthy period and let the assessment speak for itself. And now, for the feats of strength…”

Justin Morissette (Real Good Show, Sportsnet 650):

“In true Frank Costanza style I would love to be able to say I’ve got a lot of problems with this team! But in truth most of what Travis Green does makes sense to me on some level. It’s really just one problem, and it’s the traditional Stapling of Nikolay Goldobin to The Bench. Goldy is not a perfect player but it feels like he has to play by a different set of rules — his strong defensive plays (and there are many) go ignored, while a single gaffe gets him noticeably chewed out on the bench and removed from the game. Meanwhile D-men like Gudbranson or Pouliot get routinely walked or found sleeping on the other side of the ice leading directly to goals against… and face no consequence. It’s not right, especially to bench a player in games where the team has built a 4+ goal lead and single mistakes have no impact on the outcome — or for Goldobin to be benched before he’s even made a mistake at all, but Green suspects one might be coming (this really happened). Let him demonstrate his ability to learn The Teachings of Travis by being given the chance to play through mistakes, a chance that seems commonly extended to his non-Russian teammates. Put the kid in a position to succeed and regardless of his passport, LEAVE HIM THERE. For an entire game. Just once! Just to see what would happen! Now that would be a true Festivus miracle.”

Elliot Hoyt (@moosekayak):

“The Canucks are a land of contrasts. They have been the worst team over the past 3 complete seasons, yet haven’t managed to pick above 5th. They have been lauded for their late round drafting, but have 2 misses with top 6 picks, getting mid lineup guys when future stars were available, and have had almost no additional picks to work with. The best rebuilding move was done in 2013, 3 years before the rebuild “started”. Veterans are brought in to provide a leadership and professionalism; these veterans are the ones harassing adult actresses and throwing fits in New York about healthy scratches. The biggest problem with this team is the distillation of the above: this young core will be on a strong upswing soon – but nothing so far implies that the supporting cast will ever let them get out of the Pacific.”

Harman Dayal (CanucksArmy, The Athletic):

“From a short term perspective, my biggest gripe with the team is its employment of two checking lines. The NHL has moved away from the definitive barriers between top-six and bottom-six with good teams featuring three scoring lines. The Canucks have taken a more archaic approach and it hurts the team in terms of developing its scoring wingers and giving them opportunities to succeed. Once Sven Baertschi comes back, the Canucks will have him, Goldobin and Leivo all on the left side. Neither of them are suited for a checking line role and yet one of those three will either have to sit out or play in a situation they’re not comfortable in for every game. They’ll be expected to create offence at a similar rate despite being forced to play with markedly worse offensive centres in Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle. The issues extends beyond just this season too. For example, when a player like Jonathan Dahlen comes in, are you immediately thrusting him into a top-six role and hope he can fend for himself? Boeser and Pettersson have made it look easy, but like the development of guys like Horvat and Gaudette can attest, you often need a limited, sheltered role to begin with. As the roster is constructed right now, there’s no sheltered scoring line someone like him could be a part of. You’d hope this can change long term if Gaudette grows offensively, but something would then have to give with Sutter or Beagle.”

Satiar Shah (Sportsnet):

“My biggest gripe is Troy Stecher’s relatively small role on the Canucks. Analytically, Stecher has arguably been the team’s best defenseman yet his average ice-time is 7th amongst defenseman, yes 7th, despite sharing the lead in games played for blue-liners with Ben Hutton. We have seen Travis Green challenge young players only to get more out of them in the future so I hope it’s more of the same with Troy, as opposed Green simply thinking Stecher isn’t good enough to play more.”

Tyler Shipley (CanucksArmy):

“The most frustrating thing about the Canucks since 2012 has been the inconsistent approach to the rebuild. A bad signing or trade here or there is unfortunate but it happens. The problem has been that the motivations for these moves have been all over the map. Think of the Willie years, grinding out OT losses that satisfied neither the lottery-tank nor any real development plan. Or the failure to build a healthy relationship with Nikita Tryamkin, who showed signs of being a potential middle-pair defenseman long-term. Or free agent signings – many of them – of middle-aged players giving them term and money and in some cases NTCs. Or the failure to get good returns when moving out veterans like Hamhuis or Vanek. Occasionally it seems like the regime understands it’s a rebuild, and we get Jim’s Big Day where he moves Hansen and Burrows for Goldobin and Dahlen. But too often the decisions fly in the face of how to rebuild, and we’ve been left in limbo for years, unable to compete and unable to see light at the end of the tunnel. I want to think that is changing, but I’m nervous that Jim’s going to buy at the deadline (or not sell, which would also be wrong). Fingers crossed we see some veterans cleared out for picks and prospects, because this team is still so far away from actually competing with the likes of Winnipeg, Washington, Toronto and Tampa.”

Stefan Heck (Go Off Kings):

“You might be surprised that I didn’t pick something from the Jim Benning era, but I think that speaks to how egregious this beef is. The beef to which I’m referring, of course, is Todd Bertuzzi’s ‘bulletin board material’ from way back in the 2003 playoffs.

Bertuzzi telling Minnesota fans that they shouldn’t bother buying tickets for Game 6 was the moment I knew the Canucks weren’t winning that series. I was 14 years old at the time, and even back then, when I was somehow even stupider than I am today, I knew: this series was over.

The Wild were already the underdogs, and the last thing you give underdogs is a reason to believe in themselves. Again, I was an idiot in the throes of puberty and even I knew that. Now, did Bertuzzi do something much dumber the following season? I forget. I don’t know what happened in March 2004. Some hockey was played, perhaps. Who knows.

In any case, Bertuzzi’s bulletin board quote from the 2003 playoffs was one of the stupidest things a Canuck has ever done. It was the verbal equivalent of Jan Bulis jumping on a Dallas player’s back. Sure, it was kinda funny at the time. But you just knew the team was completely boned.”

Jason Botchford (The Athletic):

“I’ve had the same grievance when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks for years now and am more convinced than ever it’s not going to change any time soon. I get the thought process which landed Jim Benning the general manager’s job, outside of the part where he was going to turn things around quickly. I appreciate the team had not drafted well and they sought out a manager they believed could fix an infuriating, long-standing issue. What I have never got is this regime’s reluctance to trade for draft picks. And now that people are realizing prospects like Dahlen, Lind, and Gadjovich are still likely years away from being impact players in the NHL, I actually think the Canucks are more likely to trade one of their prospects to accelerate the team’s rebuild rather than continuing to be patient which to me would mean targeting draft picks which can turn into solid high-upside picks.”

Vyas Saran (Macleans, Policynote):

“My grievance is with who we lay blame on. Look, I love to blame General Managers. They’re supposed to be in charge of everything. They deserve everything we dish back at them when they can barely make a deal, manage an asset, or send a fax. But the buck doesn’t stop with the front office, it stops with whatever billionaire decided to buy the team using the pocket change they got from paying immigrants poverty wages for picking blueberries. Point fingers at the string of GMs we’ve gone through all you want, but at least in Vancouver, our ownership group meddles constantly in hockey operations… and they’re not even good at it. Firing Mike Gillis the day after Rogers Arena chanted for it is just one example of how the extremely regular gentlemen upstairs are too emotional, making them reactionary in both senses of the word. Terrible hiring, questionable PR, amateur attempts at laying out a vision… these are all elements of this franchise that won’t go away when Benning inevitably is replaced. Short of doing things like the Green Bay Packers and having accountability through public ownership of the team, folks, we’re screwed as fans for a long time coming. Billionaires are already policy failures, these ones are hockey failures too.”

Patrick Johnston (The Province):

“My biggest beef has been with league discipline. Just this week we have two examples of the inconsistency of it. Saturday night we had Erik Karlsson throwing a dubious hit on Austin Wagner. Thursday night we had Danick Martel running through Troy Stecher.

Which one was worse? Which one is the league looking at?

This isn’t actually and either or situation. Both hits were bad. Both hits should be looked at by the league. And yet we find the department of ‘player safety’ twisting themselves in knots over points of contact.

Stop disappointing us, NHL. You still have a fast, combative league if you go hard at dubious hits.”

J.D. Burke (The Athletic):

“My grievance? It’s with everyone talking playoffs and Vancouver Canucks in the same sentence. You want to see recency bias in action? That’s it!

The Canucks when I last checked were 26th in the league in Corsi for percentage at 5-on-5. Just a month ago they lost 12 of 13. There is no objective way to look at this roster and surmise that it’s among the 16 best teams in the NHL.

And yet, here we are, and that’s a conversation being had all over the Smylosphere. Have you people no shame? Have you forgotten about the solidarity of #TeamTank? I’m pissed off, and everyone fueling the fire of this conversation is to blame!”

Dan Murphy (Sportsnet):

“Okay, this might seem trivial, but it’s my grievance, and I wish to air it dammit! What is going on with the warm up music? Honestly, it’s terrible. I know this is player driven and the fellas want to roll out Cardi B, Drake, Post Malone, Meek Mill and the like. For me this has nothing to do with it being rap music. I mean, sure, I am an old man yelling at clouds, BUT I also grew up with Public Enemy, Biggie and a Tribe Called Quest. Hip Hop can absolutely make a car bump and it works tremendously for post victory locker room celebration music. But IT DOES NOT FILL UP THE ARENA PROPERLY. Its hollow and sounds week in Rogers Arena. It does nothing to build atmosphere prior to the game IMO. It’s not hard, people! Rock music still works even if it’s not the preferred choice of the younger generation. This goes for pregame too. There is nothing wrong with San Jose still coming through the Sharks mouth to Seek and Destroy. And sure the Scorpions are cheesy but Rock You Like a Hurricane still resonates in Carolina. LA recently even went with Metallica’s One. The SUPER HEAVY part of the tube. These are loud, heavy songs that fill up the building. Some old school things are worth keeping.

Now, for the feats of strength, I will attempt to wrestle away the bad eating habits of my colleagues.”

Jackson McDonald:

That just leaves me.

My biggest grievance is a simple one. Please stop comparing Elias Pettersson to other players. Every time it happens, I have to comment on it, and I get yelled at when I say maybe he isn’t quite a generational, Wayne Gretzky/Sidney Crosby-level player. Or at least if he is, I’m not ready to christen him one after three months. Please stop yelling at me. I’m very tired.

  • truthseeker

    First Guy: OK.. I don’t care.

    Second Guy: Sounds reasonable to me. Stetcher has been good from my point of view as well. Give him more opportunity. Agree.

    3rd Alanis Morrisette guy: Yeah, there’s been a lot to like about Green and his systems etc, but I agree, and have said often, in other areas he seems, from an outside perspective anyway, to have some pretty backwards ideas about player “motivation”, tactics. Funny that in some cases it has worked well. Hutton and JV. But in other cases he seems to get it completely wrong.

    4th Hoyt guy: WTF? who the ……is this idiot? And wtf is he talking about?

    5th: Best comment on here. I agree. I’ll give Green some credit in the fact that the 2 checking lines have done a pretty decent job in securing some wins that probably wouldn’t have happened last year but I want a deep team that can provide balanced offense while being defensively responsible. For example building a third line around Gaudette with some scoring wingers. Hopefully they go in that direction and this is just a short term necessity.

    6th: same as 2nd

    7th: ughh. “…and in some cases NTCs” Statements like this drive me nuts because they are so purposefully misleading. Making it sound like Benning has given out NTC’s that are iron clad. He has not given out a single NTC that has any real power. The strongest one is Eriksson’s and that opens up after next season. Sutter’s opens next season to half the league and the other two he’s given are weak. They can be traded right now to plenty of teams. Writing like this is practically straight out lying with it’s implication. As for not “getting good returns”, this is just more nonsense speculative writing. You have no clue what the offers were. You can’t “get a good return” if nobody will give it to you, and suggesting they should just somehow get a “good return” is pure stupidity.

    8th guy: OK

    9th guy: more speculation of things he thinks “should have happened” with no evidence to support why they should have happened. Childish thinking.

    10th guy: Good on calling out billionaires for their irresponsible labor practices. Fair points to be sure. I’m no fan of people of that kind, but in terms of his ownership of the team, much of what you say seems to be true, but he does deserve some credit for spending. Say what you will, but the guy will pay salary and hit the cap limits when necessary. He might be misguided at times but it’s clear to me that he does care about the team and wants to see them win. It could be WAY worse.

    11th guy: Here here! Excellent comment.

    12th guy: 5v5 corsi has no correlation to team success in the NHL. The r2 number is like .12 for the 17/18 season and I guarantee you it’s not going to be much higher for any other single season. A correlation of under 20% is meaningless. Hell…even if the correlation was 50% it would be almost worthless as a predictive tool.
    The canucks 5v5 corsi number has virtually nothing to do with where they will finish in the standings this season.

    13th guy: Naa…you’re just old man yelling at cloud. Times change. Let the youth have what they’re into, and support it. Plenty of it is great music actually. Otherwise you just ARE your parents.

    14th guy: I agree with you. EP is amazing, and he does flash that potential like he could become one of the greats. But I don’t understand the emotional need of some fans to have to make proclamations. Most of the time they just end up looking stupid because they don’t come true. And even if they do, it’s not like you get some kind of prize because you were the “genius” who made the really “bold” prediction that EP or McDavid were going to be great players.

  • LTFan

    Hmmm. Well the one item I really agree with is League discipline by Patrick Johnston. Department of Player Safety is – Pathetic. The hit on Stetcher definitely targeted his head. Brutal. The best way to stop this type of play is to suspend the offender, without pay, until the person who was hit is playing again. Also there should be a 3 strikes and you are out rule. To be clear, you are out of the NHL and all affiliated teams. Goodbye.

    • kermit

      According to George Parros’s views on player safety, there is a right way and a wrong way to make a head shot. The right way, which he feels is legal, is to make sure you graze the shoulder first.

  • North Van Halen

    Just curious, is this @moosehayak the 19 year old drunk guy from the bar yelling his opinion until you pretend you agree? Is this why you posted his opinion, did he continuously drunk dm you until you relented?
    At least I know who’s twitter handle to ignore now.

    • Kootenaydude

      The veterans on this team are what teach the young guys how hard you have to work to compete. These writers don’t show them any respect. They think that you have to get rid of all your veterans for draft picks. Without veterans we would be in the same boat as the Oilers. A team full of entitled boys.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Seinfeld was a great show. Festivus was the perfect portrayal of the angry and bitter Frank Castanza character. The airing of grievances seldom ever clears the air for a brighter future without the baggage of past missteps. It is usually just another opportunity to drone on with the same tired complaints. An opportunity not missed by those here who cover the Canucks. Now that grievances have been aired will they be let go of and left behind?

    I wish, in the true spirit of the season, we were talking about what we are grateful for. I am thankful for a rebuilding team with emerging young stars, a deep prospect pool and stellar work ethic that makes almost every single game exciting. I appreciate free Canuck websites with writers and analytics which bring thoughtful insight and the opportunity to share ideas and opinions with other fans of the team.

    Critics and cynics abound, trolls bombard us with rudeness and stupidity, negativity is easy and always there. Festivus was a funny bit but this time of year focusing on the positives and hope for the future is what’s needed. There is enough negativity the rest of the year.

    Best wishes to my fellow fans of the greatest sport on earth.

  • rediiis

    With Barts coming back I really don’t know where this team is. They have really improved on the penalties taken, which helps the pk. I would hope they miss on the play-offs this year and get a better 1st rounder, but if they make the ticket…Go Nucks!

  • NeverWas

    My grievance is with canucksarmy and ghosting the last post game report. Would of been a great game to see some analytics on and debate about in the comments. Thought the canucks mostly dominated but made a couple mistakes that cost them and ran into a hot goalie….

    • truthseeker

      Bo made a horrible play out at the blue line that led directly to that goal. It’s too bad because they really did play a pretty good game. That was a tough one to not at least get the single point.

      Oh well though…..Bo’s done enough this season to earn at least a couple of free passes on the glaring errors. It’s gonna happen sometimes.

    • Ryan Biech

      No one was available to do so due to it being the Saturday before Xmas

      I was at the LEC and haven’t even watched the Canucks game. Remainder of the weekend has been with family.

      • Defenceman Factory

        The post games this year have been a great improvement over last year and been very timely almost every game.

        Very understandable how it might be difficult to get a game covered this time of year especially with the world Juniors in the vicinity. Thanks for all you do, keep up the great work and merry Christmas to you and your family.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Being new to CA I don’t know who this J.D. Burke is to be honest. It’s not clear to me that a team 1 pt out of a wildcard spot and 1 game below .500 at Christmas should forget about the play offs and just tank. I gather from his post it’s pointless to discuss the Canucks making the playoffs and maybe they won’t. Not responsible comments IMO.

    • crofton

      He hates the Canucks, especially management, and falls back on the one stat I think he understands, Corsi, in a vain attempt to justify his tedious rants. For example…his claim about the “solidarity of #teamtank” . Just because he wanted one he pitifully argues there was such a thing. Truthseeker also touched on his Corsi BS above

    • liqueur des fenetres

      Looking at the standings now and past seasons’ wild card races, a team will likely need at least 92 points to claim the last playoff spot. Given where the Canucks are today they’ll need to accumulate 1.25 points per game to end the season with 92. That means 4 wins for every 5 games played until the end of the season. Do you see that happening?

  • Sandpaper

    Not sure why people are upset about no post-game, when it was pointed out, by Ryan I believe, that there wouldn’t be one.
    It is the holiday season people, be happy and enjoy the next few days with family and friends.

  • TheRealPB

    Personally, I appreciated the lack of mention of the Great Waiving of the Corrado in the list, the Trading of the Forsling, and the Non-Drafting of the Nichushkin. It was a true Festivus Miracle.

  • Kootenaydude

    Funny thing about last year. We finished better than we should have. Dropped down a draft spot, but still drafted the guy we wanted. I was so pissed when we started winning meaningless games at the end!! Gagner started scoring. Markstrom started stopping the puck. It was my worst f*#%ing nightmare. Yet we still got Hughes ha ha!!

  • TheRealRusty

    Staying on point… if you want a true airing of Grievances, look no further than the lolly gagging when it comes to controlling the trolls here. Forget about needing moderators and spending time chasing after different incarnations of the same loser. Just enable the ignore function here and let us self moderate. It is really disappointing having to wade through so much junk in the comments section daily…. but I suspect that whomever is running this site wants the status quo to persist.

    Implementing an ignore

    • Locust

      Ryan wont/cant/doesnt know how/doesn’t care enough/is too involved in it – to do anything.
      Other Nation sites are well moderated and troll free. And we get this $hit$t@in troll over and over…..
      Merry Christmas.

  • Ryan Biech

    Believe I caught all the comments from that account

    They have passed along to have their account blocked – appears whoever is doing this has way to much time on their hands.

    Was busy with family thus the delay.