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.”