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Photo Credit: Sportsnet.ca

It isn’t just about the goaltending

This past week can be something that can be applied to anyone who has been a long term relationship.

Sometimes a minor misstep or mistake will cause one side to lose their mind with anger.

It’s usually after said mistake or decision is about something that has been discussed to death, and although it’s small, the misstep in question just pushes the needle past the breaking point. Ultimately, it wasn’t that egregious of an error but simply something that seems like too much and causes the reaction to be much more than the single overstep likely deserves.

You may have forgotten to put the dishes in the dishwasher and that’s not a big deal but it’s something that you have been told to do a few times before. You were aware it might have been an issue, failed, and did it again after your significant other has opened up about how it’s a problem. It’s a trust or lack of awareness issue.

How does this relate to the Canucks?

Well, it brings us to the goaltending situation this past week.

Through a series of unfortunate events, the Canucks were forced to start junior goaltender Michael DiPietro against the San Jose Sharks and it didn’t go well.  Much discourse has been generated about it and the events of that evening don’t need to be broken down more, as it’s not the entire problem.

It’s the fact that we got into the situation in the first place and how it got there.

In my opinion, the Canucks were smart to move Anders Nilsson to make room for Thatcher Demko in the NHL. But there have been reports since that the Canucks were pressured into this move by Demko’s representation rather than it being a proactive move. In part, it resulted in them acquiring Mike McKenna, who needed waivers to go back to the AHL and which meant they lost him for nothing shortly after acquiring for him. (Rather than waiting for a goalie to become available with some waiver exemption left.)

The organization can be frustrated with losing McKenna on waivers but it happened and you have to move past it. However, that occured on January 4th…and they were forced to start DiPietro on February 11th.

There was a five-week period where the Canucks were operating with two healthy goalies on NHL contracts (i.e. not in junior) and were walking that very thin line between being okay and screwed. Unfortunately, the scenario that put them into this bind came to fruition.

The Canucks have since rectified the issue by acquiring Marek Mazanec for a 2020 7th round pick.

There is an overriding narrative that Vancouver media, and blogs like CanucksArmy, have a real hate on for Jim Benning and the management staff. That as a collective, we can’t see the positive amongst the negative and then point the fingers directly at the mistakes only. But what happened on Monday isn’t something that only Vancouver media are pointing at.

There are national people like Ray Ferraro or other markets like Katie Strang spending time dissecting it. So it’s not like it’s just the usual suspects raising eyebrows at how this all happened.

In the long run, it likely won’t matter at all. DiPietro is excited to have made his NHL debut in what many expect to be the first of many NHL contests for him. The draft pick sent out the door to rectify the issue is a low percentage pick that was previously replaced by the asset acquired for sending Michael Del Zotto to Anaheim.

But it sheds light onto something that many have raised as a concern in the past, a possible lack of attention to detail and forward planning.

It seems fair to conclude that the Canucks were waiting for Mike McKenna to head back on waivers so that they could claim him, and their issues would’ve been resolved. It never happened, the Canucks lost Demko to injury and suddenly they only had one healthy professional goalie. Fast forward a few days and Jacob Markstrom was unable to go.

Jim Benning said via the Province that they didn’t have the ability to make a deal before:

“He could have made a trade before this week, but didn’t like the prices being asked. ‘Some of the other guys on the list, teams wanted second- and third-round picks for.’ And looking at another AHL goalie, one with NHL experience but not currently tied to a big-league club, doesn’t seem to have been really considered. ‘There’s no one else really out there,’ Benning has said before about the possibility of finding a free agent.”

I don’t doubt in the slightest that was part of the problem but they were reacting to their issues rather than realizing that forcing a goalie through waivers when they had no one else could get them into this pickle. Once in this situation, other teams weren’t going to bail them out.

Loop it back to any of the other minor missteps in recent years and it’s a running theme that the Canucks management appears to be more reactive than proactive. Making moves to rectify issues after they happen rather than anticipating the worst and taking action to protect themselves.

Just like forgetting to put your dish in the dishwasher, it isn’t that big of a deal that they had to trade a pick for a stop gap. But given the circumstances and time afforded to rectify the issue, you can’t help but understand why eyebrows and questions have been raised over the past few days. It’s a bad process that can be hidden if things work out okay but if they don’t, then the issues can be bigger than they immediately appear.

  • Gampbler

    This is a tempest in a teapot. While I’ve seen it noted plenty that they ‘should’ have done something in the five weeks, not mentioned is ‘what’ they should have given up for something that they probably didn’t need. It’s unfortunate but unimportant that they did need to spend a 7th rounder.

  • DJ_44

    But there have been reports since that the Canucks were pressured into this move by Demko’s representation rather than it being a proactive move.

    Really Ryan. Which reports? I have seen some shabby tweets by the usual suspects, but actual verified reports. Follow it through: what actual leverage did Demko’s camp have to force a call up? Does it not seem just as likely that the Canucks gave Demko 10 or so games in Utica in order to get back in game shape after a two month injury. After that they would call-up your supposed goaltender of the future a more plausible explanation? Or maybe Benning was looking to move Nilsson in order to Demko and the timing had more to do with the deal that was available.

    Then there is this gem:

    Mike McKenna, who needed waivers to go back to the AHL and which meant they lost him for nothing shortly after acquiring for him. (Rather than waiting for a goalie to become available with some waiver exemption left.)

    Waiting for a goalie to become available with some waiver exemption left? So you are suggesting Benning should have waited and traded Nilsson in a deal with a team for a goalie with waiver exception left?.You realize that the team would also have to be in a market for Nilsson, have said goalie (that you actually liked), and be willing to trade futures for Nilsson. Maybe it is just me, but Nilsson would still be a Canuck under your scenario.

    There is an overriding narrative that Vancouver media, and blogs like CanucksArmy, have a real hate on for Jim Benning and the management staff. That as a collective, we can’t see the positive amongst the negative and then point the fingers directly at the mistakes only. But what happened on Monday isn’t something that only Vancouver media are pointing at.

    We do note that Ferraro made these statement on TSN1040 …. who are the most toxic of media sources in the city. I mean, listen to their post-game shows after a Canucks victory.

    Loop it back to any of the other minor missteps in recent years and it’s a running theme that the Canucks management appears to be more reactive than proactive. Making moves to rectify issues after they happen rather than anticipating the worst and taking action to protect themselves.

    So you wrap it up with the worst situation happened. Yet you stated the repercussions of this “minor mistep” was:

    In the long run, it likely won’t matter at all. DiPietro is excited to have made his NHL debut in what many expect to be the first of many NHL contests for him. The draft pick sent out the door to rectify the issue is a low percentage pick that was previously replaced by the asset acquired for sending Michael Del Zotto to Anaheim.

    In short ….. there are no negative repercussions. Sounds like risk management to me … knowing that the worst that could happen really was not a bad outcome at all.

    The whole thing sounds like it has as much validity as the year of moaning CA pushed upon the market when the Canucks waived career AHL’er Franky Corrado.

    • Ser Jaime Lannister

      Awesome job DJ, thanks for dissecting this and i agree with everything you have said.

      Ryan this is absolutely embarassing.

      The first bit with these “reports” lmao, can you back this up with some credible sources and links? I havent read a single report out there what is the scoop?

      Aslo your Mike Mckenna scenario is so flawed and ridiculous do you honestly think a scenario would play out like that (specially for a goalie you want?)

      There are sooooo many scrub bloggers in this market its hilarious. You dont want to be grouped in with those guys Ryan, posting fallacy pieces and information. Again i hope you can give me a link from Demkos camp to clarify some of these “reports” that would be great.

  • kermit

    It can’t be that the Canucks run an understaffed operation, can it? There must be middle management people to look after small details. If you’re weathly you hire a maid to do the dishes. If you’re a wealthy club owner you hire enough staff to run it. I suspect this might have been more of a decision by management to play the odds rather than mere oversight.

  • TheRealPB

    So. Much. Angst. Over. Nothing.

    The Canucks started a 19-year-old goalie on an emergency basis. The horror!

    Remember last year when the Blackhawks had Corey Crawford on the IR, JF Berube and Jeff Glass got injured, then Anton Forsberg got hurt in warmup and then Collin Delia got injured and they played 37 year old account Scott Foster? There were MONTHS worth of articles about the terrible asset management of the Blackhawks, right?

    Only in Vancouver…

  • Defenceman Factory

    Surprised you would write this article Ryan. You usually stay well above the pettiness.

    The Ferraro “rant” was in direct response to a question from Vancouver media while on Vancouver radio and one would think Strang should have enough management missteps to write about in Detroit. I’m pretty sure no one in her audience cares DiPietro played a game for Vancouver. Most people in Vancouver don’t.

  • TheMoustacheofDaveBabych

    You claim that CanucksArmy is unfairly criticized for being negative about the current Canucks management team, and then proceed to (with every other media personality) make a huge deal about a relatively minor issue.
    It happened. Move on.
    This hyperbolic and hysterical reaction from the media is simply ridiculous.

  • wojohowitz

    It`s not about the single minor mis-step but the accumulation of minor miscues and that`s where the experience of a veteran presence comes in as president of hockey operations which the Canucks don`t have at the moment and Trevor Linden was not qualified. You don`t see this type of crap from Davidson in Columbus or Lamoriello on Long Island because Aquilini doesn`t want someone like an experienced hockey man that he can`t control.

    Here`s the example that indicates a problem. Tryamkin tells the Canucks at the end of season interviews that he`s unhappy and he won`t be back. Ten days later the fans find out when the Russian club announces the signing. Where was Canuck management? Silent – silent and clueless. Then they come out with how much Willie cares about his players only to get quotes from players over the summer that Willie barely talked to the young guys. Amateur spin and nothing else.

    Not only do they need an experienced president but also a media liaison to control the message – again with the amateur hour.

    • North Van Halen

      Umm, just curious there Wojo, what ‘spin’ could the Canucks have given to Tryamkin leaving that would have controlled the message and made you happy. You still would have blamed management for Groot being a self indulged prima donna.
      When you look for negative it’s always there, spin, stop it.

  • Eric B

    As a Marriage and Family Therapist, your illustration really helped me understand more of the outcry about a problem that I was not (and are not) so concerned about. Focusing on the pattern of behaviour is a good point. I was pleased there was no panic purchases but I can certainly appreciate the point that someone (other than leighton) could have been signed.

  • North Van Halen

    Hey Ryan, JD called, he wants his article back.

    The Canucks were trying not to give up an asset for a goalie, give Dipietro a taste of the show and accelerate his development a bit. He played a game and gave up 7, oh no!! Bet that’s the 1st time he’s ever done that, he musta cried after the game knowing it ended his career.

    Speaking of being told the dishes need to be put away constantly, have you or any of the bloggers here been told you spend way too much time looking for mole hills to turn into mountains? The reason we complain is we get on average 2 (and I’m underestimating I’m sure) negative article/week * 5 years thats 500 negative articles, versus 1 positive article maybe every, well, I guess there’s the occasional mention but an actual article that even tries to put a positive spin on things Thats 0. 500 – 0. Hope this clears up why we get sick of these articles and for more detail just reread DJ.

  • North Van Halen

    Just curious where all those articles were pointing out how dangerous it was for the Canucks not to pick up a goalie and how detrimental this could be to Dipietro if a worst case scenario happened.
    No, just really good at finding those molehills with 20/20 hindsight? Brilliant.

    • FairPM

      This is perfect. Where was CA the last 5 weeks bemoaning this issue? Surely, they should have seen it coming… Personally , i’m surprised at the Backlash about it all. CA wants the Canucks to tank, trade edler, etc… Yet when edler goes down, there are complaints, etc… Anything that happens the only sure thing is that a CA writer will complain about it. They wanted a poor finish this year to get Hughes, now that it’s happening, they are complaining about something else… Gawd… I feelike I’ve been infected with the complaining…

  • KGR

    A simple observation. It wasn’t a problem until Demko was injured in practice/pregame (?). One does not expect the backup to be injured while not playing. At that point, the Canucks should have been more proactive in picking up another goalie for insurance IMO. It is more like two weeks of neglect, not five. I expect they were thinking that the Flyers were going to put a goalie on waivers over the last week or two. I agree it is a tempest in a tea pot; but, does point to a larger issue. Cheers

    • Bud Poile

      Outsiders will never know all the many reasons why the young man played an NHL game so creating a villain or story line of neglect is not very accurate or responsible journalism.
      Here’s a list of 19 year olds that started in net in the NHL:
      https://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/player-age/19-year-old-nhl-goalies.html
      Many of them got lit up and had great careers.
      This 19 year old teenager on a million bucks a year contract that lived his dream and played in an NHL hockey game has also been construed and portrayed as some egregious event about to ruin a kid’s life.
      The kid wasn’t talented enough to be in net,we all suspected it and now we now it.
      Back to junior and back to work if he is going to carve out an NHL career.
      I suspect this event ultimately did the young man a favour.

      • KGR

        Hey Bud
        My only (real) concern is that DiPeitro was very unlikely to win that game. No knock on him. But, the Canucks do have the obligation to ice the best team they can each night. How can one expect the players to fully commit if management doesn’t. I am not in the anti Benning crowd by the way. Cheers

  • “And looking at another AHL goalie, one with NHL experience but not currently tied to a big-league club, doesn’t seem to have been really considered.”

    What I find contradictory is that this is the rationale for not signing Leighton yet they traded for McKenna, who was for all intents and purposes, the exact same goaltender with the same contract. Was waiting for McKenna more about saving face than adapting to the situation and being proactive?

  • mR_twiddleR

    Some great comments here. This article is highly unnecessary.

    There’s also the hypothetical side to this story. If DiPietro comes in, makes a few quality saves and the team responds in front of him and get the W nobody is complaining. Instead Ryan and his cohorts are writing articles praising JB for drafting him, and praising the club for allowing a 19 year old prospect a chance to shine.

    Vancouver is so fickle. But as the comments section proves, the core fan base can still see the forest for the trees despite all the negativity.

    Pip pip