Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Mailbag Part 2: Judd Brackett, Hughes/Ellis Comparisons, and Selling the Team

I don’t get the impression Brackett is in a hurry to leave the Canucks organization. He’s well-respected here and unless he has a desire to move into a management role I think he’s in a good spot for now

As far as the second question goes, I know what you’re referring to- Judd and Jim were at odds over which players to select at times during this year’s draft, and ultimately Brackett was overridden on a number of occasions – but I haven’t really heard it described as “bickering”. Teams generally draft by consensus, or give individual scouts the opportunity to make certain picks, so I don’t think the situation is cause for concern. Not yet, anyway. Jim Benning is a scout at heart and perhaps that will wear on Judd Brackett eventually and he’ll look to move somewhere where he’ll have more control, but I think it’s a little early to speculate.

Honestly, the biggest reason is just that I don’t have time. Writing here makes enough income to be considered a job, and I also have a day job that keeps me busy four days out of the week. Between that, doing Roxy Fever, and playing in two bands there just isn’t a lot of time for other stuff.

I also find gaming to have a pacifying effect on me. The system of simulated challenges and rewards satisfies that part of me just enough that I’m less likely to feel motivated to experience real challenges and rewards. I’d imagine that’s probably true for a lot of people, though perhaps not everyone. Either way, I’ve found that I’ve been a happier person when video games aren’t part of my life – less frustrated and more engaged in what’s going on around me.

First of all, I don’t know why so many people seem so eager to move Jordie Benn to the right side. General Managers across the league go through the trouble of painstakingly constructing a roster with balanced left and right sides, so I don’t think it’s particularly likely that the Canucks would move out a right-handed D unless they have one ready to step in.

I also don’t think the Canucks have any reason to sign Ben Hutton. He struggled here, and unless he’s got another gear, there are probably better options available at $2 million – perhaps even ones who play the right side.

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I honestly don’t know, but I’ve been told more than once by people I respect that it’s a big enough difference to make an impact. I’m not convinced that the trade off is worth it, though. It could very well just be the drafting, but it’s not as though the Comets organization has churned out a ton of NHL regulars. There would be advantages to having the team in California that extend beyond injury call-ups. Chief among them is that the front office have an easier time keeping up with what’s going on in the minors.

To be honest, I’m agnostic on the issue. There are clear advantages and disadvantages and I think anyone who feels very strongly either way is probably selling snake oil.

21-1 sounds like a championship team to me. I’d like their chances better if they hired Ryan as a consultant.

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It’s tough to know where to start with this one. One thing I’ll say is that NHLe isn’t something I put a ton of stock in without other inputs. It’s not particularly advanced and the quality of each of the leagues it takes into account is in a constant state of flux.

When I say Hughes is more dynamic, I’m talking about play style, not point production. Hughes is one of the most brilliant, effortless skaters I’ve ever seen at any level, and his edges are far better than Ellis’ were at the same age. Ellis was a more well-rounded defenseman with a better shot, but when it comes to style, speed, and creativity, I think Hughes has the edge.

A lot of this has to do with era – Ellis’ draft campaign was ten years ago now and the defense position has changed tremendously since then. Defense has moved away from in-zone play and big booming shots from the point towards being more about what you can do in transition. So maybe comparing them at all is unfair. I’ll also admit I saw a lot more of Hughes in his draft year than I did of Ellis when I was in high school. But I think they have less in common stylistically than people think. Outside of their height, they don’t necessarily have a ton in common.

Look, I know I said you could ask me anything, but I lied.

Mike Keenan and Mark Messier are both proven winners. I don’t see any issue here.

I think Kyle covered this one pretty well:

The scariest thing about Francesco Aqulini when it comes to hockey operations is that I don’t think he’s purely motivated by money. The Canucks are a cultural touchstone in Vancouver. Having season tickets is a status symbol and games are a networking opportunity. I don’t think the Aquilini Group would sell the team unless someone made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

  • TimfromAnahim

    So you would have no problem with Iron Mike and Mark Messier running the team? Up until that comment, I had some respect for your opinion. If you had actually lived through that unmitigated disaster, you might see it differently. There is little positive that came out of that sorry period in Canucks history, except the odd trade that got lucky. The Canucks organization was a toxic mess for years, and if we were to re-visit that era I ‘d have to find another team to root for, and I don’t think I’d be alone.

  • J-Canuck

    Think there are many reasons to stay in Utica. Less Travel equals more development time. Utica is by all accounts a sleepy town that backs the team 100% and probably doesn’t have the “distractions” being in California or Abbotsford would. If you are going to have a farm team, pitting it in a place people would want to get out of a bonus.
    As far as the development that has gone on in Utica, I’m not sure churning out NHLers is that simple. Now if communication is the problem, that has to be fixed. If the problem guys aren’t being given spots on th steam, then that is their problem. AHL is professional hockey and guys are competing for spots or going home and getting a regular job. If Canucks draft picks can’t beat out AHL regulars, then they deserve to sit. Explain what they need to do and help them, but if you can’t cut it in the AHL, then no chance in the bigs. If you are a pro act like one, Juniors are done.

  • TD

    I do think Aquillini cares a lot about money, which is also a reason I don’t think the Comets will leave Utica. They have a great fan base and fill their building. That goes a long way to making sure their AHL team isn’t bleeding money. Look at Calgary’s poorly planned AHL team in the valley. After lots of lost money, they moved their team. I think the Comets could do better that the Heat as its a Canucks market, but farm systems can cost owners lots of money if they don’t get fans.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Adolf Keenan and Moose Messier returning to the Canucks? Okay, guys, I do have a sense of humour but this isn’t particularly funny at all. These two represent one of the worst eras in Canucks history and a half empty GM place most nights. I realize many posters on here probably are not old enough to remember Messier’s idiotic signing or Keenan’s outdated coaching approach back there in late 90’s. If Bill LaForge was still alive why not bring back him? The era of Messier and Keenan was a bad one, folks.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      I don’t mean to defend either, but the team was in a tailspin that predated both men. The Messier signing was mostly irredeemable, but Keenan’s wrecking ball approach was critical in starting the rebuild of a stale roster.

  • Fred-65

    Here’s a comment posted in the Province which kind of mkes you wonder how come jpurnalists haven’t penned before now.. seems very in-sightful

    The Canucks will always be a dysfunctional organization for as long as the crooked Aquilinis own the club. They are among the very worst ownerships in professional sports. When Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment hired Brendan Shanahan as Leafs President, he was given full anatomy to run the hockey club. Linden was promised the same thing by Francesco Aquilini. Unfortunately, GM Benning, who was hired by Linden, aligned himself with ownership with the promise of short-term fixes in order for playoff appearances. This led to the departures of quality hockey people like Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning who didn’t agree with Benning and Aquilinis’ short-term views. Above the hockey department, Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Stipec reportedly “resigned” a short time after he replaced Victor de Bonis. de Bonis had moved on to become the COO at the Aquilini Investment Group. He reportedly “resigned” a short time later as well. Now, de Bonis is the COO of Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise, working under the highly respected Tod Leiwike. All that, along with Linden’s ouster as Canucks president speaks enormous volumes about the Aquilini ownership. ”

    It kind of explain a lot and why there is little progress made. By the By here’s another interesting post about the rapid firing of Paul Fenton

    “I knew him in a different way,” Leipold said. “He was an assistant general manager really doing scouting. That was his role. And he was tremendous at that. It was the other portion of being a general manager: the organizational, the strategic, the management of people, the hiring and motivating of the departments – when I talk about not being a fit, that’s what I’m referring to. His head-scratching moves included inking forward Mats Zuccarello – who turns 32 on Sept. 1 – to a five-year, $30-million contract on July 1, trading Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask, dealing the consistently productive Mikael Granlund to the Predators for young winger Kevin Fiala, and sending versatile center Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins for Ryan Donato.” sound familiar

      • Fred-65

        Yeah, that’s good, LOL, in my haste to read the article. But we all know what was intended. It doesn’t alter the intent of the view of the poster. The poster has strung together some interesting observations and they do look pertinient to this wanna be dynasty

        • liqueur des fenetres

          I have a hard time slagging the Aqulinis for their ownership of the team. They’re fans, they rescued it from a non-fan, they made the enlightened move to hire an outsider like Gillis while investing in his non traditional approach and have been willing to spend to the cap post Gillis.

          They may be a dysfunctional organization now under Benning, but I am not so sure how much blame rests on their shoulders. There’s no hard evidence of them actually micro-managing (beyond what you would expect an engaged owner to be doing), and I don’t blame them one bit for the direction they set, turning it around on the fly. Benning’s the GM because he convinced them he could turn it around. To get there it shouldn’t be a surprise that the naysayers have to be purged. The Aqulinis are in a bit of a bind 5 years into the Benning era as they’re committed to turning it around. That said, their reaction should be interesting if this season the team doesn’t get the results that the window lickers are expecting.

          • Fred-65

            You know five years is a long time. Five years! think about what you were doing 5 years ago. How many players have come and gone and more important how many should be gone. Aquaman has certainly spent money and u have to admire that, but the scheme, system expectations, and execution are poor, to say the least. It’s lucky it’s Vcr and not places like Florida or Arizona the financial results would be mind-boggling. There’s been a waste of time and money and I doubt anyone can argue against that. The one good thing to stoke optimism is Pettersson without him the club is in serious trouble. I fear we’re on the cusp of a good thing but at the last minute it’s become JB needs to save his job and that seems to have taken precedence over the plan they eventually had agreed on. In a couple of years time will we be saying …. we were so close

    • Gino's 3rd Cousin

      Your attempts to pair Fenton with Benning fall short in the trade scenarios. I don’t think Benning has made comparably terrible trades like these. His main shortcomings have been with Free Agency, but based on this years signings I am hoping he is turning the corner.

    • Locust

      I don’t find it insightful at all. Sounds just like the typical ‘Benning bad, every other GM good’ Aquilinis bad, every other owner good’ blah blah that haters like to regurgitate. Remove the ‘fantasy world’ sunglasses and you’ll discover the Aquilinis actually saved the team. I dont think they are perfect – far from it – but until I rustle up enough cash to buy the team, they are the owners. Everything that gets said is ‘speculation’ and as you quote, weasel words like “It was reported”. They support the community and haven’t cheaped out, we are near the cap almost all the time. That’s good enough for me. If you can do better – put your money where your mouth is.

      • Fred-65

        I can honestly say that I am neither for or against JB. His achievments are mixed. There is no point to being either for or against, serves no purpose I enjoy following a winning team than a loosing team. When I leave Rogers Arena I perfer to have a smile on my face. Be it the Canucks or any business I see no virtue is stupidity. I have my opinion. I think 5 years of patience is enough. If my Financial advisor doesn’t show improvement over 5 years I question if he’s the right man, if the Canucks don’t show im;provement over 5 years similarly I question the plan and direction. To my way of thinking 5 years should be adequate time to show improvment ( please don’t trot out the things are looking better ) Nothing concrete has occurred, just more promises. If making the play-offs is the criteria then the club has failed. That’s my opinion for what it’s worth 🙂