Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet to not get swept by the Winnipeg Jets in embarrassing fashion.
And yeah, that’s perhaps a needlessly schadenfreudian opener, but it’s been a tough couple of weeks in Canuck-land. As the opening salvos of an offseason that promised great change were fired, the fanbase learned from owner Francesco Aquilini that no one would, in fact, be fired — and that had people in their feelings, to say the least.
There was another airplane banner, mass online threats of season ticket cancellation, and the world’s saddest little protest at Rogers Arena. All were attempts to voice displeasure at the decision to have Benning and Co. return for an eighth year, especially hot on the heels of a seventh year from hell.
We tried to be optimistic last week, but now we’re interested in the unfiltered truth.
Go ahead and open your hearts up to us, because this week we’re asking:
How do you feel about Jim Benning returning for Year Eight?
What will be your favourite memory of the 2021 season?
Your best recollections are below!
Kunlun Red Star:
Connor Mackey ran Highmore into the boards, and immediately Jonah Gadjovich in his first NHL game gave notice he was going to have his teammate’s back. He engaged Mackey in a spirited brawl while demonstrating some right-hand haymakers. He also took 17 minutes in penalties and for some reason Green benched him for the few remaining games. The Canucks are currently an easy team to play against with little pushback and lacking large bodies to contain some of the league’s bigger teams. Let’s hope Gadjovich, Graovac, and a few more make the team next year.
(Wunner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
As much as I hated the schedule and almost everything post-Covid outbreak, I think the two wins against the Leafs post-outbreak were probably two of the most emotional wins of the season (and not just moral victories). After going through hell and beyond for two weeks, the boys returned ready to play like they had something to prove. They were written off. They were tired. They were the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons. There was almost a patronizing tone taken towards the team near the end of the Covid struggles. They wanted to show that they were still proud hockey players though, and that came through in those two games against the Leafs. It was more than just another hockey game. It was a statement. You could see it on Horvat’s face when they won in OT how much it meant to him and to the team. If a moment could be frozen in amber to sum up what it means to be an athlete who strives for victory, it would be the celebration in OT. The team had risen up from the ashes, and for 120 + minutes had given the whole city something to cheer about.
The less said about what followed, the better.
I would say the final buzzer of game 56 was the highlight of this season.
Maybe Rathbone’s goal. It’s about next year, he looks like he belongs. He may not skate as well as Hughes, but he’s close. He defends better and he has a dangerous shot. He could eventually wind up on our top pairing, even with Hughes in the lineup.
A River Named Curt:
When Francesco Aquilini boldly strode up to the microphone and said, “Today, ownership is turning the page on seven years of underperformance and, frankly, gross mismanagement that made our franchise and fans the laughingstock of the NHL. As an owner, I made a series of personnel mistakes and I must accept full responsibility for my poor and short-sighted decision-making. We thank Jim Benning, John Weisbrod, Travis Green, and the entire outgoing front office and coaching staff for their years of service. The Vancouver Canucks are proud to announce that our new General Manager is …”
Oh wait, that never happened.
Looks like there won’t be any favourite memories next season, either.
Beer Can Boyd:
When Toffoli exposed Benning as a liar.
When JT stood up for the troops during the Covid crisis, it was truly a profile in courage and the best example of being not only a consummate pro, but a mensch as well. Bo can still be team skipper, but Mr. Miller better get handed an “A” for his jersey next year. He’s earned it.
The arrival of Nils Höglander. The rookie scored in Game One on the season, and didn’t stop impressing from there. Who could have guessed at that point that Höglander would lead the team in even-strength scoring? Or that he would almost instantly confirm himself as a valued piece of the top-six core moving forward? Or that he would become a true heart-and-soul part of the team right from the get-go?
In a season where just about everything went wrong, Höglander went righter than anyone ever could have expected. More of that in the years to come, please.