Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet not faking an injury to avoid the Expansion Draft.
Speaking of which, it’s finally happened. By the time you read these words, the 2021 Expansion Draft will be complete, the first edition of the Seattle Kraken will have been selected, and the Vancouver Canucks a brand-new rival in the Pacific Division.
It’s been a long, strange, and occasionally stressful process, but now it’s also one we can look back on, and that’s exactly what we’re here to do today.
You’ve seen the protection lists, you’ve seen the big reveals, you’ve seen the inaugural roster.
You’ve felt the sting of a Canuck being cruelly torn away from this franchise.
You might even already be building up a healthy dislike for the closest geographic opponent that Canucks are ever going to get in this league.
But before you go too far down the rabbit hole of rivalry, we’ve got some questions for you to answer.
And pay attention, because this week we’re asking multiple:
What do you think of the newly-selected Seattle Kraken?
What do you think of their selection from the Canucks?
And, most importantly, what do you think of the quality of their team, and are they potentially already better than the Canucks?
What’s a common myth about the Canucks (past or present) that you can bust?
Your busted myths are below!
That the Canucks’ cap issues are as serious as portrayed in the media. Yes, we have a cap issue for this season, which precludes Benning from signing Hughes and Pettersson to eight year deals, but after this season, assuming Benning doesn’t screw up with more bad UFA signings, we’re in the clear for 2022/23. Sign Hughes and Pettersson to bridge deals like Boeser and make up for it later. At that point, we’ll have a competitive team built through the draft, something that we’ve never had before in Canucks history. Buy out Beagle, Virtanen, and Roussel. Heck, buy out Holtby if you have to to get $3.8M in cap space and hire a cheaper backup for the Expansion Draft – we now know that Demko will be an elite goaltender (like I said years ago).
Been listening to Steve Dangle’s podcast lately and it’s amazing how Guerin in Minnesota got compliments for self-imposing $13M, $15M, and $15M in dead cap space starting in 2022/23. Pat on the back for Guerin for handicapping himself (paying $13M to $15M for nothing), but fire Benning for trying to be competitive and bringing in role models for his prospects? Moreover, it’s amazing how Toronto is screwed for 2023/24 because they’ve committed $51M (63%) of their cap to six players, which does not include a No.1 starting goaltender or the 3C they desperately need – but nobody is talking about it. Dubas can’t sign any long-term deals at even a moderate cost now without screwing himself over in that cap bottleneck year. But nobody will point that out for another few years, just like how I said years ago that Dubas screwed up for overpaying on Tavares (which caused overpayments for Matthews, Marner, and Nylander) and got them stuck with an imbalanced, top-heavy team.
The myth that Jim Benning is the worst GM in the NHL cannot possibly be correct, though Big Jim is not the best either. Look at obscene contracts handed out to the likes of Subban, Parise, Suter, Skinner, Doughty, Marner, Tavares, and Matt Duchene. What would the cynical media and fanbase here say about these lunkhead moves if GMJB pulled any of this? Granted the infamous Loui signing wasn’t genius, but is chump change compared to these other bloated contracts. And now their clubs either don’t or didn’t want these players as we saw recently with the Wild. In fact, in terms of cap management Mr. Benning looks like Einstein compared to Dubas.
The myth that Canucks fans are still salty about losing Game 7 in 2011, and everyone mentioning the riots that followed. It’s so lazy and frustrating that people think it is a good insult and are still clinging to it ten years later. Edler is the only guy left from that time and we have a totally new team and culture now. They’re just jealous cause their team hasn’t even made the Cup Final in 20 years! YOU’RE THE ONE WITH A BAD, ANGRY FANBASE AND A TEAM THAT SUCKS!!…Okay, maybe that’s not a myth.
Myth: The Sedins aren’t tough.
Fact: The Sedins did most of their work in the corners and close to the net, the two toughest areas on the ice. Their style was not for wimps. Ask any opponent who ever tried to get the puck away from them.
Beer Can Boyd:
Myth: Francesco Aquilini is constantly meddling in the hockey side of operations.
Chris the Curmudgeon:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
For me, one of the biggest myths surrounding the Canucks is that the 2011 Stanley Cup riot was more than tangentially related to hockey.
To be clear, the riot doesn’t happen if the team doesn’t come so close only to fall short. But the lazy outside trope of “Canuck fans are so dumb that they burned their city down” doesn’t hold water because it ignores the fact that for many, even most of these people, Vancouver was not and never would be “their” city, even if the Canucks were their team (as an aside, relative to most urban unrest, there was a distinct lack of major structure fires that day). I don’t write that to absolve Vancouverites of blame. Vancouver, and especially the West End, had steadily become a cloistered paradise for the snobby elite, who would hold their noses at the suburban commuter class who arrive on Skytrains to pour their coffee and shop at their stores, but who should never delude themselves into thinking they belong there. The whole Lower Mainland, meanwhile, is a haven of real estate manipulation where the soaring housing costs have caused younger generations to internalize their downward mobility and the desperation and anomie of constantly having one’s reach exceed their grasp. Large crowds in a small space are a tinderbox for a small number of provocateurs who arrive with the intent to destroy (regardless of the setting, most people do not attend sporting events carrying accelerants, crowbars and the like). So, the game ends, the mood is miserable, troublemakers take out their torches, and a lot of over-served young people look around them and think “hey, this isn’t my home, it never will be, and if we were really ‘all Canucks’, shouldn’t some of my ‘teammates’ out here be trying to help me out a little more while I’m struggling?” Everyone else was doing it, so why not break a window or two?
Myth: Spending to the cap every year is a good thing
Fact:. Unless you are a serious competitor a team should spend well under the cap, because under a cap system, cap space is a valuable asset. Spending to the cap when rebuilding means a team overpays for marginal players who get in the way of young players who are developing. Fans in Vancouver demand ownership spend to the cap, as if doing otherwise means they aren’t committed to winning. This needs a serious rethink.
Myth: We will be competitive for a Cup in two years.
Fact: Benning’s cap mismanagement, which is destined to result in the perception of poor treatment of older players (Eriksson and possibly Roussel and Beagle. In fact, I wouldn’t move them to the AHL for that reason. Eriksson yes, Beagle and Roussel, no. Make Roussel-Beagle-Highmore the 4th line) will make signing older, depth guys to short-term contracts harder and will force the team to spend more than others in order to secure the same level of player.
The cap has hampered negotiations with Pettersson and Hughes, and will cost more money in the long-term as revenues will increase after the pandemic, but the cap ceiling will lag behind and then they’ll come off bridge deals with Höglander, Podkolzin, and Rathbone up for deals. Keeping Benning on this extra year may make guys in the current locker room looking to win a Cup in the near future seek to move onto greener pastures (Horvat, Boeser, Miller). There will be no market for Myers, and some are suggesting eating some of Schmidt’s salary to move him. If this happens, we will have bad contracts on the books for years beyond next, hampering our competitive ability. We must absolutely nail the draft the next few years to avoid stagnation.
Myth: The Canucks are the smallest, softest and slowest team in the league.
Fact: They are not the smallest team in the league.