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Photo Credit: Vancouver Canucks on Twitter

Patrik Allvin on Ryan Johnson’s promotion, Andrey Kuzmenko, and why the Canucks hired Dale Tallon

For Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford, the Canucks’ offseason plans couldn’t wait for the Stanley Cup Final to end.

The Canucks continued the overhaul of their Hockey Ops department on Friday, promoting Ryan Johnson to Assistant to the General Manager and introducing several new faces to the organization. These include Director of Player Personnel Scott Young, NCAA scout Frank Golden, Video Coach Dylan Crawford and, most notably, former NHL GM Dale Tallon as Senior Advisor and Pro Scout.

“I’m very excited about the hires here,” Allvin said in a press conference Friday afternoon. “Bringing in good people, good experienced people with a winning pedigree here will make our department of scouting stronger.”

Johnson’s promotion has been a long time coming. Rutherford and Allvin have both often praised Johnson’s work as GM of the Abbotsford Canucks, a role he’ll keep on top of his new title, and Allvin had plenty of positives to offer himself. 

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“When I came in here, Ryan was a guy that I relied on a lot. I think RJ fits into this culture and what we want to accomplish here,” Allvin said. “He had a title as player development before. Now he’s just gonna be focusing on Abbotsford and help build up the franchise here, overseeing the player transactions and be kind of my right-hand man.” 

“So, much well-deserved promotion for Ryan, [he’s] been a part of the Canucks for a long time.”

When it comes to the new faces, Young and Golden both come to Vancouver from Allvin and Rutherford’s previous front office in Pittsburgh. Both were still under contract before the Penguins gave Allvin permission to offer them roles with the Canucks.

According to Allvin, Young will be largely in charge of recruiting college free agents, as well as working with unsigned Canucks draft picks from the NCAA ranks. That list currently includes just four players; Aidan McDonough, Jacob Truscott, Jack Malone and Jackson Kunz. Golden’s role as a college scout means he and Young will have a lot of say in who the Canucks target in free agency from the NCAA ranks.

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Crawford, the son of former Canucks head coach Marc Crawford, takes over the video coach role vacated by Darryl Seward after holding the same position with the Chicago Blackhawks since 2018. Crawford marks the first hiring for Bruce Boudreau’s staff since several coaches, including Seward, left the organization last month.

Brad Shaw could’ve added to that list this week after interviewing for the Blackhawks’ open head coach position. But the job has since been offered to Luke Richardson, and Allvin expects Shaw to remain on Bruce Boudreau’s staff for the time being.

“He has another year of his contract here, so I believe that he’s going to be on our bench,” Allvin said. “Bruce and I have daily communication and are looking at different options, making sure that he’s got the support that he needs in order to give us the best wins for the club here.”

While the other three new hires send a similar philosophical message, the addition of Tallon to that mix is polarizing, to say the least. The 71-year-old has over two decades of front office experience, including stints as the general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks and Hockey Ops czar for the Florida Panthers.

“I think Dale, he has great experience building winning clubs in Florida and in Chicago and being a first overall pick for Vancouver as well,” Allvin said. “So I felt that when he was available, that he could really help our team here moving forward.”

But it’s worth noting that both those roles ended atrociously. In 2009 Tallon was demoted by Chicago after a paperwork error cost the Blackhawks restricted free agency status for several players, and an investigation into an alleged use of racist language during the 2020 playoff bubble took place shortly after his Panthers tenure ended after a decade in the Sunshine State. Tallon was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

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And that was all before the Blackhawks came under fire for their handling of former video coach Brad Aldrich — a Tallon hire — after he sexually assaulted Chicago player Kyle Beach during their 2010 Stanley Cup run. Tallon’s name was brought up sparingly in last year’s Jenner & Block investigation, however, since the incident happened after he’d been removed from the GM position.

When asked about Tallon’s history, Allvin said that the Canucks had contacted the NHL beforehand and the league referred to the 2020 investigation clearing him. Tallon’s expected influence on the organization also appears to be limited, as according to Rick Dhaliwal, Tallon will remain in Florida as part of his pro scouting work.

Aside from the team’s front office moves, Allvin was also asked about the planned signing of KHL free agent Andrey Kuzmenko. The GM cracked a smile before talking about the process that brought the 26-year-old Russian winger to Vancouver.

“I’ve watched Andrey for a couple of years, and right off the bat there when we started talking I felt we connected really well. Dan Milstein, his agent, and Andrey were very open, and Bruce [Boudreau] did a good job and presented how we want to play, what our goal was and how we kind of envision our plan for the Vancouver Canucks moving forward,” Allvin said.

“For Andrey, it was about the opportunity, but it was also about being part of a winning culture. He wants to win and he wants to be part of this club.”

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Allvin and the Canucks have made a whole lot of progress this week, and the offseason is only just beginning.

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