The Stanchies: Admirably, Bruce Boudreau carries on through turbulent times
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
10 months ago
On a night in which the Canucks promoted mental health, there is some irony that earlier in the day, their head coach Bruce Boudreau almost left a scrum in tears:
Clearly, the Canucks are doing a great thing in honouring Rick Rypien with the Hockey Talks initiative, but just in terms of bad optics, we find ourselves once again asking if this can possibly be real. How can one organization have so many missteps on a day-to-day basis? We’re starting to hit Beth Dutton levels of “too much” where every scene is the same, it’s just a question of what order the swear words are going to go in.
And honestly, if you came out and told me the Canucks were trying to generate negative publicity, I would feel better about everything. At least that would mean they are planning this, at least it would be on purpose. In a way, you could applaud them for carrying it out so ruthlessly and efficiently.
But sadly, that is not our reality. Instead, the Canucks approach every day with the confidence of John Hamm but the execution of Sergius Bauer, every night ending with the same thought: Will tomorrow be any different? A dystopian Groundhog Day reboot, one starring Javier Bardem in which he just sits quietly in his room, re-arranging pieces of a jigsaw puzzle for hours on end, taking small sips of brackish water out of a half-broken cup, while a ceiling fan sputters along on its last legs. Compete is in his nature, I’ve been told.
The fact of the matter is that once it leaked out that Boudreau’s replacement was on the way, they should have let him go. This isn’t about business, this is about simple respect. If you no longer think Bruce is the guy for the job, then let him have a graceful exit. Don’t let him twist in the wind to the point that it’s now a national talking point, and the noise of the situation has gotten so loud that even the players are commenting on it after the game.
Do you know how hard it is to get players to admit to anything real and human in a scrum? They are trained to the highest levels to stick to the script of “give it 110%, we all have a job to do here,” that it actually blows my mind that Tyler Myers told reporters after the game that he thinks the situation is getting to the team. That is how bad this has gotten.
I can almost hear the free agents lining up to sign with the team in the offseason to get a piece of this action.
The worst part is, this could have been handled so much better. There is no rocket science behind this, you don’t need that degree in psychology from Langara to figure this one out: Put in Cull or Yeo as the interim coach until you land your guy, and nobody would have batted an eye.
“Well, Rutherford wanted his own guy in place, he probably has a vision and style he wants the team to play,” they would have said. Sure, some people would point out (correctly) that the coach isn’t the major issue this team has, but with the way this team has performed defensively (aligned nicely with AHL goalies who don’t know the rule in Vancouver about how you’re expected to play at a Vezina level), you would have had a lot of people thanking Bruce for his time and having fond memories of the “Bruce, there it is!” era. It would have been, as some people are so fond of saying, just business as usual.
Instead, you have done the worst possible thing you can do with someone you no longer wish to have around; You’ve made them a martyr. And I don’t mean that in a bad or mocking sense, because Boudreau ABSOLUTELY deserves far more respect than the Canucks organization has shown him. It’s shocking how Rutherford, as OG as they get, has dropped the ball with this situation.
The situation is now infinitely worse because Bruce has become a symbol of all that is wrong with how the Canucks treat people. Bruce Boudreau, a man who gave this team an exciting season last year, a man respected around the league, has been made to eat dirt publicly under the direction of the Canucks. And you wonder why the national media is finally piling on?
Instead of talking about the game, we’re talking about the chants. Instead of talking about the direction of the team, we’re talking about signs in the stands. Instead of talking about what the future might look like under a new coach, you’ve created one of the worst debuts I can possibly think of for Rick Tocchet to have in this market. Forget the cool step-dad trying to be your best friend the day after your parents’ divorce vibes, imagine The Shockmaster entering the room instead.
That’s the vibe the Canucks have created for Tocchet. That’s the world they have created for him.
The Canucks are officially in Game of Thrones territory. We read the books and now we’re just watching to see how it plays out on TV. Sure, there might be some differences from the novel (who saw Conor Garland taking out The Night King by himself?), but we pretty much know it’s going to involve a lot of misery, and many questionable decisions by the showrunners. There will be an end to all of this, but who survives? And what the landscape will all look like when it’s over?
Well, that’s a hard sell to a market that has been fed BS for the last 8-9 years.
And that’s the saddest part of this, I think. If you’re just honest with this market, they will give you so much in return. The fan base is desperate to love this team again. If you tell this market “You know, we really screwed up here” and then try to actually fix it? They’d throw parades in your honour.
People don’t want buzzwords, or weird press conferences where you’re flanked by Dr. Nick and Dr. Leo Spaceman. People want you to own up to things and make actual efforts to turn things around. Do that, and the people in this city will lift you on their shoulders.
But until that happens, we’re doomed to repeat the cycle.
Sitting in that room.
Wondering when that ceiling fan is going to finally give out.
Honestly, Friday night’s game was just straight-up depressing. There was a strange vibe around the entire game tonight due to the Boudreau situation that it almost felt like the Avalanche winning was a foregone conclusion. The only thing of interest was wondering if the Avalanche would get five goals or not (spoiler alert: they fell just short, winning 4-1). The entire third period was played like the Canucks wanted to beat the traffic and get home early.
So using the power of imagination, I am going to write this article as if I’ve never seen a Canucks game in my life. This is the only way we can get through this. By pretending this game was a delight because I’ve never seen this team before and so I don’t have years of psychological damage and baggage.
Which means, yes, if JT Miller has a great defensive play, he will become a Selke favourite by the time you finish reading this.
Let’s make some gif money, shall we?
Best flipping the script
This Bo Horvat fellow appears to be the captain of the team and he set the tone early by dashing the stick out of Erik Johnston’s hands, who Google tells me once wrecked his knee in a golf cart accident:
Mr. Horvat lets Johnson know that his stick will be in danger every time he is on the ice, and you know what? I like that if that’s my captain. That’s the kind of guy I re-sign for many years and prioritize over, oh I don’t know, a winger who sometimes moonlights as a centre for the Ramrod Devastators.
Best music drops
From “Last Resort” on a mental health night, to Maroon 5 crooning about the futility of being in a toxic relationship, the DJ dipped into his bag Friday night.
The good news is this Collin Delia chap seems like a right proper goalie, as he was twisting his body parts in random directions like a young Turk Broda:
Travis Dermott almost booted the puck into the net but something tells me that nobody on this team would ever fully kick the puck behind their goalie. I just can’t see it happening, to be honest. Their attention to detail is too good, their luck too strong.
Best fake it ’til you make it
JT Miller (I assume the initials stand for Jimothy Timothy?) deflected a point shot past Avalanche goalie Georgiev, but NHL rules dictate you keep your stick below the shoulders like a gentleman:
You can’t just be out on the ice, swinging your stick in the air like you’re someone from Langley, that’s abhorrent.
I want to give full credit to this Miller guy for keeping his cool about the goal being waived off. A lot of people might have lost their marbles and gotten super angry over something like this, and like, hit their stick on the net repeatedly, all while cursing and screaming on live TV.
But not this guy. He was ice-cold the entire time. Someone who can keep their cool under pressure like that? Well, I know who I’m making captain if they ever move on from this Horvat guy.
Which would never happen because clearly the team is going to be loyal to the guy who has been with them 8 and a 1/2 years, as it says on his hockeydb page.
Best Russian to the net
Elias Pettersson appears to be the skilled guy on the team, as he made a terrific pass to Andrei Kuzmenko early on in the game, only to be thwarted by the Avalanche goalie:
I like the look of Kuzemko because he wears #96 and his jersey has speed holes.
The Canucks then almost scored when Ethan Bear flew through the air like Bobby Orr, minus the generational talent and Stanley Cups:
If you ask me, the Canucks were in this game for half a period.
That’s it, that’s my praise.
The best part about this save? Delia randomly going full Time Cop and doing the splits for added flair:
Keep in mind, JCVD jumped up FROM THE GROUND to do a full splits on the kitchen counters, so Delia still has a ways to go before he can claim the title of full Time Cop. He needs to land on the crossbar with the split legs next time.
Best mistakes happen
JT Miller appears to lose a puck battle along the boards when he gets double-teamed by two Avalanche players, resulting in Andrew Cogliano sniping it glove hand past Delia:
There was some debate as to who was at fault on this goal (Delia forced a long slow pass over to JT Miller, and Miller stopped skating towards the puck and ultimately turned it over), but the majority of fans seemed to indicate this is something JT is known for?
To which I say, who amongst us hasn’t turned over the puck a couple of times after signing a multi-year multi-million dollar deal? Right? Not so easy when you have to look in the mirror like that.
Regardless, it feels like the Canucks can’t afford to give up chances like these to teams that are better than them. Which in checking the standings, appears to be many of them.
Best combo tech
The Canucks utilized the little-known Aura Whirl technique in the crease when Tyler Myers and Collin Delia combined their water and lightning powers to heal away their pain:
I’ll tell you what, watching Tyler Myers give it his all to make a glove save while on the ground is the kind of gumption I like in my defencemen. On top of that, he’s very tall! These seem like good qualities for a defender to have.
Look at that clip and tell me you don’t feel two inches taller watching Myers go down to make the save with his buddy.
Best sign-gate 2023
We had fart-gate (so I’m told) last game, so it only makes sense that a sign become the next big talking point in the game:
Two men in suits (I assume one of whom was a charismatic young man) walked down and informed Chester that his sign might have to be taken away, and to flash it only during stoppages in play, which you know, fair enough. Nobody needs a giant sign in their face preventing them from watching the high-quality hockey we’ve come to expect on Rogers Arena ice.
They then appeared shortly after to inform Chester that his sign was good, and then thanked him for supporting the team.
Two men in suits walking down to talk about a sign in the crowd feels very normal. As does a slight delay while they figure out if a sign supporting the coach is good to go or not. I see no reason why you wouldn’t give this team the benefit of the doubt in this situation.
All they want are good sight lines, baby!
Best dekes and squeaks and peaks and leeks
Elias Pettersson is good at hockey?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Elias Pettersson stripping Nate Dog MacKinnon of the puck and then turning around the other way to set up a breathlessly dashing-looking man named Brock Boeser for a shot on net is what the kids say is “good for business”?
Also, these Skate jerseys really pop on the ice. I assume they’ve been in rotation since the 80s. Just a gut feeling.
Best trying your best
Collin Delia once again drew upon the inspiration of Ken Wregget as he slid right to left and stuck out a pad to deny the breakaway shot:
The bad news is the Canucks got a penalty on the play (just ignore the fact the Avalanche generated a breakaway on the power play, it’ll make the recap easier) putting them down two men.
Best well what can you do
Valeri Nichushkin got his 8th goal of the year on the powerplay after the Avalanche quickly converted on their two man advantage:
That’s just good puck movement right there. I think that earlier tweet claims the Canucks are not great at penalty killing, but honestly, you’re down a man for like what, 10% of the game? You still have 90% of the time to kick ass, so why worry about it.
Historically bad you say? Well that just means you’re setting new goals for people to achieve. One day you won’t be the worst! It’s how the memory of the Vancouver Grizzlies soldiers on to this day. You think the league has forgotten about you when all of a sudden a broadcast informs you that a team has finally sunken lower than you. That’s a win in my books, baby.
Also on a second glance, it appears Tyler Myers actually boots this puck into the net:
Like, that is legitimately very impressive. If you asked me to slide through the crease and flick the puck in with a quick back heel like that? I’d break my legs attempting it.
Yet this tall beast of a man makes it look effortless. He’s like a giraffe with a chaotic lifestyle. I love it.
Best hello darkness my old friend
The Canucks got a shot on the power play when Conor Garland spun his way into generating a tripping call on Cogliano:
Which led to JT Miller unleashing an absolute howitzer of a shot right into Georgiev’s stomach:
Sometimes you just have to let them know that you’re coming for them. You know who goes bar down there and celebrates like a garbage human being? Someone from Langley.
Best 15 seconds of joy
Luke Schenn and Mikko Rantanen had some beef in this game, probably owing to the fact that Schenn beat him like a rented mule for around 15 seconds in the second period:
The best part of this? Luke Schenn backing off, but then deciding what the hell, and landing one last shove to the ice. That’s the kind of pettiness I aspire to in hockey. Never leave them wondering.
Best reaction shot
No lie, there was an audible “thunk” when Boudreau slammed his head against the glass after the Canucks went down two men for the second time in the game:
The good news is Collin Delia shut the Avalanche down quite easily, making glove save after glove save:
Best mistakes happen, we’ve talked about this
Okay, so the Avalanche would score mere moments later.
But the important thing is the Canucks looked good trying to stop the puck:
It’s hard to break down the Avalanche dominating on a 5 on 3 because they were built to do this. You can just point to the TV and grunt “score goal” and the Avalanche will figure out a way to do it with two extra men on the ice.
Obviously not having Tyler Myers on the ice making glove saves hurt the team, and that looks like the kind of save Roberto Luongo would make versus, say, Tim Thomas, but what can you do?
The important thing to note is that this is just one game! How can you be mad about just one, solitary game that involves no baggage or memories of almost a decade of losing?
The answer? You can’t!
Best making moves
Bo Horvat almost dragged his way to glory while down a man, but was thwarted at the last second by Georgiev:
That’s a mighty good dangle right there, worthy of someone who will never ever leave this team and will be here forever.
Best paying homage
Elias Pettersson to do things that I say to myself I am going to do on the ice, but instead of falling to the ground, slamming into the boards, and looking at my stick as if it was the problem and not my lack of skill, EP40 manages to do this:
That’s just an absurd goal. To have the confidence and skill to pull that off is disgusting. It actually upsets me how skilled he is.
How am I supposed to take pride in getting an empty net goal for my fifth of the season when I know someone is out there doing this?
Selfish Elias. Selfish.
Say what you will about Vancouver, but they do love their coach:
The best part? Seeing Bruce acknowledge the home crowd after the chanting was done:
I know, I know, hockey is a business, but at the end of the day, we’re all human. Seeing Bruce know the market understands it’s not his fault, and hearing them thank him for what he did for this team, well, that’s just downright heartwarming to see.
That seems like the kind of guy you don’t want to go full Gladiator on by giving him his Maximus moment, thus turning the crowd against you, but hey, what do I know?
Best sometimes it makes the blade stick
Brad Hunt, one of the guest cameos on that failed Canucks sitcom they attempted in 2021-22, got the final goal for the Avalanche on the night.
Which sure, fine, good for you, revenge game, you’re living your best life with a Stanley Cup contender, etc, etc.
The main thing is Luke Schenn absolutely trucking Rantanen before the goal was scored:
And sure, Mikko got up and angrily retrieved the puck before skating up the boards and finding Brad Hunt for the goal:
Like, great, you scored a goal, that’s awesome I guess.
But who got the last laugh?
Okay, well, Mikko did. But who’s going to be bruised on the plane tomorrow?
Best vibe check
Yes, it’s still January! Which means we get to see more chances like this:
Much like Horvat I assume Kuzmenko will be around for a long time and in no way has priced himself out of the market by asking for ridiculous money.
On a night in which the Canucks looked and felt flat, Kuzmenko was one of the few players putting in a solid effort throughout the night:
Spinning off his check and ramming the puck on net? Surely that’s worth five first round picks to somebody.
Best dropping the bass
Conor Garland attempts to throw hits, but because he’s 5″7, they don’t do much damage:
But the point is he still tries to land them. His effort level is always on display, but part of me worries he plays on the edge to the point that someone might take an open-handed swing at him in a scrum, leading to the launch of a new game show called Power Slap: Road to the Title.
And now for no reason whatsoever, here is a compilation of Luke Schenn beating the tar out of people:
Surely that’s got to be worth at least 10 first rounders to somebody.
Best crippling student loan debt
This Quinn Hughes guy (I assume a 45 year old veteran about to retire) made a valiant effort to, well, survive the game:
That’s the look of a man who just pulled three shifts in a row to try and get ahead of school tuition but is also worried that he didn’t lock up Arby’s before he left, and now has to figure out a possible new job working at that weird art store at International Village, to which you say, “which one?” to which I say “exactly.”
The point is this team looks very sad and very tired all of the time. But they look so good doing it in the Skate jersey.
Imagine watching this team be sad in like, blue and green colours. That would be brutal.
Best drumming up interest
I don’t know who this Crazy P is but I bet his name stands for Crazy Polite, and all he does is softly encourage people to cheer on the team at their discretion. You probably don’t even notice he’s at the games he’s so quiet and respectful. He just shows up, nervously taps you on the shoulder and whispers “hey the team could use some cheers. But if you don’t want to, that’s cool. Totally up to you. I’m sorry for intruding on your time,” before kick-starting a scooter and sliding away into the distance.
Part of you might wonder what could possibly beat out the sad tale of Bruce Boudreau in Vancouver, well, let me assure you, Shannon Sharpe should be trending first:
Secondly, yes, I think we’re all adults here and we can admit that #SellTheTeam trending is probably not good for the Canucks’ brand.
They’re one banner away from making this happen.
Best trickle down economics
Hey look, something that’s been broken for a while at Rogers Arena with no fix in sight, where have I heard this tale before…
Best proof they tried to score
To be honest, this third period was about as death march as it gets for a hockey game.
Sure, the Canucks tried, but did they care? I couldn’t tell you.
But here’s proof that they almost scored?
Best make it stop
Part of me would kill to see Bruce get that belt handed back to him for one final win, and for him to be the first person to wear it properly over his shoulder, before sitting down cross-legged and giving a pipe bomb promo.
But the mature part of me knows you can’t have Bruce coach this team anymore if you’re moving on from him. Don’t make him suffer through Hockey Day in Canada as the number one story of the day. Don’t make him run a scrum where everyone is literally just refreshing their feeds to see if Bruce has been fired yet.
Do the right thing. Respect the man and let him go if that’s the plan. Or else announce he’s here the rest of the season.
Those are your only two options tomorrow.
I think this is the correct answer.
If you weren’t around for the Messier era, it was very emotionally damaging at a very intense level. Imagine a team of Bruce Boudreau’s, and you brought in Messier to dismantle them one at a time. That 1994 team was beloved and oh my god do I ever wish social media was around so I could see the reaction it would have had to Messier and Keenan attending Grizzlies games together while the team was torn apart.
That being said, it was for a shorter period of time, and they emerged from that dark era with the pieces of the West Coast Express.
This current era has gone on almost 10 years and there’s still no end in sight. Trading Bo Horvat might be the start of the turnaround, but even that would be years away from coming into fruition.
Hardened apathy vs intense emotional damage is a hell of a battle.
Best living in the moment
Even during his darkest times, Bruce is still being himself and trying to have fun with it.
Just a wonderful chap.
Best letting him know
This is only a hard market if you lie to it. If you’re open, honest, and accountable, it’ll take you to the moon and back.
Bruce there it is, indeed.
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