WWYDW: Rick Tocchet thoughts and voting on the Canucks team awards

Photo credit:© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
Welcome back to WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet to never, ever take a week off.
Speaking of weeks off, we’re taking a week off this week.
Well, not really. Obviously, we’re still writing this and you’re still reading it.
But coming up with a question with which to poll our audience on a weekly basis can be difficult, and there’s one time a year when someone else does the work for us, so why not take advantage?
Yes, it’s time once again for the annual Canuck awards. The local team is soliciting fan votes for the Cyclone Taylor Trophy (MVP), the Walter “Babe” Pratt Trophy (best defenceman), the Pavel Bure Award (most exciting player), and the Fred J. Hume Award (unsung hero.)
Every year, the fans vote. Every year, ripe debate ensues.
This year, as always, we encourage all our readers to fill out their official ballots. But since those ballots don’t leave any room for commentary, we’d also like to invite our readers to record their votes here, along with any justifications and rationales that might go along with them.
When it comes to the Canuck Awards, every vote counts equally. Here at WDYTT, however, it’s the best argument that wins. So, let’s start making those arguments now.
This week, we’re asking you:

Who are you voting for as Canucks’ MVP, top defender, most exciting player, and unsung hero? And why?

Let it be known in the comment section.
Last week, we asked:

What are your sincere thoughts on the Rick Tocchet Era of Canucks hockey thus far?

You answered below!
(Not Stephan Roget)
What are my sincere thoughts on the Rick Tocchet Era of Canucks hockey thus far?
-> “This is The Way.”
I would wait till Tocchet gets a full season before commenting on his body of work…
Mark Arty:
Tocchet got rid of that stupid WWE belt that did nothing for team play.
I’m actually surprised at how the team has responded. I thought the Country club might have a little more grumbling going on, but it’s the opposite. Players have embraced a tougher style with more accountability.
There is hope beyond a coach bounce.
They are still showing up slow to start games. A problem they’ve had for years. Let’s hope the tough love helps.
(Winner of the author’s occasional award for ‘Conspiracy of the Week’)
Real classy how Rutherford times the new guy’s hiring to coincide with the return from injury of the starting goalie and with a run of games against lousy teams.
Real classy.
bruce donice:
Yes, the coaching change has made a difference in how the team prepares for games as well as the style the team plays. Having trading the captain has likely been the biggest difference. Plus, new players have been brought in through trades and promoted from Abbotsford to fill in for injured players.
Lets wait until the end of November before judging Tocchet, as well as the team. It will be a different group in training camp including some players who have been injured during this winning streak. Bringing them back into the lineup could throw a wrench into any gains anyone may think the team has made.
Can they compete for a playoff spot? Yes. Just look at where they are in the standings now, 11 points out of a wildcard spot, and that gap could close between now and season’s end. But this could be the regular March runup. Let’s wait until the end of November 2023 before we judge the team.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
Tocchet and the coaching additions have been better than expected on a number of fronts. He communicates well, JT Miller has become a viable 2C who plays both ends of the ice (and doesn’t openly pout), team defence is better, some of the depth players (Joshua and Aman) have improved, and the key players (Pettersson, Hughes, Demko, Kuzmenko) have flourished.
The fact that this happened so quickly should also be noted.
Not a huge fan so far. The regular new coach bump. It’s nice to see the team playing with structure, but you can’t pinpoint exactly what’s caused that. Has it more to do with the new assistant coaches? Trading Bo? The new personnel on the ice? Being more comfortable playing in front of the starting goalie instead of AHL goalies? Playing your best players 30 minutes a game and in all situations?
My biggest grievance with Tocchet’s style is that he has no problem skating the bag off the core players. This team would be unstoppable if they could ice the same five guys for 60+ minutes a game. A teams success should not revolve around the same four players accounting for the majority of 5-on-5 goals, power play, and penalty kill. It’s far too risky, the epitome of putting all your eggs in one basket.
This is not an extended training camp. They are icing the players like they are trying to get into the playoffs. We already know how good these players are and that they can carry the team in a pinch. What we also know is that if any of those players get injured, we could be in the exact same position next year as we started this year. Play the guys their normal 20 minutes a night, but stop skating them in all situations. Find out who else can gel on the PK and PP. I’d rather see Miller, Petey, and Hughes coming over the boards with 30 seconds left in the PP or PK as the second line usually does. Too much exposure on our star players for meaningless games to build a “winning culture,” like these guys haven’t been winning their whole life and it wasn’t a reason they were all first round picks. It’s just silly.
Craig Gowan:
Tocchet seems to have successfully put in place a successful structure, i.e. system, which has made the Canucks much more sound defensively without losing too much offence. They actually look like a tight team now. Green and Boudreau were unable to do this. It was wise for Tocchet to bring Foote and Gonchar on board to help with defensive play, generally, and our defencemen individually. I am much very encouraged for next autumn.
I personally and emotionally would have liked to have seen the team really go for Bedard this year. Not make the coaching change when they did and ride out the year into oblivion. That, however, has long-term and short-term consequences, from not having players want to sign or re-sign in Vancouver, overall morale of the team, etc etc etc. In reality, I have come to believe that the direction of the team is most likely the correct one for building a perennial contender, IF executed correctly. At first blush, I was not a fan of Tocchet, but when he was hired I dove into his time in Arizona and really what he accomplished there was quite remarkable. Not a lot of talent, but a lunch bucket mentality and accountability put a team that had no business being in the playoffs, in the playoffs. I am looking forward to next year and believe that this “coaching bump” is due to that and not due to just a feeling of a breath of fresh air, as was the case with BB.
defenceman factory:
I’m not ready to give Tocchet a glowing review yet. I don’t have any serious concerns but it’s very difficult to know how sustainable the better team performance is, and how much is actually due to anything Tocchet has done.
I give Tocchet a pass on overplaying the star players. I attribute that to ownership/management demanding wins. Tocchet doesn’t have the roster to deliver those wins without playing Hughes and Pettersson big minutes. It’s not the extended training camp he said he was implementing, but even NHL coaches must follow the bosses’ direction.
This team went into the season with a severely wounded duck (lame just isn’t a strong enough term) coach and a captain who had to be traded. Everyone knew the cap situation, trade rumours swirling everywhere and it clearly took a toll. Boudreau had improved team performance last season, got no upgrades to the D, a demoralized team, terrible goaltending, and lost two very good assistants. Cull is not competent and was likely promoted so he could be conveniently fired when the inevitable Boudreau firing happened.
The coaching change, Horvat trade, and passing of the trade deadline relieved a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty causes stress. Stressed players don’t play well.
Tocchet is a competent coach. There is reason for optimism, so far so good. Hopefully management gives him further upgrades to the top-4 D next season to help him look like a genius.

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