As we move onto a new era in Canuckville, what does that mean ? Does it mean that all the folks screaming that "OHHH NOEEESSS, WE IZ REBUILDING FOREVER NOW, JUST LIKE THE STOOPID FLAMES !" are right ? Does it mean that 2011 was as close as the Canucks will ever get, and that the Puck Gods hate us ?
I mean, the Kings look like they are going to win a second Cup, just to kill that "they got lucky / hot" narrative from 2012 dead. And, if the folks pushing the "trade him to the Ducks for a king's ransom", then the Ducks would become the next California team to win a Cup, and all we could do is boo the bastard every time they came into our arena and kicked our rebuilding asses.
Well, there will always be disagreements on the state of this team, and rampant negativity and trollery is the stock in trade of a certain segment of our fanbase. As Bertuzzi once said, "it is what it is". All you can do is try to show folks the facts, and maintain some sense of positivity in the face of it all. So, here in the dog days, as summer waxes, as rumours fly, let's try to put a few facts in perspective, destroy some narratives, and maybe start some new ones...
- First, Ryan Kesler is a great player, and most of the NHL will come calling. If he wants to go as bad as the rumour mill says he does, then do not just assume it is the Ducks. Or Hawks. Or anyone of the rumoured six teams. If you want out that bad Ryan, that you are breaking a negotiated clause, then you need to play ball too. Mike Gillis had to deal with the same with Luongo, and that was, really, only one team. The Canucks showed then that the team is willing to keep a signed player, regardless. Meet the team half way Kes'.
- Yes, there would be plenty of folks disparaging the guy, and the negativity would run rampant, if he stayed for a bit more. The word "cancer" would be mentioned. But, as I sit here in my Keslord t-shirt, writing this, it would be tough for me to do that. This is a guy that wanted to play so bad in the playoffs one year that he told a trainer to cut off a newly broken finger. Hard to disparage that kind of player. ( One thing that I will be glad to see go with him though, is the somewhat evil habit of rumourmongers to say "he ****ed so and so's wife, that is why...." That was pretty unseemly )
- One of my fave hockey writers is James Mirtle. Check out this table from James. It kind of lays waste to that "too old" narrative, as the Canucks were the 12th oldest team in the NHL last year. They were 10th in height. They might need to bulk up a bit though, as they were 25th in weight. I realize that some of those players were 4th liners, part time players, and so on. But, the Canucks will get younger next year, and were actually not too old, at least as far as the math goes.
- Another fave for me is Botchford. He voices some of the concerns here, ( and uses some of the noted narratives while he is at it, but what the hell... ) He makes the point that 9 of the players next year are 30 or older. I say, so what ? We know that there will be changes, and the fact that 30 is supposed to be some benchmark for futility, I just don't buy it. Age was not the reason for the troubles of last year, or the previous years. You need young players that can actually play, rather than be on the fringes. But let us give Jim Benning the chance to do his thing. Consider that the supposed "young team of the future", the Oilers, is one spot behind the Canucks on Mirtle's table.
- The article photo is one of my favorites. Why ? Because it neither dispels or buttresses any narrative at all. It is just a math graph. Also, because it can be interpreted both ways. You can look at that drop off the cliff in this past season, and see anything you like, considering your bias. The team is done. The team is not done. The coach sucked. It was because the team is too old. Whatever you like. But one thing is inescapable. That mountain of excellence is proof that the Vancouver Canucks, at least in the regular seasons, were an elite team in terms of production.
To me though, it only really says one thing. That after that much excellence, this team, this core, deserves a chance to prove that last year was an aberration. To this long time fan, it seems pretty easy to discern, in retrospect, that one of the main reasons for the abrupt decline was because the coach was the wrong man for this team. That does not mean that John Tortorella is a bad coach. But he was the wrong coach for that team, at that point in time. I, for one, am very excited to see the Sedin Twins, after the first really bad year ( one far below their own lofty expectations of themselves ) show the fortitude to prove everyone calling them "too old", or "over the hill", wrong. I imagine guys like Bieksa, Burrows, Edler et al are working just that little bit harder in off season training, as this past year drives them.
I also think that the fact that a good friend, and long time teammate losing faith in them will be another impetus. Ryan Kesler is welcome to his opinion. He may even be right, and everyone that opines that right now can crow ( loud and long, as I am sure they will ! ) along with the negative nellies that permeate our fanbase that "I told you so" , if indeed this core fails to live up to those expectations. But they deserve the chance to show that the last five years were not an aberration. That they are not too old, and that they deserve the lofty hopes and expectations some still place on them.
So, a little rosterbation to finish off this post. Where does Kesler go, and for what ?
- Anaheim. I don't think this happens. I think that the team brass knows that Kesler is the missing piece there, and even if the deal is Etem, Smith Pelley plus, that they would rather get that kind of return from somewhere else. Bob Murray has already said he will "make another run" at Kesler, but that "the price is just too high". Even taking into account that those statements sound like the negotiating in the media that all teams do, and even if pundits and media types think the deal supposedly offered at this past deadline was fair, unless the Ducks pay a definite premium, and the Canucks get an offer that is too good to turn down, the answer should be no.
- Philadelphia. I think this is where our boy Kes' ends up. Let's face it, his game fits that team and it's ethos to a tee, and they have the pieces. A package built around a player like Sean Couturier could be just what the doctor ordered.
- Chicago. Who knows ? They are not in our division, just our conference. They lost earlier than expected, so might be motivated to make changes. They have some youth in the system that could be appealing. Did Brandon Saad show enough so far to replace Kesler as the #2 centre here ? How about a package built around Patrick Sharp and picks or prospects ? It is a team on the supposed "list".
- Boston. If we are throwing in rivals, why not the Bruins ? They too fell short in the playoffs, and will be looking to make changes. There is an obvious connection with our GM to theirs, so you know the deal could get done. Supposedly, they are pissed at Marchand, so they could move him ( here, or to create the space ). If I am Mr Benning, shoot for the moon, and try and get Lucic back. Just to see the media, and fan heads explode, I am intrigued by that. You know that a deal like that being announced at the draft would probably break Twitter, at the least !
- Detroit. Another place I could see him going. The man is from Michigan. The Wings have a bunch of young players that have shown an ability to play in the NHL. Take your pick amongst the Tatars, Sheehans, Nyquists and others, or make a huge blockbuster, and send Edler and Kesler both there for an even bigger return.
- Lastly, how about New York ? If the narrative of " Kesler hates AV" is true, this likely would not happen, but those kinds of things tend to be more media induced that real. The draw of a team that made it to the Final, and the big stage of Manhattan could be just what he wants as a new challenge. The centre coming back would have to be Derek Brassard. But as long as Benning picks Sather's pocket on the rest...why not ?
I got burned the last time a favorite player made noises, and thought they could rehab the relationship with Luongo. I was wrong then. This time, I have been eyes wide open, but just not willing to commit to just rumours, after the commanding performance of Ryan Kesler at the past deadline, where he denied the hell out of the whole thing. In light of the multiple sources this time around though, I do think we have gotten the clarification that he wants out.
Fine. His choice.
I would like to thank him for his warrior service, and move on. Ryan Kesler is exactly the kind of player anyone would want on their team, a complete hockey player. But he is not the only one. ( I am on #TeamCouturier myself ! ) There are many great players in the best hockey league on the planet. Now that we have a bit more clarity ( though still no outright public statement, it should be noted ), I have long prepared myself for the divorce, and am really OK with it.
How is this for the first deal Jim Benning gets to make, eh ? No pressure sir. Pick some other GM's pockets, get it done at or before the draft, and let's move on.
Sayanora Keslord. It was fun. Thank you for the effort.