The mainstream media and most of us fans have been laying on the negativity pretty thick since the Canucks got swept by the Sharks. The MSM is waiting to hear the news that Alain Vigneault has been fired, which may not happen. The Alexander Edler knee job on Eric Staal in the IIHF World Championships just adds to the negativity. And Gollum himself wasted no time jumping on that wagon. It gets a bit much after a while. There are positives to draw from the current state of this organization.
Yes, I am one of the voices who wants Vigneault replaced. The winning-est coach in Canucks' history needs to be released. I think his shelf life has expired and a new voice in the room is required. What bugs me the most about Alain is how often he has stated that there is enough leadership in the dressing room to get the job done. It's like an autonomy. Now, I don't know what Vigneault says to the players in between periods and games to debug that theory.
All we see is bag skates and line juggling from him. Am I right?
I also see an unfair or inconsistent way that AV goes about letting his players earn their ice time based on performance, which he has also preached. I mean, there have been plenty of times where the Sedins should sit. Or where Alex Edler should sit. Take your pick. It's as if anybody not named Sedin or Burrows, Edler or Kesler get free reign to play out their lousy play with big minutes and everybody else is getting dicked. It's not right. It's an inconsistent promotion process. That is on AV. That needs to changed, or move on. Can you remember a good story about AV motivating his players aside from the odd bag skate and line shuffling? I hear super stories about Red Wings coach Mike Babcock motivating his guys in these playoffs. Hell, even Babcock's pressers are composed and awesome. He is a winner. I look back at AV laughing at Kyle Wellwood being called a breakout player in front of the media a few years back and that really says it all as far as disrespect goes, right? Always hated that. It's juvenile.
AV has been a wondrous coach, but I'd like to see a different face and approach, in both the dressing room and in front of the media. Having said that, AV could stay and Mike Gillis could revamp the team and for all I know AV could work wonders with it. It is a possibility. Vigneault has proven to be adaptive. Glass half full.
Speaking of revamping the team, I can see some positives here. But the ball is in Mike Gillis' court. Hell, Gillis is going to have an insane summer. He needs to get the Canucks under the lesser salary cap, trade Roberto Luongo, draft like a fiend, pick the players he can buy out (maximum of 2) to get to / under the new salary cap (I assume Ballard for sure), re-sign current Canuck free agents (or not) and then hit the July 1 free agent signing market frenzy. That's why he gets paid the big bucks.. I am fairly confident that he will get the job done. Count me in as a Gillis supporter.
Now, he has said that the Canucks need to get younger, bigger. I don't have a problem with that. Most observers will say that the current farm team is shallow. It kind of is. However, there are several key players in the system that can make an impact. They are:
Jordan Schroeder (center), Nicklas Jensen (right wing), Brendan Gaunce (center), Anton Rodin (left wing), Darren Archibald (left wing), Bill Sweatt (left wing).
Peter Andersson, Yann Sauve, Adam Polasek, I will throw Frank Corrado in here as well as Chris Tanev missed the late part of the season and playoffs due to injury.
Keep in mind: the Canucks have employed more experienced defencemen and forwards in the last few years in order to go for the Cup. Well if what Mike Gillis says is true, the kids are going to get a bigger chance than what they have been given lately. And that is good!
Especially up front.
Jordan Schroeder scored 3 goals and 9 points in 31 games with limited minutes with the Canucks this season. He scored 12 goals and 33 points in 42 points with the Chicago Wolves. He is 22 years old.
Nicklas Jensen only played 22 games for the Canucks and Wolves combined (20 with the Wolves) and only managed 2 goals and 4 points. But earlier in the year during the lockout he scored 17 goals and 23 points in 50 games for AIK of the Swedish Elite League. He is 20 years old.
Brendan Gaunce scored 33 goals and 60 points in 60 games with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL this year. He is 19 years old.
Anton Rodin scored 4 goals and 14 points in 49 games with the Wolves this season. He is 22 years old.
Bill Sweatt scored 15 goals and 36 points in 66 games with the Wolves in 2012-13. He is 24 years old.
Darren Archibald scored 12 goals and 22 points in 55 games with the Wolves. He is the biggest of the forwards mentioned here at 6'3" 212 pounds.
I like these prospects. Give them some more NHL time, damn it! The potential problem with Schroeder and Gaunce though is that the are highly skilled centermen that really should play top 6 minutes on a team to really be successful. The Canucks have Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler. So, if Schroeder and Gaunce don't figure in, then trade them for wingers. Simple as that. Wingers that are NHL-ready even.
Some may cringe at the ages of a few of those players. Well...
-The Blackhawks employ Brandon Saad (20 years old), Markus Kruger (22 years old), Andrew Shaw (21 years old) and Nick Leddy (22 years old).
-The Red Wings slowly bring in their prospects. Why? Because they draft like superstars, that's why.
-The youngest Sharks regulars are 24 (Logan Couture).
-The Bruins are generally older, but they have gotten some great stuff out of Tyler Seguin (21 years old). The youngest player is defensive replacement Dougie Hamilton who is only 19 years old.
-There are a few kids on the Rangers who play big roles: Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Michael Del Zotto and John Moore (all 22 years old).
-The Penguins don't have many "kids".
The youngest Canucks player was Frank Corrado (20). He was solid. The next youngest was Zack Kassian (22). Chris(t) Tanev is 23 (already). Dale Weise is 24. The Canucks were the 3rd-oldest team (average) in the NHL this season.
"Tanking it". That's not something the Canucks need to do. They have a few good prospects that i think are ready to jump in as long as Alain Vigneault does not shelter the hell out of them and give them limited minutes / roles. Whatever comes back in a Roberto Luongo and possibly even an Alexander Edler trade had better be YOUTH. I think it will be. That is Mike Gillis' new direction.
Surround the stale core of this team with some crazy kids. It will work. The glass is half full I'm telling you!
Oh, and keeping on this positive note.....the Sedins are tearing it up at the IIHF World Hockey Championships. Hank has 2 goals and 6 points in 3 games. Dank has 1 goal and 5 assists in 3 games. I know the ice is bigger and the reffing is different, but does this not scream that the Sedins still have a tonne to offer? Hell yes. Now, can we trade Luongo for Loui Eriksson? A Lou for a Lou.
On a final note: I had recently made a post saying that the Canucks' window for a Stanley Cup is likely closed. The truth is... I have no idea. The MSM has no idea. Players can join the team and surprise us greatly. Two words: Frankie Corrado. Plus, anything can happen come playoff time.
So while a huge amount of Canucks fans are giving up or don't give a damn anymore, I am going to try to keep a balance of some sort in my mind about this team. It's amazing what an hour of mowing the lawn, Slayer in the headphones and thinking can do for you.