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Round Table: First Quarter Review (pt. 2)

The writers return to bring more thoughts on the state of the Canucks

Vancouver Canucks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Hello NucksMisconduct faithful, my name is Elliotte Friedman gmonk33 and I am the host for this edition of the NucksMisconduct Round Table. We’ve returned with a few more thoughts on the state of the Canucks! In the first round table, we discussed most things pertinent to the on-ice product (link to part one). This go around the brilliance that is the NM writing crew are tasked to rate the Coaching (rabble, rabble, rabble), a pleasant surprise, a major disappointment, and a Christmas wish! Today’s roundtable sees the return of CaptainAzzy, Jimmi.cynic, Kent Basky, and Westy99. These fine gentlemen are joined by BaileyM20,Thos Pratt, and the legendary vancitydan.


NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Azzy: U (in the UK that means so bad we can't give a grade) This team needs a new coach.

Bailey: C- You can say what you want about Willie D (he's not a good coach), but he isn't the reason the Canucks are losing games. His line combos and player usage in the last few weeks also seem to make a little more sense than usual. He still needs to be fired though because the team needs a new direction.

Dan: B-. I hate when folks try to blame it all on the coach. It displays a profound lack of understanding of what they are watching. The coach is doing the best he can with what he has. Injuries have taken away vets like Dorsett and Hansen, stalwarts like Tanev, and he has kept his team in games ( Canucks lead the league in being within a goal in the third,( results notwithstanding ). The team needs to execute and score more. But the coaching is not the problem. Media types like Botch coaching from the press box just give the masses that impression.

Kent: Puzzling- A half season is 41 games. And going back the last 41 games, the Canucks have won 15 games. I know what the team thinks. That Willie is developing the team and trying to do what he can with a lineup that's supposed to be getting younger. What we see though is Bo Horvat getting under 15 minutes of ice time one night. Derek Dorsett and Luca Sbisa on the ice in the dying moments as the team tries to tie things up. Jake Virtanen, a #6 overall pick saddled with 4 line assignments and long stints on the pine. I think the frustrating part is that it makes you wonder what the hell it would take for him to lose his mind and actually call out some of his players. As horrible as John Tortorella was, he didn't fear speaking his mind when someone was terrible. I'm not saying that Willie should even do it 1/10 of the time Torts does, but good god it seems like the worst criticism to come out of his mouth when you can see a player has stunk up the joint is some version of 'he was not very good tonight'. The lack of accountability for players on this team is killing this fanbase. How can we believe things will get better when there's no punishment for being bloody awful? The only thing that will save this franchise is a clean sweep of the brain trust, management, coaching (though Doug Jarvis and Manny Malhotra could stay) and especially the scouting department. Set them free and let's get a damn rebuild going now.

Jimmi: C- Very entertaining in the he-coaches-tonight he-coaches-not-tonight suspense thriller genre. For on-ice results...well...I blame the management. And the players. And the fans. And then the coaching. Not necessarily in that order

Thos: B. Willie Desjardins is a good coach in a tough situation. While Benning and Linden get time to work their attempted rebuild on the fly, coaches have a much shorter leash. It's clear he would be an easy fall guy for a year going bad. But the players are clearly still playing hard for him. Inasmuch as he has to both ice a team and plan strategy, he also has to hold players to account. Nikita Tryamkin showed up to camp out of shape. To Desjardins credit, he forced Tryamkin to get into shape before getting a game. To Tryamkin's credit, he worked hard off the ice and now he's a regular. It kills me people want to blame the Virtanen situation on the coach. Jake had every opportunity to seize his chance at the beginning of the year, but for whatever reason, he didn't put in the work. How that's on anyone but Jake, I don't know. Desjardins has to shape Virtanen into a pro and Virtanen still has plenty of time to get there. He'll be a better player when he finally does.

Westy: I am pro Willie….or least anti-firing Willie this year. There is not much any coach could do with this team when it’s healthy, let alone when it has to deal with injuries. The record of this team of the team is more a testament to where the players are at this point, not the coach. It has been mentioned several times over the past week that Willie hasn’t lost the room and players have owned up to their play……except Jake

Biggest surprise:

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Azzy: Alex MF Burrows- Last season Nucks Misconduct discussed a buyout option on Burr. We debated his role in Utica. When Higgins was bought out, we thought the end would come for Burr. Instead, he's found chemistry with Bo and Baer and looked, quite frankly, like the outside-bet-for-Selke forward of 2009-11. He's back, and we have to hope he stays. He's so close to 200 career goals too.

Bailey: Troy Stecher- When the Canucks first signed this guy most thought there was an outside shot he'd ever be an impact NHLer. He's already proving to be NHL-calibre and he's only 22. He is this season's Ben Hutton.

Dan: With a nod to Burrows and his resurgence. Troy Stecher has stepped from Utica to the top pairing and top power play with little or no problem. he is my biggest surprise.

Jimmi: 4 game win streak to start the season! Amazepucks! Comeback Canucks narrative comes back with a no-lead pass. It's a Cinderella story dressed in low expectation heels with impossible to maintain plot line.

Thos: Utica call-ups Jayson Megna and Michael Chaput. It's nice for a team like Vancouver that is still struggling under the weight of a thin prospect pool to find players who can be called up and seem to make the team better. If Benning wanted a faster team, Megna and Chaput both help in that regard. Neither guy is likely to become more than a tweener at this stage in their career, but they have been welcome stopgaps as injuries mount in Vancouver.

Biggest disappointment:

Azzy: Erik Gudbranson- We were sold this hulking great behemoth of a man, a leader on and off the ice, someone who will keep things steady and allow Ben Hutton and his future $5.6m contract to be worthwhile. He IS hulking, he's certainly a great behemoth, but he's not done what we were told he was going to do. I expected a lot more.

Bailey: Philip Larsen- Larsen was hyped by Canucks management as the guy who would revive the Canucks power play. It didn't happen. What did happen was Larsen was spoon-fed minutes even though he couldn't handle them. He got beat often in the defensive zone and didn't look threatening enough in the offensive zone. He's been out with an injury the last few games, but with the team saying he's close to healthy, I'm curious (and nervous) to see if Tryamkin or Stecher comes out for him.

Dan: That they have been closer in games, played hard, and with desire and energy, and come up just short so often. That will come with the experience, and is more a product of where the team is overall, but it gets grating.

Jimmi: The end of 4 game win streak. And the last multi-game win streak of the season. So far. In the reverse of last season, they win more at home than on the road. Which is great for fan morale while your team gets slaughtered on the road where the road kill can be covered with time zone zombie theories and bad road food garnishes. You might think stringing together a couple 2 game win streaks wouldn't be so hard. You might, but I wouldn't.

Thos: The way criticism of the Hutton-Gudbranson pairing has become so highly political. It seems that criticizing Gudbranson is fair game, presumably because he was acquired by Benning in a trade with Canucks Army South (which by definition is a trade some in this market will never allow Benning to win). Criticizing Hutton, though, seems out of bounds. Some have even started to suggest that if Hutton is struggling, it's because Gudbranson is holding back his development. The truth is they are both young and still learning to gel. If Hutton is struggling this year, it's because they are asking more of him. It's perfectly ok that he take time to fit into that expanded role. The miracle of Hutton is that he has never yet seemed to struggle in his transition to pro. He's more than entitled to some slack.Gudbranson likewise is still finding his way in a new market with a new partner and in a contract year. Both players deserve time before their pairing is considered a failure.

What the round table wants for Christmas:

Azzy: Not much… Only Willie fired, Jake recalled, Utica players actually in Utica (Gaunce, Megna, Chaput, Biega, Larsen), Rodin to come back healthy, picks accumulated at the deadline, and LOTS OF GOALS AND WINS. So, not much.

Bailey: Ideally the team sells at the deadline and remains in the bottom 5 for a good draft pick. The Canucks don't have much of a chance for playoffs, and the last place you want to be is right outside the Wildcard race. Would also be nice to see Bo Horvat signed to a long-term deal.

Dan: Well, I can’t ask for all the negative folks that ask for another coach to get canned, or call the GM an idiot on twitter and elsewhere to all go away, because the team needs their dollars too, but I just want folks to stop acting like they are entitled to those things because of where the team is in the standings. You wanted to rebuild folks. Stop being such whiners about it, and focus on the process. This team is entertaining in their energy and work ethic, almost every game. Let’s focus on that. The results ar going to come. Trust in the process, and the fact that we have the right GM at the right time. He is a great scout, and has found several guys already that look like players. Let him do his job FFS !

Jimmi: My main wish is that the Injury Faeries are sated on Orca flesh and hunger for more exotic flavours like Wild Oil Ducks, Jet Flame Kings and Avalanching Shark Coyotes. If most of the team can stay healthy, predict the Nucks can finish with a strong sub 500 record. While we need some more high first round picks, no need to grovel for them like lottery pigs at a goodfellas Chiarellamoriello all-you-can-lose prospect buffet.

Thos: It seems inconceivable to me that the Canucks will continue to struggle as badly offensively as they did earlier this season. So I doubt this team is going to fall far off the pace in the Western conference turtle derby this season. I hope the deadline brings the Canucks something for Alex Burrows (and Jannik Hansen).

Between part one and two we have been given a plethora of opinions about the season to date. Obviously we haven’t hit on everything in the organization, but we leave those matters for a future date! That said, it’s your turn… what are your thoughts on the coaching, the biggest surprise, biggest disappointment, and your Christmas wish for the organization?