The Canucks had a season for the books. If you were able to go into this year with no expectations, then, as a fan, there was so much to get excited along the way.
Not the results. Twenty Ninth out of thirty teams means there was a lot of losing. But a funny thing happened along the way. The Canucks may have put the years of and around 2011 in the rearview, but for some of the neophytes, dislikers of the colours Blue and Green, and the various populaces of the various comment sections, they like to still hold onto things the recently traded Alex Burrows did, or Kesler, or Bieksa. Talk to a Bruin fan for more than a minute and see what comes up...
You get it. Not that I spend any time there, but I do read a few to get a feeling for the zeitgeist during the season, and of course there is always twitter. But the changes that occurred this season, culminating with the trading of Burr’ and Jannik Hansen at the deadline, with the exception of the Twins, spoke of a whole new core emerging.
Those changes picked the hell up when the Big Effing Guy, the BFG, the Russian behemoth Nikita Tryamkin, made a decision he is more than allowed to make. This led to the usual blaming of and airing of grievances against of various management of the team. Listen to TSN 1040 ( excited to see what the Rogers folks do with their new sports station, now that they have the Canuck rights ) and see what comes up...”let’s take some calls”.
Here’s the thing. You can give the “ice time” argument whatever merit you want, but really, he, and whomever his agent is, had to know there was money coming of a large fashion after a two year bridge deal. Jim Benning doesn’t use the word “generous” that often, and he said that was what they offered. The man is Russian. He never felt comfy with the language, and I imagine that was the same for his wife. I hear Yekaterinburg is a nice place ( it was a royal city in the Tsar’s times, for instance ). and really,. I get it. Happy wife, happy life, and some folks just don’t adapt to a new culture like others. Sure, it sucks, but now Olli Joulevi has the stage. Defence is not where the Canucks need to impove. Scoring and special teams are farther up then list, for instance.
It’s funny. A short story, if you will. I don’t listen to TSN1040 that much, and usually just have it on in the work vehicle as I am getting in and out and moving about. They like to promote themselves ( still, even after losing the rights ) as “the Home of the Canucks”. Fine. Right after that they will usually have a timely recording. Right after audio of the Travis Green announcement is one of the #CanucksTeaParty ( for sure, though he called himself part of “Canucks Nation”. Sort of like how Trump voters tell themselves he is doing a great job. ) chiming in. He sounded a little tipsy as he said “ I’m not even sure that Trevor Linden should be hiring the next coach. I think it should be us, Canucks Nation, who picks the next coach...”. I mean. OK. Sure. Let’s do that instead of the guy that multiple teams were interested in. #IMeanCaman
For me, this hire reminds me more of AV. Alain Vigneault coached the Moose in 2005 / 2006, and his knowledge of his roster, when he came up to the big team was a huge bonus. He had Bieksa and Burrows in the minors ( roster here ). Look at that roster. He took a bunch of guys you would not know except for Juice and Burr’ to the playoffs.
Travis Green took his Utica Comets to the Finals and lost in 14/15. He has a deep and long term knowledge of anyone on this team that spent time in the AHL in the last four years. I like what I have heard of him so far, and of his intended style of play. Can we at least give him a chance before TSN1040 callers start making the decisions on coaching hires ? Not to mention that there is the attitude of “why didn’t you talk to other coaches”? Ummm, Hitch’ liked Dallas, and we had the most sought after guy by the other teams looking for a coach. He knows the roster pretty well. Is it too positive to be excited about the hire ? I know Botch had a “five reasons why he will suck” article, and it’s easy to make shitty predictions about a team that had a shitty system, just like it is predictable that a coach, player, GM or president will have an article with varying degrees of “you suck”as a welcome. Oh well, Travis is a B.C native, and a Canuck fan himself. He knows the drill.
So, who will he be working with next year ? Bo Horvat, The Twins, Brandon Sutter, certainly. On the back end, the regulars might be affected by the expansion draft ( see you Luca Sbisa, it has been slice... ), but certainly Chris Tanev and Alexander Edler will be a pairing again.
With Bo Horvat, Sutter, and Henrik Sedin down the middle, and the #1 centre in waiting just a few ping pong balls away ( Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier are the two of a bevy of good centres. As #SuperScout Benning puts it, “ those two can play in the lineup next year, the other five centres, you might have to wait a year on”. Paraphrasing. ) ...and this is not McDavid / Eichel. But those two guys are pretty damn good.
So, the lines will shake out as they will down the middle. And I am going to also say that I think Coach Green’s “project” will be pulling that offensive talent out of Brendan Gaunce that lurks there for the former first round pick. So let’s pencil him in as the fourth line centre, penalty killing hotshot who can be even more if the coach can rehab his offensive confidence. Remember, this is the coach who had Sven Baertschi in junior, was high on him, never wavered, and was shown to be right as he blossomed into what we can safely call a “steal” from the Flames. Has Hunter Shinkaruk played more than a handful of games there?
Another “project” might just be the one he was rehabbing, one Jake Virtanen. If there is anyone who exemplifies how #CanucksTeaParty and #CanucksNation disagree, it is young Mr Virtanen. Some already call him a bust. Of course that is ridiculous. He played in the NHL as an 18 year old, but this is normal. Lots of guys that were too good for junior ( he would have went back there and dominated at his size against kids, and he would not have had the year’s experience in the NHL, for good or bad ) went back to the minors and learned how to play the NHL game.
From all reports, the second half of his AHL season was a revelation. The light bulb went off, the experiences sunk in, whatever. We grow at different speeds, and the way that we sports fans play this “good pick / bad pick” thing this early always gets me a bit. Canuck fans might be a little over the top, as far as it goes. A lifetime of watching guys like Jagr blossom, and blaming Nedved for not being him, for instance.
I get that, a bit, even if the only time I have really get pissed about it is Patrick White when David Perron was sitting there. Perron has played on a few teams, but he is still playing and scoring in someone’s Top six. No one knows who White is. Hell, David Nonis should have been fired on the spot for that pick alone!
I get it. We love the team, and want the picks the team goes with to all succeed. Even as we tend to forget all but the worst ( Cam Neely to the Bruins ) as far as trades go, the picks tend to stick out for fans, and in Vancouver, we always seem to be able to find a Perron for a bust pick. The problem has been, in the past, that there has been too many busts. I can’t think of too many of Benning’s picks that can be called that. Some of them are not here anymore, but his picks tend to be pretty well thought of as far as the “experts” judge these things.
There are guys like Adam Gaudette and Jonathan Dahlen coming in a year. Guys like Nikolay Goldobin and Brock Boeser that are already mouth watering snipers, the thing this team needs. The Canucks hired a coach that will give these guys the ice time, but also have them earn it. A guy that was a high pick himself. A guy that played all over the NHL, in a lot of different roles.
He knows the guy that was on the fourth line showing flashes, but with no confidence any more because that was once him in his career. He knows what it is like playing with superstars, because he did that too. He will have a decent roster when healthy, and with the roster spots to be filled and players to be signed or not, there will be spots galore for guys here, and guys not on the roster yet.
It may end up being another year out of the playoffs, though I would argue that a team that was in close games, seemingly all year, is going to be competitive with not much more than a move here or there, a young guy coming out of no where ( hello Brock ? Yeah, I’m go ahead and pencil you in for 30, ok ? lol ) ...
The point is, a new season is always full of possibilities. And the line between winning and losing is not that thick. I get the Botchford’s et al of the world, and of course we need to have these “realisitic possibilities “ pointed out as well.
For me, I am happy with the hire. I see the possibilities of the lineup next year, and the years to follow. Most controversial, for here, ( and let’s face it, if twitter means anything, there too ), I like Jim Benning, and trust him the most when it comes to drafting.
Can we have the first overall pick this year Gary ? Pretty please ? At least the second overall. After watching the Oilers win lotteries more than once in recent history, you kind of owe us this one. I mean, hell, the Av’s have had it already. It’s our turn.