A discussion about tanking surfaced on a previous post. Tanking and the Canucks has been common water cooler discussion for the last 3 years and what a waste of time it has been. The belief that all levels of an organization would agree to lose games to get a player that may or may not work out is tinfoil hat at its finest. If we look specifically at the Canucks and management, can you point out any trades or player releases that management intentionally made which made the Canucks a far worse team? There have been some bad questionable signings, but nothing that made me think, “Well, there goes the playoffs this year.” The Canucks management group has made efforts to get younger, fast, skilled players. Some may get better, some may not, but that is on the player not management.
Example: Loui Eriksson. Loui and the Sedins looked like a sure thing on paper. 70+ points each. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The question would be, why? Did the players agree to suck on purpose or were they just not able to create enough offense together?
I think we can all agree that the players have shown no signs of tanking. On a team this bad, there are many positions that are up for grabs and players individual players can’t control a tank. It would take collusion by several key players to create an intentional tank. And let’s be honest, this team over the past 3 years has been too slow on the ice, with a weak defensive core and average goaltending. And it’s not in the best interest of players to tank since all players drafted could just come up and eventually take a veteran’s position and affect future earnings. You would have to think that a guy like Biega is hoping the Canucks draft Wahlstrom instead of a defenseman.
The idea that the Canuck players and management should have intentionally lose games to get a higher draft pick would make me lose interest in hockey.
2. Grit…..toughness…vs/plus speed and skill
This is another debate going on in the posts. The Canucks and lack of toughness has been a consistent conversation since the 2011 SCF. That in itself is interesting since before Game 4 the Canucks were called a cheap, dirty team by most in the western conference. Kesler, Lapierre and Burrows were well known pests. Bieksa was willing to drop the gloves. Just two months before game 4 of the SCF, Raffi Torres laid out Brent Seabrook in round one of the playoffs. Game 3 of the SCF saw Aaron Rome knocked out Nate Horton with a hit at the blueline.
Where did the “soft” moniker come from? Game 6. Daniel Sedin taking repeated shots to the face and no teammate took on Marchand. It was that quick. A team that had played on the edge all of the playoffs was now soft.
Move ahead to the style of play in 2018. Fighting has declined and the enforcer is almost gone. Tough guys also have to be fast and score goals, which means they don’t want to fight. Players have to be smarter about finishing their check as more guys are willing to take a hit to make a play. I actually think there is less hitting because players fear being out of position and giving up the odd man rush. Players and their role in a system has decreased the physicality of the game.
There were only 280 fights in each this year and last year in the NHL. In 2010-11 there were 645 total fights. That shows a significant shift in the mentality of playing and winning games. To go on further, the Vegas Golden Knights had the lowest major total (8) in the league and Winnipeg was second last (9). Tampa had 14 majors, while the Caps had 22 majors. In the 2010-11 year, the Canucks had 31 majors and Boston had 73. This is a different NHL.
The Jets are a fast team that will take the body. Add to that, there are 10 players (non-goalies) on the roster who are 6’3 and over. The Golden Knights are a fast team with no superstars, but they have a balanced roster with no defenseman under 6’0 tall. And they too, are willing to take the body. Vegas is averaging over 40 hits a game in the playoffs is close to double what they did in the regular season.
The Canucks were only two hits behind Vegas in the regular season and only one hit a game behind the Jets. Would more hitting lead to more wins for the Canucks or a combo of a faster team with more skill?
I think GMJB has been seeing where the game is heading and trying to make adjustments in signing players and drafting players that add more skill and speed. An aggressive forecheck has been the key for the teams that has gone far in the playoffs.
I think the definition of grit has to change. It’s no longer fighting to keep players honest, it’s being able to dish out hits at the right time and get in someone’s face when it gets dirty. But guess what, fighting isn’t necessary anymore. And I would prefer to see a guy like Jake dishing out hits and scoring goals than dropping the gloves.