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Nucks Misconduct Roundtable: Goalies, and Prospects and Kesler, Oh My!

Another edition of that thing where a bunch of people in different rooms pretend to sit around a table that doesn’t exist and talk about stuff related to the Canucks.

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five
JUNE 10, 2011: Ryan Kesler #17 of the Vancouver Canucks skates to the bench during Game Five of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 1-0.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

1.- As we enjoy and reminisce about Danny and Hank during Sedin Week, here’s the first question in this week’s Round Table: Should the Canucks retire Roberto Luongo’s number?

westy99 - Call me petty, but I don’t think anything with Luongo should occur until after his $3 million penalty cap hit is gone and he has done some penance like Kesler is right now.

Kent Basky- Not to pick fights, but if anyone needs to do some penance, it’s John Tortorella for running Lu out of Vancouver. That being said, I think I agree on waiting til the cap recapture is dealt with. And fuck the NHL for this ridiculous punishment. Ahem. At the end of the day, he’s the best goaltender this franchise has had to date, and deserves the honour, end of story.

Beggsy - I think the bar for retiring numbers needs to be higher. How many numbers are gonna be retired in this market before we actually win a Cup? He’s easily the greatest netminder in team history, but I don’t think that warrants a number retirement.

jimmi - Retire his cap hit. Then we consider the other things. After a suitable period of time has passed.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - The Canucks should not retire Roberto Luongo’s number. As admired as he is for his time in Vancouver and Florida and as cherished a personality as he is, his time with the Canucks was also marred by numerous on-ice, performance-related disappointments. The stigma of his playoff performances eventually led the Canucks to dress Cory Schneider in net for an elimination game against Los Angeles in 2012 — the start of the fateful goaltending controversy. Other examples include being pulled in Games 4 and 5 against Chicago in 2011 and then witnessing Schneider start Game 6. His time in Boston’s TD Garden was a nightmare, and Game 6 of the Finals was lost in the first 10 minutes of the match.

No playoff run was without some memorable mishap — not even his first playoff campaign, when he became distracted while requesting for a penalty against the Anaheim Ducks and allowed the series-ending overtime goal. He was a world-class goaltender on many nights, but those considered truly worthy of having their numbers retired are impenetrable walls at the most crucial times for their team.

In some of the team’s most important moments, Luongo did not elevate his game to match the occasion, instead allowing a soft goal or two, which resulted in the deflation of his team’s confidence. The Florida Panthers have rarely known such high-pressure situations, so when Luongo’s number is retired on March 7, 2020, it will be on the basis of his commitment to his team over a period of two decades. He established roots in Florida akin to what some of the league’s great community leaders have done and maintained a relationship with that area throughout his time in the NHL. The standard by which Luongo is judged in Vancouver is different. No Canucks goaltender has ever been so brilliant in big games as to will their team to a championship, and none have had their number retired — not Richard Brodeur, not Kirk McLean.

Roberto Luongo was an outstanding goaltender to witness, especially in his most acrobatic moments, but he also experienced enough blunders not to be considered in a class of his own among Canucks goaltenders.

Tengereresz - I’m a traditionalist, and I think all goalies should wear either #1, 21, or 31. As such, the business of retiring a number that all goalies at all levels ought to wear is something to be taken extremely seriously. This is a tough one. Roberto was a great Canuck, a lock for the HHOF, and (especially due to his rehabilitation through the Strombone persona) a very popular personality. Since he decided to retire a Panther, and do so in a manner that benefits that organization at the expense of the Canucks, I think that tips the scale a bit towards Ring of Honour rather than Jersey in the rafters.

2.- A few days ago J.D. Burke suggested that the Canucks should move Jacob Markstrom at the deadline. As much as I would like to not talk about this, we’re gonna talk about this. Is this actually something the Canucks should be considering?

westy99 - Of course they should consider it. And then they can forget about it, because let’s be honest....goalies on playoff teams aren’t traded at the deadline. Think of the won’t get a better goalie in return and therefore are telling the fans and players that making the playoffs are not important. Oh...and Demko can’t win on the road.

KB- The only way I would be cool with this is if it were a lost season, and we could get some kind of return to help out moving forward. The thing is, it’s not a lost season, and if they’re going into the playoffs, it’s not to get a participation medal. This season is happening due in large part to the phenomenal goaltending they’re receiving, so trading the horse that got them there makes zero sense. Sometimes you just need to make the post-season and magic can happen, so why not keep your magician around to see how it plays out and deal with what to do with him this summer?

Beggsy - I gotta applaud J.D. for his boldness, but I’m not even sure what to do with the troll-job here...

I agree that the Canucks need to look at trading Markstrom, but what would that do to your team if he was actually dealt? What does that say to your fan base if you deal away your MVP while you’re on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time in five years? Realistically, there’s nothing a team could offer to turn a Markstrom trade into a reality.

Retaining him in the offseason, now that’s another story.

jimmi - This Burke appears to be a shit-disturbing tweet-hoe. If that’s what it takes to make a living on the internet, then it takes too much. If we trade Marky before the TDL, say au revoir to making the playoffs, never mind making it through a round. Without Marky this season we wouldn’t be talking about being #1 in the 4th toughest division in the league.

Does make it tough to negotiate, however, that’s next year’s problem. And that’s just a money problem - offer Marky $7.5M for 3 years. Then simply claw back Lu’s endless salary and ask Loui to chip in a few a million a year. Find out if this team-spirit thing is a thing or just a merry band of mercenaries.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - One must remember that Vancouver was once considered to be a goalie graveyard. The best years of the West Coast Express were spent trying to upgrade the Canucks’ goaltending situation, and it quite possibly ended numerous exceptional seasons prematurely. Jacob Markstrom has been magnificent for the current edition of the team, offering improbable save after save when the team’s defence could not contain the opposition. If not for him, the team may not be anywhere near their current position in the standings. He earned every bit of his All-Star appearance last month and is among the few true keys to the team’s success.

Years of development were required to bring him to this level. When he was first acquired, he was a mere third-string goaltender. Let’s not forget how many goaltenders the Canucks have tried and failed to mold into reliable performers; the team should not expect his replacement to play at his level or to develop into a star. Markstrom’s case is that of the minority. His work in the crease this season has limited the turmoil usually associated with the team’s defensive deficiencies, and to trade him on the eve of their first playoff run in a half-decade would be a mistake. The team is ready to compete right now and needs a goaltender who can steal games.

Tengeresz - Hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahah.
But seriously:
The Canucks are finally going to make the playoffs, maybe even earn many millions extra by winning a round, mostly on the back of Vezina worthy play by their undisputatble MVP, and some blogger wants to generate clicks by saying “Trade the cornerstone of the team.” What happens in the summer is anyone’s guess, but no GM in the world would be shopping the main reason to think he’s got even a sliver of job security now.

3.- With the jersey retirement celebration nearing, one of the biggest debates raging in Canucks Nation has nothing to do with the Sedins: Is it time to forgive Ryan Kesler for his sins and welcome him back into our collective fan base hearts?

westy99 - First of all, fuck Kesler for exiting town the way he did. I think he is trying to rectify his past actions by doing the podcast with Juice and being more open to media questions. I may not boo him anymore, but he should wait a few years for a spot in the ring of honor.

KB- Hindsight’s a funny thing. Ryan Kesler left because he wanted to win a Stanley Cup, and didn’t feel like this team was going in that direction at the time. Weird how that turned out. It felt like a betrayal, and yet history is full of stories with players who have done the same damn thing, and when it works out it’s a feel-good moment. I think Kes feels bad about the way he ended. And that’s good. He should. Here’s the thing: Life is short, and I forgive him for this. Why? Because when he was here, there were few that gave as much night in and night out as he did, and if you don’t remember that, you’re either in need of a refresher on his time as a Canuck, or being dishonest. When the time comes, he belongs in the ROH, but he was a big part of that core, and deserves to be cheered Wednesday night.

Beggsy - Sports is truly the testosterone-filled version of reality TV, isn’t it. Remember that next time you groan when your wife flicks on The Bachelor.

Like many Canucks fans, I was understandably upset when Kesler forced his way out. It was the end of the era and he played up that villain role in the years following.

But really, who cares anymore? I’m over the drama. The guy sacrificed his body for a decade of great hockey in Vancouver, that’s all I really care about. I don’t think you need to shower him with Ring of Honour talk, just clap for the dude on Wednesday night and remember the good times.

jimmi - I care. Also... imagine Cory still cares. But, he who shall not be named didn’t earn the Ring of Honour, even when he wasn’t a complete jerk to us and teammates and their wives. He does qualify, however, for the Canucks Ring of Indifference, which is located in the basement of the ROG. Or parking garage. Not sure which and don’t care.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - In sports, loyalty is a principle held by only the most extraordinary individuals. Conflicts of personality, the allure of free agency, the pressure of expectations and the desire to win can change a player’s devotion to their team. Many players do not choose which sweater they represent when they join the NHL, and many have such a short window of time to fulfill their dreams.

Ryan Kesler’s days were numbered in Vancouver. We must not forget the criticism of his game in the years following the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and his injury-related decline. He peaked in the team’s two most successful years and then fizzled. His overall game was no longer as it once was. Too often, he was determined to create opportunities individually, to the extent that Coach Alain Vigneault criticized him for being a puck hog. He played with a nagging hip injury that impacted his performance and watched as the team floundered in its final few seasons: a goaltending controversy overshadowed the 2012 first-round series against Los Angeles, the San Jose Sharks victimized the Canucks with a series sweep in 2013, and internal conflicts plagued the 2013-14 season. 2013 and 2014 marked the end of an era, not only for Kesler but for most of the core players from 2011.

His behavior was a byproduct of these changing circumstances, and the only disappointment for Canucks fans was that he complicated the subsequent trade talks with the enforcement of his no-trade clause. In an article written by Ben Kuzma for The Province two days ago, Kesler stated the following: “The last two years were really hard on me physically and mentally to a point where I hated the game. And now, I’m to the point where I love it in a different way.”

I don’t fault Kesler for wanting a change of scenery. Sometimes, in doing so, one ends up burning bridges. It was time for something new for both Kesler and Canucks fans.

Tengeresz - As the saying goes: He’s always been a bit of an asshole, but we loved him when he was OUR asshole. We also loved to hate him when he dougchebagged out of here to a division rival. I even loved it when he embraced the hate and played up to it after many goals and penalties playing against the Canucks. This is good melodramatic entertainment. I guess what I’m saying is that I’d hate to lose a cartoonish villain in our pop-culture. As a person I hope he and his family have a great life. I have to admit that I listened to only one episode of the podcast he does with Bieksa (the one with Kassian), and he comes across well there.

4.- The Canucks continue to give up shots at an alarming rate, and in the process build the case for Jacob Markstrom’s agent that re-signing him is gonna cost the Canucks. What kind of moves should the Canucks be looking at to bring some stability to the back end as they try to lock down a playoff spot?

westy99 - I agree that our defense is bottom third of the league, but being outshot on most nights is more on the forwards than the defense. The forwards need to be more aggressive in their own end and hold on to the puck better in the other zones. It might not even come down to bringing in new people, but getting all four lines to be better with the puck. I want to see what this team can do.

KB - Yes, team defence is an ongoing issue, but at the end of the day, we have a subpar back end that looks like it will get better down the road with players like Guilliame Brisebois, Olli Juolevi (yes, I am not giving up on him yet) and Brogan Rafferty, but they need to add an actual functioning NHL Dman to their lineup if they want to make a splash in the playoffs. Maybe there’s a deal there, that isn’t going to cost the Canucks an arm and a leg, but we’ll see if the prices for trades are as ridiculously high as we’ve seen over the last few days.

Beggsy - The Canucks play this “run and gun” system where they forecheck hard in the offensive zone, but they get burned on the backcheck.

Even though the forward shoulder some blame, the defence just isn’t great. Edler and Tanev are serviceable but past their prime, Myers is okay against secondary competition, Hughes is a sensational rookie and the best of the bunch. Then you have Benn, Stecher, and Fantenburg who often look overmatched.

Regardless, just getting to the playoffs this season should be seen as a victory. I wouldn’t go crazy at the deadline, and the Canucks are too capped out to do much anyways. See how the season plays out and make those decisions in the offseason.

jimmi - Agree with Westy. And will have a headache in the morning. It’s a team D thing. The 200 foot game isn’t just for goalies anymore. If our D are pinching, our F need to watch their P.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - The Canucks must address their lack of reliable defencemen. Past attempts have been made to identify players who can offer effective gap control and keep the opponent from causing havoc in the defensive zone, but few have succeeded. The Canucks do not have reliable defenders.

There is now an established forward group that can provide formidable offensive pressure; they have an excellent puck mover in Quinn Hughes and a wonderful breakout system that features Elias Pettersson in a distribution role. They have speed and power on the wings in Bo Horvat, J.T. Miller and Jake Virtanen among others. The goaltending has been marvelous. This is as fearsome a group as we have seen in years. However, they require defencemen who possess the intuition to consistently anticipate the opposition’s moves so that the puck is relinquished before it can reach Jacob Markstrom.

Tengeresz - Too late my friends. Once you get to the party you gotta dance with the one you brung. Myers and Benn were the guys that were supposed to improve the on-ice regulars. Fantenberg was supposed to be better than the Bulldog. We get to see how this plays out. Comments from GMJB seem to indicate it’s going to be replacement from within during the off-season and training camp. That seems like a reasonable plan to me.

5.- Tyler Madden’s been on a tear, and could very well win the Hobey Baker Award as the top NCAA player. It’s being suggested that he could turn pro once his season is done, as we saw Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes do over the last few years. Should the Canucks look at bringing Madden in and get him some experience, as well as have him around the team for the playoffs, or would he be better served trying to help out the Comets (who likely would lose a couple players to callups to the Canucks since being completely healthy is not something this team can ever pull off?

westy99 - Short answer, no. The team will either be fighting for a playoff spot or getting the team ready for the first round. You don’t mess around with the team if they are in those spots.

KB - Put him in the lineup and deny ourselves our first look at Playoff Brandon Sutter? Are you nuts? Haha, just kidding, we all know the latest season ending Sutter injury is coming any moment now. Bring him to Utica, add to that lineups firepower and watch them do something great in the playoffs, and next year he can battle for a spot with the big club.

Beggsy - Give him some time in Utica. Winning the Hobey Baker is one thing but as we saw with Adam Gaudette, there’s still a big adjustment between the NCAA and the AHL, nevermind the NHL. Only the truly elite like Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes can pull that off. Madden is much closer to Gaudette’s level.

If the Comets are in the playoffs, give him some time in the AHL. There’s also a chance that he sticks with Northeastern for one more season. Regardless, no rush here with the surprisingly dominant Madden.

jimmi - I agree with all of the above. Headache and nausea in the morning is certain. If Madden mania hits the AHL and the Comets win the playoffs, let him join the Nucks for the SCF and he can score the GWG in the game 7 quadruple OT. The months of Westy’s parade route planning won’t have been wasted. Unlike us.

Kevin Wong (@CambieKev) - It may be worth offering Tyler Madden a trial experience towards the end of the regular season to see whether he can contribute effectively in the NHL. There is no reason not to see what type of asset he is and what he can currently provide.

If he plays well enough to be deemed an upgrade over anyone on the current roster, I would not be opposed at all if the Canucks allow him to contribute in the playoffs. If his play is not sufficient, then the experiment can end quickly. Jannik Hansen was a 21-year-old AHL rookie when he debuted in the 2007 NHL playoffs — he offered speed that most of the forwards lacked. Hughes and Boeser, directly from the NCAA, both offered unique characteristics that improved the team. The immediate contributions of the former, in particular, were vastly underestimated. The team should not be afraid to explore its available options, as long as they know not to commit if the result is mediocre. Madden will be an unknown commodity until he plays a match in the NHL.

Tengeresz - I don’t pay a lot of attention to prospects until the experts in the organization decide they should suit up for the big team. I’m weird that way: I think that I’m NOT an expert evaluator, and I know I have not watched this kid at all, so essentially, I think I’m not equipped to make a judgement. There are other prospects in Utica and Europe, and even Junior, and I don’t know if any of them are more ready than this kid. With some roster players returning from injury I’m not even sure there is room for any of them.
TLDNR : Meh.