Another day, another embarrassing and unacceptable loss at home that even as bad as this Vancouver Canucks team is, they had absolutely no business losing to. This is just the latest in a series of frustrating losses for this team, and I just can’t shake the feeling that this is so familiar. I mean, not just the losing because let’s face it: being a Canucks fan means living with failure. But there’s something about this team that reminded me of one of the previous versions of the team: The 1986-87 Canucks.
The 86-87 Canucks were mired in a miserable stretch of incompetence, coming off two straight 59 point seasons. And to make matters worse, GM Jack Gordon had just traded Cam Neely to Boston, thus robbing the team of a future Hall of Famer, as we saw when he got to Boston and became a huge part of those Bruins teams. Think about having him in the lineup in 94 against the Rangers for a moment and try not to get angry.
Anyway, If you look at that team, you’ll see they had an almost identical record after 19 games as this year’s version of the team, sporting a 5-12-2 record, just one win less than the current 6-11-2 the Canucks are rolling with. They had a decent goaltender i n Richard Brodeur, starting to drop off from his magical 82 playoff run but still capable of winning games.
Stan Smyl was still the captain, and they had guys who could score. Tony Tanti had 41 that year, followed by Petri Skriko with 33. There’s a lot of interesting names on this roster as you go down the list. Steve Tambellini, Marc Crawford, Dave Lowry and Garth Butcher jump out, as does Rich Sutter (who had 20 that season). But one name stands alone on that list: Jim Benning.
They never lost more than four straight, but won more than two in a row twice, a four game streak in mid-March, and the last three games of the season in April. That summer, they fired Gordon and brought in Pat Quinn, who began an extensive rebuild that culminated in a Stanley Cup run in 1994.
Is this team destined to suffer the same fate as that wretched 86-87 squad? Oh, absolutely. I cannot fathom how this team is going to get any better, and I am dreading this upcoming roadtrip. The first three teams they face are all above .500, and the only potentially winnable games for them appear to be the last two: Montreal and Ottawa.
They’d do well to not wait til the season is done and begin the process of rebuilding, actually rebuilding, instead of whatever the hell this past seven and a bit seasons has been. If Francesco Aqualini had only listened to Trevor Linden, they might not be in this situation right now.
LAST NIGHT IN THE NHL
The Calgary Flames are looking unstoppable right now, as Dan Vladar recorded his first career shutout in a 4-0 stomping of the Boston Bruins. The Flames now have 7 shutouts in their first 19 games, and it was extra sweet for Vladar, who was traded to the Flames by Boston this past summer. Andrew Mangiapane had his 15th goal of the season in this one.
The New York Islanders probably want to get back on the road after dropping their 2nd home game in the new building, this time a 3-0 shutout by John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Joseph Woll stopped all 20 Isles shots for his first career shutout, and Mitch Marner had two goals for the Leafs.
Kyle Capobianco scored the OT winner as the Arizona Coyotes beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 at the CryptoBroDotCom or whatever Arena last night. Don’t look now, but the Coyotes are just four back of the Canucks.