It’s time for another edition of the Nucks Misconduct Roundtable. Each week we get our writers together and ask them a number of questions about the state of this team we’ve been cursed to follow. Sometimes they play it straight, sometimes it’s Westy and Jimmi, but you’ll always get the unvarnished opinions on the Canucks here. This week we’re going to discuss the Canucks recent winning streak, as well as some other issues around the NHL.
1- The Canucks have looked like an entirely different team over the last couple of weeks since Black Sunday. What’s the thing you like the most about how Bruce Boudreau has the Canucks playing right now?
Westy - I like the way the defense is stepping around the blue line to meet the rush instead of collapsing in. I like the aggressive forecheck. I like defense jumping up more. I like one less pass than before.
jimmi - Westy is being so magnanimous about this coaching change. Maybe a little too much. Whatever. I like what he likes and more. Bruce has the top guys brimming with confidence and scoring. There it is - that’s all we wanted. Pete returned from the little green alien no-score gulag. Bo scoring like a leading captain. And Quinn flourishing. The team flourishing. It’s a Christmas miracle that only cost Franny tens of millions.
Rob - Green had the players playing an east-west and south game always back on their heels. Boudreau has them pushing the puck forward, heading north at all times. Coincidentally, he also has the club heading north up the standings too.
Beggsy - Positive Brucey has the Canucks playing with confidence again. That has to be the single-most-important factor in their recent success.
Sometimes the advice is simple, like Boudreau telling Boeser and Pettersson to shoot the puck. Boeser listened, but Pettersson still needs to follow suit.
The second biggest difference is the small tweaks on defence. The D are using simple passes to get out of the zone instead of going east-west in their own end, which they were doing far too much under Green. It’s also nice to see them pinching and playing aggressively again. I’m not the biggest expert on systems but things were definitely too conservative under Green earlier in the season.
Kent- You’re all wrong! Well, you’re right, but the most amazing thing is how Bruce Boudreau has somehow transformed Tyler Myers into an elite defenceman. He has been an absolute beast on the back end since the coaching change, playing over 24 minutes a night and paired with Quinn Hughes, keeping the puck in the offensive zone. It’s fantastic to see him excelling, he’s a really easy guy to like, but the contract made him a target for abuse from the fans through his time here. Bruce has him playing some of the best hockey of his career, and that’s pretty remarkable.
2- Obviously, it’s still nuts to think the Canucks can sustain this level of play the rest of the way. Or is it? Can they pull a St Louis Blues and battle their way in?
Westy - Can they play this level the rest of the year? Yes they can......until the injury fairies decide it’s over. 30 games in and no major injuries....that seems fishy....or gamey...definitely not kosher. The injury fairies have many different costumes, but the COVID costume seems the most likely to appear. If every team gets visited, then maybe it’s fair...or not not. Who knows. I guess my answer is no. Damn.
jimmi - Agree with Westy. Can totally keep this going. For a couple more games. But with a Covidian assistance plan for the faeries, the prognosis could be pretty Grinch.
Doesn’t matter. All hope was lost last month - there was even a NM post about it. Bruce is probably too jolly to defeat a trillion spike protein molecules on his own, but he has defeated a perennial foe of the Nucking free (agent) world. Roster Doomnation.
When a coach can perform the miracle of getting a team to play like a team - even a D-pleted one - and its best players to perform like the best, we Nucking fans can just enjoy watching a team that’s fun to watch. Wonderful alternative to being draped in the cold dark nights of mock draft lotto roulette.
Rob - I can’t recall who built this amazing talented roster but whoever it was must be a hockey savant.
Coach Berube...I mean Bruce...will lead the Canucks to their first-ever Stanley Cup under the most unlikely of scenarios, as long as goalie Binnington...oops...Thatcher continues to channel his inner bubble.
Beggsy - Instead of being a Negative Nancy, I’ll just tell you to go re-read what Rob just wrote.
Kent- Injuries are excuses. The win streak is fun, but at the end of the day, this is still the Vancouver Canucks, and the 2 months spent spinning their wheels is too much to overcome.
3- COVID-19 continues to be the dominant story this season, as we’ve seen cases starting to explode as the Omicron variant takes hold in North America. With a reduction of arena capacities and tight restrictions on road team activities now back as part of the day-to-day operations, are we headed for another temporary shut down?
Westy - Some call me a pessimist...or a realist...or just an ist, but it doesn’t change the fact that the new TV contract had COVID protocols in it to get in as many games as possible. Fans might get shut out from in-person events, but the league will do everything they can to get all the games played.
jimmi - Or a Rightist, eh Westy... A temporary shutdown would be the NHL’s preferred way to deal with
covid BB-Nucks. But, we have the Godfather of Hockey as our new President and iGM. He’s an old boy that knows stuff about other old boys, so the league can’t beat us down with that old stick - that Pete has returned to using - with happy results. They can use Pete’s new ineffective stick.
Wait... I drifted slightly off tangent. No apologies. The league have a schedule gap to fill in Feb. They could hold their own (unattended tournament) in a Seattle bubble. Either based on nation state identities - or - provincial/state ones. BC boys vs Arizona - Ontario boys vs Ohio. Uppland kids vs Gotland. Komi vs Mordovia. Iowa vs Montana. 3 aside. Maybe 2. Or less.
Rob - It certainly feels like deja vu all over again. I think the NHL/NHLPA should pull out of the Olympics and use the extra calendar space to regroup and reschedule the rest of the season in the new year. They should extend the upcoming holiday break as far into 2022 as warranted by the Covid 5th wave.
Beggsy - The rising numbers are concerning, but colour me surprised if there’s another lockdown.
This tweet from Patrick Johnston sums it all up.
One source suggesting an NHL-wide pause is being talked about, but some teams may push back because some of their upcoming games over the holidays are big money-makers.— Patrick Johnston (@risingaction) December 17, 2021
Kent- While the league is always going to put financial concerns over the health and well being of their employees, no matter what Grinnin’ Gary tells you, their hand is being forced here, and I am confident they don’t make it to the Christmas Break on Friday before shutting it down. The players will vote no on going to the Olympics. The possibility of having to quarantine for up to six weeks in China for testing positive is simply too risky for any team.
4- The Canucks added an assistant GM yesterday, bringing in Derek Clancey from the Calgary Flames. Clancey worked with Rutherford in Pittsburgh and has 3 Stanley Cup rings. Your thoughts on this hiring (once you’ve composed yourself from the obvious excitement, that is...)?
Westy - What is the record for most Ast. GMs on a team? Does the team get a ring for breaking that record? Can any of these Ast GMs turn Tanner Pearson into a 1st round pick? And the most important question....who are they assisting?
jimmi - Understandable hire. JR doesn’t know many people in the Nucks FO. Bruce barely knows the names of his new players. So, Rutherford needed a familiar face in the office. Does it help that Clancey is a staunch Rutherford loyalist? Not important. Important that he can growl at staff: “Get Clancey in here! Asked him to get the Letang for Pearson trade made.”
Rob - This is payback for the Calgary Flames stealing Louis Domingue from us. Eat it Treliving. A fourth Cup for King...not L. A....Clancey...would simply be icing on (Joe) Louis’ cake. I haven’t been this excited about a Newfoundlander joining the organization since Harold Dru(n)ken. This should lead to an improved pro scouting department (if you think Pitt won the Pearson/Gudbranson trade).
Beggsy - Can he bring Chris Tanev with him from the Calgary Flames as he makes his way over to Vancouver?
Kent- I guess we’ll see when it comes time for the draft. He seems to be well respected, and if he was the one who tipped the Canucks off to Adin Hill’s glove hand, he’s already worth the money.
5- it’s a fairly safe bet to say that the Canucks have little to no interest in trading JT Miller anytime soon. It’s naïve to think there won’t be deals between now and the trading deadline. Who do you think will be moved and who do you think should be moved?
Westy - What a question. This is the type of question that leads to Twitter burning. First you would have to establish what route you think the team should be taking over the next 3-5 years....rebuild...retool...win now...next year. And then admit that this team won’t get very far in the playoffs with this defensive core. Brock is the most obvious choice due to his upcoming contract and arbitration rights. Of course it would be kind of crazy to give up a guy who arguably has been the best forward over the past two years. Brock might get the Canucks that defenseman they need. If you really want to cause a change in the organization, you trade Bo or Petey. (Insert your own riot joke here)
jimmi - Jim ‘Trade-A-Month’ Rutherford is going to give Nucking twitter whiplash before the TDL. JR has said this week that he won’t be trading picks. Next week? Different week. Different answer? Can’t speculate on what he might do. Shorter list is to consider what he won’t do. Only that by March we’ll likely feel like Bruce did on day 1 - won’t know the names of many Nucking players.
Rob - To be fair to Jimbo Part Deux, at his presser, he had no idea he was taking over a Cup contender. Trader Jim 2.0 will be adding. The Canucks’ will next draft in the first round in 2030 once their Cup Dynasty has ended.
Pearson to Calgary for Gudbranson is a lock. But other than that only veteran players will be incoming with DiPietro, Rathbone, Lockwood and Klimovich all heading out. Chiasson to waivers is likely with him moving to Abbotsford to finish his season. Same with Dowling, Lammikko and Burroughs all heading to farm country to make way for Phil Kessel and company.
Beggsy - Sorry, I need to grab a double-rum and egg nog after reading Rob’s comments.
‘Tis the season!
I’m not expecting much other than perhaps a trade like the Penguins made for defenceman John Marino (they traded a sixth-round pick to Edmonton for him while he was still in college).
With limited cap space and cap-friendly assets to trade, Rutherford and company are going to be relying on their amateur and pro scouting departments to find a deal.
Kent- I usually expect the uh, colourful answers from Westy & Jimmi, but there’s Rob with a curve ball. I would expect Pearson to get moved, but so much of what they do really depends on how close to a playoff spot they are as the deadline approaches. It’s not easy to guess what they might do, because we spent almost a decade run by a guy who never had a plan, and imagining worst case scenarios stopped being fun because the reality was always worse.
6- BONUS QUESTION: With Gary Bettman and the NHL graciously putting the onus of NHL participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics solely on the players’ shoulders, how do you see it playing out?
Westy - Omnicron and Chinese health restrictions make this trip unnecessary. Also, the time allotted for the Olympics could be used to play catch up with the schedule.
jimmi - NHL’s chief weasel pulled a smooth zero-accountability move with that onerous onus. No one said Gary isn’t clever.
It will play out without playing on Olympic sized ice. Far too risky for the players - especially North American players who could be jailed for spreading viral espionage or something. They’d have to call in JR to broker the Hughes/McD/Mathews for Taiwan swap.
While Westy is probably correct about make-up games. Still prefer they had a mini-Oly tournament in Seattle’s swanky new arena. Be the best chance for locals to watch some good hockey.
Rob - The NHL and NHLPA will jointly decide that a potential five week quarantine in a Chinese prison is not conducive to their respective pocket books in the end. They will instead focus on saving the 2021/22 NHL season from Omicron. Bubble Demko The Sequel will be glorious to watch...in Edmonton.
Beggsy - Could Bettman potentially play hero in February?
The trip to China seems terribly unlikely at the moment — and for good reason. I do wonder if we see either Olympic hockey in the States (Seattle or Vegas?), or another rendition of the World Cup of Hockey.
To forego best-on-best hockey in February would be a damn shame.
Kent- Imagine Thatcher Demko getting named to Team USA, then testing positive in China and not being available til around the third to last week of March. Sorry, but I don’t wish this scenario on any team. Yes, the Olympic tournament is fun, but it’s not worth the risk. Shut it down, send over some minor leaguers and Euro pros like last time and hope for the best while we wait for the World Cup of Hockey in September.