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Nucks Misconduct Round Table: The “I Hate This All So Much” Edition

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It’s the “I hate all this so much” edition, where no punches are pulled as we look at our beloved blue & green garbage fire.

Winnipeg Jets v Vancouver Canucks
Jordie Benn is one of only four active Canucks currently not on the COVID protocol list. Benn tested positive earlier in the season.
Getty Images

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 time, we address a team that (and remember, some of us tried to warn you) that is definitely not going to make the playoffs without some kind of intervention on a biblical scale.

Winnipeg Jets v Vancouver Canucks
Bo Horvat and the Canucks are supposed to play 19 games in 31 days...
Getty Images

1- Let’s start off with one of the more pressing concerns: The Canucks going to play 19 games in 31 days. Not sure anyone will have thoughts on this, but what the hell. How do you feel about this?

jimmi - The important concern isn’t whether we enjoy watching our part NHL, part AHL team get pummelled, because we have January and February for that. Nor the bright dim light of seeing more kids on the ice learning how to be pummelled like a vet.

No, the important thing here is that Gary’s merry band of schedulers re-establish their supremacy over the Nucks and their remaining fans. We must enjoy B-2-B games because in just 30 days - the NHL Department of Crimes Against Sanity are giving us 6 sets of Back-To-Backs! 2 more sets than we got in January and February - combined! So much enjoyment, with so little enjoyment - from so much despair drinking.

When the entire Northern division is unavailable to be on US TV for the playoffs because of Nucking superspreaders, it’s just a happy coincidence - for Gary and the his game.

Westy - TV contracts have to be fulfilled so all the money can be paid out. Players want their contracts to be paid, so I guess they have to play. This season is a write-off so let’s get the youth back out there playing so they can get some experience. I want Juolevi, Lind and maybe even some Rathbone and Woo out there. Holtby is going to earn his over-priced salary as Green better not break Demko.

The one thing I am not sure about is, can I watch 19 games in 31 days without breaking my TV. Green won’t listen to my advice and will keep putting Roussel out there and Edler will continue to take stupid penalties. Eriksson will get put on the second line at some point. Fuck, my head hurts thinking about this.

Beggsy - Where’s the red bull-fueled Alex Biega when you need him?

Kent- I really want to be angry about this, but honestly I am tired of being angry about this league, this team and this game all the damn time. It’s just so foolish, and greedy and short-sighted to make these guys go out, not anywhere near peak condition (and I am sorry, but even if they were healthy, they haven’t skated for two weeks) and expect them to rattle off that number of games in that time frame is lunacy. There will be injuries, and all we can hope for is literally that they don’t fuck the Canucks over for next season, too. It would be hilarious if they ran the table and actually knocked the Habs out, but that won’t happen. I just want this season to end and then forget it ever happened.

Strang - Writing this after J.T. Miller made his comments and it seems pretty clear that this is a bad idea and that the players are not on board. At this point, it’s a health issue that we are still not fully sure what the effects are going to be like on the players and there’s no reason to push them through a condensed schedule to see which lottery spot they end up with.

They should call the season for the Canucks and let the players rest up and recover. Hopefully more people from within the organization band together and make a stand to do what’s right.

Markus - It’s totally bonkers! I get that there’s broadcasting agreements and whatnot on the line, but the hockey is going to be so bad and meaningless that it’s not worth any risk to health, regardless of how small some may think it is. The players obvously want no part of it, so just stop!

Rob - With the Euro seasons almost all done now for our prospects, I will be sleeping in and I will be well rested to watch 19 games in 31 days. It is a daunting task to say the least for the players though to play that many games in so short a time period.

But Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton all will be coasting into the playoffs. We don’t play Montreal. Calgary and Ottawa will be lethargically playing out their non-playoffs seasons.

There is an opportunity to get quickly into a zone and go on a roll...especially if Petey is healthy and ready to play.

ADDENDUM: After reading J.T. Miller’s comments today (April 14th), I think the NHL should cancel the rest of the Canucks’ season and use their current winning percentage to slot them into the standings at the end of the NHL season for draft position etc.

2018 NHL Draft - Round One
Benning took on another reclamation project at the deadline, you say? Classic Jim.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

2- Obviously this unprecedented outbreak changes many things, including Benning’s ability to do much at the trade deadline. Although he was able to make some deals, do you think the COVID limitations at the deadline were a good thing or a bad thing for the Canucks?

jimmi - Bad. To really bad. Probably has set the team back a season. Maybe more if JB can stretch the ‘not my fault’ excuse until his contract ends. Pearson walks (once his ankle heals). Or... re-ups Eddie Pearson on a sweet 3 year deal. OMG! He did!

Also... it’s the expansion draft year. Will JB get kraken to protect the right players? Will he have to throw in Hoggie to get them to take Holtz? Keep Loui and let them have Motte?

Westy - This team, if it gets healthy, has no shot at the playoffs. That should make them sellers. And yet Pearson was extended....fuck. I wish Edler would waive his NMC, but that won’t happen. Virtanen isn’t worth a bucket of pucks. If I am GM, I would just focus on signing Petey and Hughes and fill in pieces next offseason, realizing that next year will be a tough one as well.

Beggsy - It’s a brutal situation for the Canucks not only from a health standpoint, but from an asset management standpoint. The Canucks should have been pushing hard to peddle players for middling draft picks. It’s a minor miracle that they got a sixth-rounder for Jordie Benn.

With the lack of scouting and games played among draft eligible players, this is THE year to mine those picks. I hope Benning can unearth more prior to the draft.

The Canucks were also in a position to use the expansion draft to their advantage, since they have open protection spots available.

It might have been a moot point anyways, with day-to-day Jim more keen on re-signing Tanner Pearson, rather than selling assets.

Kent- Jim Benning screwed up in the off-season. There’s no possible way you can look at the moves he made and try and tell me different. From overpaying on Braden Holtby, to plunking down another big contract on the back end, and not getting rid of any of the anchor contracts that have been sinking this squad, they were already in a precarious position.

And how does Jim “Plenty of time” Benning respond? Shipping out Adam Gaudette for a long shot reclamation project. He sent Jordie Benn off for a draft pick. And brought in a guy who will never make the lineup, and bumped the team down a round in the draft to get him.

I don’t see how any of these moves genuinely help the Canucks. I did find it comical that the next day the team put out a call for fans to fork over $125 to get their pics on cutouts in the stands at Rogers Arena. Tell ya what, Frankie. You send GMJB packing and you might see my money.

Benning’s incompetence will be his lasting legacy.

Strang - Looking at this issue from a hockey point-of-view, I agree with Beggsy that this outbreak really hurt the team from making the moves needed at the deadline. It’s unlikely any teams are going to want to deal with the Canucks and the team was set up well to potentially make a move.

This outbreak is bad for the team in many different ways and the way it’s handicapped the team at the deadline is one of them for sure.

Markus - Bad. Benning has no plan at the best of times. Adding in another hurdle makes it impossible. If he does literally anything I’ll be impressed. He probably should have acted sooner but meh playoffs. It’s not all his fault, but other teams will find a way to do stuff and I’ll be surprised if Jim does.

Rob - I thought the team’s Covid breakout would mean zero trades. But instead Patient Zero got moved out (if you believe Twitter rumours at the urging of Captain Bo and others on the roster) for a warm body. Matthew Highmore does have a little bit of potential to become Tyler Motte 2.0 though.

Jordie Benn brought back a chance to draft another late round potential gem like Aidan McDonough, Arvid Costmar or Dmitry Zlodeyev.

Madison Bowey, a character kid who hasn’t panned out so far, was acquired for a one round downgrade. He meets expansion draft fulfillment standards and is a serviceable right shot depth defenceman.

Benn’s departure means Olli Juolevi will get 19 games to prove himself at the NHL level. Highmore and Bowey provide Cap certainty next season for two roster spots each at $ 725,000.

The only player who I think might have been moved at the deadline but for Covid 19 is Brandon Sutter. With Patient Zero exiled now though, I wouldn’t be surprised if they try and re-sign Sutter to an one or two year cheap Cap hit contract to be the 3C again.

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
Will Travis Green return as the Canucks head coach next season?
Getty Images

3- The way things were going, there was almost certainly going to be some kind of changes for the Canucks following this season, whether it was behind the bench or in the front office, or both. Do you think this still happens, and if so is it fair given how all this has played out?

jimmi - First nothing is fair in the Nucks universe. They’ve lasered out the franchise fine print, but the language was clear from year one. Nucks will get screwed over by the league, schedule, officials, draft and injury faeries.

Should they still fire Benning and his crew including Green? Sure, but Franny and company need to be fired first. Remote, uncaring platitudes aside, Franny isn’t going to fire himself.

So... Franny can excuse his cheapskate off season with the pandemic excuse to let Green walk and keep JB’s crazy contract going while Pearson walks for nothing stays for $9.75M.

Hope they re-up our goalie whisperer. Probably the most we can hope for.

Westy - Jimmi covered it a pretty well, except he he forget to get rid of the assistant coaches.

Beggsy - I think there’s a chance that both Benning and/or Green could be gone at the end of the season.

I do think Green re-signs. Despite alarm bells going off in other subsets of the media, his contract situation is not unique. Nearly a third of NHL coaches are heading into the offseason without a contract, according to Cap Friendly.

I truly wonder about Benning though. Even Francesco Aquilini had to have known how rocky Benning’s last press conference was. Also, having the owner announce the Demko deal — and not Benning — was also a red flag.

My gut tells me that Franny sticks with his boy Jimbo for another year, because nothing is fair for the most cursed franchise in NHL history.

Kent- The scenarios I see playing out are as follows in order of most likely to least likely:

- The Canucks let the entire coaching staff go, say they need a change of direction, and Travis Green gets fired for being given a screwdriver, two rolls of tape and some paper clips and not being able to use that to repair the Canucks broken down bus.

- The Canucks decide to give Green a one year extension, but let Ian Clark pursue other options

- They fire a couple of the assistants, to give the appearance that Jim Benning demands more from this team, harumpf!

- Francesco Aqualini, in a rare moment of clarity, realizes that the man he’s put in charge of his most important asset is literally lighting money on fire every time he tries to do something.

Strang - I think both Benning and Green return next season despite that being a big mistake in my eyes. This outbreak has only added to the list of excuses that Benning can point to as to why the team has struggled and I think that he will get at least one more year.

Benning doesn’t deserve any more chances but with the way things have gone down, don’t be surprised to see him stick with the team for another season.

Green has put together a stronger case for being re-signed and I think that both sides eventually figure out a way to keep him around.

Markus - Francesco doesn’t want to spend money. It probably means the coaching staff is out and Benning stays. Should be the opposite but we’re not allowed nice things.

Rob - Jim Benning, Travis Green and Ian Clark will all be back for the 2021/22 first post Covid normal season.

If you discount the positive bubble season then it is only fair to also discount a negative shortened fanless season as well.

It is playoffs and a trip to at the least the Western Conference in 2021/22 or the Benning (and also the Green) Era will come to an end. I bet on the former outcome with Vasily Podkolzin, Jack Rathbone and Kole Lind all becoming major new impact additions to the NHL roster.

AHL: FEB 05 Utica Comets at Laval Rocket
Utica Comets right wing Kole Lind (13) tracks the play during the Utica Comets versus the Laval Rocket game on February 05, 2020, at Place Bell in Laval, QC
Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

4- When the Canucks do return to action, the chances of them somehow catching the Habs is next to impossible, so how are you with rolling out the welcome mat for the kids like Kole Lind, who’s been called up to the taxi squad?

jimmi - Welcome, to N95 roulette, Kole! Remember those plastic face shields you wore in junior... did you bring some? Also... can you play goal too?

Westy - Lind should get a shot in the top six to see if he can keep up or is he another prospect that the “experts” have overvalued and could get traded for draft picks. Although I would try and get 2023 picks as the there haven’t been many junior games for the scouts to see and have an idea of who are really good players.

Beggsy - Depending on who’s healthy, I think the Canucks could potentially see the likes of Kole Lind, Olli Juolevi, Brogan Rafferty and Michael DiPietro play some games.

I think it’s important to see all of these players at some point this season — and I thought that was the case before COVID ripped through the team.

Kent- If for some dog-forsaken reason they are forced to play this whole thing out, I don’t want to be subjected to 20 minutes a night of Brandon Sutter, Antoine Roussel, or any of those other schlubs. Tyler Motte can stay, and the rest of the lineup should be the kids, not because I think they can do any better, but because it’s probably the only thing that the fan base might smile over.

Strang - I’m not against seeing the kids play but I hope the team is careful with their deployment and doesn’t just throw them to the wolves. We all remember Mikey DiPietro’s debut and no one wants to see that happen to a bunch of the team’s better prospects.

Finding a way to get them in a lineup in smaller roles where they can find some sort of success, that'll be the puzzle for Green and co.

Markus - I’m maximizing this development time. Olli in, Lind in, Rafferty in. Maybe let DiPietro get some time. Let Rathbone play. Literally who cares, let’s see what we have in some of these guys for next year. We need cost effective talent and these young guys are the best shot at that.

Rob - Don’t look now but the Canucks are only 10 points behind the Habs with 2 games in hand. It is still a longshot but by no means are the Canucks’ playoffs chances done...yet.

Perhaps Damien Cocks-a-doodle-do is right for the first time in his career and a healthy and rested Petey and company come out of the blocks hard for a final 19 game run. The 31 days left to play those 19 games is a problem though. Braden Holtby will get at least of 6 of those starts due to back-to-back games. If he hasn’t found his game during the Covid pause then forget it. Also, Coach Green would need to do some load management and play his extra bodies from both the roster and taxi (uber?) squad. Okay forget what I said...their playoffs hopes are over.

Still, the dream of the Canucks squeaking into the 4th playoffs spot and then taking out the ‘perfectly-assembled’ Maple Leaves would be a fitting end to a difficult season.

Vancouver Canucks v Winnipeg Jets
In other news, what’s up with Petey?
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

5- This is your opportunity to let fly with something about the Canucks that has not been addressed in this (or maybe in any) round table.

jimmi - The NHL Covid protocols have failed the Canucks. Or did the Canucks fail the NHL Covid protocols? We’ll likely never know... (Until now... Nucks HQ and Center For Media Frenzy Control have admitted the infection occurred in a ‘community setting’. Which is NHL code for dining in a restaurant - Gaud dammit - young millionaires aren’t meant to cook their own food).

We also know... the NHL failed the Canucks right out of the gate. No team played a more compressed early schedule than the Nucks. Not saying the season was rigged, but as ever, the schedule was. Not that it was the main reason for the (near) worst start in team history, but it’s a start.

The schedule and Franny’s no buyouts-tight-purse strings off season and oh yeah, JT beginning on the Covid protocol list, made a tough start worse than it needed to be.

The tone-deaf NHL still claims the Nucks will play all 56 games. There aren’t enough PS5s available for that. But virtual inhumane games will be the only way it happens.

Special shoutout to the Faeries - biggest winners in this Nucks season. First they take Pete, then take the entire team off the ice. And then get a second round at the Injury Faeries All You Can Eat in 30 Days Buffet.

At least we can look forward to the draft in the summer - when the last place Nucks get screwed by league math and pick 12th.

Westy - The schedule for the Canucks has fucked them over so many times this year. Lots of back to back games early and then every second night for almost a month. But the pièce de résistance was the break at the end of March. That week long break in Vancouver was where COVID was caught and then spread. That break to hang out with family and friends in B.C., where let’s face it, the population has let their guard down, led to this disaster. People try to blame the organization for this, but the organization is made of people and players who more than likely ignore one or more of the protocols.

The other beef I have is I want to know what the fuck is wrong with Petey. The lack of information only leads to rumors and misinformation. This negotiation is the biggest in Canuck land is quite a few years. And while I understand I have no right to know what his injury is, some information would make GMJB’s job easier.

Beggsy - It’s been more or less confirmed that someone (cough, Gaudette) on the Canucks contracted this virus from a restaurant. While some might want to lambast the team and the players, the reality is that most people are breaking the rules to some extent.

For the most part, it’s hard to blame people. Our leadership in this country has failed, with variants making their way here because of our government’s failure to actually shut borders down.

Just like the Canucks, slow decision making and a hesitancy to make the tough call is the reason we’re still in this mess.

Regarding the Canucks...all I really want to focus on is “when will this team be good again?” Unless there’s major internal improvement from within, I think it’s going to be tough for them again next season. That means the Canucks would miss the playoffs for the sixth time in eight years, and I’m kind of sick of it.

The first season I remember watching was the 1999-00 season. It was a great time to start watching Canucks hockey, and the fanbase was spoiled to not miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons. That was obviously the case from the late ‘90s to the beginning of the Benning era in ‘15-16 and ‘16-17. Too many people give Benning a long rope because of the prospect pool he’s built up, but the fact of the matter is that he’s a frivolous spender on mediocre players, and he’s the primary person to blame (alongside Francesco) for the Canucks being where they are today.

This team deserves a great GM who has a gameplan for building a perennial Cup contender. If you think Benning is that guy, you’re completely out of touch with reality.

Kent- I always used to jokingly say “All I want is a Canucks Stanley Cup win before I die”. I now genuinely fear that I could live another 40 years, and will have that be my last words, croaked out as I shake my fist at the ghost of Gary Bettman. There’s a portion of this fan base who derides us for our negativity. I get it. Really, it sucks to not have hope. But if being a fan of this team has taught us anything, it’s that they’re never, ever going to get it right.

10 years ago, they should have done it. We can talk about the why for another 10 years, but it doesn’t matter. That was as close as they ever got (apart from 94, when they almost pulled off what would have been one of the greatest underdog stories in the history of the game).

Want me to be positive? The people making the personnel decisions with this team need to go. Drafting Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes doesn’t cancel out the insane free agent signings that have left the Canucks financially unable to compete. Fire Benning, and let me hope again.

Strang - With all that has gone on with the outbreak are we going to get to see a Sven Baertschi appearance? It might be interesting to see what he could bring to the table and give him one last chance if the team is going to be forced to play games.

Just something to keep in mind.

Markus - Remember the ‘Sea of Granlund’ from a few years back? It’s come full circle. We’re still there with useless depth forwards up and down the lineup. What people need to realize is this team needs to get better, not just hold steady, because right now they’re not good! Adding marginal pieces does not do that and I’m sick of being told that ‘oh well Podkolzin and stuff are on the way be patient!!!!’. Honestly, enough is enough. Stop settling for mediocrity, we deserve better! Demand better, Canucks fans!

Rob - I’ve had the opportunity to see every NHL version of the Canucks’ play at least some games from the 1970/71 season to now. The biggest problem for the franchise I feel has been a lack of patience on the part of ownership and fans. Impatient trades and firings have mostly set the franchise backwards.

This is the best collection of young talent the franchise has ever seen. I think the bubble foreshadows the future of this group moreso than the fanless North Division season. I believe a long awaited payoff is coming in a normal 2021/22 season. I say be patient for one more season instead of repeating history once again and prematurely calling for firings and a teardown.

Of course, if it turns out in the end I am wrong then I say trade everyone and fire all the bastards!