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Wake With Elias: Did Jim “Zen” Rutherford really tell Canucks to play better?

Is he a Sherpa or a Sergeant?

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2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round 2-7
General manager Patrik Allvin and President of hockey operations Jim Rutherford of the Vancouver Canucks look on during the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

It takes more than a little seven-game losing streak at the beginning of the season to stress out Jim Rutherford.

At least, that was the vibe according to his interview with Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic.

However, a report from Elliotte Friedman at Sportsnet paints a bit of a different picture.

Here are some news and notes for your spooky soggy Monday morning.

Canucks News

  • Here are some quotes from Rutherford’s interview Pierre Lebrun. [The Athletic]

“Well, you know, when you lose, you don’t think you’re ever going to win. So the pressure mounts. But the players have worked on it. They’ve worked on trying to simplify the game and (using) good habits on the ice. And it’s resulted in a couple of wins here.”

Rutherford might sound zen, according to Pierre Lebrun, and that’s easy to believe considering he’s been in hockey for about the last 127 years.

However, the Canucks’ front office certainly felt the need to do something last week, as they swung deals with centre Jack Studnicka and defenceman Ethan Bear within 24 hours of one another.

Here’s what he had to say about Studnicka.

“We’re hoping he can find the consistency to be a regular NHL player. He’s got the ability to do that. You can never be strong enough at center ice, and he’s a two-positional player also. But yeah, this is a player that at one point was highly thought of, and just based on numbers, the timing was right and we had a chance to pick him up.”

Then, Rutherford commented on the Canucks’ newest addition, Ethan Bear.

“We’ve been trying to acquire him since the offseason,” Rutherford admitted.

“He’s a puck-moving defenseman. He’s a good player when he’s on his game. It may take him a little time here in Vancouver. He hasn’t played much for a few weeks. But I know he’s excited about coming here, and that’s really the start, when a guy is really positive about joining a team. We need right-shot defensemen and younger guys, and he falls under that category.”

So, perhaps Rutherford isn’t as zen as a Californian sherpa, but based on Lebrun’s interview, he’s banging his head against the wall less than the average Canucks fan.

  • If the intro was your shot, here’s your chaser.

Elliotte Friedman reported over the weekend that Canucks management warned the players there would be more changes if they didn’t pick things up. [Sportsnet]

Here’s what he had to say on Hockey Night in Canada.

“I heard what they told some players were this: We’ve had two coaches now with this group, it isn’t working so far, so if anyone thinks that we’re going to sit back and wait and say ‘OK that’s going to be the change we’re going to make,’ you might be mistaken and the changes might be with the roster. So I think the players got that message loud and clear. We’ll see where this goes.”

If someone from Canucks brass with some clout is going to go speak to the players, sure makes sense that the guy to do so would be Rutherford.

So, what was it? Is Rutherford as zen as Lebrun made him sound? Did he tell the Canucks to pick it up or get out? Or, as per usual, is the truth somewhere in the middle?

  • Some good news for the Canucks. Riley Stillman has been cleared to play on Tuesday.

Oh, Quinn Hughes has also been cleared to play. []

Stillman was paired with Bear at practice on Sunday, while Hughes was back with ol’ faithful, Luke Schenn.

  • Here’s a look at how Canucks prospects have been performing lately. [The Province]

Most notably, Linus Karlsson is tied for the rookie AHL scoring race with eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) in 6 games.

Around the NHL

  • Trevor Zegras made Leafs’ fans sad last night.

As much as sadness from Leafs fans is enjoyable is this part of the world, this is a little dramatic.

The Maple Leafs are currently 4-4-2.

  • Who needs teammates? Not Jack Eichel.

Some bad news for the Canucks is that the Golden Knights, Oilers and Flames all look legit to start the season. Vegas leads the pack with an 8-2-0 record to start the season.

  • Storytime: Mullett Arena Edition. [ESPN]
  • Which early season surprise has, well, surprised you the most? [NHL]
  • Finally, some fantasy hockey thoughts for those who dabble in the art. [Sportsnet]