Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageOp-Ed: Memo to Vancouver Canuck fans - no worry, be happy!

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 10, 2014 in Sports
Mike Gillis has been fired, Trevor Linden has been hired, and the Vancouver Canucks are playing out the string. The talk shows, media, fans, even the players, the entire Canuck Nation, is speculating on the future and there's been lots of doom and gloom.
The NHL is a tough and a highly competitive league. It can be hard to win. Calgary hasn't been good since Sidney Crosby was in junior, the Edmonton Oilers haven't seen the playoffs since Justin Bieber played bantam hockey and the Toronto Maple Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since a scant two years after the Beatles played Shea Stadium. So is missing the playoffs after six straight seasons such a tragedy, Canucks Nation?
It's isn't, that despite various media suggesting Vancouver has had a disastrous season, has the wrong coach who has them playing the wrong style of hockey and don't just need a retool but a rebuild. They're wrong - on all three counts they're wrong.
Vancouver Canucks: injuries piled up in second-half
The Canucks were good until early in 2014, heading for the postseason. They were playing with cohesion, playing well in the defensive end and, most importantly, they scored goals. Through the first 42 games of 2013-14 they scored 111 goals for an average of 2.65 goals per game (middle of the pack). From that point to this one they've mustered just 76 goals in 39 games, an average of 1.95 goals per game (for the entire season, only Buffalo has a goals per game average under 1.95).
So what happened? Did that offense they'd been generating - without Alex Burrows, whose entire season has been a bust due to injuries - dry up because they got tired? Did John Tortorella suddenly decide to play a defensive game, to stop that uptempo attacking game that had them at 23-12-7 at the half-way point? Was that the folly that lead to them only winning 12 games out of 39 since?
No, no what happened was injuries. It's rarely something players, coaches or management will talk about, but it's there. After the mid-way point, that's when the injuries began to pile up, and to key players. Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin each missed significant time, so did Ryan Kesler, and if reports are to believed each played with injuries inhibiting their performance.
Chris Tanev is out, Kevin Bieksa missed games, as did Zack Kassian, Brad Richardson, Chris Higgins and Alex Edler (he's missed 29 in total and his season has suffered because of it). Mike Santorelli, who was contributing nicely to the offence, got hacked by Martin Hanzal and was out the rest of the season
They went into games with 3 key offensive players out and it got so rarely did a game go by in which key players weren't out and others were trying to get their game back after returning to the line-up. By necessity, the power-play featured the likes of Jannik Hansen and Zac Dalpe. The Canucks were unable to keep the cohesion of the first half.
It was incumbent on the coaching staff to adopt game strategies that were not in line with what they were capable of during the times when they were icing something close to a full team. Losing begat more losing, the confidence wavered, the trade talks began, the Kesler Carnival took over, Bobby Lou was jettisoned...on and on. Simply put: the walls caved in and they lost their way.
Canucks: returning to contender status
A for Tortorella - was it his fault? Is he the wrong guy for the job? He wasn't in the first half and had the injury situation not overwhelmed his team, he'd have done just as well in the second. He might revisit the minutes he gave the Sedins and Kesler and consider the L.A. Kings are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL and yet only 29th at blocking shots (arguably blocking fewer shots leads to fewer injuries) but other than that, he seemed to have a handle on this team.
(Okay, not playing Luongo in the Heritage Classic was dumb, but Luongo is gonzo, so it no longer matters).
The future? The first place to look is their veterans, who will lead the team while the young players work their way into prominence. The Sedins will turn 34 at training camp and are hardly over the hill; they've vowed to come back strong next season. There are others to help along their youth, including Higgins (30), Bieksa (32), Dan Hamhuis (31), Burrows (32) and now Shawn Mattias (26). As for Ryan Kesler and Alexander Edler, both need to be dealt in the off-season to bring in quality young players, and surely that will be high on the agenda of the new g.m., whoever Trevor Linden decides that will be.
The youth the Canucks have is far stronger than they're being given credit for and a listing of them is a lengthy process: Chris Tanev, Zack Kassian, Frank Corrado, Eddie Lack, Jacob Markstrom, Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce, Nicklas Jensen, Dane Fox, Ryan Stanton, Jordan Schroeder, Michael Zalewski, Kellan Lain, Zac Dalpe, Darren Archibald, Peter Andersson, Henrik Tommernes and Hunter Shinkaruk.
Add to all of the above - they'll have a ton of cap space this off-season. So while it's not a team that will contend for the Stanley Cup next season, it is one that will make the playoffs. And with that mixture of veterans and youth, the very mixture any club going for the Cup needs, in 2 or 3 seasons they'll be back among the NHLs best.
So Canucks fans - don't worry, be happy.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about trevor linden, Vancouver canucks, john tortorella, mike gillis, zack kassian
More news from
Sports Video
Latest News
Top News