The Canucks Blunder
And here’s this: that pain can come from a loss and it can also come from a blunder, a grievous mistake. And not exclusively one made by a player (hello, Bill Buckner!) for it can also come from one made by management. And it can be so acute as to cause the fan to step back. Take a break.
Which is another way of saying that after the events of trade deadline day in the NHL — or rather the non-events — I am throwing in the towel. Dumping the Canucks. Just for the remainder of this season, mind you, fandom is not a tap you can simply turn on and off, but it can be put upon the shelf.
Now here’s this: what exactly the president of the Canucks, Trevor Linden and general manager Jim Benning, were thinking we shall never know. But the question must be asked: how did they get nothing for both blue-chip asset Dan Hamhuis and serviceable asset Radim Vrbata?
Both are UFAs at the end of the season and the Canucks would have been able to retain some salary and cap-hit for each, making them more attractive to buyers. Finally, Vancouver was a seller and looked to gain some prospects, some drafts picks, and for players they did not now need. Other team’s managed it, with lesser assets. No so the Canucks.
Hamhuis, Vrbata stay put
Now there must have been offers. Dan Hamhuis is a freaking Olympian with a gold medal. Without going over what Calgary got for Kris Russell or Toronto for Roman Polak and Nick Spaling, far inferior players to Hamhuis, Vancouver surely must have been offered a single prospect to help the rebuild. Not even one measly draft pick?
Ditto with regard Vrbata. Again they got nothing. Given Calgary got a 2nd and a 4th rounder from the Florida Panthers for the underachieving Jiri Hudler and the Boston Bruins also gave up a 2nd and 4th rounder to nab journeyman Lee Stempniak you’d think that Vrbata would fetch something.
Yes he only has 12 goals this season but he scored 30 just last season and has 258 career NHL goals. A 5th-rounder? Sixth? I mean if they couldn’t get a 6th round draft pick for Vrbata then what are they doing paying him $5 million a season? Of our money! He’s worth that much money but not a late-round draft choice to help stock the cupboards?
Pavel Datsyuk was a 6th rounder, so was Daniel Alfredsson. You recall Tom Glavine? Yeah, the baseball pitcher. Well he played hockey and was drafted 69th in 1984, exactly 102 spots before Luc Robitaille was selected at 171st; Robitaille ended up with 668 goals (good for 12th all-time).
There are another dozen examples of players taken in the 6th or later who became stars and many more who became regular NHL players. It’s logical that the more draft picks you have the greater the chance you’ll find a bona-fide big leaguer.
Management vs. Ownership
The blame is mostly on management, though Hamhuis might have included a few other cities on his go-to list. Three or four months playing in the east, competing for a Stanley Cup, does that sound so bad? Could he not have taken one for the team? For the fans?
There is a rumor the ownership of the Canucks, in the midst of a nasty feud with the owners of the Dallas Stars, stepped in to nix a deal that was on the table, just to spite Dallas. But such rumors are not to be believed outright, though it must be said that if true it would not say much for Linden and Benning and their ability to resurrect this team.
And finally here is this: they should have traded these players even if a bag of pucks was all they could get back for either. Because losing them would make it easier to keep losing games and that is what they must do. The Canucks, the city, need a franchise player and you get them by losing games, just ask those perennial losers, the Edmonton Oilers, who last count had four or five franchise players, courtesy first overall draft picks.
Gained from losing games.
Piling up the losses will give the Canucks a shot at Auston Matthews, the overwhelmingly obvious number one pick in the upcoming draft. And there are 2 or 3 other future superstars in the very same upcoming draft should the Matthews lottery ball roll to another team.
(Only please, hockey Gods, not to Edmonton again).
The bottom line is: I’m outta here. Done for the season. Yeah, might look at a boxscore now and again, hoping for a loss; might even listen to B-Mac, Donnie and the Moj on occasion, just to hear my fellow fans trash management. But for this season no more going to games, no more watching on TV or listening on 1040. Not even gonna read any more stories from Botchford, Kuzma or MacIntyre.
Because sometimes the pain is too much.