On Tuesday, Sportsnet personality Elliotte Friedman hit the Sportsnet 650 radio waves and delivered a hot, hot take that couldn’t be ignored. The Vancouver sports market has felt forgotten on many occasions so when a hit like this is dropped there are tremors that travel far distances and create a response that feeds the airwaves for days.
Jim Benning looked beaten down. Trevor Linden like a boxer against the ropes. #Canucks
“I see your market right now and I think it’s a really brutal place to be. Those guys feel like they are under siege,” says @FriedgeHNIC.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) February 28, 2018
Elliotte hit a home run and he is very “woke” as the Internet says. He sees what goes on here, he hears what many of us don’t hear and he delivered news that sparked a reaction. Is the Canucks/Vancouver market too negative? Sure. Every single move good or bad is criticized to the umpteenth degree and the powers that be aren’t oblivious to what’s going on.
When Jim Benning or Trevor Linden hit the radio circuit they aren’t shocked to hear what’s being said about them. This stuff isn’t new. The current situation that has created the ire of fans and media is the culmination of years, nay, decades of disappointment.
Not getting draft picks for Thomas Vanek or throwing away extra picks to get Erik Gudbranson is not what keeps the informed fan up at night. It might be the current reason they’re choked at the Canucks but it isn’t “the” reason. The Canucks, as we’re all well aware, have never won a Stanley Cup and closing in on 50 years in the league, it’s not exactly unwarranted that people are a little edgy.
Go back to the first ever expansion draft where the Canucks lost out to Buffalo, the trade that sent Cam Neely to Boston, the Wayne Gretzky deal gone wrong, treating Pavel Bure like a stooge, the Mark Messier/Mike Keenan era, missing out on Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, etc. I could go on. The build-up to today’s team weighs so heavy on an organization that has rarely caught a break.
Were there good days to speak of? Absolutely. Acquiring the Sedins was a work of art by Brian Burke and we’ll never be able to thank him enough for that. The path that led to the Canucks trading for Roberto Luongo isn’t all unicorns and roses, much of the pain fans suffered through led to that trade happening. Stealing Markus Naslund from the Penguins, Brock Boeser going at 23 in the draft, Elias Petterson being available at pick 5, again there have been good times.
As the Canucks re-signed Jim Benning and expected the fanbase to sit idly by while he does his work, frustration mounts when a player like Erik Gudbranson is re-upped for three years when he’s shown basically no signs of improvement and he’s proven to be a detriment to the team up until this point. Gudbranson hasn’t had a very healthy tenure in Vancouver but when he has been ready to go he hasn’t shown any reason to get excited about his presence. Brandon Sutter, who was the target of criticism before he showed fans what he could do when healthy, has turned a corner and although not a world-beater, he’s shown improvement.
Coaching hasn’t kept the pitchforks and torches at home when a simple task of starting Roberto Luongo in the “outdoor” game at B.C. Place could have put the team in a different direction, overplaying a borderline NHLer in Jayson Megna over many capable players on the power play, let alone the lineup only further draws fury.
Lately, there haven’t been many reasons to get excited and praise the Canucks for the moves or lack thereof they’ve made and when the clouds have been shadowing Vancouver for so long, both figurately and literally, it’s tough to see the sun even when it’s out. The man that has accepted a job that knowingly comes with loads of critics waiting to pounce should expect them to be negative, even overly negative as part of the gig.
There are many players in every league that plays in volatile markets that just don’t read the press. It’s not rocket science to think the knives are out daily on a whim when a decision isn’t well thought of. A general manager’s job, a president’s job, an owner’s job is to do what’s best for the team and put enough people and pieces in place to create success and eventually if all things fall into place, a championship.
Jim Benning was left with the remains of Mike Gillis who was left with Dave Nonis’ parts and so on. There is room for fixing the process and if there is a visible plan being carried out that looks like progress, the wolves back off. It’s not the easiest thing to accomplish and there will be bumps and bruises.
When JB goes public and talks about retooling on the fly or saying things will turn around in a few years and it’s already been a few years and the team is further behind, well sir, you now have some explaining to do. As the great Justin Bieber sang “is it too late now to say sorry?” No, it’s not. Admit blame, admit things were done wrong and you want another chance to fix things. Prove to everyone you’re going to do better. Honesty is the best policy.
As a fan, I don’t want to be fed a lie. Save the BS because at a certain point it’s just lip service and it becomes old. I’m personally willing to buy into a long-term plan but don’t sell me a story that everything will change next season and the young kids will change this team. They won’t because this isn’t a Disney movie. Continue to build through the draft and do your damndest to move aging assets to get more picks to turn this around sooner.
This market is negative because the history of this club has been almost anything but positive.
Photo – NHL.com