Rants

Why I’m Joining The Atheltic Kelowna

I kept reading all of the announcements wondering when I’d receive an invite to the prestigious Athletic and then it happened: I stopped waiting. With zero journalism degrees to my name, no official representation in the real world and being turned down a number of times for a local WHL franchise media pass, I took matters into my own hands and did what many could only dream of…

I created the Athletic Kelowna (which is in no way shape or form related to The Athletic).

As you probably can tell, I spelled the headline wrong and because I am a parent of two young children I don’t have any time for your criticism on a simple spelling error. Maybe that’s why the REAL Athletic wasn’t looking for local representation outside of credentialled writers. It makes sense.

Growing up in the Okanagan, I used to read the Daily Courier (local paper), The Province and even the Vancouver Sun on the weekend. I tracked box scores, signed up for hockey pools and clipped out the Family Circus in the funnies (Love that Jeffy and Billy). Those were simpler times. When the Internet was introduced those papers were still around but the years went on and the online offering for news grew more and more.

The introduction of Facebook and eventually Twitter gave so many ACTUAL writers a wider reach to readers like myself and instant access to archives that only the public library would have. I don’t even have a library card. Come to think of it, I’ve only really ever parked there. I have some soul searching to do apparently.

OK, back to my decision. Lebron got one and I hold myself to at least 1/100th of his talent but as a blogger. No one is broadcasting this, it’s on me. Starting on my own and being invited to write for the prestigious Canucks Army has been a wild ride and what better way to step it up a notch than to join a fictional, parody pay to read subscription based website?

Coming up with a platform was tough. What would The Athletic Kelowna be about? Well, the real one is about real sports, real sports stories and the athletes they cover. This was going to be about how I hate bike lanes, how people don’t respect Nickelback and how blogging has evolved to the living room that only gets used for special occasions now that most moms rent out their basements now or even AirBnB. What a concept THAT is!

There was also a few other names I spitballed: The Dad Bod Kelowna (somewhat similar to athletic), The AK (too gun-like), The White Sunglasses Roidrage Review, and The Ogopolo. The last one confused me too much and I’m not much for croquet on a horse or horses for that matter in general.

Sports are my life and unfortunately, I couldn’t make this all work while I lived in the Lower Mainland as I’m sure things potentially could have gone differently. This new venture will elevate local blogger(s) to the secondary news level which is just below real news but not quite unpaid guest work for sites you can create on your lunch break.

But I’m in Kelowna again, putting my spin on the Kelowna Rockets, writing about the Canucks from just up the Coquihalla and enjoying raising my girls in Canada’s best playground: the Okanagan.

The Athletic Kelowna never really was created; I barely get 100 views per article when I DO write, the site would shut down in a week.

I will say that I am disappointed The Athletic doesn’t see me as the future of sports media but my demands are pretty high and I doubt they have a budget for Frappuccinos and Baconators.

For now, just read Always90four and Canucks Army.

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The Day Journalism Wasn’t Dead aka The New Landscape

This quote was taken from a snippet on TSN 1040’s afternoon show on Tuesday. There was a separate poll question that sort of accompanied that on Twitter which also was pretty interesting at first sight:

It doesn’t exactly scream “Video Killed the Radio Star” but in the wake of a changing landscape in the media realm, this question was raised and it definitely irked a few people. First of all, conventional journalism isn’t dead, is it dying, possibly. A big problem many perceive to be happening is that people aren’t picking up a hard copy of a newspaper which means businesses are pulling ad revenue away from a once dedicated medium.

As social media has become the new way readers digest information, many journalists, writers, and content providers have adapted to this change and are changing themselves to stay relevant. It’s not exactly a new idea. Having a new voice that happens to be a “blogger” isn’t a terrible thing either. It’s challenging some of the media members to stay honest.

I wasn’t around when radio came out but I can only imagine newspaper companies were worried because the news that was read the next morning would be available as soon as someone could get it on the air. Same can be said for television, the Internet and so on. It’s a true shame that newspapers have lost their luster and many of the writers that gave us great takes, articles, thought pieces have been phased out because the paper buys just aren’t there.

Reading the local writers, national scribes and even the likes of Ken Rosenthal of MLB fame in the United States in a paper or even on a website has started to dissolve to video clips that just don’t intrigue the way the written word captures the imagination. Someone like Jason Botchford of The Province and the connecting online media channels has found a way to stay more than relevant with a feature like The Provies after Canucks games.

Everyone loves that bonus content and the feature inserts in the newspaper used to provide that but the Internet can do it so much better so why not embrace it? Maybe that’s easier said than done. Growing up as the Internet and the technology that delivers it has evolved has made it easier for the wait for it… MILLENNIALS to adapt but the ones providing the content aren’t necessarily the ones that know how to reach that same audience online.

Hopefully, the demand for more online written content grows and brings some of the writers back that had to forfeit their jobs because video took over. Botch is one of my relevant reads and I know there are plenty of other respected writers that I would read in passing in the paper back in the day when the almighty newspaper gave me as much of the information as was available until the online world opened up.

Unfortunately, we all want information as quickly as it’s available and somehow we’ve been gifted 90% of it for free. We used to pay for music and movies and then Napster, Limewire and torrent sites came out and for the longest time, no one had to pay for them. Itunes and a variety of other outlets took the power back and dare I say, made it cool, to pay for music again. Digital downloads were included with new DVD/Blu-ray purchases so everyone could have their content wherever they want.

Maybe that’s a conversation for another day but if we all want great content, these guys and girls do this for a living and need to be paid; if it’s all free eventually they’re out of jobs. That’s when journalism dies. There are sites that operate by paid subscriptions and if the big papers did what sites like The Athletic and many fantasy sports sites have done, the content we all crave would continue to flow from more voices that created the landscape we enjoy today.

Now the blogger argument is sort of old because many feel the stories and content on a lot of the sites are click bait or just help get retweets for that guy in his parent’s basement. It’s beyond that and it needs to stop.

Growing up, if I would have been told that this thing called the Internet would allow me to have a voice that even one person I didn’t know was interested in, I would have been thrilled. The beautiful thing about having an online presence is that if it’s a bad article/take/comment, you’ll hear about it. I imagine this post may fall on deaf ears but the fact I get to have an opinion on this is worth it to me.

Conventional journalism has taken a turn but it’s not the blogger’s fault or some random local website. Information is available instantly and as long as the powers that be continue to deliver that information at a moments notice, including sports radio, podcasts, and social media, the landscape will continue to change.

 

photo – youthtimes.com

Canucks Dealing With Bo Money, Bo Bridges

The summer is in full swing and there is still no Bo Horvat deal. Everything that has been said so far is that a deal will get done, we should be patient and to just let it be. Jim Benning has already locked up Erik Gudbranson and Anton Rodin to deals, spent some cash on July 1 to acquire Michael Del Zotto, Anders Nilsson, and Sam Gagner West. There is just under $9 million left for the Canucks to spend this year and one would think Horvat would have been the first deal made.

Seems logical, no?

He was arguably the team’s best player last season and with the new additions to the club as well as a new coaching staff, Horvat should see yet another improved season. The talk has also been out there that he would become the heir apparent to the Captaincy after Henrik Sedin retires. Does it not seem a bit ridiculous then that he hasn’t been signed yet?

A deal will get done sooner than later and this will all be put to rest. With that Bo money will most likely be a Bo bridge. No, not the famous actor Beau Bridges best known for his supporting role in the 1989 blockbuster “The Wizard” also starring Fred Savage. Bo’s bridge could be a simple 2-4 year deal with a take home salary of approximately $4 million. Knowing the Canucks, however, they’ll follow suit with the rest of the NHL and offer a ridiculous contract in the six-year range at around $5-6 million per.

So like little Jimmy Woods from The Wizard lets go on a quest and look at 5 memorable bridge deals the Canucks ponied up for:

  1. Pavel Bure – this guy did OK in the money category. After a decent start to his NHL career, Bure’s rookie contract expired and he got his first taste of NHL money. Signing a 5 year/$24.5 million deal with the Canucks in the off season after losing in the Stanley Cup Final would be Pavel’s big break into superstardom. After getting traded to the Panthers in 1999, Bure would eventually sign another monster contract for 5 years/$47.5 million. He clearly is the exception to the rule in Vancouver because most Canucks don’t make it past a bridge deal for one reason or another. Maybe there’s something to that?
  2. Henrik and Daniel Sedin – hard to believe these two guys played for next to nothing for so long. It’s also hard to believe they signed TWO one-year deals prior to their true bridge contract. Could Horvat sign a one-year deal like the Sedins and blow it all up? Henrik and Daniel cashed in after their three years and inked identical (obviously) 5 year/$30.5 million deals. Currently going into the last year of their current four-year contract the sun will soon set on the Sedins but they will have proven to everyone that every single penny was earned.
  3. Cory Schneider – how they ever let this guy go is still confusing. Schneider owned the NCAA before coming to Manitoba and eventually the Canucks to show his worth. As the backup to Roberto Luongo, he still earned quality starts and for a season or two was part of the best goalie tandem in the game. Of course, that all went to crap and here we are. After his entry deal, Schneider signed a two-year contract before the 2010-11 season and he became a household name outside of British Columbia. That earned him a 3 year/$12 million deal and from there he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils and is now banking a combined $42 million for seven years which started in 2015. That one worked out well.
  4. Kevin Bieksa – a relative unknown, Bieksa created a name for himself as a gritty defenseman who could make a pretty play or two. From “Bieksa-face” to the infamous “stanchion goal” that took the Canucks to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994, Bieksa was a fan and media favourite and after his first two-year contract with the Canucks for a measly $1.05 million combined, he stepped up and earned a 3 year/$11.25 million deal. Not bad for a guy drafted in the 5th round! He upped that deal in 2011 signing a 5 year/$23 million contract. Bieksa has always played for true value IMO and has never been over/under paid. He’s a guy the NHL should take note of and maybe settle down with the ridiculous contracts.
  5. Ryan Kesler – hard work pays off and Kesler is a great example. To the people who knew him the closest, he was willing to give a literal finger to keep playing. After Kesler’s entry deal, he was offer-sheeted to a 1 year/$1.9 million deal by the Philadelphia Flyers which the Canucks matched. He earned it before getting injured around playoff time. His bridge contract took him to the next level before inking a 6 year/$30 million which turned him into a star during, go figure, the 2011 Cup run. “Beast mode” was born and the expectations grew. It seemed both the Canucks and Kesler were souring on each other and he was eventually traded to “Californiaaaaa” and is now in the second year of a 6 year/$41.25 million contract with the Ducks.

These are all great examples of what Bo Horvat could fetch before ultimately inking his career-defining deal. What will the Canucks offer Bo, what will Horvat request? Like Kesler and a few others, Bo’ money may lead to Bo’ problems. Time will tell but for now, Jim, please pay the man.

photo – bcmag.ca

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

House Always Wins For Vegas Golden Knights

Does anyone else think the Vegas Golden Knights #Expansiondraft process is overly shady?

Over the last few days, teams have been contacting VGK (or so we’re led to believe) to leave some of their unprotected players alone by offering draft picks for said protection. Vegas is in a position right now to bully a handful of teams into lucrative draft picks so the guys they were forced to expose stay protected without actually being protected.

Follow me so far?

With the Golden Knights drafting 30 players from the revealed NHL team lists on June 21, they have a chance to build a decent roster to start their first season. As the lists show, there are some players on there that teams probably aren’t thrilled to have exposed and that’s where the Vegas magic comes in.

Take Calgary’s Hunter Shinkaruk or Montreal’s Steve Ott, OK bad example; seriously though, Nashville’s playoff stud Colton Sissons or James Neal would be great pickups to start a franchise as would aging but still capable goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh.

So what happens? These teams (not necessarily THESE TWO) offer up first, second or third round picks to “leave them alone.” Doesn’t sound mafia-like at all, no way. This is how it all starts: first it’s a pick, then it’s a ridiculous offer sheet to an RFA (watch out Canucks/Bo Horvat) and then it’s Wikileaks or some crazy thing like that.

Vegas MUST be stopped!

Shady stuff, Vegas

This is already too much. Eventually, Gary Bettman will have to admit that the NEXT expansion draft will have to be amended so that the new team can’t strong arm current teams for their draft picks, all they can do is pick from what’s there or make ACTUAL player-to-player trades.

It’s playing out how the beginning of the salary cap front-loading contract scheme worked. Teams figured out the loophole as well as another one and allowed players like Ryan Suter,  Zach Parise, Roberto Luongo and Alex Ovechkin to bank top dollars in the first few years of their contract and when they are old and irrelevant their cap it is essentially zilch.

Apparently, if the price isn’t right Vegas just DGAF. The NHL has officially gone to a dark place.

The sad thing is that even though the Canucks exposed Luca Sbisa and Brendan Gaunce, Vegas may not even take either of them and it was Brandon Sutter who should have been exposed in the first place. Jim Benning could call George McPhee and ask to have say, Gaunce, protected and McPhee would probably just laugh and say “don’t worry Jimmy, we wanna win sooner than later so you’re fine.”

In Vegas, the saying goes “the house always wins,” and now that the NHL is coming to town it seems that rings true once again. The last few weeks have played out somewhat bizarrely for this whole scenario but the Golden Knights looked poised to strike early and make a name for themselves.

You shady, Sopranos-loving (that’s New Jersey?) young NHL team, you sicken me.

Just promise us this: you’ll let the Canucks win a Cup before you.

I beg you.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – reviewjournal.com

Please Stop Talking About The Canucks Power Play

When the Canucks brought back Newell Brown as an associate/assistant coach (call it what you want), the big talk was how he was going to revive the power play and bring life to a long dead system. It is in fact dead. 2011 was so long ago and what was once a behemoth of firepower is now a squirt gun with no water.The problem, however, is that the Canucks power play isn’t the biggest issue. Sure, creating scoring chances and goals are at the top of the list with line chemistry nearing the top as well, but what the Canucks strongly need to address is the way they create power play opportunities.

If you happen to have watched even a handful of games last season, you would have noticed the Canucks aren’t all that fast. We can skip the “they aren’t very good either” comment because that’s a forgone conclusion. Penalties, for a large part, are taken when someone faster has the puck and the defending player can’t keep up so they obstruct the player to level their own playing field.

There are also penalties of the violent nature but again, it was pretty rare to see a Canucks commit one of those.

Last season, Vancouver ranked 28th in PP opportunities with 227, 50 behind the Philadelphia Flyers at #1. The Canucks power play connected a whopping 32 times so even when they did have the man-advantage, they were lost.

Of all places to draw penalties, one would think home ice would be the place to do it. It used to be back in the day when Brown ran the show and the last thing teams wanted to see was the Sedins set up for an eventual goal. They’re still setting up but the league has caught up and Henrik and Daniel aren’t as scary anymore.

Vancouver’s home PP opportunities were one better than the Columbus Blue Jackets last year with 112 to CBJ’s 111. Not much speed in the Canucks’ legs for most of the year meant they weren’t going to be breaking away from their opponents, it also meant they weren’t going to be catching up with them either as the Canucks tied the New Jersey Devils for 6th in goals against with 241.

Former coach Willie Desjardins didn’t create lines that made teams think how they would defend the Canucks and at the same time, the talent on Vancouver’s roster didn’t exactly scream “competitive”. Loui Eriksson was supposed to bring scoring and his injury-plagued season combined with turrble (Charles Barkley’s pronunciation of terrible) linemates and a lack of opportunity with the Sedins kept the Canucks predictable.

The old Canucks became a powerhouse because they had two strong lines that were creative and just when you thought you had the book on them, they changed it up. From the slap-pass to the slingshot, it was the Sedins that led the charge and opponents had to try and cheat to stop their progress and that’s when the penalties came.

All too often it was shift after shift of going through the motions. There weren’t many memorable games, let alone shifts and even crossing the opponent’s blue line was a challenge unto itself. The Canucks are a team of personified tar so asking them to be faster won’t be fixed with a team building weekend at Whistler.

This problem will take time to turn around and in time it will but for now simply getting close enough to put pucks on net would be their first goal.

In 2018, players like Nikolay Goldobin, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser give the Canucks an opportunity get creative again and input speed into every shift. One can only hope that newly-signed Erik Gudbranson can deliver what he says he can bring which I think is muscle and maybe some scoring, Alex Edler helps the rebuild by showing the young defenders what goal scoring used to look like and a bounce back season from Troy Stecher gets the ball rolling again.

By no means will this team turn it all around and have a top-5 PP unit but it can only go up from where it was and that at the very least is worth talking about. Once the expansion draft happens and everyone knows what is left, Jim Benning can hopefully bring in a new player that can help the Canucks get ahead.

So let’s stop talking about this new power play, alright? It’s hard enough watching them score ANY kind of goal.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – vancouversun.com

Canucks Can’t Embrace Rebuild And They Might Lie To You

Willie is fired, Benning is planning for the draft and Linden is spinning #fakenews. The rebuild began awhile ago but will it ever really happen? We’ve heard the song and dance that has been spewed at us since 2012 and even with the dismissal of WD they aren’t that much farther than when his tenure began. We were told things were better than they were, we were told it would go quickly and that the proper pieces were being put in place.

I hate to say it but whether we want to believe it or not, we bought into the lie.

Losing 2011, YES I’M BRINGING IT UP AGAIN, started the process and two different “models” were tested but it was never carried through. Feeble attempts at adapting to a newer, bigger, faster NHL put the Canucks in the same shoes as the failing Oilers and Maple Leafs’ strategies. Lose to the Bruins – get bigger, thug more. Lose to the Kings – sign a speedskater or have lots of really good players that are borderline suspendable.

There was an opportunity to nip this in the butt and the old regime as well as the new, let their chance slip. Moving away Ryan Kesler was bold and it’s a shame the return wasn’t more. The same can be said for Roberto Luongo. The opportunities to make a splash and keep pace with the Western Conference were there and in typical Canucks fashion, they let them pass.

So now we’re here and it’s pretty ugly. I never thought there would be a season where I would be looking forward to the potential of a first-overall draft pick and now it’s two years in a row. Pure blindness and naivety to the situation are probably the most frustrating to tolerate. It’s like watching season two of True Detective, you watched it but you were disappointed every week.

Trevor Linden said himself after he retired that he didn’t want to be involved in hockey to the degree he is in now. Bringing him in as a PR stunt and a figurehead has only tarnished both his and the team’s image. As GM Jim Benning continues to put together his version of what he believes the Canucks should look like, the final result gets further and further away.

.@rayferrarotsn: There seemed to be no cohesion between what the Canucks expected from their coaches and front office

— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) April 10, 2017

Management moved swiftly to remove Desjardins after another losing season and if it all were to go perfectly, there would be a clean sweep at the top including Linden and Benning. That being said, many of WD’s decisions this year won’t be repeated in 2018. Brandon Sutter might not even be a Canuck to start next year if Vegas claims him, Jayson Megna realistically doesn’t see much time on the big club and should probably be buried in the AHL.

Don’t forget Jordan Subban, the powerplay defenseman that shoots right, and is essentially the team’s best player that isn’t on the team. He could play here if there’s any sense out there. It’s easy to understand though because Alex Biega has been such a force on the Canucks and can fill any role whether it be forward or defense.

Removing the tip of the iceberg still leaves bigger problems underneath. The Canucks haven’t been honest with us and it’s pretty upsetting. It’s clear everyone knows what’s going on and if management stated the direction they were headed without the BS, we could support it. Is it going to be easy? No.

Linden is right, the prospects are coming but it’s the current situation that will keep them from getting over the hump. Next year, there needs to be a new face to the team, less focus on the Sedins being the focal points and more concentration on where goals will come from.

It’s insulting to the fanbase when we continue to be lied to saying “everything will be fine” and “change is coming”. Change should have come a long time ago and spinning the wheels isn’t getting things done. Bringing on Manny Malhotra was a nice start to change as faceoffs have dramatically improved in one season. Doug Jarvis was retained and you have to believe his systems are worth keeping around.

The next coach needs to have a teaching mentality but he also needs to have the “balls and grit” to compete at the NHL level. All the talk once again is about Travis Green getting the job. That’s swell, but it’s Willie D 2.0. You’ve had that coach already so you should have kept him around. Whoever comes this time around has to understand it won’t be a long-term position.

There needs to a coach who can suffer through the next phase of rebuilding and help create a winning mentality. No, not just a mentality, an environment; YA an environment!

But how do they GET this environment? Eating veggies and drinking Powerade milk bars? NO sir/mam. First off: SIGN BO HORVAT! It’s a simple thing, really. He’s the future of this team and he needs to know it. Second, platoon Nikolay Goldobin or Jake Virtanen (I really don’t care which) with Henrik and Daniel Sedin. They’re not leaving, they’ve said so, so let’s embrace their mentorship and lessen the load. Maybe give them fewer minutes per game and watch their stats start to rise again.

Sign Ryan Miller to a two-year deal. In fact, make sure you do right away. He’s literally saved their bacon for the last two seasons and with Jacob Markstrom’s health (OK, Miller’s too!) we need a veteran presence until the Canucks are begging to have Thatcher Demko in the lineup. They also need to cool it on rushing prospects into the pros. I want wins and goals too, but let’s not be greedy.

On defense, stop lying and move Alex Edler because he isn’t an effective member of this team anymore and if you’re willing to move Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen, Edler’s a cakewalk. Parlaying Edler and maybe Ben Hutton too for a 20 goal scorer or even a few extra picks in this year’s draft could go a long way.

Rebuilding isn’t just a word. It’s a lifestyle. You know why the Oilers have bounced back and don’t say Connor McPlayoffs? They cleaned out any suggestion they were still hanging onto old ideas and the old boys club. I don’t know exactly HOW it finally came to a head but it did and wouldn’t you know it, the Oilers are good!

I was going to type that whole paragraph again and just insert LEAFS instead of Oilers but I’m too lazy. They did it too! Canuck Nation made for of those clubs for so long because we could all see their problems and the fix was so easy, well now it’s our turn and we need to take our own advice.

I say we, but I don’t work for the team. You’ve made that clear. This fan base is smarter than it’s given credit for and they just want to get back to winning. So win.

Win in the draft, win at free agency and win in the coaching search. The team isn’t just on the ice, it starts at the top.

This could be the Canucks moment to get it right so stop lying to us and admit you need to get better. We’ll follow you because well, we’ve done it this long so how could it get any worse.

Oh, you’re saying it can?

photo – canuckscorner.com

Canucks Need To Ctrl+Alt+Del

Like a spooked 16-year-old on the family computer at 12:30 a.m, the Canucks need to hit ctrl+alt+del on the 2016/17 season. It started better than anyone thought, going 4-0 out of the gate and then it nose-dived to reality losing nine straight after that. There hasn’t been a long enough stretch where everyone can step back and say “Hey, this team will be ok.” It’s over and we all know it.

Shuffle the lines, call up whoever’s left and start accumulating draft picks.

After losing to the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was fairly clear the Canucks aren’t in the same league right now. The Sedins were outplayed, they didn’t have Bo Horvat or Brandon Sutter, Ryan Miller despite his efforts was left for dead and Alex Biega was used as a forward.

Things have taken yet another turn for the worse. Last season, that would have been ok because there was a pretty significant reward had they lost at the right time. This year, they won’t be bad enough to have a legit chance at scoring Brandon Wheat Kings star Nolan Patrick. In typical Canucks fashion, they’ve shot themselves in the feet again.

For whatever reason, the obvious temporary answers ON the ice aren’t being addressed like making Horvat or even Sutter the top centre. Markus Granlund has emerged as a valuable depth winger that can be used anywhere, much like Jannik Hansen. If they have two of the same player, that makes one expendable.

I love Jannik, I really do. He has always been heralded as potentially the hardest working player on the team for many years and he’s the only player that seems to understand Sedin hockey. He doesn’t want to leave and if management asks him the fallout won’t be pretty. Here’s the thing, though: he brings back realistic future value. The downside is that this year’s crop of players isn’t exactly deep so after the first round, what is there to really get excited about.

What is there to even get excited about in the first round itself?

There isn’t a deep prospect pool ready to overtake the current Canucks roster so the rebuild we all know and crave won’t be complete after this year or even the next two years. Are we really going to be ok seeing Hansen, Burrows, or even Ryan Miller shipped off to the ends of the earth? Compound that with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights (are they still called that?) and the landscape changes dramatically.

All signs are currently pointing to Brock Boeser signing with the Canucks after his season ends in North Dakota so they could have an impactful goal scorer sooner than later. Vancouver still has Jake Virtanen but even HE isn’t quite sure what the Canucks want out of him. This season has been clouded with half-truths and they haven’t even spun the situation to a place where they have people on their side.

The deployment of less than sufficient lineups (Alex Biega as a forward, Anton Rodin as … a hurt bench warmer?) has cost them a few games, overplaying their goalies has easily cost them a handful more and not even having players that can produce on a nightly basis, well I don’t even know what that has amounted to.

Just like that paranoid teen, you need to hit reset and start over. The parts work fine but restarting and assessing what went wrong can help put things in perspective so the fix can be applied. If the Canucks are going to start moving players and asking them to waive their NTCs, they shouldn’t just be going after picks but players that can help them NOW.

I have been a big believer in admitting wrongdoing and moving on. There are a handful of mistakes the Canucks have made that they can at the very least, save whatever dignity is left of the situation and attempt to steer the team in the right direction. Whether it’s moving on from coach Willie D, pulling the trigger on trades that can breathe fresh life into the team, shipping off Virtanen or just no more Jayson Megna, there are fixes that we can accept.

Gary Bettman would be wise to read that book on mistakes.

Sticking by the Canucks gets tougher by the game and the only hope that seems to be keeping us focused on the future is in fact, the future itself.  It’s really tough to say how the Canucks could botch this season any further but it will only be a matter of time before something else happens.

Take a step back, see what you have and work with those pieces to move forward. There are some great players on this team that can become household names around the league but they need to be supported. It isn’t happening right now and it won’t happen unless immediate change is made.

THE BOTTOM IS ABOUT TO FALL OUT!!

Ctrl+Alt+Del

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Maybe Someone Else Could Be Brendan Gaunce

I struggled mightily on how to start this post almost as much as the Canucks have struggled with Brendan Gaunce in their lineup. When most people think of a 4th line center, they want a guy that digs in the dirty areas, eats up minutes and brings tangible value to the team.

Basically, he needs to be effective enough to give the other three lines a break and occasionally contribute on the scoreboard. Many of us pined for Brendan Gaunce to get his opportunity on the Canucks 4th line and now that he has it, he’s been pretty dull.

Right now, BG is like that memorable song on the radio from the mid-2000’s that you were pretty impressed with but thinking back, it really wasn’t all that good and you immediately can think of at least 5 songs you’d rather listen to.

Sorta like that.

Gaunce has 5 assists this year and considering that the Canucks don’t score many goals, that should seem like a decent amount. When Brad Richardson/Manny Malhotra were on the Canucks, they produced like a proper 4th liner.

Richardson amassed 8 goals and 13 assists in 45 games in his last season in Vancouver back in 2014/15. In the season prior, he had 2G and 3 points shorthanded for the Canucks that were included in his 11G, 12A campaign.

That’s a lot of points for a guy seeing minimal ice time. Richardson could be used in a variety of situations and was valuable in all of them, he was a true contributor to the cause.

Looking at Brendan Gaunce, he fills minutes, sure, but is he really effective? Not really. I’m about to compare Gaunce to Jayson Megna. I know that’s not fair but they shouldn’t have either of these guys in the lineup and even Megna has a case to stay in the lineup.

Megna, although useless, has a shooting percentage of 7.7% while Gaunce sports a zero. Yikes! Jake Virtanen (who isn’t even ON THE CANUCKS right now) has the same zero but his points per game is only 1/100th less than Gaunce at 0.10/game.

Different positions, I’m aware, but Jake didn’t even have his stuff here and he was contributing about the same. Brendan’s TOI/GM is 28th of all players that have suited up this year for the Canucks, only ahead of Mike Zalewski, Reid Boucher, and Joseph Labate.

It’s pretty obvious Willie D doesn’t trust him a ton and we can go right back to the point of why is he playing regularly for the Canucks? Looking to the farm and calling up Curtis Valk who’s having a great season in Utica or even popcorn aficionado, Reid Boucher with the regular spot in the press box are better options than Gaunce right now.

Looking at Gaunce’s advanced stats may suggest I’m a nut job as his CF% at 5v5 is 1st on the team with 52.01% and his PDO is actually not that bad at 99.05. What I see on the ice is that he doesn’t seem to be making a difference.

Tolerating stale players has become a regularity on the Canucks and Gaunce seems to be the latest one. I’m happy he’s on the team but I think it’s time for a stint with the Comets to get his game back to where it should be at that spot.

 You’re only as good as your weakest link and right now, Brendan Gaunce needs to be a stronger link.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – ottawa citizen

It’s Official: The Canucks Are The Definition Of Insanity

Most of you have heard the saying “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” The Canucks would then fall under this category. That isn’t the ACTUAL definition but you get the idea. The power play, the head scratching roster decisions and trading away 2nd round picks, WHY DO THEY KEEP TRADING THAT PICK?

It’s about time the Canucks as a whole, get out of that cycle.

There is a serious change about to happen in Vancouver and it’s not the weather, sorry. The Canucks have unearthed some interesting stories this season and it really covers every aspect of this team. The ones that look them dead in the face are obviously the power play and the emergence of Bo Horvat as the top centre.

For starters, the power play needs a complete overhaul. I’m not talking about a TLC reality show, I’m talking about seeing the actual performers on the team, their productivity levels and the potential of the guys that aren’t getting time there. Horvat is tied for the team lead in points and at some point will break away and top everyone.

He’s been a consistent threat up the middle and has made Sven Baertschi a household name. Heck, Alex Burrows became a young man again because of Bo. I haven’t even mentioned that he made the All-Star game in his 3rd season.

Oh, ok, now I have.

The Sedins, although crafty and still fairly good, are not number ones anymore. Give the next generation the baton. Aligning Loui Eriksson with Bo on the first unit will pay dividends within a short amount of time and before you know it, goals will start happening. Goals lead to wins I’m told.

On the back end, Nikita Tryamkin has shown that his howitzer has crazy real potential. It’s hard, it’s fast, it’s destructive: a recipe for a beautiful disaster. If it’s not from the blue line, start moving him up front to screen, I mean, he’s the BFG, he’s tall and screeny. The actual possibility that these things could work isn’t something you read on the Internet (well here you do anyway), people are figuring this out on their own.

I did and I write a blog in my parent’s living room.

Thankfully, the Canucks aren’t the most penalized team in the league but the rest of the NHL is getting faster and the younger players need to be the ones leading the charge. Slow players need to catch up which usually correlates to penalties, hooking, holding, etc. Seeing Jordan Subban get sent back down to Utica hurt but he was able to play in the AHL All-Star game and he no doubt will be back soon.

Subban is another player that needs to make the next step for Vancouver. He’s ready and offers so much potential and speed. Reconfiguring this team to transition to the new NHL will benefit the Canucks sooner than they think. Brock Boeser and Olli Juolevi will arrive soon enough which means someone up front is gone on the wing which is pretty easy and someone on the back end is expendable.

There are enough pieces back there to choose from and realistically, there is a player that can fetch a decent return.

But enough about the dismal power play, what about starting Ryan Miller every night but yesterday? Willie Desjardins can’t continue to isolate Ryan Miller in the net, he needs a partner that can ease the load, especially if the playoffs are something they want to achieve. Miller is having a great season and really feels at home and keeping the Canucks alive every game he plays would be all for not if they burn him out.

Thatcher Demko isn’t quite ready and shouldn’t be rushed in to the mix, Cory Schneider was given time and he flourished because of it. Give Miller rest and he can perform like an All-Star.

What drives everyone crazy is that many of these changes just aren’t or won’t be happening. It’s a stubborn leadership group off the ice that is keeping this team from succeeding. Look at the Leafs, Oilers and Flames; if they would have seen themselves spinning their tires on ice (no pun intended) they would have realized what answers were right in front of them.

Edmonton only JUST realized this recently but that’s a whole other thing and I don’t write about the Oilers.

The surface hasn’t even been scratched on all the things that could immediately remedy the Canucks (not playing Jayson Megna, like at all, Erik Gudbranson getting another shot next year) but if the little things they are doing well continue, the chance that these other changes take place become more and more likely.

It’s insane to think the same thing has gone on this long. Why is this team so afraid of the next step?

Time’s up, we’ll cover this in another session.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

The Canucks Are Catching Breaks…Somehow

I’m beginning to wonder what is going on in the NHL this season. The West seems like it’s hanging by a thread, the Pacific looks just as bad and just when everyone thought the Canucks were 65 point dogs, they set themselves up to be on pace for 85 points. I don’t get it. In a league that seemed to be repulsed by the very nature of the Canucks, it now is secretly embracing them.

Case in point – the disallowed goal.

Intent to blow the whistle? That referee was about as excited about that goal going in as I was when I found out Nickelback was going on tour again, he was pumped. When they then go to video review for approximately 5 minutes to ultimately tell everyone it’s not a goal because the ref was going to blow it off, it makes you think.

The Canucks have never, OK not never, but almost never got the call. From no goals to penalties to no goals being reversed, it’s just a way of life now as a fan. Don’t expect the call to go our way because it won’t. I can count on one hand how many times the Canucks have been spared by the NHL’s ax of judgment.

Are the powers that be in the glass tower actually pulling for a Canadian team, in this case, Vancouver, to make the playoffs? We know that if they get all the way again, machetes and uzis will be legal on the ice because skill won’t be allowed. This logic of pity on the Canucks can’t be carried too far down the line with the Leafs, Oilers or Flames but after a horrendous no show for any Canadian club last postseason, the NHL needs to remember that it too should not bite the hand that feeds.

Canada is hockey and if Canada isn’t watching, ratings plummet. Imagine If the Blue Jays played the Expos in the World Series (sorry, still too soon), it would have been a nightmare south of the border. You have to have at least one team in there to give everyone hope. The “Canada’s team” mantra is pretty flawed but the media eats it up.

So how are the Canucks managing to stay in the hunt this year? The power play in a simple sentence.

No, not their PP% but their opportunities. Vancouver ranks just outside the top 10 for total power plays with 75. Unfortunately, that doesn’t correlate to success as they employ the 3rd worst clip in the league at a barren 13.3%. But this team isn’t fast whatsoever, the Sedins are good for at least one hooking penalty per game and they don’t ruffle any feathers to bother anyone enough to hurt them.

It’s like watching the Senators, basically.

Yet, the Canucks continue to go up a man and the NHL continues to help them along. It isn’t JUST the NHL helping them out, though: Ryan Miller is having a spectacular season and since Christmas Day, he’s 3rd in GA with 13, 1st in SA% at a hulking .948 and 2nd with a GAA of 1.58. This is the kind of stuff Roberto Luongo did and is still doing over in Florida.

In Luongo’s first season with the Canucks, there were a ton of tight games because quite frankly, no one could score. It’s almost the same this year but I doubt they’ll achieve 49 wins this time around. Vancouver is slowly rebuilding its reputation as an honest team and with Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa gone, I suppose Burrows is still there,  the officials are starting to give the Canucks a fair shake.

That hasn’t translated to the draft lottery yet but hopefully, Benning can just build the team without needing to go that route again. Not all the problems are fixed yet, but as the Canucks gain confidence in their abilities with the new faces in the mix and maybe a trade or two, the Canucks luck could eventually turn into talent.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – ctvnews.ca