elliotte friedman

The Sun Rarely Shines On Canucks Market; Positivity Is Like Finding Gold

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.

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

Canucks Went From “In A Relationship” To “It’s Complicated”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what? That phrase is ridiculous. Who lives under a rock, how stupid is that?

So like I was saying, unless you’ve been disconnected from Canucks land for the last 48 hours you know what’s going down. Jason Botchford and Elliotte Friedman dropped some pretty big bombs on Saturday night that started a series of unscheduled Trevor Linden interviews to control the napalm coming from all angles. One could say the Canucks Facebook relationship went from “in a relationship” to “its complicated”.

Linden maintains that Ownership (Aquilinis) and Management (Lindenning Group) see eye to eye and that any time you have guys signing the cheques, they’re going to want a bit of say in how their team is run; which is true. There’s no way a team doesn’t hear from it’s owners if things maybe aren’t going that perfect. At the same time, when the Canucks were rolling at the beginning of the Aquilini Era and you couldn’t find a ticket, they were finding ways to milk out more dollars from a “sold out” building.

No surprises here, this isn’t a new revelation by any means. Where the potential disconnect comes is if Ownership wants to be more involved than just signing overpriced 4th defensemen and bottom 6 forwards and they want to help restructure how the team is built.

You pay people to do that job, that’s why you’re rich. If Jim Benning wants to go in one direction and the Aquilinis another, well then, there’s a problem. Everything below those men becomes collateral damage: the coaches, players, trainers, EVERYTHING!

So which direction are the Canucks headed? Are they actually rebuilding on the fly? The simple answer is yes. The amount of rookies that have played a game this season for the team is now at 8 (Shinkaruk, Pedan, McCann, Hutton, Friesen, Biega, Virtanen and Zalewski). All of those kids have been given opportunities through injury, amazing play or waivers/separated shoulders. Realistically, 6 of those guys will stick, ok maybe 5; but it just shows that Benning, Linden and Willie D may just know what they’re doing.

By that note, this is just another year of building experience and slowly putting together pieces to eventually get back up the mountain. The problem with that is although Benning says he has no patience for losing, he’s sure taking his time with players that probably should be gone by now.

The perfect deal isn’t out there in the new NHL, but pawning off vets that can be useful elsewhere could net picks, prospects and heck CAP SPACE!

There are some contracts that need to be free. Jacob Markstrom is more than capable of being the starter here, Ryan Miller has been pretty good but he’s aging and his cap hit is pretty steep. Dan Hamhuis could be a great rental and someone like Andrey Pedan or Alex Biega can become a full time blue liner. Up front, its only a matter of time before Radim Vrbata is moved or walks and Hunter Shinkaruk is so ready to be an NHLer.

With just those few moves, there will be a thick amount of cash available on July 1 and I’m not saying Stamkos but guys like Milan Lucic and Cody Franson will definitely be interested in making a move home. Who knows, maybe Cole Cassels even pushes for a spot next season.

Over the next few weeks we may hear and see more about where this team truly is headed and if we need to pay more attention to what’s going on. The funny thing is, for whatever reason, making the playoffs last year all of a sudden gave us all hope that this year would be different, that the Canucks were somehow a contender again.

Aside from some homegrown new additions, not much has really changed. Same coaching style, same porous D and the scoring, well its pretty evident that’s taken a harsh nosedive to the bottom of the league. We expected this team to be great? Its the same story as before and for whatever reason we care more this year.

The Aquilinis may just in fact be starting a takeover of the Canucks but just like Facebook, the right situation can turn everything around and before you know it this will be a memory we’re reminded of in a year that the team will share with us and we’ll all have a good laugh about it.

We can get up in arms about who wants to be in control of this club but really, we all want the same thing, including Ownership; we all want the Canucks to be great again and is that really a terrible thing to ask?

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