henrik and daniel sedin

Canucks and Sedins Should Follow Toronto Model

The debate continues: will Henrik and Daniel Sedin retire after this season or will they ink an extension, whatever that might look like? The Sedins originally stated they wouldn’t decide until after the season ended which would put them in the driver’s seat for narrating the Canucks’ future to a certain degree. Only recently did they open up the door to the future a bit more.

The future Hall of Famers aren’t a fan of publicity or a “farewell tour” but it’s becoming more and more evident that the Canucks would really like a little more information into the brothers’ future plans.

Can the Sedins still play? You bet. They aren’t the league leaders they once were but there are still many nights where they have factored on the score sheet. Henrik Sedin is two points shy of 50 this year, has five points in his last five games, points in four of five and along with Daniel, still holds a share of the team lead in CF% (both above 51%).

For Henrik, only four of his seasons would be below 50 points if he hits that target this season, not including the lockout year in 2012 where he put up 45 points in 48 games. Not to be outdone by his brother, Daniel holds similar stats but has six sub-50 point seasons to Hank’s four.

So, what should the Canucks do with these two players who could still hack it on any NHL team in the league? Follow the Toronto model. No, not the Leafs… the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jose Bautista will potentially spend his first season away from baseball after the Jays opted not to re-sign the former all-star after 10 seasons in the 416. Bautista isn’t the player he once was like many former stars but he isn’t washed up completely either. He crushed 23 HR a season ago, put up 119 hits (his 6th best total ever), had 27 doubles (tied for 4th best in his career) but struck out 170 times in 157 games played which was his highest backwards-K season as a pro.

There was a lot of drama surrounding Joey Bats last year and it probably could have been handled differently by both the team and Bautista. He still played and helped Toronto make a run to the playoffs until they couldn’t anymore. The Jays also let Edwin Encarnacion walk and they may still regret that decision but they moved on and gave an opportunity to new, younger players.

The Canucks need to employ this approach. Does it feel good to say goodbye to the greatest players to ever put on a Canucks jersey? It sure doesn’t, but that band-aid has to come off at some point and owing the Sedins another year or owing the Canucks another year or whatever is not the way this should be handled.

Bautista gave the Jays many productive seasons and a few memorable, ok VERY memorable moments that will not be forgotten anytime soon. He was a terrific fielder and could be an excellent addition to a team that believes they can contend this season even if it means he plays DH most games. For the Sedins, they won’t play anywhere else and that may be the hardest part for both sides.

Vancouver knows full well Henrik and Daniel can still play and be valuable role players but that isn’t how they operate; the Sedins aren’t depth players like when they first came into the league. The flip side of the Twins decision is how do you walk away from a game you can still play quite well? Pride factors in.

But, it’s a business and the Canucks need to move on. I personally do not want to see the Sedins hang up their skates because quite frankly, they’re a blast to watch even today. Class acts to the end but the Canucks have to get the rebuild going and the Sedins hanging around doesn’t help that move forward any quicker.

This may mean an absolutely horrible season next year but it has to be done. I can’t envision a scenario where the Sedins willfully play 10 minutes per game and are healthy scratched for potentially a quarter of the season. What everyone needs to see is that a Stanley Cup will not be coming to Vancouver any time soon and at the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal.

Like the Blue Jays, the Canucks have exciting prospects in the hopper and sooner than later those players will be in the lineup every day and this will just be a decision that was made in the process. For all we know Elias Pettersson blows up next season, Brock Boeser makes a run at the scoring title, and Thatcher Demko mimics the Vancouver version of Cory Schneider.

Anything is possible, probably not all of those things but many of them will happen at some point and the Sedins won’t be part of them on the ice.

It might as well be now.

The Jays did it and it’s barely been a talking point so far.

 

Photo – CBC

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The Canucks Have Sucked EXACTLY As Much As Expected

So I just got a new Dyson from a refurbished  goods auction site, saved about 200 bucks. I missed out on about five or so in the last few weeks so I felt redeemed I finally got my unicorn. But because I was so excited to just “get one on the cheap” I failed to read the semi fine print; it was missing some key accessories and I was kinda bummed out.

This Canucks season in a lot of ways is like my “new to me” Dyson; when the season started, we knew things weren’t a whole lot better but we figured we knew what we were going to get. They were going to most likely suck and probably miss the playoffs. Just like me and my Dyson though, we didn’t read the semi fine print – but in the Canucks case, when your team actually DOES SUCK, it’s not a whole lot of fun.

 

There are only seven games remaining on the Canucks schedule and it will be a struggle to get through them all. The saving grace is that they could easily lose all seven of those and with the Leafs and Oilers randomly pulling off the odd win, that’s good news in Canucks land.

It’s passed the point of finger pointing and blaming when it comes to Willie Desjardins and his methods; Jim Benning has a C+ INCOMPLETE on his GM report card and his bright spot is basically his draft picks, Sven Baertschi and the end result of Nikita Tryamkin sans the contract issue.

Is it really surprising the team has ended up being this bad? This offseason, Zack Kassian was traded for equally awful Brandon Prust who by the way doesn’t really want to be here. Chris Higgins was waived and has up until recently, been banished to Utica to waste away (well he’s still getting paid but you know what I mean).

Frankie Corrado, yet another budding prospect, waived for absolutely nothing and claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hunter Shinkaruk was this year’s Cody Hodgson and found his plane ticket to Calgary for Markus Granlund. On the surface, this year was doomed from the get go.

Going back to my Dyson for a sec, it has that great ball technology and the loss-less suction, this is the reason you get it. It’s the best and you want the best. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are the Canucks main selling feature and the reason they didn’t plummet to the bottom much, much earlier. My vacuum has some scratches on it but at the end of the day its a Dyson vacuum and it still does what all the other ones do – sucks.

The Sedins are 35 and lead the team in scoring; they have wear and tear and have to shoulder the load of criticism and noise as the losses pile up. They knew it wasn’t going to be easy and even though they’ve paid their dues, how they do to finish off their careers and how they set this team up for the future is how their legacy will be capped.

Thankfully for Willie Desjardins, his unique coaching style has been given the vote of confidence for next season. I don’t entirely buy that but to be fair he hasn’t been given a very good team. The 2006-07 Canucks had a mediocre team but with Luongo in the pipes, they won a ton of games and most of that was defensive hockey; this year’s team does not have that luxury.

Another luxury they don’t have? Anything better than Linden Vey and Derek Dorsett. This can’t actually be what hits the ice every night, can it? When your GM fails to charge his phones on trade deadline day and accidentally drops his chirpy in the lake on July 1, you can’t have a lot of faith in the team he has paid to play for him.

Willie has given Vey a bit more ice time than is warranted according to basically everyone but him, but with Henrik Sedin being the top pivot for the Canucks, letting Vey get key faceoffs makes sense. Or not. The Canucks almost look like they want to be bad on purpose.

Injuries have really hampered this team but the Canucks aren’t the only team with banged up players, they’re actually 7th in the league with 277 man games lost; just under 100 less games than the Leafs. Think of it this way: the Canucks are 2 points ahead of the Leafs and have done it with 100 more man games played and a more complete NHL roster. Basically, the Canucks are bad and you should have known this already in October.

There isn’t any reason to think Bo Horvat was going to win over everyone along with Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann and lead this team back to the playoffs one year later with a new found direction; the Flames kind of did it but you can check the standings and they suck again too! It doesn’t happen that way, you can’t win overnight.

The argument to this would be of course Ben Hutton.

Hutton had a great camp and was absolutely a lock to make the team. He has had a quick learning curve and hasn’t looked out of place. Without Hutton, the Canucks looked even more lost than they do now and we would all shutter to think what this team would look like if he didn’t play for them all year.

Being bad on purpose might be the only thing that makes sense in all of this. Yes, every team says the playoffs are the goal every year; you don’t want to say you’re content with just playing 82 games and calling it a good year – restructure when you know things aren’t going to pan out and start molding the future instead of watching it whittle away game after game.

If Auston Matthews is the end game, then sucking as much as my Dyson is the way to go. This season shouldn’t have been a surprise, so appreciate the fact that this team was actually following through on a promise. Normally predictably unpredictable, this Canucks team sucked EXACTLY as much as we should have expected.

 

Being Willie Desjardins Must Be Hard

I really don’t know how Willie Desjardins has a job some days and others, I applaud him for taking the crap that he does. Visually, he gives off a pretty inconsistent vibe when he’s on the bench; he’s angry at times, twitchy and that patented Willie smile just makes it all go away. Oh, I forgot about the confused face. Most of these don’t even register on the “Real Good Scale” but man, it must be hard to be Willie. Two seasons in and people are already calling for his head.

Just another Thursday I guess.

The line deployments have been beaten to death online and on TSN 1040 but it’s beyond me why guys like Derek Dorsett, Brandon Prust, Matt Bartkowski and even Luca Sbisa are out there to play down important shifts after a TV time out, the final minute or less of a game or a defensive zone face off that easily could have Jared McCann or Bo Horvat up there…or heck, why not the top center on our team, the Captain Henrik Sedin?

Is it a case of #pretank or #tankcurrentday, possibly. You would think having the best possible line out during important moments would be smart but if its a case of resting the top players, that’s just not right.

There are many things that anger us about our coach but he has seen past our comments and criticisms and has quietly developed some great players, he actually has. Sven Baertschi was on his last straw but Willie gave him another shot, but with Bo and now they are quickly becoming a line that can’t be contained.

Anyone see that coming? Were you willing to wait? I wasn’t.

It is still pretty confusing to see how he uses Vancouver’s goalies. It’s pretty clear Miller and Markstrom are dueling bandoliers lately and with the amount of shots they seem to face, it MIGHT be a smart idea to spread those starts out, just sayin.

All these decisions have brought the angry mobs out of the word work yet again and two seasons in and Willie is on the block already? What’s warranted that? He has Henrik and Daniel Sedin, some developing talent and a GM who isn’t exactly taking the world by storm.

Jim Benning is the guy that deserves a bit more of the criticism not Willie. Go up and down the roster and there isn’t anything that screams playoff contender.

When Henrik and Daniel celebrate their 37th birthday, there might not be much left that they can do and if Benning doesn’t set the Canucks up with a coachable, winnable roster, then Willie Desjardins is by far not the biggest concern.

Many of us thought goaltending was still a problem, its the D in front of them that seems to be the red light issue. If Alex Edler was still in 2010 or his sticks didn’t break for starters, that would be one less guy that we have to worry about; or how bout Matt Bartkowski, seriously why is he here? I could even make a case for why Luca Sbisa shouldn’t be here but I’m willing to wait him out a bit more.

Risky, I know.

The future does look bright though and hooray for Willie’s steady use of Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev. It would help if Benning added some more talent back there or even players that would keep the puck from going into the Canucks zone if Vancouver had possession more.

Tough to say how the season shakes out and if Willie gets kicked to the curb and maybe Travis Green gets the nod, who knows?

What we do know is that there’s no way his job can be easy and I’m willing to see how he makes this work with what he has. There was a time when all we had was Luongo….seriously.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

The Canucks Aren’t Gonna Tank, Not Now, Not EVER!

Throughout this season, I’ve asked myself this a dozen or so times and I’m sure you have as well: What if the Canucks continue to alternate wins with losses, slowly yet strategically move away an old player at a time and actually have a seven game playoff series, or worse….they win one? Earlier in December, the Nucks had the best % chance of landing Auston Matthews in the 2016 Draft. They just aren’t giving up on this season and I’m afraid they might do something stupid like make the playoffs again.

Honestly, how hard is it to #tank? Jim Benning knows that for it to work successfully he has to create situations where they CAN’T WIN!!!!

Jimbo is slowly wiping away contracts, trading away things that aren’t working and I’m not quite sure if Willie Desjardins has a heavy hand in the current look but this whole Medicine Hat Tigers thing is looking a bit suspicious. Of all teams, the Tigers? If Benning tried to assemble former players from the likes of the Oshawa Generals, London Knights or Kelowna Rockets; he might have more success.

Don’t get me started on the non BC issue.

As of Jan 13, the Canucks are a win out of 7th in the West and 8 points back of LAST….dead last overall. Figure that out. The Pacific division is much to blame for this season as it basically is giving hope to everyone in the division except the Oilers; and even then, when McDavid comes back who knows?

Just when you think the Canucks were about to really slide into first overall glory, they start winning again. They start breaking win streaks, they’re getting contributions out of guys that hadn’t scored in months, a timely injury to Ryan Miller yet again forces Jacob Markstrom into the starters role and wouldn’t you know it, he’s thrived!

Or how about guys like Linden Vey and Sven Baertschi? Vey was sent down at the beginning of the year and we all assumed that might be it, well I did anyways; he finally gets a chance to be called up and he’s actually getting involved, ya I’m stunned too! With Baertschi, he was in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch and then the pairing with Bo Horvat came and they started to chemistry (I think we were looking for the words jel/gel, click or connect); they’ve combined for 16 points since December 18th.

Can this team do ANYTHING right?

There are literally tens of reasons the Canucks are surviving this season and not planning a special draft jersey for Mr. Matthews, one of which, actually two, are the Sedins and their continued production. At 35 years old (sigh, he mentioned their age again, EVERYONE mentions their age), Henrik and Daniel have 36 and 40 points respectively and if Jannik Hansen stays healthy all year they both should be in the mid 80’s or so by year’s end. Stunning.

They’ve carried this team when no one else could even be lifted and now we find out their thugs too? The recent brawl with the Panthers, Daniel Sedin losing 4 teeth and missing approximately 3 shifts; yet still able to confuse and frustrate opposing defenders. These guys are still so good and when they leave THAT’S when the true rebuild will begin.

The Canucks don’t have it in them to #tank. They aren’t the type of organization to completely give up and start over, stubborn in a way but I’m happy they give us hope; not Stanley Cup hope but like that Barack Obama poster kinda hope. We continue to beg them to move the Higgins’s, Sbisas’s, Veys’s and even the Vrbatas’s so we can see this team get in a position to start over. Some even say Milan Lucic would help that, I’m still not sure that’s such a great idea….but not the Kenins’s, they’re plural already.

Benning is finding ways to go moneyball on the NHL and he might be hitting singles just enough to start scoring runs. Yes, a complete baseball reference in a hockey article. Im multi-faceted in sports cliches so watch out! At the beginning, Sven Baertschi looked like we might be losing a 2nd round pick after not seeing quick results but if he ends up being Horvat’s permy linemate, a 2nd was an absolute deal.

Remember when we tried to get Emerson Etem in the Ryan Kesler deal? Well Benning got him for Nicklas Jensen or Jensen depending on the day of the week and how you prefer to pronounce it. It will work out as a something for nothing deal as Jensen wasn’t going to ever be a Canuck. Who is this guy and will we continue to hate all his decisions? Some people will but Benning is quietly shutting everyone up one sneaky move at a time.

He’s real sneaky.

So tanking probably isn’t in the Canucks cards this year anymore and if they had pulled the trigger on the season before Christmas, the team might be in deep deep trouble ala Bart Simpson

That was a nice stroll down memory lane. But back to what I was talking about, something something tanking right? In typical Canucks nation fashion, we all tend to jump the shark a bit too much and demand immediate answers that aren’t always practical, possible or rational (the last one might be redundant).

Seeing this season out as a team, a fan base and media as a whole might help us to learn a lot of what this team is actually capable of. It could be a sour, smelly garbage bin of despair or it could be the bonus fry at the bottom of your Arbys bag that you are so happy was there for you at the end; regardless no tank, potential big surprises and no one on the team we need to refer to as “18 year old (insert player here)” or “(players name with a y at the end then Hockey)”.

This is the Canucks. Its usually painful, frustrating, confusing and exciting every day of the week. Just chill out. Nothing new to see here.

Follow me on twitter, not because you have to but because you can write it off on your tax return: @always90four

So The Canucks Are Old, Big Whoop Wanna FIght About It?

The Canucks recent woes are fueling the critic’s flames; no stone left unturned to find the magic elixir that will cure the teams problems. After former coach John Tortorella left, he said the Canucks were stale and needed a younger core. Well, they seem to be getting a bit younger but the ones everyone is relying on are of the biggest concern. That shouldn’t worry anyone though, right? We’ve all known where this team has been headed for some time now so why bring it up? So the Canucks are old, big whoop wanna fight about it?

Henrik and Daniel Sedin have led the charge in Vancouver for a number of years up front; when Roberto Luongo was here the goals stayed out so many of the team’s current problems were allowed to be swept under the rug. The Sedins are now 34 and beginning the gradual home stretch of their careers. The addition of RadimThe StareVrbata has helped them become relevant again but not relevant enough to get an All Star nod. Sure, it doesn’t mean a whole lot but the twins at the mid season hoopla is usually a given.

2015/01/img_1006.jpg
I’m an All Star, try and fight me.
credit: vancouversun.com

Between the pipes, the team isn’t any younger with Ryan Miller, 34, inking a 3 year deal. Of course, his recent slide and convenient sickness has kept him out of the starter’s role. Ya, I know he was sick, lay off. When Eddie Lack was given the keys to the car after the Luongo trade, it looked like this was the way things were going to be. Jacob Markstrom came over in the Lu deal and his play down in Utica, (12-2-0, 1.85 GAA, 4 SO, .936 SA %) SHOULD have GM Jim Benning and Trevor Linden considering their options. Is Eddie Lack the true backup? Is Ryan Miller the true #1? Can Markstrom overtake either of them? Nothing surprises me anymore with the Canucks but giving Markstrom a chance isn’t the worst idea.

Bringing up age is about as useful as talking about Vancouver’s goal scoring drought; nobody’s saying anything new, the facts are there. You can look up and down the NHL and see old age thriving. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks (that’s what they are, deal with it) retired Teemu Selanne’s #8 on Tuesday evening and he JUST hung them up. When he first started, Big Shiny Tunes 2 was on EVERYBODY’S Christmas list. To be honest, it was a few years later but would you really have said anyting? How about “aging” forwards Jarome Iginla, Jaromir Jagr and Shane Doan? Age becomes a factor when you can’t cut it anymore.

I’m sure if they knew how it was going to pan out, letting grandpa Willie Mitchell go wouldn’t have happened, he would fit great in Vancouver’s old folks lineup. But he’s 37 so he’d get criticized when our PK stayed at 3rd in the league for longer than a month.

We can all slam the Canucks for being older than the milk in my fridge which I’m pretty sure is bad but unless its chunky, its good right? Vancouver needs to deal with what they have before the roster gets chunky, er, too old. Utica is bangin right now and it’s only a matter of time before the Virtanens, Jensens, Forslings, McCanns and Subbans take over. These kids are on their way to the pros real soon and the next wave is about to hit.

If Benning wants this team in the playoffs, if he wants this team to compete, there needs to be a move made. Sometimes the best decisions are the hardest ones. Ok, I’m done with the cliches. This new app just keeps churning them out and quite frankly, I’m impressed.

So what if the Canucks are old, if they aren’t productive anymore, it doesn’t matter HOW old they are.

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