We’ve learned a lot about the Canucks in the last two seasons, well really all three that Willie Desjardins has been the head coach. We found out how to play “really good”, we found out how to show “must” and if you happened to play for Medicine Hat or your name was Jayson Megna, you got some extensive playing time with the Sedins and if it wasn’t the Sedins you just stayed in the lineup.
Believe it or not, those weren’t the defining moments for Willie D. What ultimately sealed his fate, in my opinion, is this comment brought to the public by The Province’s Jason Botchford:
willie: “If tryamkin stepped up on marchand like he did benn, i think we win that boston game” – uh, wow
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) March 17, 2017
Botch also backed up what he believe Willie meant in the latest “The Pat-Cast” and it wasn’t as blunt as the tweet came off. However, what was alarming was that WD brought that up in the first place. He’s asking a guy that is still ultimately learning the team system and trying to keep his coach happy, to be something he probably hasn’t been asked to be all year.
I think it’s safe to say we all think Nikita Tryamkin has a ton of potential and could be a variation of Zdeno Chara which would be great. He has a booming shot that will take some time to harness and his awareness is getting better. Taking the stats out of this, Tryamkin has progressed leaps and bounds from when he first got here and the Canucks may have a diamond in the rough with him.
So if Willie wanted him to “eliminate” Marchand from THAT game so they could win, how does he explain his deployment of the rest of the team over the past few years? You can’t honestly expect one player to define the game when he isn’t even the game-changer on the team. I hate Brad Marchand, I really do, but it would have taken a lot more than a Tryamkin scare to put him out of that one.
It’s not just one moment or one game that can make a season. He has to have a track record of successful decisions to put his team in a better position to win. He just hasn’t done that in Vancouver.
Willie wanting Tryamkin to decide the Boston game is ironic. Had he put massively better lineups together combined with proper deployments in-game, he wouldn’t have had to ask guys to decide random games. Putting Horvat out for the final minutes instead of Anton Rodin, Derek Dorsett, Luca Sbisa, etc. probably would have earned them a few extra wins.
Giving Ryan Miller a rest more than once a month might help them win more games. Richard Bachman and Jacob Markstrom have both just sat there while Miller has been demanded to put the team on his back. We can go on and on with players like Linden Vey as well and you just have to wonder why he would choose now to be frustrated.
Going back to the confusing Anton Rodin saga, it’s mind-boggling as to why he carried out that the way he did. There may be more to all of this than we get to see but the optics were so beyond horrible that it brings his judgment into question. Continuing on with Biega or making random decisions like health-scratching scoring winger Baertschi this year keeps me scratching my head and not because I have dandruff (I mean, sometimes I do but it’s under control now), it just makes no sense as to how he is keeping this team believing in his message.
Willie has asked players that don’t normally have specific roles like “PK specialist or forward” to do that job out of nowhere. Alex Biega isn’t a forward, he’s a defenseman. So why is he getting playing time ahead of callups or healthy forwards? Why is Chris Tanev on the power play? Why did Loui Eriksson not get a longer tryout with the Sedins to start the season?
The answers aren’t going to come overnight and he was helicopter coaching every situation. A good coach will trust the process and if enough time passes, he can adapt. WD didn’t trust that Horvat could be a contributor long term and he gradually gave him responsibility and each time he prospered.
And yet guys like Drew Shore fly overseas and get valuable ice time right away. Same can be said for how Jayson Megna for whatever reason was Willie’s MVP for most of the season. That guy shouldn’t have even been in the lineup most nights. Now he has Michael Chaput with the Twins which makes zero sense. How has Joseph Cramarossa received as much opportunity as he has? His mindset as to how this team should operate is skewed.
I’d suggest having Nikolay Goldobin with them but Brandon Sutter is actually the better option.
You did this to yourself, Willie.
I like you, I really do. It’s been nice to see a different personality behind the bench and he helped put together the Horvat/Baertschi pairing. He also gave Troy Stecher a chance as well as Ben Hutton. Not giving Jordan Subban a chance to play is a sore spot with many but that will happen when it’s time.
What this season has also shown everyone is that the Sedins may need to be separated. It’s time. Sure, they’ll continue to have moments and maybe you trot them out together occasionally or on the second power play unit but they aren’t getting the results that should be expected from aging players. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane started together but they play on separate lines now and you know what, they still produce.
They aren’t brothers or telepathic twins but they can survive without each other. Henrik and Daniel need to be told to sit on different spots on the bench. If the Canucks and Willie, for the time being, are serious about the rebuild then they have to commit to actually rebuilding.
WD has a few more weeks to make an impact and even though he is essentially out the door he can get things in a better position for the future. Figuring out that Markus Granlund was better than we knew helped his cause and slowly moving along Reid Boucher to a spot where he can succeed may help him by year’s end.
Willie Desjardins has made friends and enemies in Canucks Nation but he’s lost us as believers and I can’t imagine that Canucks management feels different.
He’ll get another opportunity but Vancouver needs someone to bring them to the next level or at the very least keep them from allowing 40+ shots per game.
Follow me on twitter: @always90four
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?
Follow me on twitter: @always90four
ESPN never came knocking on the Canucks door when they decided to give both Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann the 9 game audition in the NHL. Do these kids have what it takes to warrant a 60 minute sitdown interview with The Province’s Jason Botchford? Probably no is the answer. Botch might be able to get a good show out of it but I doubt Willie drops the hammer at the closing credits and tells you who is taking their talents back to junior. Is Botchford ESPN caliber? Well, that’s not for me to answer. Lets focus on our two young prospects. What is their fate? What is the decision?
Its been 6 and 5 games respectively for McCann and Virtanen and its a tough decision to make as to who stays up with the big club. Do both of them stay? Tough to tell. With Jared McCann he brings the versatility of playing the pivot and the wing and would theoretically receive more ice time mainly because you need that guy to start the shift and he has two vets in Prust and Dorsett to help him along. Are they the best guys to develop Jared, I don’t believe so but that’s the reality thus far.
If Benning and Linden based their decisions solely on points, McCann stays but not by much. The other thing here is that they’re ROOKIES!!! You aren’t going to see the Bo Horvat type of transformation inside of the first month but there has to be more of a sample size; these two guys need to see more opportunities. Willie is limiting them and in turn their linemates as well but we need to see more.
With Jake Virtanen, you get an electric player that has the chance to be a bull in a china shop and he can explode a hit on someone at any moment. He hasn’t exactly done that since the infamous “McDavid Mash”…no one’s calling it that but its alliteration. You know what, let’s take a look at it again.
Doing a quick youtube/google search on Virtanen will unleash a plethora of hits, hit compilations and awkward teenage hockey player profile pics pointing a stick at a camera. Its so early to get a good read on Jake but he can hold his own physically and he has had some grade A chances to put the puck in the net. Some guys get the chances and can’t put it home but if you GET the chances you’re in the right places.
This is a different season for the Canucks in that they have 3 true rookies in the lineup and they don’t exactly look out of place. I could go off on a tangent about the craze of #HUTTONmania but I had that fluff piece air a few days ago. McCann and Virtanen also are forwards and you grade them differently.
Keeping Virtanen just for the physical game would be shameful and when Chris Higgins returns its no secret that Jake’s minutes will drop; unless he can start making an impact that keeps him relevant. Its a lot to ask of rookies but Willie has floated him a bit with different linemates to try and find that chemistry. Putting Brandon Sutter on a line with Virtanen and Burrows is a great mix and we’ll get to see that against the Canadiens. Its a perfect mix of speed, skill and veterans to give Jake that confidence to just play HIS game. Easier said than done.
McCann albeit a centre and a guy that we all believed HAD to crack the opening night roster hasn’t shown the stature that makes him a nightly NHLer. Kinda like the Trudeau attack ads, we’re not saying never, just not right now. Adam Cracknell also made the team and he most likely is waiting his turn until they decide what to do with McCann. If it’s me, I take Cracknell based on his experience and let Jared get one more year in the Soo.
It’s not the first time a team has done that and he’ll get more ice time as well as the chip on his shoulder to bulk up and prove himself come next season. Jared’s 19 and has a long NHL career ahead of him and I hate to see guys rushed in. Enjoy your time in junior, enjoy being a kid.
You didn’t come here for fancy stats or necessarily even normal stats, not in this piece anyways so I’m not going to break down how his Corsi needs to be better or that his zone exits are better than Virtanen’s. As you know, I am the Game Day Preview guy for Canucks Army and they’re the guys you want to hit up for that stuff.
At the end of the day who do we choose to continue with the Canucks this year? In a quick note: Jake Virtanen. He’ll have more opportunities to move around and his “presence”, going Eric Lindros there, will eventually transition from rookie nerves to “WATCH OUT, HERE COMES VIRTANEN!” Just like any job, once you get past the probation period, you can calm down more and ease in. At the very least, Virtanen has that monster hit and all his other ones and at some point they’ll benefit him greatly.
I’m really excited that these are the kinds of discussions that are taking place with the Canucks and not the every polarizing goalie debate, Luca Sbisa checklist of errors and did we win the “insert public opinion bad trade here”. The Canucks are changing, lets embrace it.
Oh, we picked Virtanen right? Ya, Virtanen is the answer to the headline. But maybe also McCann, but for sure Virtanen. So Virtanen and maaaaaybe McCann.
Virtanen. Definitely Virtanen.
Follow me on twitter: @always90four