Friday, April 4, 2008

Morning After Indeed - Canucks out of Playoffs

I had a friend in town recently. He’s from Vancouver but he’s now living in New York. “What’s wrong with the Canucks?” he says. “Look at the Wild. They’re consistently overachieving every year.”

Scouting aside but, scouting sucks. But now that I got started, don’t give me the “20 other teams passed on him too” argument. Over 30 some odd years, and countless draft picks, you’d think we’d have drafted a few superstars. How many bonafide superstars have the Canucks drafted? I’d say two. Bure and Neely. One they got on more of a technicality but I’ll give credit where credit is due. The other (Neely), they promptly traded away, but I digress.

So what is wrong with the Canucks (and to me, coincidentally the same answer to why does scouting suck)? We have zero tradition. Zero tradition from top to bottom. Ownership, GMs, Coaches and Captains. To answer my friend’s question, I responded, “Well, Minnie’s got Risebrough and Lemaire. As an expansion team, of course they didn’t have history or tradition. So what did they do? They borrow from probably the most storied franchise in hockey history – The Habs.”

Getting back to the Canucks though. Ownership, I can’t fault the Griffiths. They were truly involved and cared about the franchise. The Griffiths were a part of the community and owned the Canucks for years. Then along came Bruce McCaw. Where was he anyways? Did Mr. McCaw give a rat’s ass? If so, how did he show it? Well by selling the team. Today the Canucks are owned by Aquillini. Where’s the stability in all this? But we’ll wait and see with Aquillini.

Moving down the ranks to the GMs, I’d say the best GM the Canucks ever had was Pat Quinn. He drafted one of our best players ever – Bure. Quinn was the master of the trades. He built the franchise. Come on, Dan Quinn and Garth Butcher for Geoff Courtnall, Robert Dirk, Sergio Momesso and Cliff Ronning? Very nice. Any other GMs from the Canucks storied history comes to mind as a true builder of the team? Not to me.

Coaching. Who was a legendary coach? A mastermind that led his team into battle? I’d have to go with Roger Nielson and again, Quinn. Other than that its hits and miss with the coaches. Remember Laforge with Team Pride and Team Hustle? That was classic.

Oh Captain, My Captain…we got the likes of Smyl and Linden - our two great leaders. The problem I have with these two is they’re not tough enough, and some of you may take issue with that but I’m tired of seeing our leader (Trevor) turtle. I’m tired of seeing our leader (Smyl) a foot shorter than his fellow combatant. Your captain is beaten down or is turtling at the foot of your opposition. Not the most inspiring thing. What I hate most though is when Trevor and Naslund get in a scrum. By sheer obligation they have to grab someone. Of course they grab the least likely guy to get in a scrap. Even then, they never engage nor look at the other player. Look away but look concerned. Its like a solar eclipse out there. Can’t look directly at the sun but it sure is interesting so throw in some concern. It’s like someone stole their lunch money and they're watching the assailant flee. They don’t try and help their teammates out. They’re not vocal, nevermind physical. This is hockey. Not paddy cakes.

Anyways, like I says to my friend, “No tradition from top to bottom. No leadership from top to bottom.” Looking back at owners, GMs, coaches, captains and superstars, the only ones that stand out, from a league wide hall of fame perspective, are Quinn and maybe Bure. That’s it. Since 1970. That’s it. So, with the loss last night to the Oilers, sealing our playoff fate, I suppose, for another year all I can say is “that’s it”.

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