Canucks Season Preview: The hardest way to make an easy living

Trevor Linden figure

Let’s face it this year has the potential to be a horrible hockey year for Vancouver. Pick up tickets to the WHL Giants because the Canucks have all the markings of a disaster about them as the year is about to begin. Making the playoffs will be unlikely in a competitive Western Conference where every team has strengthened while the Canucks have been throwing talent overboard as if hoping to right a sinking ship. The off-season has been a farce and there’s nothing to suggest that’s about to change.

How bad is it? You’ll find out after the jump.

An off-season to forget

Appointing a rookie General Manager sounds kind of dumb for a team that’s meant to be a Stanley Cup contender, but that sort of limited ambition is what Vancouver fans should have come to expect. Nobody is aiming to win, they’re just aiming not to come in last. The appointment of Mike Gillis made a little more sense when you consider that he was the Canucks star player Marcus Naslund’s agent prior to that. Obviously keeping Canucks captain Naslund was important, especially given the retirement of the team’s other leader Trevor Linden had retired. Too bad then that they didn’t even offer him a new contract.

Instead of resigning Naslund Gillis made a big deal about how the Canucks were about to sign Mats Sundin, allowing Naslund to sign for the New York Rangers. Of course talking with Sundin before talking with the press about how he was about to arrive in Vancouver might have been a good idea, because Sundin seemed surprised to learn that he had already signed with Vancouver. Sundin isn’t coming, and even if he was it’s not 1997 so I’m not sure why we wanted him.

It’s also not 2002, and so the arrival of Pavol Demitra isn’t exactly reassuring.

The Good News

I don’t want you to think it’s all bad. Okay it’s mostly bad, but even the darkest clouds have silver somewhere hidden in them. I mean if you’re going to trust cliches they do. As long as the team gives 110% every game and sticks to playing the fundamentals.

Wait… sorry I was channeling The Province.

Basically the good news is that Roberto Luongo is still a Canuck. 2007’s Hart Trophy (League MVP) runner up belongs at a better team. The Canucks will win games they’ve got no business winning because he’s in the net, and if someone could build a time machine and shoot him back in time to any of the number of years when we had Dan Cloutier in net for the playoffs the Canucks would have a few Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters.

The trouble was he was not enough to drag the team into the playoffs last year, and with an overall weaker team he probably won’t be able to do it this year either. Luongo’s a motivated player, and last year when it was clear that none of the team could be arsed to even try, save for Luongo and Linden, there were definite questions as to whether he would stay in Vancouver.

The overall

Being complete shit has become too comfortable to the Canucks, and as an organization they don’t look like they’re willing to change things. Instead of bringing in a top level manager to sort things out they brought in a novice and then let Steve Tambelini go to Edmonton to be the General Manager there. No matter how bad the team plays they will sell out every game, sell jerseys and baseball caps. It’s Vancouver, it’s Canada and the fact is we’re happy to accept performances that would never get a pass in cities like Toronto, Edmonton and Montreal.

In an American city where hockey plays third fiddle to football and baseball and the team owners can’t count on the team selling out every home game, being so complacent would mean the death of a franchise. The Canucks will survive, but it’s going to be a long season.

2 Comments so far

  1. Gary Wiens (garyrw) on September 18th, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

    Come on down to San Jose where the Sharks compete in the Bay Area with two football teams, two baseball teams, a basketball team, not to mention Stanford and UC Berkeley football/basketball. You can watch the Sharks make a run for the second round of the playoffs.

  2. Jeffery Simpson (van_jeffery) on September 18th, 2008 @ 5:59 pm

    Exactly. If the Sharks half assed it as much as the Canucks seem to be doing this season, at least in the boardroom, they’d be out of business in a few seasons. The Canucks though are going to sellout every game no matter how un-competitive the team is.

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