Friday, March 31, 2017

Canucks' Hot Takes: The Injury Fallacy, Don't Fear the Rebuild, Next Year's Lineup

Man... having two kids sure cuts into your time.  Back in the saddle to talk some Canucks, and what better way than covering three topics that have been on my mind the past week.  Would like to make this a semi-regular column.  Don't know if you're allowed to call your own takes 'hot', but let's do it anyways.

1) The Canucks Injury Fallacy
Earlier today, Canucks' General Manager Jim Benning appeared on TSN1040 and suggested it's difficult to evaluate Head Coach Willie Desjardins this season due to the injuries to their 'best players'.

It's a narrative raised by some members of the media of late, but how much merit is there to this?

The Canucks do lead the NHL in man games lost this year, and their depth has certainly been tested, but you can't evaluate Willie D because of this?  Get real.

Up front, the Sedins, Horvat and Sutter have all been healthy.  The only top 9 players to miss any time are Baertschi, Granlund and Eriksson, who have missed a combined 29 games. I suppose you can include Hansen there as well, but these are not perennial all-stars missing time here.

Most man games lost up front for the team come from Dorsett, Rodin, Gaunce and Megna.  Is the absence of these guys really holding back the Canucks potent 29th ranked offence?

How about on defense, where yes - Tanev has missed about 30 games, and Edler and Hutton 10 each.  But realistically, Gudbranson and Larsen have missed about 75.

The Canucks most potent offensive weapons have been healthy, their starting goaltender has been healthy, and their 'replacement' defenders - Troy Stecher, leads the team in points from the back end.

How on earth can you use injuries as an excuse here for an anemic offence and impotent power play?

2) Don't Fear the Reaper Rebuild
Another frequent narrative out there is how Canucks fans can't handle a rebuild.  Again, I call bullshit.  This team has been going nowhere since 2012, and any smart hockey fan knew that.  Teams like Edmonton and Toronto took awhile to get traction, but they sold hope.

I don't speak for all fans, but I speak for myself.  So, if any Canucks' brass ever wander over to read this, here's my resume, and my take on the team.

I've been a fan since I was 10 years old, which takes me back to the days of the early 90's.  I remember listening to the games on radio long after I was supposed to be sleeping.  I'd call into SportsTalk radio when I was 12 years old, urging the city to give Jim Dowd a chance!

I have watched live or PVRd every single Vancouver Canucks game on TV over the past 25 years, and was a 12 game Ice Pack holder from 2001-2012.

I've been through the awkward post-Quinn era with Keenan and seen the depths to which a franchise can go.

So why did I drop my season tickets?
The franchise nickle and dimes their fans.  I used to get 12 regular season games.  Each year, they bump up the price.  Then they took a regular season game and made it a pre-season game.  When times were good, they wouldn't allow our family to add a seat for my fiancĂ©.  In 2011, I lucked out with playoffs tickets. I saw Game 7 against the Hawks, Game 5 vs the Sharks (Bieksa/Stanchion), Games 2 and 5 against the Bruins (Burrows OT and Lapierre).  Short of a Game 7 OT win on home ice in the Cup Finals, I'd seen the most amazing games I was ever going to see.  Why would I continue to pay thousands of dollars a year to see Columbus swing into town on a rainy Tuesday night in February?  All that money was better spent with my fiancĂ© on a week long Hawaiian vacation every year.

That said, I still watch every game.  Do you know why?  To watch Horvat.  And Baerstchi, and Stecher, and Tryamkin.  I want to watch the fucking kids.

I'm not going to get into the ice time debate here, but I am all in on watching a team of kids improve year over year.  I don't care if we lose 5-3 if I see EFFORT, some DANGLES, and an exciting goal or two.

What Goldobin did in his first game is EXACTLY what I want to see.  Play to win, blow the zone once in a while.  Don't play not to lose.  That's a surefire disaster, and boring as hell.

That leads me to my third point

3) Next Year's Lineup
I don't trust Benning and Willie.  They'll never play ALL the kids.  You just know that one of Chaput, Megna, Shore, Cramarossa and Skille will creep into the lineup next year.  But even if NONE of them come back, and youth is served, there's not enough seats to go around!

Baertschi - Horvat - Boeser
Sedin - Sedin - Granlund
Goldobin - Sutter - Eriksson
Dorsett - Gaunce - Labate

Missing: Rodin, Virtanen, Boucher, 2017 1st Rd Pick.

But let's be honest... Goldobin and Labate are likely in the AHL, along with Virtanen. That line up also looks pretty darn soft to play against.

How about the defence?
Edler, Tanev, Stecher, Tryamkin, Gudbranson, Hutton.  If Sbisa goes to Vegas, we're still never seeing Subban, and likely not Juolevi either any time soon. Biega all day long!

Food for thought...