I’ll be stepping into Dan McRae territory for once to tackle the elimination of my beloved Vancouver Canucks last night against the San Jose Sharks.
Since the boys in blue lost the Stanley Cup final in 2011 and all hell broke loose, most teams learned to play against the Canucks. First, nullify the Sedins give-and-take. Second, be physical. Done.
The Vancouver team sputtered their way into the playoffs in 2012 and 2013, but was unable to pass the first round. I’m fairly positive the managing team (coach Alain Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis) was aware the gig was up, but instead of fixing the Canucks obvious problems, they failed even to address them.
The inability of Gillis to transfer Roberto Luongo is just the tip of the iceberg. During the last two years, every single trade the Canucks attempted was counterproductive (save Jason Garrison). Promising rookie Cody Hodgson was sent to Buffalo for Zack Kassian, mainly due to Hodgson’s parents’ meddlesomeness. Kassian wasn’t a factor this season and evidenced some disciplinary issues. Meanwhile, Cody thrived with the Sabres.
Not a single one of the centres the Canucks brought (Paulson, Roy) made the slightest difference. Furthermore, coach Vigneault did nothing to introduce new blood, other than a couple of defensemen who made it to the first team out of need. Let’s not even talk about management inability to lock any of the promising university prospects that entered the NHL this year.
Rebuild, you say? That would be great, if it wasn’t because the Canucks are crippled by long-term no-trade agreements, Luongo style. Vancouver is stuck with mediocre players like Ballard and Booth for years to come. With no cap space, the team will have to buy out a number of contracts just to regain some maneuverability. Otherwise, the Canucks will become aging bottom-feeders like the Calgary Flames in no time.
In short, while many players underperformed in this series, most of the responsibility lies with Vigneault and Gillis. By all accounts, the former will be released of his contract in the next few weeks. As for the GM, it’s up to the Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini to kick him to the curve (not likely).