BC Hockey fans remain numb. If the Vancouver Canucks lose this evening (Wednesday), then it’s just more of the same. The lament moves to the next level. If they win, does it really mean anything … yet. Right now, folks are waiting more for the three-in-a-row, four-in-a-row scenario, to shake off the full-time blues. That’s likely wishful thinking. Angst rules at the moment, because things weren’t supposed to be this way.
The game in Pittsburgh marks the quarter pole; twenty games into the Vancouver Canucks NHL season. This coming Sunday represents the end of American Thanksgiving weekend, a traditional milestone for determining whether a team will make the playoffs at the end of the season. Those that are out this weekend generally stay out; those that are in generally end up in. There are usually one or two exceptions across the league, but not by teams that are way off the pace.
Unless you’re the 2018-’19 St. Louis Blues.
That Blues team became the beacon of hope for clubs mired in or near the basement of the standings during the holiday season. Problem: the 2021-’22 Vancouver Canucks don’t have a D-Corps that consists of Alex Pietrangelo, Vince Dunn, Colton Parayko, Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Robert Bortuzzo, and Carl Gunnarsson. Nope, not even close.
When St. Louis head coach Mike Yeo was replaced by Craig Berube nineteen games into the season on November 20th with a record of 7-9-and-2, the team then lost six of its first nine games under the new bench boss. I was at the game on December 5th, a 3-2 shoot-out loss to the Edmonton Oilers, one in which St. Louis blew a two-nothing lead. The building was morgue-like.
It took a little time. In January, having already picked up the winning pace, the Blues reeled off an eleven-game win streak. As we know, they went on to beat the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. It felt otherworldly to be there as well, six months later, having not been around to see it unfold on a daily basis.
That’s not happening here.
To fire this Vancouver Canucks coach, this Vancouver Canucks GM would have to get permission from the owner, if he hasn’t been denied already, especially since that owner is spending seven-figures on a coach who’s deal was just agreed to this past off-season. Ouch, that’s not good.
The GM however is on an expiring contract, and the owner seems to be leaning towards finding a President of Hockey Operations type to oversee whatever set of underlings and structure he prefers.
So lose one game on this trip, had enough? Lose the second one, had enough? Lose two in a row? It may not matter. Why double up salary on a lost-cause season when it’s easier to hold off on changes until you’re really ready to have a new guy make them. If it’s a forgone conclusion there can be a bit of patience, depending of course on just how upset your constituents ($$) become.
Win a couple of games? Well then, kick that can down the road a wee bit and let’s see what happens.
Affair with the Hammer
So we’re led to believe that Canucks defenceman Travis Hamonic was recently double-vaxxed for Covid-19 and this is the last time he’ll have to miss games in the United States. He’ll join the team this trip for the games in Montreal and Ottawa. The next US roadie is in mid-December and it’s a single game in San Jose. He’ll likely be there.
His absence impacted the hockey club negatively, no doubt. His full emergence will represent too little, too late. Not that Hamonic is the end-all obviously, but he is an upgrade from the other options.
No reason to re-hash again. The links are here, VHN has been reporting elements otherwise unreported, like the fact the team attempted to trade the player in the preseason.
That was probably an even bigger pipe dream than what Canucks fans are thinking of the team’s playoff chances right now.