Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford hoped to have a good feel for his hockey team after spending a month on the job, but the reality is, Covid ruined it.
Or did it? Actually, all it did was align the timing of roster analysis for Rutherford and new Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin.
Essentially, with some or much of Rutherford’s evaluation delayed during the six weeks he’s been involved, both men are at the starting line.
“Unfortunately we didn’t see Covid spiking again, all the issues we’ve had to deal with as far as not having a full line-up,” Rutherford said Tuesday morning. “But I do like a lot of players here, I like what’s just happened here in the recent week or so when we’ve been shorthanded. Not totally happy that we only got two points out of a possible six here at home, but when you look at the shorthanded ‘staff’, I give the players and coaches a lot of credit.”
It’s also OK because Rutherford wasn’t going to be pulling the trigger on any deals at this point anyway. The NHL is still almost two months away from it’s March 21st trade deadline. The Canucks remain a week, or two, or three or more away from determining if they’re a legitimate playoff threat or not, and until now the GM remained to be seen.
As a healthy line-up returns in the coming days, we think, the two executives and the rest of the staff can start rolling the ball forward.
“We have to add more players to get to where we want to get to, and that’s something that’s going to have to be decided leading up to the trading deadline, how we go about that,” Rutherford added. “Some big decisions are coming up, but now that we’ve added more people to the hockey op’s, we’re now in a position, a stronger position, to make those decisions.”
Rutherford stressed that GM Allvin will run the day-to-day operations of the hockey department and will be the key figure in decision making. When bigger deals come along, and likely for any player movement early on, Rutherford says he’ll act as a sounding board and provide input.
In general the work will be a collaborative effort.
Allvin plans to carry on with some of his basic personal principals.
“I always trust my staff and treat with respect, and at the end of the day we know we’re working for the best of the Vancouver Canucks,” Allvin said with a moderate Swedish accent. “Someone has got to make a decision here and you know, that’s going to be the general manager, but there are no egos around here, we’re all working for the ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to the city of Vancouver and the Vancouver Canucks. So, I’m just going to continue to be myself.”
It’s expected Allvin will join the team on this three-game Canucks road trip which includes stops in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Chicago. The team departed Vancouver early afternoon on Wednesday.
Which brings us full circle to the lingering Covid issue.
Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has indicated it’s possible we could see goalie Thatcher Demko, captain Bo Horvat and winger Conor Garland joining the trip in progress.
As for that goalie circus: Spencer Martin is on the trip, Jaroslav Halak will for sure be joining it, and Michael Dipietro is on it as a member of the taxi squad.
Defenceman Kyle Burroughs has suffered a lower body injury and will not return until after the early-February NHL All-Star break.
All things considered, there actually have been some areas of the game to analyze; the all-important intangibles that make hockey unique. Hard work and dedication remain high on the list.
“I think this is great for Jim and I to evaluate what we have in our depth charts and get a sense of a lot of players,” Allvin said. “Test the character of our team here so far and to Jim’s point they’ve done a really, really good job.”