Tough Call: Whom should Vancouver Canucks fans root for in the upcoming Battle of Alberta. Quick note of clarification for some of you; no, they can’t both lose.
This really comes down to deciding whether or not one wants to root for ex-Vancouver Canucks or not. Part of that might depend on how or under what circumstances that player departed. Did management boot him, make way for his departure, or did the skater see the writing on the wall?
If you’re one who cheers for former players who left without controversy, the Calgary Flames have a distinct edge. In fact, I don’t really think ill feelings are a factor here, it’s simply more about volume.
What’s not to like about defenceman Chris Tanev? He spent a decade with the Vancouver Canucks organization and departed as a 30-year-old free agent in October of 2020, clearly on the desirable-but-too-expensive list for then general manager Jim Benning. Vancouver couldn’t match the four-year, $18-million deal.
Tanev has shown signs of his younger self this second season in Calgary, playing in all 82 regular season games and showing that fearlessness in the postseason thus far. Canucks fans who liked him should still like him.
Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom left that same off-season, on the same day in fact. Same kind of sitchy, the Canucks confident that they had unveiled a very worthy, much younger replacement in Thatcher Demko. OK, fine. Not something to hold against the 32-year-old Swedish netminder who has been excellent. Where would you direct your ire for his 1.53 goals against average against Dallas and his .943 playoff save percentage.
He left for a six-year deal at $6-million per and the Vancouver Canucks had a clear option. Moving on.
Erik Gudbranson. The defenceman wasn’t originally happy with the trade in May of 2016 that brought him to Vancouver, but that was directed at the goofy, didn’t-know-what-the-hell-they-were-doing regime of the Florida Panthers at the time who seemed to be rearranging a pretty good thing.
What’s to hold against him, he’s a big, right shot D-man who has since played for four NHL teams since the Vancouver Canucks. Benning moved the then-struggling blueliner at the trade deadline in February of 2019 to Pittsburgh for Tanner Pearson. Gudbranson was in the first year of relatively pricey three-year deal.
Forward Tyler Toffoli shouldn’t stir too much emotion. The hired hand came in as a rental in 2020, played ten regular season games and seven more in the playoffs and was on his way to Montreal. Seemed like a pretty popular cat.
As for Edmonton, anyone overly emotional about winger Zack Kassian? After being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres as a young’un and playing 161 games and spending a wee bit of time in the AHL, this gradually maturing and under-performing ruffian was shipped off to Montreal in December of 2015. Anybody getting worked up?
Hey, you could always root for Vancouver native and former Vancouver Giants WHL forward Evander Kane. OK, we’ll leave that there for now.
And, just a reminder, former long-time Chicago Blackhawks defenceman and Canucks villian Duncan Keith plays for the Edmonton Oilers. Soooo …
Dude or dudette, I think you’re rooting for the Flames.
Regardless, enjoy it, this series will be a dandy.