If the Vancouver Canucks move on from 29-year-old leading scorer JT Miller as opposed to re-signing him long term, it’s not because of chatter about the Canucks dressing room being a ‘country club’, it’s based on new management’s team-building philosophy, plain and simple.
When former NHL player and long-time TV analyst Nick Kypreos uttered that term as a guest on a Toronto podcast, it was him grasping for the nearest available adjective, not something he had overheard or was told by team management. It was broadcast hyperbole. His bottom line message was that Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford wants to, and likely will, make changes. That should come as no surprise to anyone.
It’s not a new message, it’s simply one that took on sensational legs in the Vancouver market. The room isn’t the issue.
The real story lies in Rutherford’s and General Manager Patrik Allvin’s messaging during their season ending press conference back on May 3rd.
Describe their approach however you’d like, nothing has changed. They weren’t misleading anyone about their philosophy.
“We have a number of players to add,” Rutherford said, “We’d like to stay with our same plan, keep them in their mid-twenties or younger, so the team can come together in the next year or two. Now there may be the odd case or two where it ends up, in free agency, maybe a couple weeks in our something, where a player in their thirties falls back and we may feel that’s the right thing to do at the right price and the right term, but our plans are still the same.”
Those aren’t high priced, high demand, day-one free agents he’s talking about, they’re exactly what he described; value players with grit and experience.
The age and term conversation of course applies to Miller as well. Is he the guy they want around entering his early-thirties leading the aforementioned group of young players? Goalie Thatcher Demko, defenceman Quinn Hughes, and center Elias Pettersson, age 23, aren’t going anywhere.
There’s other less sensational ways to read between the lines.
“It’s nice when individual players have record seasons and all that, but at the end of the day we don’t want to sit here next year,” Allvin said. “We want to get better. The bigger thing is, you can ask all of the players that have their jerseys up in the rafters if they would take it down and change for a Stanley Cup banner and I think that’s what matters at the end of the day.”
Miller was notably chasing 100 points for the season as the campaign came to a close and he fell just short with 99. Was Allvin’s comment a passing reference?
The message hasn’t changed and barring something spontaneous, like an incredible offer the Vancouver Canucks simply can’t refuse, the decision to keep or seriously attempt to move JT Miller at a later date was made quite awhile ago.