Let the fallout begin
Apr 24, 2012 / 5:00 am
Suffice to say, I did not expect us to be having this conversation in April, a mere 5 games or 2 endlessly dreary self-important Coldplay concerts into the NHL post-season, as the Canucks bowed out with grace, dignity and a series of say-the-right-thing Sedin interviews which will no doubt leave Fans frustrated and scapegoat hunting. But here we are, the day after. The downtown core is intact as the Skytrain/bandwagon jumpers had already returned to their age old habits after Game 3, of early morning pre-work skinny venti latte moral indignation while idly thumbing through our provincial daily newspaper. “Heads are going to roll,” seems to be the most common comment being bandied about by the armchair GMs on coffee street, and on that note, after being handed a desert basket of Kassian, Pahlsson, Keith’s elbow and some high-end Luongo, “let’s see whose dish is on the chopping block,” as we venture on our own version of Vancouver Chopped.
Unfortunately Roberto, you have been chopped and even Luongo’s biggest supporters understand that this is going to come to pass this summer and the sooner, the better. The major stumbling block here, as we have previously discussed is the contract and the attached no-trade clause which has no ‘out’ until the end of the 2013/14 season and still has 10 years remaining with a cap hit of $5.33M per. Popular water cooler chat suggests that the Canucks net-minder would waive the no-trade to go to Tampa Bay, where the offensive talents of Stephen Stamkos and Company have been unable to make up for the wheels of Dwayne Roloson’s chair constantly slipping on the ice in the Trapezoid of Terror. There are definitely teams out there looking for a goalie, who may not be an ‘elite’ any more but with a fresh city and a Fan-base bereft of pitch-forks, may still be a valuable piece of a contender’s puzzle. In a related twist, Cory Schneider has reported to the team doctor this morning suffering from Atlas Syndrome – a radical tightening of the back generally diagnosed as a result of shouldering the weight of the world. Well Cory, to paraphrase Ayn Rand – “Shrug it off.”
A year on from the departure of Christian Ehrhoff and I believe now would be the time to humbly suggest that a power-play quarterback might be searched out during golf season. It might be really easy to lay some blame for this lifeless playoff debacle at the feet of the defensive corps but with Bieksa playing hurt and Edler playing dumb, there was a noticeable lack of cohesion, not only during the man advantage but also when facing the Kings aggressive fore-check. Ballard for his part actually played better but… well, he’s still Ballard and ‘better’ remains a relative term best left for Brian Burke press conferences when trying to assure Leaf Fans that next year all of the problems will be addressed. Hey, maybe Luke Schenn’s available? Yup, and he’d get about as much respect on the Vancouver blue line as Chris Tanev has gotten over the last 2 seasons – but in his case it would be deserved.
It is undoubtedly time for the organization to follow the Canuck Fans’ lead and call Ryan Kesler to task for his 2011/12 performance. Understanding that he is next on the Fans’ Roberto radar to be unceremoniously ushered to the city limits will either revitalize the effort of the NHL’s one-time poster child for the 2-Way power forward or will motivate Mike Gillis to seek value on the trade market for a player whose on-ice antics have only served to antagonize the referees and often leave his teammates vulnerable. Sports Illustrated pictorial aside, he has gone from 2nd line to punch-line in a very short period of time and the inability of The American Express combo to generate any offence often left the Sedins with too much work to do and Duncan Keith ensured that Henrik’s head was the only one in the game for much of the series. While I understand that the absence of Daniel for the first 3 games is perhaps the most significant factor contributing to the loss, 8 Goals in a 5 Game Series is considered an abject failure no matter who is on the ice. Yes, Mike Quick is extremely good and yes, the Cody Hodgson deal looks questionable in retrospect but looking down the Kassian-less bench, despite all the words of bravado, the belief system that drove the Canucks within a game of the Holy Grail, was noticeably, unmistakably missing.
So, when slicing and dicing this situation up, eventually the disparaging palate has to turn to management and while I have never been an Alain Vigneault fan, I will now ante up and defend the man. Time and space don’t allow a foray into his unequalled stats in his 6 years at the helm but if 2 consecutive President’s Trophies are not enough to keep his job then his replacement had best be chosen from the Gods residing on Mount Olympus. He wasn’t outcoached by Darryl Sutter, his players got beat by a team that has been fighting for their playoff lives since about mid-February and just flat out wanted it more. The fault lies 1 notch further up the food chain with a GM who has continued to field a product, custom designed for the regular season and lacking the toughness, depth and adaptability to make the switch to the playoff style. Constant denial that the second season is run on a different set of rules and using the media as your pulpit only proves a failure to comprehend the fact that just because the Olympics were played in your back yard, that particular incarnation of the game only comes around every 4 years and if you want a team parade down Robson St. in the near future, some careful but extreme re-evaluations of this franchise must be made. Until you do that Mr. Gillis, turn off the stove and get out of the kitchen, it is way too hot in here for you.
Read more A Sports Fan Speaks articles
- There comes a time... Mar 5
- The envelope please... Feb 26
- Bullet in the Chamber Feb 19
- A superb Super Bowl...honestly Feb 5
- Playoffs? Are you kidding me? Jan 29
- And we're back... Jan 22
- Looking ahead...and a bit behind Jan 15
- Collective disregard Jan 8
(Click for RSS instructions.)