Mike Duco has earned a job with the Canucks; here’s hoping he gets to keep it

Dale Weise’s rookie campaign has to be considered a minor success. Sure, we could dwell on the things that he’s failed to do, such as provide much in the way of energy or offense (apart from a spiffy end-to-end rush versus the Ottawa Senators). And, despite dropping the gloves a handful of times, Weise has been far from the intimidating rat poison the Canucks have needed.

Still, the former Ranger has been quietly effective in his first full season. Despite his inexperience, Weise has done a great job keeping the puck out of his own net and moving it out from the defensive zone, where he starts most of his shifts. As fourth line wingers go, he’s been one of the most competent and defensively sound the Canucks have iced since the lockout. Frankly, his ability to not suck has been a breath of fresh air.

Of course, quiet effectiveness isn’t exactly what you want from your energy guy, and after seeing what Mike Duco has managed to do in that same role, it’s hard to argue that Duco shouldn’t be the new Dale Weise.

Duco didn’t just fit in versus Calgary — he stood out, making an impact on nearly every shift. He stood up for his teammates, telling Lance Bouma he was “coming for him” upon feeling the Calgary forward was taking liberties, and eventually getting the best of Bouma in a fight. He created chances too, picking up the primary assist on Cody Hodgson’s second-period goal to cut the lead in half.

The feisty winger now has 2 points in 5 games with the Canucks, only 4 fewer than Weise has in 53 games. While counting on Duco to continue on a 30-point pace is a bit much, it’s clear that he brings a more of an offensive spark than Dale Weise. Maybe he can actually get on the ice with the stars he’s there to protect.

He certainly looks as though he deserves to stay with the Canucks going forward. Will he?

Maybe not. When Weise is healthy, I wouldn’t be surprised if Duco gets sent back down to Chicago, simply because the Canucks don’t want to lose Weise.

Sure, Dale Weise may be a little bland, but he can still play, and the Canucks’ roster moves all season have had as much to do with managing available bodies as merit. Chris Tanev was sent down to the farm to work on his special teams play, sure, but he was also demoted because he could be easily and without repercussions.

It makes sense. By the Stanley Cup Final last season, Vancouver’s top nine forwards were downright hobbled, and yet Alain Vigneault still refused to play anyone else because there was simply no one else he trusted. If the Canucks are hoping to make another Cup run, they can’t afford to lose possible contributors to waivers, and the fact that Duco is waiver-exempt and Weise isn’t may factor in.

That said, savvy as this is, I don’t like it. I understand the long-term goal and I’ll be happy if the Canucks find themselves back in the Stanley Cup Final with a cadre of able bodies but, at times, their shifty roster games seem unfair to the players who find themselves on planes to elsewhere just because they had the audacity to have an inflexible contract.

Yes, they’re young and they’ll get their chances (Duco is an RFA at season’s end, and will likely be on a one-way contract next year), but the Canucks have spoken in the past about how the best players get to play, regardless of their contract status, and it will be hard to continue asserting that if Chris Tanev and Mike Duco are with the Wolves and Alexander Sulzer and Dale Weise are with the Canucks.

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17 comments

  1. peanutflower
    February 13, 2012

    Alexander who? Another reason for keeping Duco is the Kesler bleacher creature can easily be modified to be Duco just by sewing on a little read beard. Duco is a ginger. That means he stays.

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  2. peanutflower
    February 13, 2012

    Okay, I’m going to correct all the mistakes in that: Just by sewing on a little “red” beard, not read beard. Also, I guess you’ve have to actually change the number on the dolly. But those details aside, myself, I like Duco’s energy better than Weise’s.

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  3. nee
    February 13, 2012

    I’m happy with Duco too. Between him and Bitz, I feel comfortable with tbe level of grit and toughness this team can now bring. Which is why I hope both can stay…we aren’t carrying a 13th forward at the moment, so it is possible to have both of them.

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  4. Canuckles
    February 13, 2012

    If the Canucks were serious about the “play determines playing time” mantra, Raymond would have been benched in favour of Duco eons ago.

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  5. Dennis
    February 13, 2012

    Trade Sulzer for anything and keep Duco up in the line-up. When there is enough cap room, bring Tanev up and keep him here for the balance of the season.

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  6. Quis
    February 13, 2012

    The good thing about the article may be the consequenses during the playoffs. If AV trusts both Duco and Bitz now, they will be available for inclusion in the roster when The Wolves fall out of the AHL playoffs. Along with Tanev and Connaughton this represents some serious depth for the playoffs. Last year we were without Kesler, Hamhuis, Raymond then Rome and Torres with no one to call up that AV trusted.

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  7. J21
    February 13, 2012

    I would reserve judgment on Duco until he actually has played a fair bit more. It’s not uncommon for guys to start out as real sparkplugs and then gradually get a bit more comfortable. “Playing to stay in the lineup” is certainly an incentive.

    The other thing that concerns me about Duco is that he’s an agitator, and as a team that already has a few of those, the Canucks have to be wary about increasing any of the factors that already have the NHLOA apparently grimacing (or evil-laughing) every time they have a Canuck game coming up on the calendar.

    Based on the way the Chicago and Boston series were officiated last year… if all of Burrows, Lapierre, Kesler and Duco are there, I figure they just give the Canuck goaltender a game misconduct before the opening faceoff and take it from there.

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    • Nick
      February 13, 2012

      My thoughts too. Duco looked good in his first few games, but the sample size is way too small to make a strong claim that he’s better than Weise. A few years ago, a guy named Jeff Cowan scored 6 goals in 4 games for the Canucks, the media overreacted, and a fan was so excited that she threw her bra on the ice … but now Cowan’s just an answer to a trivia question.

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      • Nee
        February 13, 2012

        Ah, fond memories.

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  8. Tom
    February 13, 2012

    Dropping the gloves a “handful of times?”

    He’s faught 7 times this year. The most on the team with Lapierre. We also have 33 Fighting majors so far, compared to 29 last year.

    Anyway, Love Bitz, and Duco. Even if they don’t play every game, their two good players that can come in to help change the momentum of a series in the playoffs. Boston did it last year with Thorton. Chicago did it a couple years ago with Burish, and Eager. Now we can do the same IF necessary.

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  9. MIKE
    February 13, 2012

    This is one of the 1st blogs of yours that doesn’t contain many of your inane comments or references – this was just a straight comment. More of it & less inane. Thank you.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      February 13, 2012

      Aw, you’re right. Then I consider this blog a failure.

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  10. grumpiest
    February 13, 2012

    I consider the comments and references ane. I have to look some of them up, so this becomes an educational blog as well as an entertaining one. Did enjoy this one tho and I like Bits, Duco and Weise just fine.

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    • J21
      February 13, 2012

      Too ane! Stop the anity!

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  11. Warpstone
    February 14, 2012

    I certainly hope he sticks around and gets called up in the post-season… if only so I can make “Count Duco” references…

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  12. Cathy jeffery
    February 15, 2012

    it’s about time mike gets the notoriety he deserves he has worked fast and furious to get to this point in his life and it’s time now for the canucks to realize this, kid with heart passion soul time to let mikey live his dreams

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  13. Cathy jeffery
    February 15, 2012

    before other teens start looking at mike it would be wise 4 vancouver 2 ink the deal with mike the sooner the better for vancouver & mike duco

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