Evil Raymond delights in raising fan ire.
Mason Raymond has become public enemy no. 1 in Vancouver of late, and it’s easy to see why. The winger only has 16 points this season, with 8 coming in his first month back from injury in December, so the numbers, like the fans, aren’t exactly giving him the benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, nearly every error he makes occurs in the offensive zone, the only zone many Canuck fans seem to watch. Between his tendency to fall down and his penchant for turnovers, his squirrelly play inside the opposition’s end stands out even to the most passive observer.
Futhermore, you know there’s still a large contingent of fans that thought the Canucks could get what they need at the deadline simply by trading Raymond away. Amazingly, these same fans would have been happy if he had been flipped for a bag of Skittles (even tropical flavour). Somehow, the Canucks’ winger was both worthless and worth everything, and when he wound up going nowhere, Vancouver fans were upset that Mike Gillis was unable to move his magic beans.
When Cody Hodgson was moved instead, the mood on Raymond soured even further. For fans that had fallen in love with Hodgson’s play and had already traded Raymond in their minds, the events of trade deadline day were like swapping Hodgson to bring back Raymond.
All of this is to say that Alain Vigneault wasn’t going win, regardless of where he played the much-maligned MayRay Wednesday night, because fans want to see Raymond in a fiery furnace, not in the lineup.
Couple that with a recent, panic-inducing losing streak and you have a irrational fanbase that was going to flip the pool at any sort of outside-the-box thinking. Sure enough, when Raymond found himself skating on a line with the Sedins — a move many read as a mind-boggling promotion to the first line — Canuck nation went nuts.
The calls to fire Alain Vigneault, the claims that he had lost the room, the declarations that the Canucks were winning even though he was so dumb were astounding. It was remarkable, the vitriol that putting Raymond with the Sedins rather than defenestrating him seemed to arouse. You’d have thought Raymond had been named captain.
Now, I know I’m going to catch flack for this, especially since I recently argued for Raymond as a better winger with Ryan Kesler and David Booth than Cody Hodgson, but Raymond with the Sedins makes some sense in the short-term.
It’s become quite clear that the line of Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins, and David Booth is reaching “do not touch” mode, which means any attempt at juggling linemates to shake the Sedins out of their funk will require plucking a winger from the other two lines. Who else are you going to take? Jannik Hansen seems to really enjoy playing with Sammy Pahlsson, and has recently professed his enjoyment for a return to defensive hockey. Alain Vigneault appears to have the makings of a solid pairing there. Now is not the time to toy with that.
Meanwhile, it would appear that Zack Kassian isn’t quite ready for regular top-six shifts, and Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre are non-starters. So really, it’s Raymond or bust.
But furthermore, the great Sedin scoring famine simply can’t continue. If they can stage their inevitable break out with Raymond on their wing (a distinct possibility since Raymond’s only 1 goal, 1 assist game of the season came playing alongside Henrik Sedin in Carolina), then everybody wins. Not only do the Sedins finally get over the hump, but they instil a little confidence into Raymond’s game as as well.
Since the goal here is to get everyone clicking again, why not put all your slumps on the same line and increase the possibility they all get busted?
I’m of the mind that Vigneault made the right call here.Tags: Canucks fans are great, Canucks fans are not always great, Evil Raymond, Flip the pool, Panic, Raymond, Vigneault