Why Mason Raymond with the Sedins isn’t the worst idea in the history of the world

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.

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48 comments

  1. Andy
    March 14, 2012

    Shouldn’t the title read why mason raymond with the sedins isnt the _worst_ idea in the history of the world?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 14, 2012

      Yes, it should. Oh my yes.

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      • peanutflower
        March 14, 2012

        Love it when a headline error goes out to the world on Facebook huh? There’s no calling that one back…

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    • Nick
      March 14, 2012

      Not the worst idea … but pairing Bieksa and Edler might be

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  2. peanutflower
    March 14, 2012

    “the only zone many Canuck fans seem to watch” Perfect. So true. Let’s just ignore our (mostly) awesome defensive corp, shall we?

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  3. V
    March 14, 2012

    I’m always mesmerized by the way so many people seem to think they know more about hockey than coaches & GMs who’ve spent their whole lives working in the NHL. I’m not saying that they’ve never made mistakes, but as far as proven track records go, I trust AV’s opinion rather more than some random twitter user’s.

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    • jer
      March 14, 2012

      I get what you’re saying, but isn’t half the fun of being a passionate hockey fan to sit yourself in your own imaginary coach or GM chair and dream of what you would do? Surely it’s not to defer to the coach or GM’s decisions with a “well he’s the pro, so he must know” shrug? Because if it is, then what’s left for Flames fans? :)

      I guess what I’m saying is that there must be a reasonable and mature position somewhere between the twitter fueled rage that often provides the foil for PITB’s posts and the ‘just trust the coach, because he’s the pro’ position. And while I tend to defer to AV and MG’s judgement quite a bit (I’d say they’ve earned that respect from the fanbase), I think it’s entirely reasonable for fans to question the decisions made by their team’s braintrust regardless of comparative experience and expertise. :)

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  4. Chris the Curmudgeon
    March 14, 2012

    Nicely said PITB. I’m always so puzzled why fans think lines need to be set in stone. It’s like they’re playing too much NHL 2012 and don’t want to have to switch their lines because the in-game “chemistry” meter goes down or something. Fact is, there’s no reason why the coach shouldn’t try any number of different things, especially when things aren’t going well. Though I personally think a different option would be to split Daniel and Henrik up temporarily. However, the backlash fans always seem to have to line shuffling is so illogical it’s absurd.

    Furthermore, I also don’t like how fans have this old school mentality of “you earn your ice time, the hardest workers should play, Raymond hasn’t been scoring and doesn’t deserve this”. Yes, that’s true to an extent, especially for players on the grinder lines, but when it comes to top end skill, the coach knows that while they should be working hard, he needs to break guys out of a slump and use whatever means available to him. Whether or not Raymond “deserves” to be with the Sedins or not, the goal is winning, and anything that can be done to advance that cause, including unconventional pairings with unpopular players, is fair game.

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  5. Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
    March 14, 2012

    I’m also thinking that one benefit from this move is that even though he’s not scoring, MayRay is really good at getting the puck into the offensive zone – even though people complain that it’s on the perimeter. That tells me that he might be a good fit to put the puck where it needs to be for the Sedins to get into their cycle game.

    MayRay takes it to the corner, passes to Henrik behind the net, and then Henrik and Daniel go to work.

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  6. FerenczyRAM
    March 14, 2012

    Why is it that whenever tbe flames of controversy erupt, you guys always have to piss on them?
    Your boss must get annoyed with how you’re always refusing to help sell papers, lol! That’s why I love you guys, all rational and positive, instead of reactionary cynicism. Keep it up.

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    • beano
      March 14, 2012

      nice to read well reasoned and thoughtful post after reading tony gallagher (in today’s province) basically say Coach V might as well pack his bags for montreal since this team is now in a unstoppable nose dive.
      I am often amazed at the almost hateful writing in the vancouver papers/media all of which is instantly replaced by praise and love after a win. I am not speaking of the fans but specific and prolific writers in the vancouver media. This years Canucks team not only deserve, but need a fan base that supports the team win or lose and most importantly doesn’t disintegrate after a bad game(or two). But how is it possible the have a intense but still positive and supporting fan base when each morning we are greeted by such negative sports writing?

      Bit of a tangent, I know.

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      • shoes
        March 14, 2012

        With you 100%…..the Vancouver sports writers are the most sad-sack pessismists about everything…..mind you when the Canucks win, it was “finally the coach listened to them” I can’t believe the doomsday/chicken little garbage that about 7 of them spew out daily. Ok….the team is playing badly now…..BUT every single player that is playing badly has in the recent past shown us an upside that is so different from this current look, that one should be nothing but optimistic. Good grief…..it is like certain fans and the majority of the sports writers in Vancouver want the team to fail….so they can whine and they seemed to have turned whining from an exact science to a high art form.

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  7. Nick
    March 14, 2012

    People put too much stock into pre-game announcements about line composition and defense pairings. If Raymond and the twins don’t click, that plan will last maybe 2 periods before AV hits the juggle button. The only sure thing is the Roberto, good or bad, will always be AV’s #1.

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    • gocanucks
      March 14, 2012

      yeah, it is depressing, Vignault puts winning with certain players ahead of winning… for all of his greatness as a coach, this could be why he never wins a Stanley Cup…

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  8. bs
    March 14, 2012

    Ya move Raymond onto the Sedins line and then sit them all in the press box. As soon as playoffs approach the Sedin’s do their magic act and disappear. Canucks will be out by the second rounds and then AV should be fired. Start Schneider!!!!!

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    • The Bookie
      March 14, 2012

      Yes clearly the solution is to play Cory Schneider on a line with the Sedins. Indeed.

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      • Square Ball
        March 15, 2012

        Maybe he’ll get his second career hat trick…

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    • Chicky
      March 14, 2012

      Your moniker suits you well, bs.

      As a fan, I have much more faith in the team and it’s leadership.

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  9. JDM
    March 14, 2012

    I actually tend to agree with this. They’re not scoring right now. If you can light a fire by putting Raymond there, you kill two birds with one stone. It’s worth trying. Thing is, people saying “well he gains the zone well, so that’s something” – so do the Sedins. They have no trouble gaining the zone, it’s what happens once they get there lately. Raymond seems to carry the puck to the half boards and then fall down, which probably isn’t a sound complement to the Sedin game. So this may actually compound the problem. But who knows? Maybe he will have someone to pass to all of a sudden. Maybe if you take zone entry responsibility away from him in favour of the twins, who can actually create space by their speed shifts and drop passes, he has room to do something.

    Anyway I’ll at least be interested to watch it.

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  10. khr
    March 14, 2012

    It may not be the worst idea, but it certain;y isn’t a good idea. Raymond is soft just like the Sedins and he isn’t going to help them get out of this funk.

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    • peanutflower
      March 14, 2012

      Soft? What is this “soft” stuff?

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    • Prophet
      March 14, 2012

      I think the matter in your head is “soft”. Despite the scoring funk, Henrik is still a +19, and Daniel is a +17. There is still only one player in the league with more points than Henrik with a better +/- (Hossa). You want “soft”? Have a look at Kovalchuck or Kessel who don’t backcheck because they are too special for that. How does a player be a minus whenscoring that many points? A “soft” player doesn’t get keep getting up and coming back without missing a beat after checked hard for 500+ games like Henrik.

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  11. Andre
    March 14, 2012

    Why does this opinion piece make no mention of Burrows??? One pieces to the Sedin success has been Burrows’ uncanny ability to magically appear by the net just when a pass comes his way. His one-time shooting skill is much better than Mason’s.

    True, the Sedin line needs to be shaken awake, and maybe Raymond could do that, better than Kassian or Bitz. However, I remain unconvinced.

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    • beano
      March 14, 2012

      Burrows hasn’t managed to magically appear beside the net for most of 10 games. Time to shake everyone awake, and like nick says above, how long will it really last with Coach V at the reigns?

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  12. Brent
    March 14, 2012

    You guys are correct that this may work, and it certainly isn’t the worst idea in the world (lets reserve that for American Foreign policy). But hey, in the interests of experimentation what about Dale Weise and Byron Bitz. These are big tough guys with skill that we will likely need in the playoffs. Why don’t we give one of them a chance. I know Bitz did play with the Sedin’s for a while, then he got injured and sent down to the Wolves. Does anyone know what his status is? I had high hopes for his size and skill, and he could be a candidate to play in front of the net with the Sedin’s.

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    • Brent
      March 14, 2012

      Sorry 1 more thing about Raymond. I know he hasn’t been putting up the numbers but the effort is certainly there. But maybe the occasional game watching from the press box would allow him to see the whole ice surface better and refocus. I am really glad we didn’t trade him. He had a great effort in the SCF and for him to get a potentially career ending injury in that effort means that the team stands behind him for a while; not trade him away because he hasn’t been scoring. Mental stuff is vital in sports, lets hope he turns it around tonight.

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  13. Nee
    March 14, 2012

    I propose that we referr to the Raymond hating, Sedin bashing, tin foil hat wearing ‘Canucks fans’ as ‘TEAM1040 fans’ from now on. They represent the lunatic fringe (albeit a sizable chunk) of the fanbase, and as such, do not represent the whole of Canucks fandom. Many of us possess a frontal lobe and the ability to perceive an actual, talented goaltender on the team.

    ; )

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  14. pmjw
    March 14, 2012

    Well, I am one of “the few” who watch to the D zone. And I haven’t liked what I”ve seen of late. Starting with the Twins and especially Burrows’ horrible efforts of late, he deserves to be demoted. I’ve harped all year that Bieksa and Hammer are over-rated as a shutdown pair, most GAs are on them, while Salo/Edler were the best pair by far (so guess what, as soon as others noticed this, BH tightened up while Edler went sour and Salo is fumbling trying to cover for him…serves me right!). Look at how many 2-on-1s the Canucks give up, especially in 2nd period, their tactics suck. Then there’s goaltending. Wrong guy starting tonite.

    But this is a column on getting the O going again. Hey it’s more than just 8 games. Twins haven’t done a thing in over a month other than vs the Leafs and Oilers. I’ve seen a lot of wingers with them in that time, nothing seems to work. Trying Raymond isn’t gonna hurt. But it won’t help, what is needed is for them to get off the wall and drive to the net once in a while. They’re not doing it lately, simply continuing to cycle, and having other teams break it up ’cause they know it’s all they’re doing.

    And Raymond isn’t gonna help that.

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    • Andre
      March 14, 2012

      Bingo!

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  15. Kate
    March 14, 2012

    I don’t know why people are upset about this, AV always juggles the lines around, and the top line has not been producing at all, so what does it matter! Plus like someone said, AV has no problem just switching it mid game if it’s not working. I’m a little more concerned about Bieksa and Edler together, didn’t we see that early in the season and it wasn’t looking so good? Either way, we will all watch the game and find out!

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    • Kate
      March 14, 2012

      Oh and also for those calling for Raymond to be scratched, I remember reading an article about AV talking about coaching style, saying a guy like Samuelsson responds well to benching, etc. because it makes him angry, and player better, but a guy like Raymond, that doesn’t work, just wrecks any confidence he has left. Of course that could all be a lie and maybe I just read that on PITB. But I stand by it!

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      • Harrison Mooney
        March 14, 2012

        You did read it on PITB. But it remains true.

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        • Brent
          March 14, 2012

          But since he has come back from the broken back, don’t you think he would be mentally tougher than before? I would hope he could handle sitting a game here or there. Plus it would give Bitz, Weise or whoever some game time before the playoffs and they are thrown into a game because of injury.

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          • Square Ball
            March 15, 2012

            Well, Dan Hamhuis has lost confidence in his hipcheck after getting that bad injury last season in the playoffs. He’s back and healthy, but as heard on After Hours (and as PITB pointed out), he is more tentative about throwing what used to be his trademark hit.

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      • khr
        March 14, 2012

        I don’t think that those of us who are calling for Raymond to be benched are suggesting that he be benched “for a few games”. I’ve seen all I need to see of him. He won’t help. Ever. Let’s see what Bitz can bring to the bottom 6.

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  16. gocanucks
    March 14, 2012

    I thought Bitz looked good with the Sedins when he played on that line, obviously it could easily have been just a flash in the pan, but I remember liking what I saw

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    • bergberg
      March 15, 2012

      Does anyone have an update on Bitz? Is he back on the Wolves, or still injured? Will he be back in time for the playoffs?

      Would be interesting to see some more of him for sure!

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  17. Canucklehead_in_T.O.
    March 14, 2012

    Tropical Skittle are the worst.
    THE. WORST.

    Thank you, PITB, for once again bringing the public’s attention to an issue that can no longer be ignored.
    Upstanding citizens, you are.

    Also, MayRay just needs to focus less on “skating” and “handling the puck” and “creating chances” and “not falling down” and other such nonsense, and focus more on dazzling opponents with his seraphic beauty and downy-soft skin. It’s very simple. I don’t know why he hasn’t caught on to this.

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    • Canucklehead_in_T.O.
      March 14, 2012

      You know what else is THE WORST?

      Referring to Skittles in the singular.
      Ooops.

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  18. Bob
    March 14, 2012

    Duh, tanks fer linkin’ da big werds……

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  19. shoes
    March 14, 2012

    People seem to think that Subban taking liberties with the Sedins is the reason the first line is not clicking……..news flash ….Subban took liberties because the Sedins were skating slow and disinterestedly….if they pick up their game Subban cannot carry their jock.

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  20. akidd
    March 14, 2012

    it doesn’t really matter who plays with the sedins. it’s going to be a slow, tight affair vs the yotes and the standings are more or less set for the canucks. everyone is tired(and bored) because the regular season is grueling as was last year’s playoffs. it’s hardly an action-packed thrilling time of year.

    av doesn’t really have that many options for the sedin line with so many wingers with great legs but average hands(raymond, booth, hansen.) and there’s not enough playmaking centres to go around. the trade brought in a lot of defensive options but took away a lot of offensive options.

    if you want to jumpstart raymond’s offense well…henrik is the only playmaking centre available anymore so it makes sense. if you want to jumpstart the sedins then i would venture that higgins would be the best option at this point.

    i’m sure we’ll see all sorts of permutations over the final month. gotta do something to keep interest up. there’s no art ross, jennings( or calder race) to entertain fans this year so might as well do some swapping. kassian is next, i’m sure. heck, even david ‘ask questions later’ booth might get a twirl with the sedins for hilarity’s sake.

    but with the defensive pairings too av is really putting on a sidebar banquet. more wine.

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  21. D
    March 14, 2012

    We all know Coach V is hesitant in scratching Raymond. I think that this is the final recourse before Raymond goes up to the press box. If Coach V really wants to experiment with his line-up during the final 12 or 13 games before the playoffs, he should scratch Raymond for a couple games (maybe send him a message) and have Weiss play on the fourth line with Lappy and Kassian.

    Sedin, Sedin, Burrows
    Higgins, Kesler, Booth
    Malholtra, Pahlsson, Hansen
    Weiss, Lapierre, Kassian

    Personally, I think that greater emphasis on defense in the bottom six will shore up some deficiencies in the defensive end. You don’t need four lines that can carry the puck into the offensive zone, rather, you need a couple of lines that can go in there and consistently pressure the opposing defensemen.

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    • J21
      March 15, 2012

      Scratching him because the lineup is stronger is one thing. Scratching him “to send a message” is silly. What is the message? You don’t think Raymond wants to score more? It’s not an effort thing.

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      • Mr. Roboto...
        March 15, 2012

        I agree, a message needs to be sent, he needs to get into the dirty areas… instead of turning at the half boards, he needs to cut towards the net with and without the puck…

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  22. iceman
    March 14, 2012

    For a better part of season one of the followings happen – about 8 out of 10 times – after Raymond gaining the zone with the puck:

    1. Raymond makes a wide turn to the half board and loses the puck
    2. Raymond makes a wide turn to the half board and falls down
    3. Raymond makes a wide turn to the half board and passes the puck blindly to his back, where the other teams’ player is waiting with a big ‘Thank you’ sign :)

    Having said that, I don’t really mind the experiment. After all we better fix a problem now than trying to fix it during the playoffs. For anything that may get our offence out of funk, sure why not.

    But to be sure this will be only a shot-in-the-arm measure. Sedin – MayRay – Sedin is definitely NOT the 1st line to go into the playoffs with.

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  23. l.cone
    March 15, 2012

    God, all you canuck huggers are so funny. the fact that the team hasnt won a cup ever in about 4 decades should say it all. when you win, you are doing the right things. when you dont win, you are NOT doing the right things. the canucks dont have the guts to call out players, sit players and bench and trade players who dont perform. Let’s start with the Sedins. The have this incredible power of invisibility…esp in the playoffs? check the facts, the history speaks for itself. hack them, slash the, they fall down more than they get up.How can two guys like that lead any team to the cup? Second, luongo..oh man luongo is the biggest done nothing choker over rated golaie Ive ever seen. and dont say hes won the gold medal. He was on a stacked all star team, gave up the tying goal, and by the grace of god, crosby got that medal for the country…fact. Luongo choked against the hawks when up 3-0, only to have burroughs flukey goal send them to the second round. the finals..well, that’s also history, luongo couldnt even stop a beach ball. when the team plays great, luongo looks good. when the team plays average..luongo plays like utter feces. over rated doesnt even start to describe luongo. six million a year? they cant trade him, no one wants him, and schneider cant get time cause of luongo. you just wait, this year in the playoffs will be another chokefest, followed by the canuck huggers crying about hows its never the sedins fault, its never luongos fault. and then next year its back to the same old mantra” there’s always next year.”

    The coach, they say a team plays like the coach. AV looks like a cross between a zombie and a disinterested school child, and his team plays like that. No accountability, no one calls any one else out, like the quinn trevor mclean lumme country club of the 90′s. this team and this org doesnt really want to win anything, as you can see from their history. and more support isnt going to do them any good. the canucks have had more than their fair share of support, you give support to those who deserve it. but after 4 decades of uselessness, much like mason raymond, save your support for those who deserve it..which is none of the canucks.

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  24. khr
    March 15, 2012

    So, that worked out well. Let’s see, Mason Raymond had 1 SOG was -1, failed to take a pass leading to a breakaway and was, basically, invisible the entire game. Didn’t see that coming. Oh ,wait, actually I did say that this was a stupid idea and it wouldn’t work out well.

    Raymond is useless and needs to be benched.

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