Canucks news comes fast and furious, and sometimes we find ourselves playing catch-up. Thankfully, the Dreaded Two Goal Lead – often called “the worst lead in hockey” – is super easy to come back from. Everybody knows it’s a guaranteed death sentence for those that hold it. Well, much like an ice hockey team coming from two goals down, PITB will now effortlessly catch up.
This time around, I have a very good excuse for needing to play catch-up. Last Tuesday night, my second son, James Olsen Bradbury Wagner, was born. Jimmy is happy and healthy, as is his mother, but I’ve been woefully out of touch with Canucks news over the last week or so and Harrison has understandably focussed on the lamentably ongoing Luongo saga.
Here are some thoughts on some of the smaller news stories from recent days, as well as the announcement that Bure’s number will be retired, which is only small news because we’ve seen it coming for a while now.
On the same day the Canucks re-signed Dale Weise, they also brought in two free agents, both more likely to spend the entire season in the AHL.
Zach Hamill is a former first round pick; in fact, he’s a former 8th overall pick from 2007. That year, the Bruins picked him 8th overall after he scored 93 points in 69 games for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. He’s disappointed ever since, dropping down to 75 points in 67 games the following season in the WHL and never establishing himself as a legitimate offensive threat in the AHL, matching his career-high 44 points in 72 games last season.
As a smallish forward, Hamill needed to do more offensively to stick with the Bruins and is now generally considered a bust. He does claim to have a strong two-way game and there is an outside chance that he could battle for the third or fourth-line centre role, but he would need to have an incredible training camp. It’s far more likely that he starts in Utica with the Comets and tries to re-establish himself with a new club.
It helps that Hamill has played some wing in the AHL, so if, against all odds, he impresses with the Comets, he could be an injury call-up at either centre or wing.
Colin Stuart, meanwhile, is a 31-year-old AHL veteran who spent last season in Germany. His two-way contract with the Canucks pays a healthy $100,000 in the AHL, which likely helped bring him back to North America. He’s generally described as a hardworking, two-way player and can play left wing or centre.
Stuart was the captain of the Rochester Americans in his most recent AHL season in 2011-12, so will help provide leadership to the Canucks’ young prospects in Utica and will provide some depth to the lineup, as he does have some NHL experience. He scored 21 points in 45 games with the Iserlohn Roosters in Germany last season and 32 points in 51 games in his last AHL season.
The two signings bring the Canucks up to 45 contracts, with Chris Tanev still to sign, along with RFAs Bill Sweatt, Darren Archibald, and Anton Rodin, if they so choose. If they re-sign all four, they’ll be just one contract away from the 50-contract limit, barring a player returning to junior, though I believe only Evan McEneny is eligible.
John Tortorella gave Canucks fans some unexpected news at the team’s annual Summer Summit, unveiling two new assistant coaches in the question and answer period.
I love that the lede for TSN’s brief report on the official announcement of the Canucks’ coaching staff calls it “unexpected news.” Yeah, not so much. It’s been both widely rumoured and widely reported that Mike Sullivan and Glen Gulutzan would be joining John Tortorella as assistant coaches, but is only now being made official.
Sullivan has been Tortorella’s right-hand man in New York since 2009 and previously worked with him with the Tampa Bay Lightning as well. He’s received a lot of credit for the Rangers’ defensive systems and also a lot of blame for their toothless powerplay.
Not too long ago, Gulutzan was one of the most highly-sought after young coaches after his impressive success in the ECHL and AHL. His first NHL head coaching stint with the Dallas Stars, however, was significantly less-impressive and, after interviewing with the Canucks for the vacant head coaching job, accepted an offer to join the Canucks as an assistant. He’s a smart young coach with a reputation of having great relationships with players and media alike, so should provide a nice counterpoint for the thornier Tortorella.
During the Canucks’ annual summer summit with season-ticket-holders, the Canucks announced that they would be retiring Pavel Bure’s iconic number 10 next season. Bure was humbled by the announcement:
It’s a huge honour, it’s one of those things that I never even dreamed about when I started to play hockey. Even when I was playing hockey for the Canucks I remember Stan Smyl was getting the same ceremony and it still didn’t even cross my mind in those days that one-day I’d be there.
There’s a certain amount of controversy to the announcement, due to how Bure left Vancouver, but we at PITB have firmly been on the side of retiring Bure’s number for some time now. He was undoubtedly the most electrifying player to ever wear a Canucks jersey and helped bring the Canucks into the national conversation. As good as Trevor Linden was, Bure was the player that had everyone on the edge of their seats and set the bar for star offensive players in Vancouver for the future, for good or ill.
Oddly enough, Bure didn’t wear the number being retired for his entire time in Vancouver. Bure switched from his iconic #10 to #96 prior to the 1995-96 season, supposedly symbolic if his arrival in North America on September 6th (9/6), 1991. After two injury-riddled and somewhat sub-par seasons, he switched back to #10 for the 1997-98 season. This means it’s entirely possible that on the night they raise #10 to the rafters, they’ll have highlights from Bure’s career while he’s wearing a completely different number.
Unlike the other countries participating in hockey at the Olympics, Sweden didn’t wait until it was officially announced that NHL players would be playing in Sochi before announcing their Olympic orientation camp roster. As a result, we missed this when it was first announced and so didn’t make a fuss like we did for Roberto Luongo, Dan Hamhuis, and Ryan Kesler getting invited to their respective Olympic orientation camps.
To no one’s surprise, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Alex Edler were invited to Sweden’s orientation camp. The Sedins are guaranteed to make the team and will be heavily relied upon for offence in Sochi, while Edler is closer to the fringe, battling with some very good defencemen for a spot on the roster. While I suspect he will make the team, it may depend on how well he plays through the first half of the season.
What also might influence the decision is the fact that Edler’s suspension from the 2013 World Championships for his knee-on-knee hit with Eric Staal will carry over to Sochi, meaning he will miss two games if he does make the team. Swedish development chief Tommy Boustedt claimed that it won’t affect his chances of making the team, but you have to think that it might subconsciously play into their decision-making process.
On the plus-side, if he does make the team, that’s two fewer games of wear and tear on Edler for the remainder of the Canucks’ season.Tags: Colin Stuart, Glen Gulutzan, John Tortorella, Olympics, Pavel Bure, The Dreaded Two-Goal Lead, Zach Hamill