I Watched This Game: Canucks at Dallas Stars, March 6, 2014

John Tortorella has a 5-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

I watched this game.

Canucks 1 – 6 Stars

***

  • Some will describe this game as a gong show, but that’s not really accurate. If it was a gong show, we could have rung a gong and ended the pain.
  • The Canucks were badly, badly outplayed in this game, giving up odd-man rushes by the barrelful and generally looking like they didn’t care about the end result of the game. There will be plenty of speculation about whether Tortorella has lost the room, which is something that we can’t really know since we’re not in that room, but I do know that Tortorella was billed as a motivator who could light a fire under some butts and those butts looked ice cold in this game.
  • Zack Kassian finally got an opportunity to play in the top-six, skating on a line with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. It didn’t go well. He was largely to blame for the Stars’ first goal, then took an incredibly stupid boarding penalty on Brendan Dillon at the end of the first period that saw him tossed from the game and will likely result in a suspension. It was dirtier than Eddie Lack’s pants during the Heritage Classic.
  • Speaking of Eddie Lack, the poor guy got shelled early, giving up three goals on the first eight shots he faced in the first period. Given how the team in front of him was playing, it seemed like the right time for a mercy pull, but Tortorella kept him in through the entire second period as well, allowing another two goals. Post-game, he said he sucked, but he would have had to be absolutely incredible to get the Canucks the win and, like Morgan Freeman doing voiceover, he was credible.
  • The Stars’ first goal was scored by the trailer after Lack made a fantastic save on a 2-on-1. Their second goal came on a breakaway. Their third goal was a floater from the side boards, but it came past an Alex Edler screen. The fourth, a tap-in at the backdoor on the power play after a superb pass. The fifth, yet another 2-on-1. If Eddie Lack was a Pinterest board, he’d maybe have one of those goals pinned on him.
  • Lack finally got the hook in the second intermission, sending new Canuck Jacob Markstrom into the fray. He didn’t have much to do, as the Stars took their foot off the pedal up 5-1, but he still allowed one goal after a rare defensive miscue from Chris Tanev left Tyler Seguin all alone to find a hole short side with a quick shot. That’s how bad this game was: Tanev was making mistakes defensively. It was like seeing an addax in the wild.
  • I wouldn’t say there were any bright spots for the Canucks, but there were a couple slightly less-dingy spots. New Canuck Shawn Matthias was quite good, with a game-high 7 shots on goal, was 64% on faceoffs, and did some good work on the penalty kill. The fourth line of Zac Dalpe, Jordan Schroeder, and Darren Archibald looked like a group of three NHL forwards at times. So, there’s that.
  • Is it gauche to point out how terrible Ryan Kesler was in his first game after he didn’t get traded at the trade deadline? I’m not sure what the etiquette is on this. The Canucks just had three shot attempts with him on the ice at even-strength, and allowed twelve. For shots that actually made it to the net, the Canucks were out-shot 8-2 with Kesler on the ice at even-strength. Is suggesting that Kesler looked like he didn’t want to be out there like mistaking a salad fork for a luncheon fork? Help me out, Judith Martin.
  • It turns out the Canucks got a better return for Roberto Luongo than we initially thought. No, I don’t mean Matthias or Markstrom performed above expectations. I mean that we got something unexpected out of the deal: now Luongo can tweet during Canucks games. His three tweets during the game revealed a little lingering bitterness and a lot of sympathy for former teammate Eddie Lack. They were also hilarious and ensured that Jacob Markstrom’s nickname will have to be Thing 4.
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48 comments

  1. BBoone
    March 7, 2014

    The longer you leave Laforgorella on the job , the more you risk doing serious long term damage to this team. The absence of this or that player because of injury or the absence of better players altogether is in many ways just a smokescreen. It is any coach’s job one to accept the players he has and have them focused and playing a style suited to their skills. He made this team about himself right from the opening press conference and we now see the results of his “coaching” game after game.

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    Rating: +27 (from 27 votes)
    • Leah
      March 7, 2014

      Watching NHL Revealed last night it was interesting to see the difference between Torts and the Ottawa coach talking to the teams between periods of the Heritage Classic. Maclean had his team not only listening to him but revved up and excited. The Canucks looked like they were waiting for a bus. To take them to prison. Not good.

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    • Alan Chu
      March 7, 2014

      Long term damage already done. Luo’s gone. Forever.

      :(

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      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  2. Brent
    March 7, 2014

    I am very, very glad I did not watch this game (although I enjoyer the IWTG!).

    So do we start a pool on when Torts gets fired. The team certainly is playing like they want someone (or everyone) fired.

    But it really sucks that Toronto will likely make the playoffs and we won’t. OUCH!

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    Rating: +20 (from 20 votes)
  3. akidd
    March 7, 2014

    “John Tortorella has a 5-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
    I watched this game.”

    nothing much to add except maybe they should try watching video of other players lifting the cup next.

    in brighter entertainment news, i got hooked on that True Detective show. i used to have a hard time stomaching matthew macconaughey but now….

    maybe tortorella should do a show for hbo then people would like him more….

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    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  4. Pavo
    March 7, 2014

    Some positives to take away from this game – the Canucks scored a goal.

    And Torts is going to make them watch lots more video so they can learn to score more.

    Practice is sooooo over-rated.

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  5. Naturalmystic
    March 7, 2014

    Tortorella showing the team a video of them scoring goals reminded me of the sport psychologist in the movie The Natural.

    The mind is a strange thing, men.
    We must begin by asking it.
    “What is losing?”
    Losing is a disease….as contagious as polio.
    Losing is a disease….as contagious as syphilis.
    Losing is a disease….as contagious as bubonic plague.
    Attacking one…. but infecting all.
    But curable.
    Now, I want you to imagine….you are on a ship at sea.
    On a vast…

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    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
    • Zach Morris
      March 7, 2014

      Hypnotist: You will give one hundred and ten percent.

      Players: [chanting in unison] That’s impossible. No one can give more than one hundred percent. By definition that is the most anyone can give.

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      Rating: +20 (from 20 votes)
  6. shoes
    March 7, 2014

    Just a hint about Torts 5 year contract. He is a tax deduction whether he plays it out or gets fired. Frankie can write him off and spread the misery over all Canadians.

    It is absolutely imperiative that Torterella does not get ahold of Fox, Horvat, Shinkaruk, Jensen or Guance. They are our future and Torts is not.

    Please Canucks play like that for one more game and we are rid of this buffoon. Admitedly too little, too late, but we did our part in ensuring that Torterella never coachs again at any level. He ruined some decent players by overplaying them. And he ruined and lost the room last Sunday as my dog predicted

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    Rating: +16 (from 16 votes)
    • mb13
      March 7, 2014

      You clearly dont know how write-offs work.

      I do agree that Torts is not the answer. I think I said that at the start of the season that the players would not mesh with his style. Specifically I pointed out Bieksa and Kesler as players who would not like Torts. Maybe I was wrong about which players… or maybe I wasnt. Not sure how much Torts had to do with Kes wanting out. Bieksa.. well maybe he doesnt mind Torts. Sure looks like the rest of the team wont play for him though.

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    • BBoone
      March 7, 2014

      Absolutely spot on . Already you can see how hollow any criticism ” Coach ” has for Kassian would be in light of his sand box display against the Flames .

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  7. Neil B
    March 7, 2014

    #PrayForEddie

    Might get that on a jersey nameplate…

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  8. mac 'n cheese
    March 7, 2014

    Its nice to see Miss Manners finally getting some recognition. Well done, Mr. Wagner. We are going to need some manners if things keep going in this… manner.

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    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  9. whisky jack
    March 7, 2014

    I left when they were down by three
    I had some other place to be
    I should make plans for Saturday
    So I’ll not have to watch them play
    For if they lose against the Flames
    I know I will be one who claims
    So very few of the Canucks
    Are worth more than “a bag of pucks”

    It often seems there’s little doubt
    That many guys are wanting out
    It’s not that they have really quit
    They appear not to give a shit
    If playoffs are or are not made
    It matters not they still get paid
    So I suggest for twelve defeats
    Twenty thousand empty seats

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  10. Mel
    March 7, 2014

    Maybe the video-watching practice got the team used to watching goals being scored?

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    Rating: +16 (from 16 votes)
    • BBoone
      March 7, 2014

      After the next inspirational Video I suggest that Laforgorella divide the team into three groups for scrimmaging . How about Team Desire , Team Hustle and Team Pride to spur the team to a Stanley Cup charge ….that should do the trick.

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      • John in Marpole
        March 7, 2014

        I was living in The ‘Loops when LaForge was the coach of the Kamloops Junior Oilers (as they were called then). The team sucked – the star was Garth Butcher for cryin’ out loud.

        After a bad game,and there were many that year, it wasn’t an unusual sight to see the players – in full uniform – running around Memorial Arena shortly after the game had ended. Paying penance no doubt.

        When LaForge was named the Canuck coach I figured he’d not last the season, but who knew just how quickly he would be gone.

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    • wes
      March 7, 2014

      bah dum psshh

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  11. JGC
    March 7, 2014

    Remember when Torts was hired and some cynics said he was the perfect coach for a team that needed to rebuild because he’d make everyone want to waive their no-trade clauses? When’s the trade deadline again? Oh, right.

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  12. smj
    March 7, 2014

    I realize the optimism that follows is closer to lunacy but…

    Sometimes the canucks get embarrassed by the team with which they are closely matched in the standings (often chicago in the past, sigh) and then they start to win. I’m not saying this would make any difference in the season, but gee it would be nice to win at least once in the next few weeks since I can not seem to stop watching. It’s like Luther; I watch although it ruins my state of mind.

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    • J21
      March 7, 2014

      (1) Bit late for that now;

      (2) Winning is basically counterproductive to the Canucks’ interests right now, since North American sports don’t have relegation and have a socialist draft system.

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      Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
  13. cathylu
    March 7, 2014

    Since I live in L.A. I’ll just say that the Canucks have become the Lakers of the NHL.

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  14. Lenny
    March 7, 2014

    #firetorts

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    • Wagman
      March 7, 2014

      Or is that #freetorts?

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      • madwag
        March 7, 2014

        #freefromtorts

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  15. Gored 1970
    March 7, 2014

    On the bright side, we are currently drafting 9th overall with our 66 points and the way we are playing it’s possible that Ottawa (65 pts), Carolina (63) and Nashville (62) will all pass us leaving us with 6th overall. Does anyone think the Islanders with 57 points can win enough games without Tavares to pass us and allow us into the lottery for 1st overall?

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    • Neil B
      March 7, 2014

      Lottery doesn’t work that way anymore. Everyone who misses the Second Season has a chance to win the lottery (the worse you are, the better your chance, of course). Whoever wins the draw gets #1 overall; everyone between their ‘real’ position and #1 gets bumped down a peg.

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  16. iain
    March 7, 2014

    i was driving back from business in seattle and so missed this game. sometimes rush hour traffic is actually the preferable option.

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  17. Aaron
    March 7, 2014

    I was all for Torts coming to Vancouver and supported Gilles history with the Canucks. I hate to admit it but I think I was wrong. The Lou issues continually pissed me off and I can’t get how they made a trade that might have some potential but it also left us with two goalies who I don’t believe have played a whole season in the NHL combined but did not make the other trades that were necessary to rebuild properly. Instead they traded off our abused Lou and did nothing else to fill the cupboard. I have to say it seems obvious that Torts does not have the room and that more needed to be done at trade deadline. I so hope the owners make the right trades of GM and Coach soon.

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  18. Amor de Cosmos
    March 7, 2014

    It might actually be a positive that they didn’t bring in anyone significant at the deadline. Perhaps it indicates recognition in the executive suite that the team is headed toward a high draft pick, rather than a play off berth, so why pay top dollar for a new body now?

    It could also mean the suits don’t want to give Torts the opportunity to screw up a high priced newcomer. And will wait until after he’s gone (puhleese!) to begin to rebuild/reboot or whatever.

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  19. Warpstone
    March 7, 2014

    Phew. Good thing management listened to the fans and The Province reporters to fire AV, right?

    Hopefully Tortorella can motivate the team towards a lottery pick next year for Connor McDavid?

    BTW, while the initial defensive tightness was nice to see, do you think we have enough evidence now to recommend that the previous regime’s lop-sided zone-start strategy is a better way to squeeze value out of the Sedins? Sure, they can keep playing in defensive situations–they’re good players. But what are we trying to prove at this point?

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    • akidd
      March 7, 2014

      did you miss the 10-foot high bench? 10-feet high i tell you! giants!

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  20. Chris the Curmudgeon
    March 7, 2014

    As the saying goes “players play, coaches coach, managers manage”. With a trainwreck of this magnitude, there’s plenty of blame to go around. The players share some, but probably get more of a pass. Tortorella was clearly the wrong man for the job (I guess AV isn’t looking as bad these days, huh). However, at the end of the day, this has to fall back on Gillis, and Aquilini too to the extent that he’s been meddling.

    What this shouldn’t be, however, is a surprise. This outcome has been several years in the making, following the loss in the Stanley Cup Finals. Up to that point, Mike Gillis had been a decent, if not spectacular, manager of personnel. The Cup Finals team was built around a core assembled under the previous regime, but had been supplemented nicely by the likes of Ehrhoff, Torres, Hamhuis and two solid deadline acquisitions in Higgins and Lapierre. Gillis’s only really questionable move had been to move Grabner (a 34 goal scorer that year) for overpriced spare part Ballard, in a move that also sacrificed a first round pick. That squad fell short, but the pieces were there to make another run with a little bit of supplementation.

    However, I happen to think that loss crystallized Gillis’s thinking along the wrong path. The main reasons the team fell short (just barely) were the otherworldly goaltending of Tim Thomas, the impeccable defensive play of Zdeno Chara, the underrated depth of Boston’s offensive skill, and the accumulation of fatigue and injury that resulted from a grueling Western Conference regular season and playoff schedule, in comparison to the far weaker East. However, instead of bolstering the team’s strengths, Gillis took from that shortfall that the team wasn’t tough enough (it was) and began to change the successful identity of the team to one that could slug it out with the big bad Bruins. Scoring was an afterthought, as Gillis began the process of taking for granted the thing the team did better than any other while remaking the team into something they weren’t suited to be.

    First, he let Christian Ehrhoff walk by not meeting his demands. He got a ridiculous contract from the Sabres, but only after the Canucks failed to recognize that no number of Bieksas or Romes could bring what he brings (they apparently weren’t that far apart). He lowballed Torres, an extremely valuable member of that team, who got the term he was after from the Coyotes and bolted. He moved the popular, though declining, Samuelsson and the underperforming Sturm for Booth, a symbol of the fetishizing of possession and two-way play over scoring acumen that has plagued the team of late. And he traded the only homegrown skill player he’d ever drafted, Cody Hodgson, for a glorified goon with hands who was eons away from making an impact in the NHL. The results weren’t hard to predict: scoring numbers went way down on all fronts, and the team went down in the first round to a team they could skate with, but not score on. After that, the downhill run continued, as no changes of any note were made in the following two off-seasons apart from a double down on a failed strategy and a trade away of a goalie they should have kept. No attempt was made to add a scorer, no young players given a shot to crack the lineup, and instead of hiring a new coach to mesh with the style of the team’s best players, Gillis hires one whose MO seems to be to primarily try to negate the positive attributes of his top players.

    I got my nickname of the “Curmudgeon” when the Bulies got sick of my bellyaching about the Hodgson trade. My unchanging tune since that moment has been that neglecting the offensive side of the game, by shipping out offensive players (Hodgson) or allowing them to leave (Ehrhoff), was going to be the downfall of this team, at least until the league replaces the “win” column with a “Corsi For” column. I wanted Gillis gone the second I saw the Hodgson trade come over the wire, because it was symbolic of the fact that he doesn’t get it, and because I felt his moves were directly leading to the decline of the team. I’m not normally one to say “I told you so”, but…well you know what I mean.

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    • Chinstrap Joe
      March 7, 2014

      You are exactly right regarding Erhoff. His move out seemed to be the trickle of water over the top of the dam. I don’t know how the stats bear this but it seems that when he was on the point on the PP, we were at the apex of our scoring. It has been in decline ever since – more or less.

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        March 7, 2014

        Ehrhoff was the straw that stirred the drink on the PP. His last season with Vancouver saw the team lead the league in power play efficiency. The year after, they declined considerably (near 5% drop in efficiency), although this was offset somewhat by the emergence of a decent 2nd unit anchored by Cody Hodgson. What Ehrhoff provided was an outlet for the Sedins’ down low cycle. Whereas now, teams will commit strongly to breaking their cycle play behind the net, with Ehrhoff that wasn’t a good idea because he could receive passes and move the puck aggressively from the point. There is no one on the team well suited to that role now, and just look at the Sedins’ numbers. One could ascribe their stats to “decline”, but I don’t think that totally accounts for it. If you throw out this season where they’ve been re-deployed on the PK in a shot-blocking role and where both have been seriously injured (along with their best linemate), and you see two guys who have been steady, slightly below point per game players for most of their career, EXCEPT when they overlapped with Ehrhoff, during which time they each won an Art Ross Trophy. That’s not a coincidence.

        The team somehow seems to think Alex Edler can be Christian Ehrhoff if you send him out there in that role long enough. The league’s worst +/- among defencemen would seem to suggest they are wrong.

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        • akidd
          March 7, 2014

          chris, i agree that erhoff was pretty key to the canucks’ success and especially the sedins success. gillis did try to re-sign him but, unlike the rest of the canuck core, erhoff wasn’t willing to give a hometown discount, which was the only way gillis could keep the team together. if one guy doesn’t buy in it’s pretty hard to keep the chemistry flowing. pretty unfortunate that erhoff wasn’t more committed to the team, i guess. maybe gillis should have recalculated/relented somehow, found a way to re-sign erhoff and save face. tricky but perhaps do-able. dunno.

          it wasn’t so much the coho trade but what led up to it which was the gaffe. with AV alluding to coho’s back like he was using it as an excuse and gillis not really giving coho any public support in the matter. the trade was just the inevitable result of that earlier mismanagement. too bad.

          misplayed torres but then tried(not hard enough) to get him back. also don’t forget not re-signing willie mitchell. willie was heart and soul and deserved better. that was cold. that might have been gillis’ biggest mistake in his time here.

          i was never a huge sammuelson fan but in retrospect his smarts were pretty important to the team. and bringing booth back the team i.q. took a huge hit.

          i still think with the mutiltude of decisions a gm has to make that gillis has done more good than bad. but the bad does start adding up when i think about it: willie, grabner, sammelson/booth, coho, torres, erhoff(kinda) are all significant miscalculations. not enough to fail him perhaps but they do bring that gpa down. and all those misjudgements are the result perhaps of too intellectual an approach. a bit too cold is our mike.

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          • mb13
            March 7, 2014

            Agree 100% Chris.

            I was always skeptical about Gillis from the outset. He talked a good game… which makes me worry about someone. Usually those that can walk the walk, walk it. Those that can talk it, can’t walk. And the biggest worry is someone talking the talk without ever trying to walk the walk.

            Now does anybody know the story behind Tom Larscheid? Admittedly a big reason I stopped supporting this team.

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          • Chris the Curmudgeon
            March 7, 2014

            So which decisions has he made that you approve of, exactly? He’s re-signed a lot of guys that have been here for a while, which is something of a mixed bag. I don’t think he’s “won” a trade since the 2011. He’s signed a few players at “home town” discounts with no trade clauses that have turned out not to be worth whatever value their pay is supposedly a discount from, and that are now immovable as a result. He’s drafted quite poorly, when he hasn’t traded the picks away, as it’s quite telling that there’s only one Gillis draft pick on the team right now (Schroeder) and he’s barely hanging by a thread. As a result, the cupboard has always been fairly bare, with the exception of the one prospect we now have thanks to trading away an excellent and inexpensive goaltender the team had been developing for almost 10 years. His best ever move was to acquire Ehrhoff, but it’s a little hard to praise him for that these days when he allowed said offensive wunderkind to walk while keeping the likes of Alex Edler. Seriously, I can understand giving him a pass on some stuff, but what don’t you want to give him a pass on?

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            • akidd
              March 7, 2014

              chris, when you’re drafting in the 20′s every year it’s not that easy to accumulate skilled guys. and free agency ain’t what it used to be. i think he’s done well to get guys like tanev, lack, horvat, shinkaruk, fox, stanton, coho(remember he drafted your boy,) corrado, hamhuis, garrison, santorelli, erhoff, higgins, lappiere, torres etc. all are/were decent players.

              he also managed to create an atmosphere where players wanted to re-sign for less than market prices. if they’ve fallen off since then so be it but at the time(and that’s all it’s really fair to go on) those were good contracts.

              i liked the investment he put into player development/performance with his research into sleep and fatigue. as well as his emphasis on community/charity.

              i liked that he was patient and unlike some teams(leafs, flames) never knee-jerked a big trade for short-term pr purposes. he tried to give his core and coach(AV) every chance to succeed.

              now maybe he showed too much patience, and maybe some stuff went off the rails. but for awhile it was looking pretty sweet.

              i just don’t think it’s that easy to add top-end talent if you’re not drafting top-ten, or way over-paying in free agency. i think he’s done what he could in the post-cap world while continuing to make the playoffs every year.

              i’ve listed above some stuff that i didn’t like and you can add not dealing edler before his ntc kicked in.

              i think it all went off the rails this season with tortorella and his complete disregard for the toll of west-coast travel and his completely ineffective and inappropriate systems and probably motivational techniques. but that’s on ownership. gillis had his wings clipped last summer and what we’re seeing now is what always happens when ownership meddles.

              and i completely agree that it’s not about corsi, it’s about winning. shots do not equal goals. as i said our mike is a bit too intellectual. but overall i hardly think he’s been the disaster that so many people are saying he’s been.

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    • Pavo
      March 7, 2014

      Chris – I agree with post of your points but I wonder how much of the change in direction was Gillis-inspired, and how of it was instigated by a meddling ownership.

      If it is largely the latter, a Gillis firing or resignation may not achieve much in terms of a positive change.

      What I find fascinating about this management is how they throw stupid money and terms at some people (Luongo, Tortorella), and nickel and dime others out of town.

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        March 7, 2014

        Admittedly, it’s pretty hard to parse Gillis’s decisions from Aquilini’s. If this team becomes the Oakland Raiders of the NHL with owner meddling I don’t know how long I can handle it (I get out to the occasional Raider game and I can tell you that those people were NOT sad when Al Davis died).

        Having said that, unfortunately it goes with the territory. If Gillis is unhappy with his role with the club, it’s within his power to resign and stop getting the paychecks. There have been enough examples of good money thrown after bad with this team that if they were indeed all Aquilini’s calls, Gillis should have been able to persuade him to leave it alone by now. However, I have a hard time attributing a lot of the real gaffes to ownership. I don’t think ownership was fawning over David Booth or Zack Kassian or Keith Ballard. I could picture them being involved with some of the Luongo situation, and with hiring Tortorella, but without evidence to the contrary I think most of the rest was Gillis. As long as we’re ascribing incompetence to members of the Canuck brass, I’d say there’s plenty to go around.

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        • mb13
          March 7, 2014

          Chris – I agree 100% percent with everything you have written.

          People will say that it’s hard to get talent when drafting in the 20s which is fair. But look at Chicago getting Brandon Saad in the 3rd round and Andrew Shaw in the 5th round in 2011 and them contributing to a Cup winning team two years later. And you can say those are one offs… but building a Championship is about getting a one off to help you get over the hump.

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  21. Noodle
    March 7, 2014

    Perfect intro, Daniel. Haha.

    It’s amazing how drastically this season has gone off the rails. I’m sure that even the most pessimistic of us didn’t expect this level of chaos/drama/futility.

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  22. DanD
    March 7, 2014

    Is it possible to induct Pat Quinn right into the dressing room rather than the ring of honour?

    Sigh.

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  23. d.bech
    March 7, 2014

    Well I guess this was a game to showcase the new additions. Hope they enjoyed their first game in a Canuck jersey.

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  24. d.bech
    March 7, 2014

    oh and Mr. Luongo;s tweets are priceless! I have always been and will always be a huge supporter of him. With his talent and experience he has always been and will remain the starting goaltender for years to come.

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  25. Gord
    March 7, 2014

    Stopped reading this after you blamed Torts in the preamble and first point. This is the same core that quit on a polar opposite head Coach each of the last two springs! Are people in this town insane? The problem is the players. Has been all along. They’re mentally fragile and at this point it’s pathetic to even watch.

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  26. Naturalmystic
    March 7, 2014

    When Lack was interviewed after the game and talked about how he sucked, Lack sounded exactly like Napoleon Dynamite. I wonder if he has a sweet bo staff.

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