What was the Canucks’ lowest point of the season?

Way back at the end of November in this very space, I marvelled at the Canucks’ terrible six-game homestand, an unfortunate stretch in which they played host to the Sharks, Stars, Panthers, Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, and Kings, and came away with a 1-2-3 record, thanks largely to their inability to close out games.

I dubbed this “masterpiece of tragicomic theatre” their worst homestand ever, and elsewhere, I speculated that, at year’s end, we would look back on it as the low point of the Canucks’ season.

In the parlance of today’s youth: ROFLMAO. I am a buffoon. Five months later, I am confident that this homestand was far from the Challenger Deep of this terrible, god-forsaken year. Heck, it may not even be in the top five. Here are the other candidates, in chronological order:

January 15: The day after a loss to the Los Angeles Kings, which fans were all to happy to view as a moral victory, the Canucks headed to Anaheim, where the Ducks made absolutely sure there was no way to misinterpret this loss as a win. They scored 9 goals to Vancouver’s 1. It was the hockey equivalent of watching Samara crawl out of the well in The Ring. At game’s end, all our faces looked like her first victim from the movie’s opening scene.

January 16: The Canucks lose 1-0 to the Phoenix Coyotes, but if the Coyotes had also been awarded a goal for every Canuck that Martin Hanzal damn near cross-checked to death, the final score would be 3-0. Hanzal, who apparently wields a horizontal hockey stick like Samson wields the jawbone of an ass, wiped out Mike Santorelli’s season with one crushing blow, then turned his sights on the Canuck captain. That was it for Henrik Sedin’s iron man streak, that was it for Santorelli’s season, and one could argue it was even it for the Canucks’ season as a whole.

January 18: Or maybe you’d even forgotten about that day, overshadowed as it was by the game that followed it, a visit from the Calgary Flames. You might recall: after a line brawl that saw 9 players ejected in the game’s first two seconds, John Tortorella lost his mind at the intermission, opting against going to his own room and choosing instead to charge into the Calgary Flames’ dressing room, presumably to go “Martin Hanzal” on everyone.

He never quite made it, which is a shame, because watching him land just one punch on anybody might have made the 15-day suspension that followed seem worth it. With Tortorella out of the lineup, the Canucks looked like a team without a head coach in his absence (which makes sense), and they weren’t quite the same when he returned, either.

March 2: The Heritage Classic was supposed to be a fun and nostalgic little event, harkening back to 1915, that glorious year when a team from Vancouver won the right to call themselves the Stanley Cup champions with a victory over the Ottawa Senators. Instead, the event seemed to harken back to a much more recent time: last season, when the Canucks’ goaltending controversy was in full bloom like the cherry blossoms of spring.

Poor Eddie Lack was booed and jeered, the fans chanted for Luongo, and the Canucks played just badly enough to fuel the anger of everyone in attendance. Somehow, the Canucks managed to overshadow their own event with yet another instalment in their never-ending goaltending saga, and fans were left to wonder — if they can’t manage the P.R. on a simple day like this, how can this team possibly chart a course for the playoffs?

March 10: The Canucks waltzed into the third period of a game versus the New York Islanders leading 3-0. Victory was theirs. Unfortunately, “they” are the Islanders, who scored seven times in the third period to win 7-4. There are lost empires that didn’t collapse that drastically. If there were people watching in Atlantis, they were probably like, “Wow, what a collapse, and I would know, since my island nation was swallowed by the sea.”

April 7: With their playoff lives on the line versus the Ducks, the Canucks drew John Gibson, a goaltender making his first professional start. They’d had their struggles with Anaheim in the past, but this was a gift. Unfortunately, they returned it, mailing in a lacklustre, lackadaisical performance. Thanks to their dearth of lustre and adaisical (not to mention shots, of which they had but 18) Gibson’s first NHL start was also his first NHL shutout, and the Canucks were done.

So too was Mike Gillis, who was unable to overcome a season that features a seven-way tie for worst moment. I guess that makes sense.

17 comments

  1. Aaron
    April 11, 2014

    My vote is the heritage classic in which they totally mistreated Lou yet again and then tradedhim. It was a horrible situation and it’s when I decided Tort’s and MG need to go!

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  2. TubaNat
    April 11, 2014

    My reaction to this season wound up mostly being crying “Stop, stop, they’re already dead”

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  3. Benner49
    April 11, 2014

    What about when we lost big to the leaves…

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  4. Chris the Curmudgeon
    April 11, 2014

    A lot of these points were pretty low, but I think giving up 7 goals in the 3rd period to a bottom feeding team while at a point of desperation for wins and points, turning a 3 goal lead into a 3 goal loss, was the very bottom for me.

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  5. steveB
    April 11, 2014

    This was indeed the Canucks’ Annus Horribilis, even worse than those years that were more than Messy.

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  6. Pat
    April 11, 2014

    I only attended 5 games this season, but unfortunately for me March 2, March 10, and April 7th were 3 of those 5. While the Heritage Classic was as big of a made-for-TV gimmick as you’ll ever see (to the point where I almost wrote a heated letter to the Canucks organization about how disappointed I was), and April 7th’s loss to the Ducks was the nail in the coffin of an uninspired team, nothing comes close to being as crushingly pathetic as the March 10th loss to the Isles. It was a meltdown for the ages.

    As far as the regular season goes, I’ve witness the highest highs in stadium (Burrow’s “breaking” his stick after the comeback against the ‘Canes comes to mind) and now I’ve witnessed what I can only hope to be the lowest lows.

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  7. Brent
    April 11, 2014

    Definitely March 10th was the lowest of the low. After reaching rock bottom several times in the season before that and having dug themselves to lower lows, on this night they brought in drills and dynamite to reach an ultimate sub-rock bottom low, we are talking upper mantle here.

    I also feel the beginning of this slide was the so called “moral Victory” against LA. It was just downhill after that, talk about trying to make a team something it isn’t. Obviously, this so called new found “toughness” was not on display when Martin Hanzal did all the cross-checking. If it was there would have been some sort of response. But there was none, and nothing in any subsequent games. In that vein, I hope that the rumours are not true that FA wants to follow the Boston model. Please no! I would like a skilled team!

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  8. Cody
    April 11, 2014

    NY Islanders game without a doubt was my low point. The ultimate collapse where I got to watch four Canucks lying on the ice in front of the net with no shot being blocked. It was the moment when I remembered why I hate the block shots mentality. Players on their bellies are pretty ineffective at hockey

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  9. Pavo
    April 11, 2014

    Was away for the Isles game and didn’t get to watch it on TV, so I didn’t experience that particular disaster in real time.

    So, for me the real low was the Heritage Classic when it became glaringly obvious that our fiery, blood n’guts coach completely lacked common sense.

    I thought about 4 four more years with this pig-headed git behind the bench and wanted to cry myself to sleep.

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  10. flyingv
    April 11, 2014

    I went to both the Heritage Classic and the Islanders game. I can’t pick which one was worse. I felt angry, cheated, and hopeless after both games.

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  11. Kevin
    April 11, 2014

    May 29:
    Media Release: #Canucks sign Tom Sestito to a two-year deal.

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  12. Matt
    April 11, 2014

    In terms of turning points of the season, the 1-0 loss to Phoenix that also put Santorelli out for the season and ended Henrik’s iron man streak was probably the biggest – even the best teams have one or two blow-out losses (9-1 is pretty extreme, though) but losing two of your top three centres in one game just wrecked the team.

    The 7-4 loss to the Islanders was probably the most upset I’ve ever been after a hockey game, though.

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  13. Gary
    April 12, 2014

    Surely we don’t need to look further than the day they announced the hiring of Tortorella?

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  14. sado
    April 12, 2014

    Heritage Classic. The boo’ing of Lack was so wrong and should’ve been directed at the guy responsible.

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  15. The bulldog connection
    April 12, 2014

    FIRE torts! He has NO place as a CANUCKS! We need a complete change and start over fresh! Can’t teach that old dog any new tricks! His a time bomb waiting to go off again like the Flmaes game and bring us all down once again! FIRE Torts PLEASE!

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  16. shoes
    April 12, 2014

    Reading through the posts I almost agree with everyone and would like to add more:

    1) The announcing of the schedule in Aug with the record # of back to backs in Dec. The Canucks schedule could not have been worse and was far worse than any of their peers in the West. It also was exaggerated by Torts playing the top lines up to 50 minutes per game.

    2) The “drawing” of 7 minutes penalties….3 in 2 games by the same refs….the first 7 minute penalties for as long as stats have been kept. Furthermore one of the same refs went on to allow his “fwend” Hanzal to effectively end two seasons…..the Canucks and Santorellis. The fact that losing Santorelli was so huge …..pretty well tells us we were not going far in the playoffs anyway, BUT this is not up to Dave “gretal” Jackson or Paul “collies fwend” Devorski to decide. the fact that Devorski and Jackson will both ref in the post season is galling on some level.

    3) The hiring of Torts, period……and this should have cost Gillis his job. It was high risk, but the Torts “relationship” with the NHL should have negated the hiring. Him getting 167,000 fine (15 days without pay) compared to Roy getting 10,000 fine, for essentially the same thing tells you all you need to know. Torts is and will always be damaged goods…..he no longer has the credibility to be a TV guy, except maybe on American cable.

    Having said all that…..Gillis’s drafting (when he did not trade away the picks) is better than we had under Nonis and we should have a faster turn around with (insert praying here) our new coach,, GM and President of Hockey operations.

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    • Brent
      April 12, 2014

      Yes to all the points above.

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