Stick in Link: Canucks have Fin, so they don’t need Thornton; coach hunt continues

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Canucks’ wedding gift to David Booth: cash (in the form of a buyout)

David Booth is set to get married later this month at the field in Montana where he bagged his biggest deer. (He’s a weird dude. This has been established.)

So what do you get as a wedding present for a dude this wacky? Coonskin cap? Bearskin rug? A something-skin something, most definitely, unless you want to go the route the Canucks have reportedly opted to go, and just give him cash.

It’s a pretty impersonal gift, granted, but the Canucks probably don’t mind, since this one doubles as compliance buyout. Late Monday evening, new Canucks GM Jim Benning called Booth’s agent Mike Liut to inform him that the left winger would be bought out.

The David Booth era in Vancouver is, sadly, over.

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Did Alain Vigneault really say the 2014 Rangers were closer than the 2011 Canucks?

After watching his opponent hoist the Stanley Cup right in front of him for the second time in his pro career, Alain Vigneault returned to Madison Square Garden with his Rangers not to play a Game 6, as hoped, but to clean out their lockers for the summer.

Naturally, with two Final losses now weighing heavily on his mind, the head coach couldn’t help but conflate both experiences, and in trying to explain a Stanley Cup Final series that felt a great deal more competitive than most that end in five, he took the approach of contrasting it with the Canucks’ loss.

Then, according to Rangers beat writer Andrew Gross, he said a truly wacko thing: that the 2014 Rangers were closer.

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The Prospector: introducing Jeff Costello, catching up with Joacim Eriksson, Joseph LaBate, Patrick McNally

With the NHL finally over officially, it’s time to look to the future. The NHL draft is just a couple weeks away, where every draft-eligible prospect will be endlessly compared to current NHL superstars and past Hall-of-Famers and fans will look for every scouting report they can find to assure themselves that their team’s newest prospects are surefire franchise players.

Before we get too wrapped up in that, however, let’s take a look at some of the players already in the Canucks’ prospect pool who may have slipped under the radar since being acquired or drafted by the team. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Canucks Prospects YouTube account, we have a plethora of highlight videos available. We’ll look at four players today, three of them from the NCAA.

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Adorable kids think Canucks need more practice, have no faith in Eddie Lack

Canucks fans all seem to agree that hiring John Tortorella was a big mistake. But here’s a question that most fans haven’t asked: could a small child have done a better job at coaching the Canucks than Tortorella?

The answer might just be yes. At least, that’s the impression I got from reading the advice a number of elementary school kids sent to Trevor Linden. The first piece of advice offered by the vast majority directly contradicted one of Tortorella’s biggest coaching philosophies: practice more.

They also differed from Tortorella in how much trust they put in Eddie Lack. Tortorella repeatedly started Lack after the Olympic break, including in the Heritage Classic, alienating Roberto Luongo and leading directly to his trade to the Florida Panthers. The kids, on the other hand, don’t seem to even consider Lack a goaltender , with many under the impression that the Canucks have no goalies at all.

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Why Ryan Kesler’s trade demand could be a blessing for the Canucks

The above photo was snapped by Jeff Vinnick for Getty Images, and here’s what you’re looking at, according to the caption: “Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks steps off the ice for the last time in the season during their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena April 13, 2014.”

Be assured that Vinnick arrived at Rogers Arena that night intending to get this exact photo. Why? Because he knew, just as many of us knew, that it was possible Kesler wasn’t just heading off for the last time in the season. If the Selke-winning centre gets his wish, this will soon be a photo of him stepping off the ice for the last time as a Canuck.

The regime change in Vancouver didn’t lead to a mind change for Kesler, as TSN’s Darren Dreger said last week. “He wants a fresh start and to move on from Vancouver; he met with Benning earlier this week to talk about that. It’s believed that Kesler still has six teams on his list that he’s willing to be traded to.”

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Stick in Link: Oral history of 1994, moving on up, and coach Desjardins?

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Hear the Canucks’ lost 1975 theme song, “We’re With You” [VIDEO]

When it became clear that the 2013-14 Vancouver Canucks weren’t playoff-bound, the team launched a concerted effort to focus on the past. 1994, to be specific. But let’s overshoot 1994 by a couple of decades, and go a little further back, to the halcyon days of 1975.

Back then, the Canucks’ goaltender was a guy by the name of Gary “Suitcase” Smith, so named, during this era when hockey players were better at nicknames, because he was an NHL journeyman. It was the year of the Canucks’ playoff debut, as the team won the Smythe Division in its first season after realignment. And it was the only year in Canucks’ history in which they played without a team captain.

They didn’t need a captain, you see, because they got all the inspiration and motivation necessary to win the big games from their new theme song, “We’re With You”. Yes, the Canucks have a theme song, and to my mind, it rivals “Here come the Hawks”. But I’m biased.

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Canucks won’t be trading the 6th overall pick [Report]

There was a lot of fuss made last week over rumours the Canucks would be trying to trade up in the upcoming draft. Some of that fuss was made by us.

Most of the rumours surrounded the idea that the Canucks could package their first round pick at 6th overall with a roster player or prospect to trade with the Florida Panthers for their pick at first overall. Since the Panthers are reportedly looking for a top-four defenceman, Jason Garrison, Alex Edler, and Chris Tanev were quickly tossed into the rumour mill. Ben Kuzma decided, for some reason, that it made sense to package Bo Horvat with the pick. It doesn’t, for the record.

In any case, the entire speculative discussion is now a moot point, as Jim Benning apparently has no intention of trading the 6th overall pick.

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Spitballin’ on Dan Bylsma, Ryan Kesler, and Simpsons-themed Canucks logos

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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Canucks interested in Sam Reinhart; should they trade for the first overall pick to get him?

The first overall draft pick has been traded just five times in NHL history. Somehow, the Florida Panthers have traded away three of them.

The first of those trades can be somewhat excused, as it came months before the draft, well before the Panthers knew they were going to win the 1998 draft lottery and select first overall. They traded their first round pick, along with Dave Lowry, to the San Jose Sharks for Viktor Kozlov. The Sharks eventually traded the pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who used it to select Vincent Lecavalier.

The other two trades were made on the day of the draft. In both 2002 and 2003, the Panthers traded down from the top pick to the third overall pick. In 2002, the Columbus Blue Jackets used the first overall pick to select Rick Nash. In 2003, the Pittsburgh Penguins used it to take Marc-Andre Fleury.

Once again, the Panthers hold the first overall pick and rumours are swirling that they are once again willing to make a trade. If they go through with it, it would be an astounding fourth time the Panthers have traded the first overall pick. The thing is, it actually made perfect sense to trade the pick in 2002 and 2003 and the same is true this year.

The rumour mill, in the meantime, has kicked into high gear, with Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail suggesting the Canucks are “desperate” to move up in the draft in order to select Sam Reinhart.

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Breaking news: David Booth takes a slackline to the groin [Video]

It seems like we’re always talking about David Booth’s groin.

It’s been a problem area for him ever since he arrived in Vancouver — something many fans feel is partly Booth’s own doing. The winger has come under fire in recent years for his offseason training regimen, which involves a lot of dry land stuff — weight training, hunting, hiking — and not enough stuff that would get his groin ready for the rigours of a intense sport played on ice.

We’ve scoffed at this notion in the past. But on Wednesday, Booth uploaded irrefutable evidence on his Instagram that some of his groin troubles are self-inflicted:

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Stick in Link: Canucks not trading Edler; Alberts mad as Hell, likely to retire

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Canucks fan wins the World Shin-Kicking Championship [Video]

With no Canucks playoff games to watch this spring, Vancouver hockey fans have been left to their own devices, tasked with finding something else to do.

Most just went outside. (The weather’s been pretty nice.) But Ross Langill headed to Chipping Campden, in the Cotswolds of England, to take part in the Cotswold Olimpick Games, and not just any event. Not the tug of war. Not something called dwile flonking. Not piano-smashing. No sir. Langill signed himself up for the main event: the World Shin-Kicking Championships.

Yes, shin-kicking, where two combatants fill their pants with straw, then face each other, lock shoulders, and kick one another in the shins while trying to score takedowns. Langill signed up for this, proving once again that the Venn diagram of Canucks fans and insane people is a perfect circle.

But Langill didn’t just participate. Sporting a blue Canucks’ home jersey, he won the 400-year-old competition.

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Should the Canucks add a goaltender in free agency?

Jim Benning has a lot on his plate this off-season: determining the Canucks’ draft board, re-signing key restricted free agents, and deciding which unrestricted free agents to target to upgrade and support the Canucks’ lineup. One of the areas of the lineup that may need an upgrade, which would have been laughable just one year ago, is in net.

The prospect of acquiring a goaltender in free agency was raised during an interview with Benning on Sportsnet 590 and he didn’t shy away from the possibility. “We’re going to look at every avenue we have to make our team competitive,” he said, before giving Eddie Lack a vote of confidence. “For a first-year goalie last year, he had a good season, and we hope that he can take it to the next step this year.”

Hoping that Lack can be a reliable starter is not the same as believing he will be, so adding a veteran number one goaltender on a short-term contract to give Lack more time to develop as a backup is worth considering. That’s just one of three scenarios, however, that could see the Canucks adding a goaltender in free agency. They could also add a goaltender to platoon starts with Lack or upgrade their backup role currently occupied by Jacob Markstrom.

Let’s look at the players available in free agency that would fit these scenarios and whether its worth it for the Canucks.

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Four ways the 2014 NHL postseason could have been worse to the Canucks

The NHL playoffs have been unkind to the Vancouver Canucks this year.

It seems downright ungrateful when you consider all the Canucks have done for the NHL playoffs. Three years ago, they teamed up with the Bruins to give us one of the most memorable and controversial Stanley Cup Finals in hockey history. The next year, the Canucks lit the Kings on fire and sent them into the second round that way. The rest is history. And last season, the Canucks played the all-important supporting role in The Annual San Jose Sharks’ Postseason Collapse™ as the team that gets crushed in Round 1 to make people think it might actually be San Jose’s year. (The Kings, meanwhile, were tapped to play that same role this season, but refused to see it through to the end, because they’ve been spoiled by their own success. Unprofessional scene-stealers, the lot of them.)

Anyway. Despite all the Canucks have done to make the postseason compelling in previous years, this year, they weren’t even on the guest list. A classless gesture by the NHL playoffs, in our opinion.

But this goes beyond the unceremonious snub. The playoffs also paved a path for Alain Vigneault, fired by the Canucks for failing to make it back to the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive years, to do exactly that in his first year with the New York Rangers.

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Eight players the Canucks might select at 6th overall

There’s only so much that Jim Benning can do in the month leading up to the draft, of course. Overhauling the scouting department won’t accomplish anything as the scouting is already done. At most, Benning can come in with some different criteria and move some names around on the Canucks’ draft board. Where this can make the most difference, however, is in the first round.

Consider 2008, when Mike Gillis vetoed the recommendation of Delorme and the scouting staff to draft Kyle Beach, selecting Cody Hodgson instead. Picks in later rounds are more dependent on scouts, but everyone has seen and studied the players who will get picked at the top of the draft and the General Manager has the final say.

Who will Benning choose with his first draft pick as a General Manager? As we’ve done before, here are the draft-eligible players ranked 6th overall by both the mainstream media and various prospect blogs.

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Alex Burrows still getting injured, sucks at buying popcorn in new Visa ads (Video)

Alex Burrows didn’t do much this year. He spent much of the season recovering from various broken parts, and when he was in the lineup, he struggled to score, thanks to a combination of rotten luck, John Tortorella’s “goals are death” system, and a carousel of injuries that set back his conditioning and threw off his groove.

The offseason came earlier than expected, too, so it’s understandable that the Canucks’ winger would have a lot of unexpended energy. It might explain why he’s been busy this offseason, heading to Europe for the World Championships, and still finding time to film a couple new commercials for Visa.

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Stick in Link: Coaching candidates, Kesler rumours, and draft analysis

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Eddie Lack should pick the sparkly pony mask (and frankly, he might)

David Booth got a lot of attention early last season when John Tortorella went on record as saying the winger was “a weird dude”. But he’s hardly the only one of those the Canucks have.

Starting netminder Eddie Lack is an equally weird dude, as evidenced by the video introducing his latest mask design contest, in which he’s unashamedly holding an adorable Fin plushie:

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Canucks are hiring the right people despite themselves

From a certain perspective, the Vancouver Canucks have had a horrible start to the 2014 off-season. First, they fired the winner of the 2011 NHL General Manager of the Year award and got rid of a Stanley Cup-winning head coach after just one season on the job.

Then, the Canucks appointed a former player with no front office experience who had been away from the game for six years President of Hockey Operations and he hired a first-time General Manager largely because he worked for the organization that beat the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

When you look at it that way, things are going all wrong. And yet, when you fill in the details, everything’s coming together pretty well.

The Canucks may not be making intelligent decisions, but they seem to be making the right decisions. In other words, they’re hiring the right people even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

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Jim Benning wants to work with current scouting staff, make them better

Jim Benning won me over with one sentence: “I don’t even really know what the Boston model is.”

Admittedly, I was already on board with the hiring, considering his extensive experience, but it was still gratifying to hear him deal a deathblow to the myth of the Boston model in his introductory Q&A and press conference. Instead, Benning focussed on a fairly simple message: “This is a team we can turn around.”

Benning stayed away from announcing sweeping changes and didn’t identify any concerns within the organization, but constantly reiterated that he wanted improvements in every area: more depth capable of impacting the game, a more uptempo style from the coach, and a reinvigorated core that he still believes can win.

That steady-minded line of thinking even extended to one of the greatest weaknesses of the Canucks organizations and Benning’s greatest strength: scouting. Despite the Canucks’ woeful draft record, Benning supported the scouts in the Canucks organization and expressed his intention of working with them to make them better.

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The Boston Model is a myth, but Jim Benning may still know how to follow it

The Canucks confirmed Wednesday what many had been suspecting ever since Trevor Linden was brought in to preside over the Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning was the guy he was told to hire. “There were moments of clarity for me in speaking with Jim that we just really connected on a hockey level,” Linden said of the personnel [...]

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Jim Benning reportedly close to Canucks’ GM job, because it looks difficult, and he’s into that

It’s hardly a secret that the Canucks have been after Jim Benning, presently an assistant GM with the Boston Bruins, to replace Mike Gillis as the General Manager in Vancouver, and it’s easy to see why they want him: for the last five years, the Canucks have been led by the one-two of Gillis and still-employed AGM Laurence Gilman, two men whose surnames sound very similar. No doubt they’ve keyed wordplay as the secret to success, and very quickly landed on Jim Benning, whose surname rhymes with that of Lorne Henning, their other AGM.

Expect to hear a lot more of Lorne Henning, then, simply because “Benning and Henning” sounds so good together, now that the Canucks are expected to announce Benning’s hiring in the coming days, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

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Four Canucks to move on to quarterfinals at the World Championships

There are a total of eight current Canucks and prospects at the World Championship tournament in Minsk, Belarus, which is nearing the end of the preliminary round. With only some of the games being televised in Canada, you likely haven’t been keeping up with the Canucks’ exploits, so here’s a comprehensive update of all five countries that feature Canucks.

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