Tanking: A Willie Tale
Willie Desjardins can choose to lose despite his lineup’s ability to win. Ask the Hockey Night in Canada guys, they will tell you. In fact, they have already told the entire nation of Coach Willie’s travails. Regardless of the intents, Willie is choosing to lose despite the some little NHL-competency that Canucks still have. With last night’s loss to the Calgary Flames, Willie wrote history. Losing 5-2 in four consecutive games is unprecedented in the history of the NHL.
As documented before, it isn’t about ice time. It is about the strategic deployment of the lines and the key players after icing calls for, TV intermissions, and the time-outs. Sure, the Sedins are aging, but they don’t want to tank real good like you do, Willie.
Read More: Willie Making History the Wrong Way
But how is this different from a youth movement? After all, the Canucks are in a youth movement that has somehow morphed into a tank under Willie’s supervision, right? This is a valid comment. When Sedins don’t play, one of Linden Vey, Jared McCann, or Bo Horvat gets the shift. If that is not a youth movement from the coach’s perspective, what is it?
Well, a youth movement is still a youth movement when the Sedins are playing 22 minutes a game and Vey is playing 12 minutes a game. It is especially a good youth movement when Virtanen plays 18 minutes a game while Etem plays 12 minutes.
Almost the entire lineup shows a youth movement. If Willie wants to turn this youth movement into a tank, he can continue to play Vey as many strengths as Horvat gets. He can continue to give Etem as many shifts as Virtanen gets. Whatever Willie does, it is a youth movement. Whether it turns into a tank or not? That is Willie call, and right now, Willie is choosing to lose when he can win a couple more points.
Willie is the lone tanker in the organization. For now.
Next: Tanking 101: The Final Verdict