The Vancouver Canucks hosted a special Town Hall event for their 2015-2016 season ticket holders on the morning of March 4th to address the current state of the team and their vision for the future.
This is my first season as a partial season ticket holder, so I was not sure of what to expect. Bright and early on a Friday morning, the Vancouver Canucks invited season ticket members to their first of two Town Hall meetings. Following a continental breakfast, Trevor Linden and Jim Benning addressed the fans, allowing us to ask them anything and everything. Nothing was off limits.
Imagine the setting: a room full of Canucks fans given permission to address both the president and GM about every concern with no limits. They addressed rumors, concerns, criticisms and set records straight.
Pretty impressive, right?
It’s not been an easy week or even an easy season to witness as a fan when we all want to see the same thing: the team winning and going all the way to the holy grail sooner rather than later.
Management knows they will face criticism with each and every decision they have to make but they will not let that influence how or when they make tough decisions.
Starting with the notion that was catapulted into endless stories by the media: the “Dan Hamhuis trade with Dallas that was taken off the table”. Linden wanted to make sure that all the fans knew the truth surrounding that rumour.
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Yes, there was potential of a trade with Dallas but ultimately it was Dallas that decided to go in a different direction. There was no involvement by ownership to stop a trade should one have been made — Linden and Benning had the all-clear if the right deal came along.
A decision on Hamhuis and his future with the team will be made this summer.
Benning also addressed the trade deadline and the quiet nature of this season’s deadline. There were a few calls about Hamhuis and various prospects but no deals were reached. Both Benning and Linden stated emphatically that they will not make a trade just to make a trade, but rather with the utmost consideration of what is best for the future of the team.
Deals cannot be forced. There is no quick fix, development will take time.
Patience is needed for the team and the fans as they spend time developing their young players. It is incredibly easy to root for the team when they play well but it can be a struggle as they experience growing pains and learning curves. Actions speak loud but fans need to remember that there is no easy over night fix, development of prospects takes time.
Linden reflected on his first two years as president of hockey operations. In 2014, he recalled that the team needed to stabilize and make changes. Today, the focus is to continue building upon drafting smart as they continue to develop their prospects, and infuse young players into the lineup to complement the core.
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Speaking of prospects. The fans wanted to know if there are any prospects in particular that have caught the attention of management? Cue the applause when they noted both Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko.
Boeser has hit a stride putting up 24 goals and drawing comparisons to the likes of Jonathan Toews and TJ Oshie. Demko, as all Canucks fans know, is having a sensational season with Boston College. The Canucks need to make decisions on whether to sign both players this season or allow them to develop another year in college.
Remember the recently drafted Nikita Tryamkin? Benning said that the team is currently negotiating with his agent to end his contract with the KHL and get him signed with the Canucks. His current contract in the KHL does not expire until April 30th. There have been reports that everything is set and Tryamkin is on his way, but Benning emphasized that that is not the case.
Furthermore, Linden and Benning shared their vision for the future of the team. They want the team to become competitive while developing the younger core and prospects. They will not make any brash decisions that will cripple the team’s long term future. If they have to move assets, they will if and when the right moves come up.
They urged patience for the team and the fans as they begin to work their way back to being a contender once more.
A Friday morning that was spent getting to hear straight from Trevor Linden and Jim Benning, was a pretty good day. It amazes me, knowing that they took the time to spend with a lucky group of fans fielding questions left and right while embracing criticisms, enlightening the fans and sharing their hopes for the team.
Patience is not easy. But looking ahead, Vancouver Canucks fans have a lot to be excited about. The good news about having depth means there will be competition within positions come training camp. Through the development of drafted players like Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann, we are beginning to see glimpses of what the future could be.