Vancouver Canucks: Consequences for rebuilding too late

As the Vancouver Canucks start to gear up for another non-playoff season, their struggles can be pinpointed at the ownership and front office who took too long to commence a rebuild.

The Vancouver Canucks lost 5-0 to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night, but fans have become accustomed to such performances. After all, it’s the fifth time since Dec. 7 where they’ve lost by three goals or more.

After a fun start to the season that saw the Canucks hanging around in the playoff picture, this team has free-fallen since December. They’re losers in 10 of their last 12, and fans will be more optimistic about the draft lottery than the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

However, many fans seem to be okay with these results. Another bad year means another top draft pick — perhaps Rasmus Dahlin in 2018 if they finally get some lottery luck.

But let’s be honest, cheering for this team to tank is nothing like the good ol’ days from 2001-2013, where this team only missed the playoffs twice, and were among the top Stanley Cup contenders each year.

The Canucks are still very far away from being a playoff team, and you can thank the ownership and front office, who selfishly waited four years’ too long to begin a rebuilding process.

When the San Jose Sharks swept Vancouver in the opening round of the 2013  playoffs, it was evident a rebuild was needed. The roster was too slow, there was more parity in the West, and the Canucks locker room seemed to have more drama than an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Instead of trading away some key players in their primes (the Sedin twins, Alexandre Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler, Alexander Edler, etc.), the Canucks lied to themselves in thinking they could still contend.

Five years after that ugly exit from the 2018 playoffs, and here we are. The Canucks haven’t won a playoff series. Burrows, Bieksa and Kesler have all been traded, with only the former bringing in a half-decent return.

Oh, and Dan Hamhuis wasn’t traded despite being one of the more coveted free agents at the 2016 trade deadline. He was lost for nothing in free agency.

You can’t help but wonder what the Canucks could have gotten for the Sedins, if they had rightfully asked the twins to move on following the disastrous 2013-14 season with John Tortorella.

But nope. The Canucks still refused to rebuild, but they at least made the playoffs in 2015. We’ll give the front office an easy pass for not tearing it all down then. But after finishing 28th in 2016, the Canucks still thought they could make the playoffs. That’s why they’re handcuffed with Loui Eriksson at $6 million a year for five more seasons.

It wasn’t until April when team president Trevor Linden said that the team was finally “rebuilding.” Sure, but then this team goes out and signs Sam Gagner and Michael Del Zotto. How’s that rebuilding?

The miracle behind all of this is that Benning still drafted Brock Boeser, turned frustrating prospects Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund into gems, and got Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen in trades for Jannik Hansen and Burrows, respectively. As such, the Canucks rebuild may not take as long as it probably should.

Imagine what he could have done if he were tasked with this rebuilding this team from Day 1, and not three years’ too late?

Yes, the Canucks have plenty of young talent, and it’s hard not to be excited about the future. Bo Horvat, Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi, Boeser and Dahlen should become franchise cornerstones that turn this team around.

But right now, it’s becoming tougher and tougher to watch the Canucks season virtually end in January. That’s what happens when you take way too long to rebuild, a word the front office avoided using until 2017.

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