The miserable season for the Vancouver Canucks continues.
The Canucks failed to get consecutive wins as they fell 1-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks. It was a game where they could have won. They outshot the Blackhawks 40-24 but they couldn’t beat Marc- Andre Fleury who has had the Canucks number throughout the years. Vancouver was the better team but they still lost. Chicago played the night before in Edmonton and they lost 5-2 to Connor McDavid and the Oilers and Vancouver still couldn’t beat them.
It was another so-called “moral victory” for the Canucks. However, the time for moral victories is over. Moral victories don’t count in the NHL standings and the Canucks are a sinking ship. Thatcher Demko, Conor Garland, Nils Höglander, and even rookie Vasily Podkolzin are among the few still trying to keep the ship afloat. Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser have combined for one point in the last six games.
Moral victories aren’t enough and losing to a tired team despite having 40 shots on goal is unacceptable.
Through 19 games last season, the Canucks had 15 points. Through 19 games this season, they have 14 points. Yikes.
No analytics model predicted the Canucks to make the playoffs this season but they didn’t predict it would get this bad.
According to Sportsnet insider Elliotte Freidman, tension is really high in the organization. He and Jeff Marek opened the 32 Thoughts Podcast talking about the Canucks and you can listen to the podcast here.
"“The moral victories are gone, the tension is really high,” said Friedman. “The one thing I was talking about with someone there on the weekend is you can really feel it in the organization. You know, sometimes your organization is really tense because of everything you’re going through. It’s like that with the Canucks right now. Everybody’s looking around at everybody else saying, ‘OK, we’re waiting for something to happen.’ Is it going to be an executive? Is it going to be a coach or is it going to be a player? Who’s it going to be?”"
Friedman also factions are developing within the organization since changes are expected. He and Marek compared the Canucks situation to the hit TV series Game of Thrones.
"“The other thing that happens is that factions develop,” said Friedman. “People are like, ‘well, I think that this person’s safe so I’m going to kind of align with them, or I think that person has the proper ear, so I’m going to align with them.’ And there’s definitely a lot of that going on. You’ve got agents calling the team to figure out, ‘what’s with the players? Who’s getting moved, who are they shopping, if anyone? You just can’t help but feel that something is coming there over the next little while, and everybody is kind of waiting to see — what’s that first move going to be? The sense I really get around the organization is that does everybody jump into the rowboat together? Is everybody kind of together? There are people sitting there and saying, ‘oh, boy, I’ve got to protect myself, I’ve got to align with this person.’ It certainly feels that people are looking around saying, ‘what’s my best route for surviving this’?”"
It’s no secret that the Canucks are a mess but management and ownership only have themselves to blame.
What is the plan? There isn’t one.
It seems the Canucks organization doesn’t know what to do next and is still in shock with how the season has gone.
According to Sportsnet 650’s Satiar Shah, the evaluation process is still going.
It is not that hard to figure out that change is needed and fans and media have been calling for it for the last few weeks. It is also mind-boggling that the organization doesn’t know what to do next after a horrid start. Keep in mind, it has been eight years of mediocrity from the Canucks with only two playoff appearances and one playoff series win.
It’s been a recurring theme in Jim Benning’s tenure as general manager, the lack of a plan. When he took over in 2014, his goal was to make the Canucks a competitive team that can make the playoffs. The Canucks did make the playoffs in his first year and lost in six games to the younger and faster Calgary Flames.
Throughout the years, Benning has traded plenty of draft picks, brought in a bunch of reclamation projects, and overpaid many free agents, and signed players to questionable extensions. (E.g. Tanner Pearson, Luca Sbisa, and Derek Dorsett) There has been a lack of long-term thinking and so many short-sighted moves made only to make the playoffs.
“We live day-to-day,” said Benning in March.
Despite, the Canucks 6-11-2 record, Benning said they still want to make the playoffs.
Vancouver has a 3.2% chance of making the playoffs according to Sportsclubstats.
For the last eight years, the “no plan plan” has hurt them. One example is the 2020 offseason where key players Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, Troy Stecher, and Tyler Toffoli all walked in free agency.
Trading back-to-back first-round picks doesn’t seem like much of a plan either. Sure Garland and J.T. Miller have turned out nicely and Oliver Ekman-Larsson hasn’t looked too bad, but only contending teams should trade their firsts, not playoff bubble teams.
Overpaying the likes of Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Tucker Poolman over the years just to make the playoffs isn’t a good plan. The COVID flat cap and Roberto Luongo’s cap recapture penalty didn’t help but those can’t be excuses. Yes, anything can happen in the playoffs but as those annoying Questrade commercials say, hope is not a plan.
There should have been a proper rebuild from the start. Re-tooling on the fly hasn’t worked. Oh well, we can’t hop in a Delorean to go back in time and fix things, the damage has been done. This is the best roster Benning has put together and it has been a disappointment as they sit 27th in the league. It was hopeful that they would be better than last season but it turns out they are still a bad hockey team.
Friedman was also on Donnie and Dhali on Monday morning and he said all options are on the table. That could mean firing or a trade. At this point, trading for short-term gain is not the way to go and is another example of a lack of a plan.
It also doesn’t help that Francesco Aquilini has backed Benning and the lack of a plan the entire time. The fact that he is in shock by the season and the fact no changes have been made yet are also another example of no plan.
Ownership letting the fans voice their displeasures before deciding to make a move is not a good process.
Now the team is in shambles and factions are being made in the organization. This is literally Captain America: Civil War. (I still think the Civil War comic book was better than the movie.)
Living day to day won’t get this city a Stanley Cup. Instead, we got a team with some promising young pieces but are capped out and one of the worst in the NHL and it is going nowhere.
There has been no plan for eight years from Benning and Aquilini and it has kept the Canucks cup window closed.