The Canucks have had a whirlwind off-season no doubt. The axing of Dave Nonis. A new GM. Linden retiring. The Death of Luc Bourdon. A final exodus of the Westcoast Express. The retarded Sundin saga. At this point you could have the Season 2 synopsis of MVP: The Secret Lives of Hockey Wives under wraps. Lists aside, with the hiring of new helmsman, Mike Giles, management got to work. Sort of.
First order of business: Thwart the signing of Fabian Brunnstrom. With the unexpected firing of Dave Nonis, the Aquillinis indirectly stopped the (almost) immediate signing of the late-blooming Swedish prospect. This is neither here nor there. The notion of a prospect is exactly in the nature of the phrase: prospect. There is expectation and hope. Nothing is proven, the fate of a prospect is left in the vast possibility of nature and chance. Think what you may, wherever this club was heading, a swift u-turn commenced the minute Nonis got the pink slip. What was interesting is that before he was about to be signed he was the next Pavel Bure. After he signed with Dallas he suddenly turned into a talentless has-been, vastly overrated. See: Alexander Daigle.
Second order of business. Hold a news conference (actually two). It was neither reassuring nor enlightening watching Aquillini explain his actions (firing Nonis) under the glare of Vancouver’s ravenous sports media. While the scribes listened intently, Francesco began sweating under the weight of his own decision. After Gillis signed on as GM another news conference was initiated. This one had the zero experience, ex-player agent pondering the fate of the Sedins (not sure if they’re part of our future plans), pontificating on preferred systems of play (less defense, more offense) and holding court on management strategies (Bold moves!)
Third order of business: Not firing Vigneault. Basically reneging on aforementioned plans to play that coveted puck-possession style. The funny thing is I don’t remember anyone complaining about Coach V a season ago. Remember that? When Vancouver was busy winning the division and setting club records in wins and points. But man, fuck that guy now, he destroyed all entertainment value still existing in the game. Right, how many consecutive sellouts are we at now? 4419?
Fourth order of business: Drafting the new Trevor Linden. At 10th overall, Cody Hodgson was the safe bet. With such a defense deep draft, Hodgson easily could have gone higher. What the precocious center lacks in size and speed he makes up with in leadership and hockey smarts. Hodgson captained the U-18 world champs to gold with Pat Quinn steering the ship. Lets hope that ol’ cigar chompin’ Irishman’s magic rubbed off on the kid and he makes good on his promise. I envision his name being retired, sans Stanley Cup, right next to Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden. Dude, remember that 2015 run? God we were so close. If only Hodgson hadn’t hit the crossbar in game six overtime to send the series (against Atlanta?) into a seventh game. Argh. We were so close.
Fifth order of business. Not drafting Kyle Beech. The best players from B.C. never play in B.C. Joe Sakic. Scott Niedermayer. Paul Kariya, Steve Yzerman (although raised in Ontario I think it still counts). The list goes on. What is admirable about this choice is that it’s a safe bet. Beech had some “character” issues (love that word in the context of professional athletics) off the ice that made the Canucks brass waver and ultimately pass on the hulking forward. What I detest about this choice is that it’s a safe bet. It would be nice to see some home grown talent (Beech was raised in Kelowna) skate at 800 Griffiths Way. It would also be nice to gain a reputation for good draft choices. A safe move.
Sixth order of business: The Sundin offer. At this point its a big cock tease. If the big Swede had signed on the first day of free agency, a statue of Gillis would already be up, right between Gassy Jack and the Steam clock. Too bad no one wants to sign in Vancouver. Is Vancouver the new Edmonton? Is the travel that bad? Is the culture of losing in this city so advanced that people will pass on record breaking contract offers? Christ, $10 million dollars and two-and-a-half months later the indecision and the gutless top six roster continue. It doesn’t matter at this point, just sign somebody already.
Seventh order of business: Signing Kyle Wellwood. Kyle Wellwood does two things that I cannot: 1) Play hockey for heaps of money and 2) live without a television. His underdeveloped tenure in the Big Smoke behind him, the prospects of this former prospect have merely codified the perspective most fans have of this team: mediocrity abound! Other former prospects have fared well in the City of Glass (hint: rhymes with Maslund and Gertuzzi). What remains is that other perspective most fans have of this team: delusional hope.
Eighth order of business: Signing Pavol Demitra. The worst kept secret in town. I don’t know why but I love this move. It has to do with the chain around his neck. I always thought athletes who wore chains were really fuckin cool. Hopefully it adds some incentive for Demitra’s buddy Marion Gaborik to sign when he inevitably leaves Minnesota at the end of the year (because of, ahem, Lamaire’s soul-sucking defensive system). The speedy forward hopes to brings finesse to Vancouver’s soon-to-be vaunted puck-possession system. Hopefully the next thing he brings is that other Slovak, suffocating in the clutches of the Twin Cities.
Ninth order of business: The release of Markus Naslund. It was not really a move per se. After a paltry offer, the Canucks captain and all-time leading scorer went out with neither a bang nor a whimper. The shy forward, opted out of the piranha pit of Vancouver media scrums for the calm waters of Broadway. Go Giants! Go Jets! Go Knicks! Go Yankees! Go Mets! Go Red Bulls! Go Islanders! Go Rangers? In New York there are over 1000 roster spots available for professional athletes of any given sport in the greater metropolitan area. I expect Markus to go gently into that good night of his fine career. Do not expect his number to be retired.
Tenth order of business: Yearly signing of possible Sedin linemate. After the offer sheet nonsense with St. Louis, Gillis determined to put the BS back in Bold Moves. What did he come up with? You guessed it, another fledgling prospect. Steve Bernier, on his third team in five months, can use his size on the top line with the Sedin’s or he cannot. I expect him to score 30 goals this year simply because of the Sedin factor. The mirrored Swedes need a third wheel for their cycle game to flourish. Soft hands attached to big body heed results. After eight seasons in Vancouver the Sedins must have a few inside jokes regarding their bazillion line parings.
Eleventh order of business: Retool a wicked fourth line and an awesome third line. Darcy Hordichuk trains with Chuck Liddel. That shot block guy from St. Louis is a da bomb, but no one can remember his name. This is such a great move. The Canucks need more balls, and these two pick ups add depth in the chutzpah department. I think the shot block guy is gonna help with the PK which needs a jump start after a lousy campaign last season. Darcy is the new Gino. Cowan has my vote for the waiver wire. 7-1-4 according to Hockeyfights.com, its been a while since Vancouver has had a bonafide heavy weight.
Everything else seems in working order. The tragic lose of Luc Bourdon still leaves me with great sorrow. Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler return for another season of shorthanded third line magic (I have to wonder about my own sanity when the third line is the one I’m waiting to hit the ice). We continue to see what sort of bizarre injury leaves Sami Salo sidelined, will he get eaten by an Orca while swimming in Coal Harbour? Will he be attacked by a wild band of West End skunks hell bent on purging this city of their best shot from the point? Wunderkind defensman Alex Edler will continue to move up the depth chart with his cooler-than-thou Swedish touch to the defensive end. The Sedins will continue to cycle until the opposition is so twisted up that Gabriella Luongo could score with a tap in from the left side.
Who knows? Shoulder shrug. That’s the general sentiment in this city. Who the fuck knows? This is the best position, entertainment wise, that we can be in. Sure I have to sell my body to afford a ticket. It will be worth it. Why? Because the business of hockey is selling. And I’m already buying. I’m gorging on whatever they feed me. All eleven orders and counting.