Alexander Edler – mild mannered, quietly spoken, skilled defenseman from Sweden. WRONG. Alexander Edler – violent, anti-social psychopath hell bent on destroying the lives of his opponents!
Exhibit A: Edler is suspended 2 games for recklessly charging Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith
Um, well, actually… Mike Smith is known for dangling behind the net, hanging around with the puck, waiting for the slightest contact so he can dive like Louganis and draw a penalty. Smith turns into Edler. You may disagree. It’s up in the air. Maybe Edler isn’t so bad?
Exhibit B: Edler is ejected from the Quarter Final of the IIHF World Championships vs Canada after a vicious knee on knee hit on Canada’s captain Eric Staal
Well, you know, it was a reckless, dangerous bit of contact on Edler’s behalf. But I don’t care what you say, Edler does not stick his leg out. Look at the 45 second mark. Edler stays the course. He does not deviate. That’s the problem, because by not deviating he hits Staal knee on knee and obviously hurts him very badly. It’s bad contact. Edler should have made some attempt to avoid it.
But did Edler have any malice? Watching those videos can you say Edler is a dirty piece of shit who just wants to take guys out? No, you can’t. If you do, you’re irrational.
No doubt Edler will get some kind of suspension from the IIHF and no doubt he’ll deserve it for the simple fact he didn’t try to avoid contact. No doubt those people dreaming of a Edler/Skinner trade will probably drop it because I doubt the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes will want Edler on his team now.
Edler is not a dirty player. He’s a little dumb. He’s a little slow to react at times (as has been evidenced in the Canucks’ defensive zone a number of times). But he’s not a dirty player.
I just came back from a walk to discover that round 1 of the NHL playoffs is over and in the last 2 games we witnessed 2 of the biggest meltdowns of the entire round.
My predictions and results for round 1 are as follows:
Penguins in 5 WRONG Penguins in 6. I got close
Senators in 6 WRONG Senators in 5. Another close one.
Capitals in 7 WRONG Rangers in 7. It was a close series. I figured the Rangers inability to score would end their season and then they scored 5 unanswered goals in game 7. I know stuff *derp*
Bruins in 5 WRONG Bruins in 7. The Leafs made it a better series than I expected and when I left for my walk it looked like they were going to get through to the 2nd round. Queue amazing collapse.
Blackhawks in 5 CORRECT. I figured the Wild would steal a game but they’re still a few pieces and a little experience away from going deep.
Red Wings in 7 CORRECT. Despite their regular season successes I just did not believe in the Ducks ability to grind out a 7 game series against the experienced and extremely well coached Red Wings.
Canucks in 7 WRONG Sharks in 4. Oh how wrong I was. I don’t want to talk about it *sniff*
Kings in 5 WRONG Kings in 6. I didn’t give the Blues much chance against the Stanley Cup winning Kings. I still think the Kings will be in the Stanley Cup Final.
Speaking of the Stanley Cup Final, I predicted Bruins v Kings in the Final and I’ll stick by that.
Matchups have been confirmed. My predictions:
Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings – Chicago in 6
LA Kings vs San Jose Sharks – Kings in 5
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators – Senators in 6
Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers – Bruins in 6
I woke up this morning to a Twitter time-line full of interesting tidbits from the Canucks end of year locker room clear out and press conference with GM Mike Gillis. As I toiled through 10 tweets of each and every comment given by a player and Gillis I rapidly lost the early morning awake-but-still-kind-of-asleep feeling. My cloudy head was blown clear by provocative, read between the lines style comments flying at me from just about everyone. By the time the #Canucks hashtag relented I was very much awake and very much equal parts intrigued and angered by what I read.
There were the not so unusual comments:
“We just weren’t good enough” – Ryan Kesler
“I need to be more consistent” – Alex Edler
“I really believe in this core group” – Alex Burrows
“What’s happened over the last two years suggests that maybe it’s not my time to be the starter here anymore” – Roberto Luongo
That last one hurts. I’m sorry Lu, I’ll miss you.
As well as those there were these gems:
“I tweaked my groin in the Chicago game and I couldn’t get it better in time” – Cory Schneider
What what WHAT? The Canucks lose the first two games in the series against San Jose and it wasn’t because of bad goaltending on the part of Luongo. The obvious choice is to allow Schneider more time to recover, to practice, to shake off the rust. Instead, Alain Vigneault starts an ice-cold, INJURED Schneider in game 3 who proceeds to let in 3 goals in less than 3 minutes in the 3rd period. BAM the Canucks are down 3-0 and looking entirely down and out. This could be the final nail in Alain Vigneault’s coffin. A ridiculous move.
“We need to get different” – Mike Gillis
“It’s quite clear the league is going in a direction we need to recognise and adapt to” – Mike Gillis
We’ve heard this one before, maybe not quite so bluntly though. In the past Gillis has bemoaned the changing game, how the NHL is moving from a speed and skill league to a grit and defense league. It first came up after the Stanley Cup Final loss to Boston, then again last year as the Canucks were knocked out in the 1st round by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings. The Canucks are a team that was built to be fast, skillful and attacking. Playing to these strengths the Canucks dominated the 2011 regular season, winning the Presidents’ Trophy and leading the NHL in goals for and against and in special teams. The core of the team has remained the same, and therein lies Mike Gillis’ ultimate failure.
He has seen the tide turning in the NHL. He has seen big, defense first teams like Boston, LA and St Louis steam rolling oppositions and grinding out win after win over the past couple of seasons. He wants his team to compete with that and we’ve seen the Canucks transform from an attack first, regular goal scoring machine to a defense first, can’t score to save themselves style team. Did Gillis instruct Alain Vigneault to make the systematic change? Did AV push for it? Was it a mutual decision? We don’t know. All we do know is that it did happen. The Canucks dropped from 1st in goals for in 2010-2011 to 5th in 2011-2012 to 19th this season as they adjusted to their defense first system.
The problem is the Canucks have tried to play the same style of system as LA, St Louis and Boston but they’ve been trying to do it with a roster that was designed for an aggressive, attack first system. This is the key to the Canucks failure and it’s why I place the blame for the Canucks consecutive 1st round losses squarely on Mike Gillis’ shoulders. He failed to adjust his roster to suit his shifting philosophies. One wonders what the result would have been if Gillis was able to land Shane Doan, or shift Luongo for other big 2-way forwards.
“We’re not going to amend my principles because we lost a four-game series” – Mike Gillis
Ah, you did last year – after a 5 game series – and you’re talking like you’re going to right now.
The Canucks are chasing their tales here. In 2011 their potent power play received comparatively very few opportunities during the Stanley Cup Final. Their biggest tool, the one they relied on most to win games, was nullified. They adjust for that. They prepare to win games without their power play. Then this year the NHL changes their referring standards again. Even the smallest infractions are getting called during the playoffs. Their neglected power play can’t convert. They lose. The Canucks can not continue to chase the NHL refereeing standards in this way. The NHL can change the way they run the game overnight. You can’t change an NHL team’s systems like that.
This is where it becomes frustrating watching teams like the Sharks, Penguins and Blackhawks continue to be successful. They haven’t strayed from their attack first, goal scoring orientated systems over the years. They’ve stayed the course and added to their rosters according to their belief in what their style of hockey should be. Gillis preaches this but the proof his organisation doesn’t practice it is in the Canucks performance over the past two years.
“We’re going to hit the re-set button on a number of fronts” – Mike Gillis
This comment will leave coaching staff and players shaking in their boots. Today, Burrows was openly wondering when the no-trade clause in his new contract kicks in. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t believe Alain Vigneault should take all the blame for the Canucks failures. It appears he might though.
In just over 1 month world class ice hockey hits Australia with a 3 game series between a Canada team and a team from the USA. The teams will play 2 games in Melbourne at Hisense Arena and 1 game in Sydney at the Allphones Arena.
14th and 15th June – Melbourne
22nd June – Sydney
Rosters have not been announced as yet, I think mostly because the NHL season is still in full swing with the playoffs rolling along and the Stanley Cup Final possibly not finishing until the 28th of June. Zenon Konopka and Kyle Quincey have been named the US and Canada captains respectively but with the Wild and Red Wings still (as of writing) in the playoffs this may change. It will be very interesting to see who they can fill the rosters with but with any luck they can convince a number of NHL names to come along. Given the captains I’m not expecting to see Ryan Kesler or Roberto Luongo playing. Still, whoever they bring (with all due respect to the AIHL) this could be the best hockey seen in Australia for a while so let’s all buy tickets and go cheer on Canada! And the USA. If you feel so inclined.
Tickets starting from $85 in Melbourne and $79 in Sydney. With some of the more expensive ticket packages you can get a meet and greet with the players and a full “North American Style Buffet meal”. So… chicken wings.
Like International Ice Hockey Australia on Facebook to get all the updates and news. Looking forward to those roster announcements.
The Vancouver Canucks are down 3-0 in the best of 7 series against the San Jose Sharks. After game 1 I felt the series was being played to a familiar tune and that tune has continued to haunt us much like Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah being covered over and over and over and over and over and over again for all eternity.
I will not dwell on what has happened. To quote that classic Bertuzzi refrain “it is what it is”. It is unlikely that the Canucks will come back from this deficit given that the Sharks are playing extremely well and there appears to be about as many good vibes in the Vancouver room as you’d find in Afghanistan right now. I also won’t give much thought to game 4. Thanks to injuries the Canucks have limited options when it comes to shaking the roster up. Vigneault isn’t about to change his game plan or systems. Whatever happens, happens, and could ultimately be nebulous.
Amidst all the “end of an era in Vancouver” talk instead I will go down the “start of a new era” road. The Canucks will be eliminated in the 1st round of the Western Conference Playoffs. Ok. Changes will occur in the Canucks organisation because of that. Ok. Fine.
But what should those changes be? The focus is on coach Alain Vigneault but there’s also assistant coaches, vice presidents, directors, assistant general managers and the general manager himself, Mike Gillis. Then there are the players. There are lots of options to shake things up and to kick off the new era of Vancouver Canucks hockey.
Alain Vigneault is the obvious “escape goat” but some questions must be raised about his assistants as well. The Canucks D has appeared unorganised for much of the season and the pairings have chopped and changed with the winds. Assistant Coach Rick Bowness runs the D and for mine he’s run it into the ground. Assistant Coach Newell Brown runs special teams and appears to have used up his bag of tricks because the Canucks finished this regular season with the 22nd ranked powerplay in the NHL. A PP that for much of the year inexplicably failed to use it’s biggest weapon from the point – Jason Garrison.
Whatever the assistants get up to has to go by the Head Coach and this is why Alain Vigneault is in trouble. Ultimately the coaching buck stops with him. Still, he can only work with the tools given to him. This is where the General Manager comes in.
The General Manager
I can see Mike Gillis falling on his sword this off season. It’s easy to fling dung on Vigneault but if you drop the cowpat and take a proper look at what has happened over the past few years with the Canucks it becomes a little more obvious that the dung should be hitting the fan in Mike Gillis’ office.
Going back to the end of the 2011 season where the Canucks were outscored and out-muscled in the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, these are the highlights of GM MG’s transactions:
- Failed to re-sign Christian Ehrhoff, traded his rights for a 4th round pick. FAIL. Edler and the Sedins haven’t quite been the same since Ehrhoff left. Gillis has yet to find a suitable replacement to play the right side with Edler and for me this is a crucial weakness for the Canucks.
- Released Raffi Torres. FAIL. Since leaving the Canucks Torres has gained further infamy with his Jay-Z halloween costume and terrible hit on Marian Hossa, but his on ice value was obvious in Phoenix and now he’s playing extremely well for the San Jose Sharks.
- The Cody Hodgson situation. In hindsight it’s hard to look at this and think it was handled well by the Canucks. For me, the short term result of the trade is FAIL. Hodgson finished 2nd in scoring for the Buffalo Sabres this year and would have looked quite nice on the 2nd line for the Canucks while Kesler decided to keep hurting himself. Having him in the lineup would have negated the need to trade for Derek Roy (in itself a fail). Long term is another thing as Zach Kassian could still become a great player. But the Canucks are trying to win the Stanley Cup now. Kassian isn’t helping now. Hodgson could have. Arguments could be made that Hodgson’s lack of defensive instinct would never fit in the Canucks system but if a world class coach like Alain Vigneault isn’t able to adjust his lines, his game plan, to best utilise the team’s star 1st round pick and potential future captain, then there’s bigger problems.
- The David Booth trade. FAIL. This was a bet that Mike Gillis lost. In theory it was a great acquisition but the reality is that Booth was not a proven, regular, goal scorer and his inconsistency has continued in Vancouver.
- Signed Jason Garrison. FAIL. Oooo controversy. The Canucks desperately needed a right side specialist to play alongside Alex Edler. They still do because instead of getting one Gillis invested $4.6mill in cap space to Jason Garrison, who as good, not great, as good as he is, is not a right side specialist. For me it came down to having to get that right side guy to play with Edler (ala Ehrhoff), or they had to trade Edler. Instead they have Garrison forever plus Edler forever and no one to play alongside him.
- Which brings me to the bag full of no-trade and no-movement clauses Gillis has happily thrown into player contracts. Luongo, the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Higgins, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Garrison, Edler. All have a clause preventing them from being traded and/or waived. That’s over $45 million against next season’s $64.3 million cap committed to 10 players on a 23 player roster. If you’re lucky enough to get a player to agree to a trade then their big contract becomes a road block to said trade (Luongo’d).
- The Luongo situation. The less said about that the better, but still FAIL.
- There’s also a plethora of other little moves Gillis has executed over the years that haven’t quite worked out. The Volpatti waive, releasing Rick Rypien, extending Mason Raymond, the Sturm signing, the Pahlsson trade, the Malhotra situation (questionable), letting Sami Salo go, burning a year of Frank Corrado’s entry level deal…
Things don’t look so rosy for Michael D. Gillis. He’s made a tonne of moves and had some success (not complaining about those Presidents’ Trophies) but if you focus on the moves that have hindered this team you discover there are a lot of them. The GM should be a victim of some finger pointing.
No matter what the coaches and GM do it ultimately comes down to how the players execute on the ice. The Canucks have not been executing. Goals have dried up. Soft goals have been let in. Defense has let everyone down. There will be changes to the roster before next season, not just because of performance but also because of the salary cap squeeze that will affect the Canucks more than most teams.
For me the following current roster players are untouchable:
- Daniel Sedin
- Henrik Sedin
- Alex Burrows
- Jannik Hansen
- Dan Hamhuis
- Kevin Bieksa
- Alex Edler
- Cory Schneider
I would also not be trading Nicklas Jensen or Brendan Gaunce.
Beyond these guys I would be willing and happy to trade every single other player on the roster. Yes, that includes Ryan Kesler. I’m not a Kesler fan. As good as he can be he’s also fickle. His chirping and diving are an embarrassment and have acted as motivation for the opposition rather than for his own team (just ask the Blackhawks and the Bruins, who I would bet said something along the lines of “we are NOT losing to THESE GUYS. Anyone but THESE GUYS” at some point during the playoffs). Also, he would draw a massive return in any trade. Trade Kesler.
Ultimately whatever happens this off season it will be a different Vancouver Canucks team taking to the ice at the beginning of the next NHL season.
If it was up to me, I’d retain Alain Vigneault, I’d jettison his assistants, I’d jettison Mike Gillis and I’d give AV and the core mentioned above a new group of guys to play with. Trust in some rookies. Look to get some heart, soul and guts back into the team. It’s time for an identity change.
The 1st round didn’t start quite as planned for the Canucks as the Sharks beat them 3-1 in game 1 at Rogers Arena. Antti Niemi made 29 saves on 30 shots, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle each had a goal and an assist and the Canucks didn’t play particularly well at all. The lone Canucks goal was credited to Kevin Bieksa but in reality it was an own goal on the part of former Canuck Raffi Torres.
It’s only 1 game in a best of 7 series so it’s not panic stations yet for the Canucks. Or is it? A familiar storyline appears to be continuing with a brand new chapter starting the same old same old in this San Jose series. Let’s take out our imaginary flux capacitors (in itself an imaginary tool…hmm) and travel back in time a few years to that momentous, heart breaking, god awful Stanley Cup Final against the big bad Boston Bruins.
After dispatching the Blackhawks, Predators and Sharks the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup Final to Boston in 7 games. It’s a loss that the ignorant blame on Roberto Luongo however to win games you’ve got to score goals and the Canucks only managed to put the puck in the Boston net 8 times in 7 games. They had 246 shots on goal in those 7 games. 8 goals on 246 shots is a 3.2% shooting percentage.
That from a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy, led the regular season in goals for and had 2 players score 41 goals AND had Daniel Sedin with the Art Ross Trophy. Something went very awry.
The Canucks won their 2nd straight Presidents’ Trophy with 51 regular season wins, many of which came against their hapless Northwest Division opponents. They drew the under-performing Los Angeles Kings in the 1st round.
The Kings defeated the Canucks in 5 games. Once again the goaltending drew the headlines but the fact is the Canucks only managed to score 8 times in 5 games. They had 172 shots on goal in those 5 games. 8 goals on 172 shots is a 4.6% shooting percentage.
The flux capacitor has now returned us back to the future. We’re 1 game into the 1st round. Last night the Canucks scored 1 goal on 30 shots on goal. That’s a 3.3% shooting percentage. The lone goal was dirty as a squashed piece of used chewing gum.
This is part of a stretch going back into the regular season where the Canucks have only scored 10 goals in the last 6 games. If that continues there is no way the Canucks will win this series.
It’s probably too late for this as the puck has already dropped in Chicago as I type this but I do not care. My 2013 playoff predictions:
Penguins in 5
Senators in 6
Capitals in 7
Bruins in 5
Blackhawks in 5
Red Wings in 7
Canucks in 7
Kings in 5
My pick for the Stanley Cup Final is Kings vs Bruins, with Boston winning in a fairy tale moment for the city after the shocking year they’ve had so far.