- Vancouver Canucks confirm the signing of 23 year old Swedish goaltender Joacim Eriksson. He was a 7th round draft pick in 2008 for the Philadelphia Flyers but never played for Philly. He’s been playing in the SEL for Skelleftea where he’s considered one of the best goaltenders in the league. It’s a 2 year deal and to me this signing is Mike Gillis giving Eddie Lack some extra motivation. You want to backup Schneider? You’ve got to earn it.
- Former Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has been signed by the New York Rangers. He’s the head coach and he’s there for 5 years and will be paid $2 million per season. That’s not loose change. Good luck to AV in New York.
- Philadelphia Flyers have agreed to sign veteran defenseman Mart Streit to a 4 year, $21 million contract. Streit will be 39 when that deal ends. For a team that was defensively terrible but had the 3rd best powerplay in the NHL this past season, does signing an aging, very much slowing down offensive defenseman to this kind of deal make any sense at all? The answer is no. Flyers be losing it.
- Current LA Kinds backup and highly touted young goaltender Jonathan Bernier has ditched his agent and switched to Pat Brisson. Pat Brisson just secured a ridiculous contract for another of his clients – one Mr Mark Streit. With the Flyers all set to use their compliance buyouts on Danny Briere and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, the rumours of Bernier to Philadelphia have already started.
- Last but definitely not least, John Tortorella is heading back to B.C. for a second interview for the head coach job of your Vancouver Canucks. May god have mercy on us all.
The announcement anyone who cared knew was coming came today with the Vancouver Canucks announcing their new farm team – the Utica Comets, playing in the AHL.
The Canucks bought the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL from the St Louis Blues earlier in the year. Their audacious plan was to oust the Calgary Flames affiliate (the Abbotsford Heat) from the Lower Mainland and replace it with their own new affiliate team. That would have been the ideal situation for the Canucks, so the Flames would have none of it. That left the Canucks with a bit of a problem. Where to put their new AHL team?
It ended up in Utica, New York. The city most famous for birthing Super Nintendo Chalmers, steamed hams and that other branch of Dunder Mifflin, wanted a pro hockey team and they got one. With some help from state funding, the arena – the Utica Memorial Auditorium – will get a revamp to come up to standard.
The Canucks were quick to release the new logo, which I like, and the jersey designs, which I also like. They are simple and clean and reek of Canuck.
I do have some concerns about the move. The distance between Utica and Vancouver is not small and this will hinder emergency call ups – call ups in general, really. The quickest flight I can find is from Syracuse, NY (an hour drive from Utica) and is over 7 hours long. 8 hours of travel across 3 time zones to play a game in the west… oof.
Also, who will the coaching staff be? Is Scott Arniel automatically the head coach? Will Nolan Baumgartner stay in Chicago or go to the Comets? The Canucks don’t have 23 AHL eligible prospects, so who will make up the rest of the team?
Still, the general consensus amongst those “in the know” is that having full control over the development of your prospects is far more important that any concerns over distance. You want your top defensive prospects killing penalties and getting d-zone starts? You got it. You want your top offensive prospects learning to score goals? They’re on the 1st unit PP. You want certain players getting all the ice time?… you get the gist.
This will be an interesting new step for the Vancouver Canucks and I look forward to seeing how it all works out. Speculation is that the Comets will not be in Utica for long but you just don’t know what the future will bring. Either way, the Canucks now have an AHL team of their very own and they can manage it however the hell they want. That’s exciting.
The initial rosters for the International Ice Hockey Australian Tour have been released. Sold out arenas in Melbourne and Sydney will get to see these guys represent their countries in what will hopefully be some of the best hockey seen in Australia.
There are no major NHL names in that list but Konopka, Quincey, Condra and Ryan Wilson are decent draws. Most of these players are ECHL and AHL players. It would have been nice to have a couple of stars, or former stars, or up and coming stars, but the way professional sports is these days I think we’re lucky to see even these guys playing.
I imagine there will be some changes as we get closer to the first game, which is Friday week in Melbourne.
I woke up this morning to the news that John Tortorella had been relieved of his coaching duties with the New York Rangers. Before reading anything else I knew there would be talk of “Torts” coaching in Vancouver and sure enough as I rolled through my Twitter time line there was a heap of Tortorella in Vancouver discussion. Jeff Marek suggested on Marek vs Wyshynski that he’d be a good fit for the Canucks. I will have to respectfully disagree with Mr Marek on this one.
What if John Tortorella was hired as Head Coach of your Vancouver Canucks? I think we could expect something like this….
- Within 1 week Torts refuses to answer questions from Tony Gallagher. Gallagher speaks up in a press conference and Torts just stops talking and stares into space.
- Within 2 weeks Torts gives 1 word answers to Jason Botchford. Botch: “What is the nature of Kesler’s injury?” Torts: “Muffin”.
- By game 20 the Sedins are playing on the 4th line and not getting power play time, despite the fact the Canucks are scoring at 0.4 goals per game
- By game 20 Tom Sestito is on the first line
- By game 10 Hamhuis, Bieksa, Garrison and Edler all have broken shins
- By game 5 Cory Schneider is dressed exclusively by Armani and plays in a Springsteen covers band
Seriously though, John Tortorella in Vancouver would just be a mess.
The Canucks roster just isn’t built to play the style of hockey that Tortorella uses. I could see Kesler, Burrows, Hansen, Bieksa and Hamhuis working on a Tortorella team but beyond that… If Gillis hires Tortorella he may as well trade the Sedins and Edler immediately.
Tortorella in Vancouver? No thank you.
Today Tom Sestito announced that he had signed a 2 year contract with the Vancouver Canucks. He did it via Twitter before the official team announcement. I wonder if the Canucks marketing and media team were embarrassed to admit the news.
Tom Sestito. 25 years old. 57 NHL games played for 3 different teams. 5 goals, 3 assists. -9. Has never signed a one way contract. Now the Canucks sign him to a 2 YEAR $1.5 million ONE WAY contract. This for a guy who couldn’t stick on the worst 4th line in the playoffs this year.
I’m baffled and I’m annoyed.
Why am I baffled?
1) Tom Sestito is a certain type of player. He’s a goon in the traditional sense. Can’t play, can throw fists. Does he fit into the up beat, attacking style Mike Gillis has recently spoken about as the Canucks’ preference? No. Does he fit the defense first, hard checking, dump and chase style that Gillis has admitted beat the Canucks the past 2 years? No. Does Tom Sestito fit any modern NHL system of play? No. He’s a 25 year old relic of a by gone era. This is a wasted contract.
2) The Canucks don’t have a head coach yet. They don’t have assistants yet. For a specific style of player like Tom Sestito wouldn’t you want some feedback from your coaching staff, how they could utilise him and where he could fit into the roster, before signing him to a 2 year contract?
Why am I annoyed?
Tom Sestito is probably a nice guy but I just don’t want him on the team I support. I didn’t like the waiver claim in the first place and let’s be honest, it only happened because Gillis fucked up with Volpatti, who for me was far more useful and has a higher ceiling.
Look, prove me wrong Tom, prove me wrong. If he becomes the perfect 4th liner for the new look Vancouver Canucks I’ll take everything back. But right now I’m angry, angry and tired, and I just don’t like this signing.
@forevercanuck posted an interesting tweet earlier today:
It’s not the crush part of the tweet that interested me, although I did find that mildly amusing, especially considering my Dad is Alain Vigneault’s doppelgänger both in looks and personality. It was the second part:
But when you play Schneider over Luongo, you lose…your job
The Schneider/Luongo problem was one of the biggest for the Canucks during Alain Vigneault’s tenure as Head Coach. I’ve said before that it would define Mike Gillis’ time as GM but should it actually define Alain Vigneault’s time as head coach?
Jeff Marek has said a few times recently on the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast “show me a good goalie and I’ll show you a good coach”. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, the premise of the saying is that good goaltending makes the coaching look great.
Roberto Luongo has been a great goalie right through his career, including every season he has spent in Vancouver. Alain Vigneault has been considered a good coach (and still is). Still, that decision to start Cory Schneider in game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference Quarter Finals against LA is an interesting one. Firstly because despite getting 2 losses to start the series, Roberto Luongo was not bad in those games. Secondly, it was pretty much the last straw for Luongo in Vancouver. After Schneider started the remainder of the series and the Canucks were still beaten, Luongo admitted he felt his time was up with the Canucks and he said he’d welcome a trade. Queue over 12 months of the worst kind of distraction, not just for the players involved (Luongo and Schneider), but for the whole team. The goaltending situation has spread a dirty, black cloud over everything the Canucks have done off and on the ice ever since. I don’t care what anyone says, it can not have been easy to play in the NHL with all that speculation and negative attention focused on the team. It surely had an effect on how the Canucks performed throughout the past season.
Imagine for a moment that Luongo had remained the starter, the Canucks stayed the course with him and decided to trade Schneider instead. Schneider would have pulled a massive return before last year’s draft. Could it have made the difference to the team’s performance this year? We’ll never know.
Now the reality is Vigneault is gone, Luongo is still there but unlikely to be for much longer and the Canucks are embarking on a new era still without Lord Stanley’s mug. Would this still be the case if Alain Vigneault had trusted in Luongo and the Canucks had traded Schneider? I think it’s unlikely.
On the 23rd of May 2012, a month or so after the Canucks were knocked out of the 1st round by the Los Angeles Kings, Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault was signed to a 3 year extension.
On the 22nd of May 2012, a month or so after the Canucks were knocked out of the 1st round by the San Jose Sharks, Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault was fired.
As were Assistant Coaches Rick Bowness and Newell Brown.
It’s the big change the Canucks probably needed after last season but “better late than never” and “hindsight is 20/20″ and all that jazz. I promise, no more cliches today.
Instead lets look at the cold hard facts.
Alain Vigneault was Head Coach of the Vancouver Canucks for 7 seasons, had a record of 313-170-5. He holds the franchise record for most wins. The Canucks made the playoffs 6 out of 7 years, won 2 Presidents’ Trophies, 6 North West Division titles and made it to game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, but lost. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have won scoring titles and MVP awards, Ryan Kesler has won a Selke and turned into one of the best 2-way centers in the NHL and Alex Burrows went from bottom 6 agitator to top 6 2-way goal scoring machine.
I predict Alain Vigneault will be unemployed for all of 1 week.
Rick Bowness and Newell Brown were also relieved of their Assistant Coaching duties. Bowness ran the defense and it’s fair to say that despite being absolutely loaded on the blueline for the past few years, the Canucks have appeared quite disorganised back there at times. Thankfully they have had first class goaltending from Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider.
Newell Brown ran a power play that went from 1st in the NHL in 2011 to 22nd in 2013 and absolutely invisible in the past 3 post seasons (if you include the Boston series). The power play has looked predictable and, if it’s possible, confused at the same time this year. Change had to be made.
No word yet on replacements for these guys but whoever they hire, there’s about to be a massive systematic change in Vancouver. Every head coach and assistant coach brings their own theories and systems and even though the player personnel may not change too much, I expect we’re going to see a different Canucks team next season.
Ridiculous coaching speculation has already begun so strap yourself in for a frustrating period on Twitter.
An initial 25 man Wallabies squad has been named for the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour. I wouldn’t call it the most experienced Wallabies line up but there are a few old heads in there including Adam Ashley-Cooper, Steve Moore and Benn Robinson. Israel Folau has been named, although Wallabies coach Robbie Deans insinuated he could just be “an option” at fullback or on the wing. Controversial fly half Quade Cooper was not named to the squad, most likely due to his defensive deficiencies.
Injuries caused a few selection problems for the Wallabies. The Waratahs v Brumbies Super Rugby game over the weekend was one of attrition, with 5 potential Wallabies going out injured. Tatafu Polota-Nau fractured his arm and will miss the Lions tour completely. Veteran George Smith hurt his knee and is out indefinitely. Christian Lealiifano, Rob Home and Pat McCabe also left the field injured. Smith in particular could have been a difference maker at the breakdown. He’s been on fire this Super Rugby season for the Brumbies and being a veteran of the last Lions tour his leadership and experience would have been invaluable for the Wallabies.
The 25 man squad looks like this. Courtesy of ABC News:
The Lions tour kicks off June 5th in Perth when they take on the Western Force. The first Wallabies game is June 22nd in Brisbane.
Sweden beat the surging Switzerland in the Gold Medal game of the 2013 IIHF World Championships 5-1 on the back of a strong performance from one Mr. Henrik Sedin. It was the first time since 1986 that a team won gold on home ice.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin joined the Swedish team after the Canucks were swept from the 1st round of the NHL playoffs by the San Jose Sharks. They created a line with Loui Eriksson that became the most potent attacking line for Tre Kronor, dominating on the power play in each game they played.
In 4 games Daniel Sedin had 1 goal, 5 assists, Henrik Sedin had 4 goals, 5 assists. Loui Eriksson had 3 power play goals in 10 games. In the final Henrik Sedin had 2 goals and an assist.
You’ve got to say one thing about the Sedins – they’ve still got it. They created havoc down low regularly and were always dangerous with the puck. The Swedish power play was lethal. Why haven’t the Sedins played like that for the Canucks the past 2 years? A couple of reasons. First, with the big ice, different officiating and less defensively capable opposition in the World Championships neither Sedin had someone hanging all over them every second they were on the ice like they have in the NHL. Secondly, on the power play they had a right handed shot from the point.
The Sedins effectiveness on the power play has been diminished for the Canucks, particularly in this season just gone by, because they didn’t have a healthy Ryan Kesler creating net front havoc for them and they didn’t have Sami Salo or a specialist right side player on the point with a booming shot.
In this year’s Worlds they had Nicklas Danielsson on the right point on the power play. A former Canucks draft pick (of course), Danielsson was fed juicy Sedin passes and let rip with booming slapshots from the point. The Canucks would do well to take note of how the Sedins manufactured goals on the power play under the Swedish system.
With the Sedins obviously enjoying the freedom of large ice and a less grabby style of defense in Europe let’s hope they haven’t started yearning for their homeland. Their current contracts are up at the end of next season.
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.