Suddenly, Game 7 today between the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks seems important in Vancouver. So do the fortunes of the Chicago Blackhawks. Of all the fallout from GM Mike Gillis’s apparent surrender last week, pushing Canucks fans to cheer for the Blackhawks is the strangest. What many took from Gillis’s mission statement-like presentation was essentially this: He appears ready to cave, abandoning the forward-thinking, analytics-based pressure offence he brought with him in 2008 for dumbed-down, dump-it-in, vanilla hockey. Oh joy. It remains to be seen if he was serious, semi-serious or just distracting those adorable salmon in town who only swim in one direction when it comes to what they think will fix the Canucks — size, size, size. Well, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top three centres are Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski and Nazem Kadri. They’re all under 200 pounds and the team is acquitting itself just fine, thanks. And against the Boston Bruins, too. Those in Vancouver on the other side of the ideological divide, the ones who remember the Canucks best period of the playoffs was the third of Game 4 when the defensive shackles were off, see a move toward playing like the St. Louis Blues doesn’t suit the core players, including the Sedins, Dan Hamhuis, and Ryan Kesler. Heck, playing like the Blues didn’t even work for the Blues. Many Vancouver fans are now cornered into cheering on the Hawks and the Wings, not only for entertainment, but to prove there is hope for highly-skilled teams, as long as you don’t fool yourself into believing players like Derek Roy and Mason Raymond are highly skilled. Look at what you’ve done, Canucks — your fans are hoping the Blackhawks win the West. Reset is the buzzword Gillis chose to drive home, and it will shadow him all summer like his promise of “bold moves” five years ago. To most, the reset button means changing more than the coach, though it didn’t include that the last time Gillis hit it in 2008. Then, he kept the core together. This time, he should not. Aside from the provocative idea Hockey Night in Canada was tossing around, trading both goalies and signing a free-agent netminder, the Canucks’ best opportunity for a reboot is an Alex Edler trade. The team’s defence remains a position of strength, although it proved last year it’s overrated. At least they have young players ready to make a difference.
Size matters in hockey, but it’s not necessarily the answer for the Canucks
Vancouver Province | May 12