Canucks' turbulent year saw potential for success among old struggles -

Canucks’ turbulent year saw potential for success among old struggles –

Vancouver – Drama never disappoints, even with the team often.

Now at 52second abbreviation In the year, the saga of the Vancouver Canucks’ struggle for the Stanley Cup – sometimes less than a lofty mission to achieve the mediocre – was a carnival ride for spectators watching the 2021-22 season.

The team missed the National Hockey League playoffs by five points, finishing last week with 40 wins and 92 points which is, frankly, what most of us expected when the season started in October. But the trip to this destination was surprisingly unconventional as the Canucks went from one of the worst teams during the first quarter of the season to being a top 10 player in the NHL (more or less) the rest of the way.

Whether times were good or bad, it was often hard to believe what we were seeing.

Here’s a look back at the Canucks’ wild 2021-22 campaign, and notes on what happened and what’s to come next.

defining moment

On December 5th, the Canucks kicked off the most extensive mid-season changes in franchise history, with owner Francesco Aquilini over two hours on Sunday evening sacking general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green, along with their top two. assistants, and hired Bruce Boudreaux as coach.

A few days later, Aquilini hired Hall-of-Famer Jim Rutherford as head of hockey operations, and over the next two months, the 72-year-old built a management version of Camelot, amassing a diverse cast and experience that included groundbreaking appointments to Swedish General Manager Patrick Alvin. and Assistant General Manager Emily Castonguey and Cammy Granato.

Rarely has any franchise owned such a blatant “before” and “after”, as the same guys who faltered in an 8-15-2 start under Green went 32-15-10 the rest of the way under Boudreau. Vancouver scored a full goal in every game, goals were reduced against half of the goal and blew special teams into the NHL rankings.

“With a few small tweaks here and there, I think this team could be very, very dangerous next year,” Boudreaux said.

Yes, but who will be the coach?

The drama did not end with the end of the regular season in Edmonton, where a penalty shootout loss to the Oilers netted Boudreaux out of 600.y Winning training in the NHL.

Boudreaux said Monday that he wants to return to his option next year and expects to take over as coach of the Canucks. And on Tuesday, in the same press conference room at Rogers Arena, Rutherford pointed to flaws in the Canucks’ “structure” under Boudreaux and said he would be welcomed back as the coach in his elective year but would not receive any kind of extension. this summer.

What happens with Boudreaux will be downhill in May for the Canucks. The management had better be careful here. The players weren’t the only ones who responded to Boudreaux. But the fans – big fans who already pay to watch the games at Rogers Arena – started chanting “Bruce, there he is!” In his first game against the Los Angeles Kings on December 6, he clearly adored the friendly and honest coach. As much as they adore the team’s most successful regular season since Alain Vigneault was fired in 2013. Losing Boudreau, especially if he gets a multi-year contract with another team, would be a shocking optics.

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The best of the season

Wing position-turned JT Miller had 99 points, the best of any Kanuk since Daniel Sedin won the NHL scoring title in 2011. He finished 31 points ahead of his closest teammates, which means Miller should have a few At least one vote on the Hart Cup ballot.

Elias Peterson, who reversed the “before” and “after” team, has scored 26 goals and 51 points in his last 43 games after a disastrous start exacerbated by a serious wrist injury the previous spring and contract talks that forced him to miss the first half of training camp. He finished with 32 goals, hooked Miller to lead the team and once again looked like a young star.

Captain Bo Horvat also topped 30, ending the game with 31 after missing the past two weeks with a broken tibia, defender Quinn Hughes wrote himself in Canucks history at the age of 22 by erasing old blue streak records set by Doug Leedster (63) . point in 1987) and Dennis Kearns (55 assists in 1977). Hughes scored eight goals and 60 assists in 76 games.

And none of those players were as vital to Vancouver as goalkeeper Thatcher Demko, who, on his first attempt as a starter during an 82-game season, was the Canucks’ top player with 33 wins in 64 games and a save rate of 0.915. Statistics indicate that he was among the top five in the National Hockey League this season.

And worse. . .

Even with all that great solo achievement, the Canucks still missed out on the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. The team’s horrific start to the season is doomed, and the Canucks could become one of the playoffs next year if they play as well in November as they did in April. But they will need more first-class seasons from their best players.

You must be better

The defining moment of Brock Bowser’s season came after it ended, when he broke down in tears amid the apparent anguish of trying to explain how ill his father was and, if he was able to cope himself, how bad that might be. It affected him this season.

Some of us who have covered the team closely and written about Duke Bowser were aware of Brock’s distress during the season and how his father’s declining health after many years of challenges that included Parkinson’s disease, cancer and brain injury was an unspoken subplot for Bowser. public.

Boeser needs to spend as much time with his dad as possible this summer. And next season with a clear head and a strong heart, he can better than 23 goals and 46 points in 71 games. If the Canucks give him the opportunity to.

Unknown hero

Was there any Kanuk who punched higher in his weight class than defender Luke Shin? He was supposed to be the seventh man in depth for the Blue Line but he has outdone the others to become a team captain and regular partner for Hughes. Despite this, Schenn’s 16 points in 62 games were one point lower than Tyler Myers’ collected in 82 games. No wonder GM Alvin told Shane before the trade deadline that he shouldn’t worry; He will be part of the Canucks next season.

The most important priorities in the off-season

1. Announcing Boudreau’s return as coach or appointing a candidate Helova to replace him.

2. Work with Boeser to find a solution to the eligible offer for a restricted free agent of $7.5, and possibly sign another short-term deal for the roughly $5.9 million he has made in the past three years. or trade it.

3. Find out what Miller, who qualifies for unrestricted free agency in 2023 when he turns 30, envisions his next decade. And if money or term can’t be afforded by the crunched Canucks, Rutherford and Allvin need to work in a blockbuster business this summer. Bringing Miller back for the final year of his contract, when the plan is to trade him in by the deadline, would be a great show for everyone.

4. Find a right shot, defensive player among the top four.

5. Continuing to rebuild organizational depth.

Notable quotes

GT Miller on his team, pre-season

Fresh, hungry, excited. I think we are very ready to play.”

Bo Horvat after losing 7-1 in Denver, November 11

We should feel embarrassed. Obviously we didn’t come to play tonight and that definitely showed up. We can’t let that happen again.”

Jim Benning at what turned out to be his last press conference, November 18

“Of course, I feel responsible. The moves we’ve made this summer, I didn’t think we had that start. But we have. Now we have to deal with it and we have to figure it out. You know, it’s hard. (If ownership) gets to a point where, you know, no They feel like I’m doing well and I need to replace them, they’ll make that decision.”

Francesco Aquilini after the shooting of Benning and Green, December 6

“We were hoping for a turnaround. I mean, everyone was hopeful. I was hopeful, maybe very patient. Maybe we had to do it sooner, I don’t know. It just got to a point where a decision had to be made. Something had to be done. .”

Jim Rutherford and his initial thoughts on the potential of Canucks, December 13

“My answer, based on 3,000 miles away and putting my foot on the ground in Vancouver for 24 hours, is this group is better than the first 20 games. But I’m not sure it might be a bit better than people think.”

Bruce Boudreaux when asked about Demko and Hughes, January 3

“I was impressed more by these two guys. But these two guys really liked me. They are great hockey players – as good as this position.”

Emily Castongway, who was told by her sister the day before her death that Emily would be the Canucks general manager one day, Jan.

“I put Vancouver on my vision board because I thought this is where I want to build my life. I don’t know how I’m going to get there. I had a job in the East . . . but I’ll get it. It’s kind of weird how the universe makes things happen. Sometimes “.

Patrick Alvin on becoming the first Swedish general manager in the NHL, January 26

“Yes, this is an important day for me, my family and hockey in Sweden. This is great. (But) I think it would be even bigger for me to win again.”

Connor Garland February 7

“Bad sucking.”

Cami Granato February 10

“I think it’s important for these young girls to know that this is possible.”

Elias Peterson on his terrible start and extraordinary recovery, March 2

“You can want something bad and it still doesn’t go the way you want or expect. The wrist wasn’t 100 percent. I could still feel it. But it wasn’t an excuse. I wasn’t doing my best. I admit my mistakes — or don’t make mistakes, but I count.” On my play. I would never use it as an excuse. Not me.”

Luke Chen talks about building the Canucks culture, April 4

“A lot of players are now learning what it takes to win. I think players are still trying to figure out what it means to play a match of hockey on a consistent basis and how much each little game is. You have to be focused at all times and being mentally ready is a big part of it. They go through this experience, you don’t just tap your fingers and it happens. You need to go through it.”

JT Miller on his future with the team, April 27

“It’s amazing to see the first half of the year, and it’s so negative. There wasn’t anything positive going on, so your mind can start to go elsewhere. But I want to win here. My best friends are here, my teammates are here. We want That we win here, and I want to win here. It’s very exciting to see how far we have come.”

Tyler Myers April 29

“It makes you think really sick…what would it have been if we cleaned up some things at the beginning of the year.”

2022-05-05 20:41:00

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