Canucks fans need to be more patient. That’s the message the team’s been pushing this week.
You heard it from former Canucks radio voice Tom Larscheid on Sportsnet Thursday, as he departed from the honest and often cutting takes that made him so beloved in Vancouver for so many years.
Trevor Linden is the right man for the job, he said – he’ll get the Canucks where they need to be.
And a day earlier you heard it from Linden, as he spoke on TSN 1040.
Asked how hard it is to be patient with his team, he said, “We really don’t have any other choice. I think we knew where we were when we stepped in here 30 months ago.
“We had a good season that first year, which was nice, but at the same time we knew where we had to go with this group and we continued down that path of getting younger and transitioning this group.”
The thing about asking for patience, as any parent knows, is there has to be a reward for the waiting. A prize for all the pain.
Linden continued, speaking to the fans as if they’re new to the NHL.
“I think in hockey, unlike when you talk about the NFL and the way things can turn over pretty quickly, it doesn’t happen overnight, and patience is hard and it’s hard especially in this market from where this team’s been in the past.
“It’s a new situation for a lot of our fans, but I think overall it’s going to be an exciting couple of years with some good young players coming in.”
Consider the Maple Leafs – two summers ago when the organization was undergoing a massive overhaul, Mike Babcock told fans “there will be pain”. Leafs fans knew that the new management group was putting the team through a full rebuild – one that would result in a Cup contender in the end.
Those who didn’t buy in off the bat quickly saw that through every move, the organization was doing as promised – trading older assets, stockpiling draft picks, tanking for elite talent.
A year and a half later, their patience has paid off.
In Vancouver, Linden would like fans to have that same level of patience. The difference here is the direction hasn’t been as clear, if there has been a path to speak off.
What originally was sold as “a quick turn around” turned into “transitioning this group”.
The problem is not that fans have no patience, but that their faith in the current management group is waning, if any is left at all.
I asked fans – unlike some, I do think they’re capable of critical thought – how they feel about the Canucks’ plea for patience, and they made some good points.
@omarcanuck It;s not a rebuild, if we had multiple picks it would be. Vancouver has had 1 second round pick in 3 years.
— Trevor Karkay (@Trevor_kk) December 22, 2016
@omarcanuck yes!!! especially those who judge the draft picks Benning has made, it hasn’t been even close to enough time
— Josh B (@BarkingJosh) December 22, 2016
@omarcanuck nope because they are telling us it will happen on the fly if they told us it’s going to take a long time then I’d be ok
— Harry Whipper Watson (@HarryPWatson) December 22, 2016
@omarcanuck Yes. Goaltending done. Back end almost done. Forwards need work but not bad given what they inherited.
— pheenster (@pheenster01) December 22, 2016
@omarcanuck absolutely. The Ls aren’t keeping me away, the dumb management decisions are
— Jason (@bowie_53) December 23, 2016
@omarcanuck of course. No one can trust mgmt now because they’ve made some bad trades/pickups and seem to think the team is p/o ready
— Jared (@ChiefBeats916) December 22, 2016
While that’s as balanced a set of responses as I could present, the last one from Jared says it best.
The Canucks have started two seasons in a row wanting to compete for a playoff spot. They finished 28 last year and things don’t look promising this season. On its own, this can be swallowed – the NHL is a tough league to win in, and injuries can certainly derail a team’s chances.
But this is where a management group shows its chops.
Without trading the Sedins, they can push the rebuild in the right direction. They can trade older assets whose stock is high for younger prospects or draft picks.
If they’d done this the past two seasons with Shawn Matthias, Dan Hamhuis, Radim Vrbata, Jannik Hansen, and other possibilities, they could be miles ahead in the rebuild already.
This season they’ll face similar decisions, but for some reason they’ve already declared they will not be approaching players with no-trade clauses, asking them to waive.
If actions speak louder than words, that last one is the loudest: the Canucks are going for the playoffs; the rebuild can wait.
Yet patience is preached.
Quick rebuild? This isn’t the NFL, guys.