The Vancouver Canucks are off to their worst 20-game start to a season since the Messier era, and now there are rumblings of potential Messier-Linden type drama.
Something’s not right in the Canucks dressing room, and that’s becoming increasingly clear. “Factions” have reportedly developed in the Canucks front office, and that appears to be happening among the players now as well.
According to intel gathered by Matt Sekeres, that could include a Bo Horvat/J.T. Miller divide.
“Bo Horvat skipped the team’s Halloween party and I was told to read into it, because some of his teammates sure did,” Sekeres said on Wednesday’s edition of Sekeres and Price.
“This has been a difficult season for Bo and the Canucks, and it’s been made perhaps more difficult by a competing voice for leadership in the Canucks room, who is having a much better season. I’m talking about J.T. Miller.”
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Sekeres did qualify his statement by saying that he didn’t know if there’s a personal conflict, or if there’s campaigning going on between the two players. But he does think that the Miller trade rumour that sparked up from Ben Kuzma’s article in The Province could be about “clearing the leadership decks” for Horvat.
“One thing is clear, the Canucks have a culture problem, and it would appear the captain is increasingly alienated from the group, if not isolated,” Sekeres added.
Today Sekeres added that Tanner Person is the “only one” still with Horvat, and that everyone else is either caught in the middle or with Miller, or with nobody.
Horvat and Miller are both leaders on the Canucks, but with completely different styles. The Canucks captain is known for his calm demeanour, while Miller can be brash, and more likely to speak his mind.
Miller has produced more offensively than Horvat this season, scoring 19 points in 20 games. Horvat has 11 points so far.
When Mark Messier joined the Canucks in 1997, he took over from Trevor Linden as captain. When the team began piling up losses to start the season, some players sided with Messier, while others remained with Linden. President and GM Pat Quinn as well as head coach Tom Renney were fired in November, while Linden, Kirk McLean, Dave Babych, Martin Gelinas, and Gino Odjick were all traded before the season was over.
It was one of the darkest periods in Canucks history.
While the current edition of the Canucks may not be at that level yet, it does feel like everyone is waiting for the Canucks to do something. They have the fifth-worst points percentage in the NHL. Their special teams have been a disaster, and their star players are underperforming across the board.
If a trade isn’t imminent, surely a firing is. This is Jim Benning’s eighth year in charge of the franchise, while Travis Green is in Year 5.