Welcome Matt: Canucks management's impatient plan misses the mark with fans

Jan 18 2023, 1:39 am

sekeres and price

Who knew that the words “tool” and “build” would be so important to the discourse around the Vancouver Canucks for the better part of a decade?

Alas, here’s where we are as BC hockey fans.

The market, having learned lessons about quickie turnarounds, understands wholly that the Canucks have tried that route and failed. Educated hockey fans in this province are now begging for the Canucks to do this the right way.

There are sports franchise owners and general managers who would give life and limb for this level of understanding and patience from their fans.

Sadly, that’s lost on the Canucks stewards.

The owner is accustomed to getting what he wants, when he wants it. So that now governs the direction of hockey operations run by a soon-to-be 74-year-old.

“The trades that we make is to try and get players that are 26, 25 years [or] younger and bring this team together within the next year or two,” Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said at a state of the franchise press conference Monday. “This was never going to be a quick fix. There’s a long game here, but I don’t want to sit and preach patience, patience because I know the frustration of the fans and the media and everybody wants it done sooner rather than later just like I do.”

This is just wrong.

For one, it’s doubtful it can be fixed in a year or two, and the market would be patient. It’s been a long time, but that’s only reinforces that it needs to be done properly.

Forget players 26 and younger, try players 23 and younger. Forget prioritizing ‘young players and some draft picks’ and prioritize ‘draft picks and some young players.’

Because fans see through the word “retool.” Former Canucks analyst Rachel Doerrie said on her Staff & Graph podcast yesterday that “retool” is a word you use when managing up. And she’s right.

It’s a euphemism designed for an impatient owner.

This is now the third Canucks hockey boss (Trevor Linden, Jim Benning) to avoid the word and sound ridiculous in his objection to it. Especially since it is a proven formula for Cup winning. The Blackhawks, Kings, and Lightning all built multiple champions by going through hard times, drafting superstars with high picks and supporting cast members with lower picks.

“We’re not looking towards a rebuild, I’d rather call it a retool,” Rutherford said.

Problem is, in another portion of a wide-ranging press conference, he acknowledges the Canucks need “major surgery” and mentions he didn’t want to have to trade core players, except it’s now likely given the impasse with Bo Horvat.

He thought it would take minor surgery and now admits he was wrong.

That is a tacit admission that retool didn’t work. Despite his semantical objection, we all understand “major surgery” as a “rebuild.”

Even if they refuse to use the word.

Matthew SekeresMatthew Sekeres

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