Canucks SixPack: Is Linden calling the shots?

Dec 19 2017, 8:11 pm

It doesn’t much matter if ownership disagrees with management if the team keeps playing like this.

They want to win and make the playoffs… but they’ve been trying to do that for months.

And the results aren’t changing.

After being outplayed by the Leafs, the Canucks were outshot by Minnesota 17-4 in the first. So much for urgency. The Wild were up 2-1 at that point, and went on to win 5-2.

And now for the most depressing thought of the day.

Enough. There’s some good stuff in this SixPack, so don’t stop reading yet.



1. Something to cheer for (almost)

Let’s start with some positives from the game – yes, there were some – no, not when the green light went on to end the game.

First, with the third-highest corsi plus/minus on the team, Jannik Hansen was doing his best to make a difference. During the second period he pulled a page out of Ovie’s book and nearly scored what would’ve been the Canucks’ goal of the year.


Second, the Hutton-Tanev defensive pairing led Canucks skaters in shot differential.

They were good. And I’m running low on positives here…

Third, the Sedins were buzzing. Say what you will about this roster, the coaching decisions, and whatever else, the Sedins are still trying their best to win.

Daniel led the Canucks in shots (with five), Henrik led forwards in shot attempt differential (plus-6), and they put up 3 points between them. They should’ve had 5 too, had Daniel scored instead of hitting the post in the third.

Tanev’s goal from Hank in the first period:



2. The dark side of the team

Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how good the top lines are when the bottom of the roster is a disaster.

The third pairing of Bartkowski-Biega… check out these gifs if you have the stomach for it.

First, Bartkowski (to Parise):


Second, Bartkowski to Vey (to Haula to Fontaine):


That was ugly.

Gotta admit he looks good here, though.


3. Live reaction from Willie

How do you feel about that Minnesota goal, Willie?


I asked Twitter what they thought he was saying.

My first thought upon reading this was it wasn’t very creative, but looking at Willie’s mouth, it might actually be… no…

This one’s probably right.

Tell you one thing, Willie’s jaw gets a good workout when his third defensive pairing’s on the ice.



4. Did Linden say more than he meant to?

With Elliotte Friedman’s bomb that ownership and management have different ideas on where the Canucks need to go, Trevor Linden spoke to TSN 1040 Monday morning to do damage control.

He spoke with Sportsnet during the first intermission of the game too, repeating the same answers almost word for word.

What he said was predictable and semi-scripted for the most part, but listening to it again, he might have said more than he meant to.

On who has final say on hockey decisions Linden stuck to the script, saying, “We do. I do.”

But asked if the ownership group is reactionary, he said quite a bit more.

“I don’t think so. I’ve worked the last 20 months preparing them for what needs to take place.”

Twenty months of preparation? That’s not exactly a simple hand over of autonomy, is it?

Sounds like it has taken some considerable effort.

These two quotes might make you wonder if Linden’s speaking to the radio listeners, who are well aware of the rebuild process, or to the owners themselves.

“There are no easy fixes, there’s no magic bullet at July first that’s going to fix the challenges we face. This is not a situation that’s going to turn around quickly. We’re going to continue to work through the draft, we’re seeing some of the benefits of that this year, we’re excited about some of the young players we’ve integrated into our team and we’re going to continue to do that.”

“That’s the message I’ve spoken to Francesco and ownership about and they completely understand and are on board with it.”

The “no magic bullet” comment stands out because all this talk about taking a run at Steven Stamkos must be owner driven. Perhaps Linden and Benning don’t agree that he’s the cure to the team’s problems…

Friedman’s comments also made me think about something Jim Benning said to the media last week.

“Good defencemen are hard to come by now.”

“It seems like there’s a premium on good defencemen – on top four defencemen.”

“You have to draft and develop them yourselves.”

Say what you will about Benning as a GM and his record negotiating contracts and trades, he’s been around hockey a long time. This quote made my head spin because of how new it made him sound.

High quality defencemen have always been the hardest thing to acquire.

But if he was speaking to owners who allegedly once demanded the team trade its entire defence… it makes a lot more sense.


5. More on Beth Bartkowski

TSN 1040 spoke to Matt Bartkowski Monday after his mom took the Canucks world by storm last week.

With Sekeres and Price joking about Matt telling his mom not to drink and not to talk, he replied, “What happened was pretty much the opposite.”

Bartkowski also said going into the mom’s trip, he was pretty worried about what Beth might say or do, but at the end of it most of what she said was “OK.”

Does that mean it could’ve been worse?


6. Trade deadline’s coming

TSN’s Frank Seravalli wrote a great article on what all 30 NHL teams are trying to do going into the trade deadline Monday.

First, on the Canucks:

The Canucks would potentially like to part ways with both Dan Hamhuis and Alexandre Burrows, but both players hold the no-trade clause hammer. Forward Radim Vrbata is also available. But there have been questions about Canucks ownership’s involvement with such importance placed on the playoffs. Team president Trevor Linden told TSN 1040 Radio on Monday that there’s “no way ownership will get in the way of a trade at the deadline if management decides to sell.”

Basically, Seravalli says Vancouver’s selling a top-4 defenceman, a scoring winger, and a Burrows (I don’t know what you classify him as anymore).

Seravalli’s list of teams looking for top-4 defencemen: Boston, Dallas, Detroit, L.A., Tampa Bay, Washington.

Servalli’s list of teams looking for scorers: Anaheim (and they have moveable parts on defence to get it done), Minnesota, Nashville.

With Vancouver six points out of a playoff spot whoever’s making the decisions has to be realizing the team needs to maximize assets through trades, don’t they?

If they don’t make the call, more jokes like these are on their way.

Note: Huge thanks to the gif-master Ryan Biech for his help with this post.