It hasn’t exactly been a great 2014 so far for the Vancouver Canucks. They are 4-13-2 so far in a year that has featured a lot of losing, fighting, injuries and not a whole lot of goals. Cue the outrage Canucks fans!
Watching your team lose so many games where they seem powerless against the opposition is frustrating, no doubt, but I feel like a few of us are starting to lose perspective on what exactly we have here in our Vancouver Canucks.
The 2013-14 season is not going to be a Stanley Cup season. It wasn’t going to be in December when they were winning or now when they’re terrible. It’s been a while since we had to lower our expectations, but lets be real. This is a transition year.
The Canucks were a team on the rise since Mike Gillis got to Vancouver 2008, culminating in their run to the finals in 2011. They were contenders once again in 2012 when they won the Presidents Trophy. Last year was proof that this team needed to improve and that the window for winning a cup was closed, at least for the time being.
Now, some people will take that as to mean that we should immediately fire Mike Gillis because the team isn’t better than last year. While I won’t defend every move made by Gillis, we need to view this season as a mini-rebuilding season.
My point? What did you expect this year? I expected a team that would work harder with a new coach and fight tooth and nail all season to make the playoffs, probably finishing third or fourth in the Pacific Division and get knocked out in the first round. The truth hurts.
A successful season this year in my mind would be measured in baby steps and improvements to the team. I’m talking about new acquisitions like Mike Santorelli, Brad Richardson and Ryan Stanton. I’m also talking about the progression of key young players like Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder, Eddie Lack, Frank Corrado and Chris Tanev. On these fronts, things don’t look too terrible for Vancouver.
Ok, so back to the losing streak. The Canucks proved in early January that they have trouble beating the top teams in the NHL, and they played a lot of them. It was about as hard of a schedule as you could have asked for. They played hard, but couldn’t come up with wins.
If part I of the losing streak was losing to good teams, part II is losing to everyone else, with a decimated lineup. That began on January 16 against Phoenix, when Martin Hanzal injured Mike Santorelli and Henrik Sedin. For a team that already has trouble scoring goals, knocking out their best player and their best player not named Sedin or Kesler is going to hurt. And it has.
So when you’re campaigning for the Canucks to fire Mike Gillis and trade everyone, remember that the Canucks lineup on Saturday night featured Jordan Schroeder on their first line. This is a team that can ill-afford injuries and have been playing without Henrik Sedin, Mike Santorelli, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis and Chris Tanev for long stretches. There’s also likely a few guys that have been playing hurt, as Henrik Sedin did, desperate to help get the Canucks out of this rut.
Look, I’m not delusional here. The Canucks need more from Daniel Sedin (hasn’t scored since December 30) and Alex Burrows (hasn’t scored since May 7). Things have gone off the rails, but we have seen so much good from this team when healthy this year to conclude that team is garbage.
The Canucks could use a trade to help improve this team, but lets not lose our minds here. This is a team that’s still not far off where they should be at this time of the season, despite their disastrous 2014. Now they have a two week break to get healthy and get back on track.
We could all use a little relaxation time, right?