When asked this week on the TEAM 1040 what the Canucks needed, GM Mike Gillis responded “puck luck.” That quote is a continuation of Mike Gillis’ time as the GM of this city’s beloved Canucks. It is never his fault.
Time after time, this city has been subjected to tired excuses of changing dynamics in the leagues financial system, injuries to personnel and poor officiating. When the Canucks lost to Boston in 2011, scoring eight goals in seven games, the blueprint was made on how to stop the Canucks. If you can shut the Sedins down, the team has no one to step up to produce offense.
When the 2012 playoffs rolled around, and the Canucks were bounced by the eighth seeded Kings, they scored eight goals in five games, and we heard the same tiresome lines from players then that we hear after games now, “we are playing well,” “if we stick to the system, the goals will come” – and two seasons later, they aren’t.
For the first time since 2006 a positive note for this team is that their effort cannot be questioned. Other than the semi stinker versus Florida, the team has played with emotion and intensity, but effort without skill is not going to get you to the Stanley Cup.
Gillis’ refusal to make any significant change to his team is now becoming a glaring issue. The 2011 finals run gave him a one to two year grace period to see if the core guys could make another run. After two miserable playoffs in a row, it is apparent that they can’t.
Luongo, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Edler, Burrows, Kesler, Daniel and Henrik. The same names have carried the Canucks for four plus seasons, and the product has become stale. They are stuck in hockey’s equivalent of no man’s land: not winning a cup and not picking in the top five in the draft. Instead of adding to this team, or making any sweeping roster changes (after the much ballyhooed ‘reset”), Gillis has rolled with the status-quo.
That grace period is now over, and as this current struggle continues, fans are asking for change. Puck luck is not a determining factor when your team doesn’t score more than two goals over six games, a lack of skill is.
Take a look at these stats from former and current Canucks:
Player 1 is Anson Carter (his 33 goal campaign with the Canucks) and player two is Alex Burrows (his 28 goal season was when he was moved to the top line). Each player began putting up record numbers when playing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and without them their stats dipped significantly, as has been the case with Burrows again this year when Kesler was in his spot upon returning from injury.
The point is that though Burrows and Carter are good NHL players, they are not goal scorers unless aligned with the twins. The same has happened with Zack Kassian last year, and Ryan Kesler this season. This is why the Canucks cannot score goals, they have no playmaker on the second line, and under this regime, rarely have.
Mike Santorelli has been a great pickup in terms of value, but is any team going be a serious Cup contender with him as a top six forward? Head coach John Tortorella, who has done a fantastic job thus far, is indirectly asking his GM to get him some depth as he cannot play the fourth line more than a shift or two per game.
The man running this team is the same one who said with a straight face that the Canucks executed their “plan” by trading Cory Schneider for a draft pick. He also sat in front of the media and blamed injuries and the NHL for his teams recent struggles, as if the 29 other teams don’t face the same challenges.
The time is now, Mr. Gillis. The time is now for you to stop sitting on your hands and hoping for this team to suddenly become the juggernaut they were in 2011. The time is now to realize the core of this team’s best days are behind them. Most of all, the time is now for you have some accountability, and make a change.