Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Cauncks fill in the holes

Brian Burke had a very busy Tuesday, he had the Todd Bertuzzi situation to worry about. Endless media questions about his feelings on the ugly incident at GM Place, requests for his expectations on the discipline to come. What his thoughts were of Steve Moore lying in a Vancouver Hospital bed, as the NHL went back to it's regular business. Burke had to make plans to fly to Toronto, to appear with Todd Bertuzzi in front of the NHL discipline board Wednesday morning. With all of that swirling around him, he had to try and rebuild his team knowing that most likely, one of his top players will not be available to him for the rest of the season, and more than likely the playoffs as well.

So perhaps it's understandable that he didn't make any moves until the deadline was ticking down to the last seconds. Burke added some offensive punch to his team by bringing in Martin Rucinsky from Glen Sathers deep discount emporium, giving up a couple of hand from Manitoba and a prospect. He then picked up Geoff Sanderson from Columbus, partially filling a hole for the now absent Bertuzzi.

Not blockbuster trades by any stretch of the matter, but a solid bit of team building without giving up any of his core group that has made the Canucks a team on the rise (until last night anyways). The simple fact is that replacing a power forward such as Bertuzzi, is not going to happen. When Bertuzzi plays his game properly, he is one of the most effective players on the ice. There are not many of his pure talent out there, even few are traded away on a deadline day. Which is why his behavior last night is so disappointing to Canuck fans, by his actions at GM place he has severely depleted the depth of his team, no one Burke could have found today would change that. Burke did the best he possibly could considering the situation he was in, most teams realized he was in a position of weakness now and could have demanded much of the core he has built. Picking up a Pronger, Leetch or a Bondra would come at a higher price for Burke, the other GM's know that he was in need, there being no charity in that fraternity in times like these.

The one move Burke did not make was not unexpected, while many had expressed doubts in goaltender Dan Cloutier (and Monday night did nothing to allay those fears) Burke is standing with him. Olaf Kolzig while out on the market did not get moved by Washington, Tommy Salo will rebuild his career on a rental basis in Colorado. Sean Burke went to Philadelphia weeks ago, his namesake in the GM's office not interested in him. Burke will cross his fingers and hope that Cloutier can get it together for the playoff run, now more than ever it will be time for him to rise up large to the occasion.

The new players will fit in well with the Canucks, Rucinsky probably to be placed with the Sedin's hopefully to spur them on further in their journey this year. Sanderson, while not the same level of a Bertuzzi will most likely be of assistance to the scoring punch as well, the sadness is that rather than being a compliment to the current team they are now the plugs to fill the leaks. Add them to a team that still had Bertuzzi to depend on and they might be the ingredient to take them to the top. Instead, they may only be able to stop the bottom from falling out.

It's been a challenging few months for Burke, his contract status taking on a life of it's own in the media and around the hockey mad province. The inconsistent nature of his team has been a cause for alarm, loyal as he is Burke refused to trade the central group of players he has assembled. But things have a whole different look now, the last 24 hours have made a big difference to this season of the Vancouver Canucks. Burke has done his best at the last minute to try and salvage things, it's now up to his players to prove he is on the right track.

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