Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally Canuck fans have a name to watch next season that they might have heard of before

Lately the exodus of now former Canucks was beginning to look like the legendary evacuation of Stalingrad before the siege broke out.

Canuck fans were a tad shell shocked by the start of this week after watching their beloved Trevor Linden retire. While popular captain Markus Naslund took his hockey sticks to New York to work near Broadway and Brendan Morrison, a long time fixture in Canuck colours suddenly heading for the Ventura highway and a California calling with a contract to be had with the Anaheim Ducks.

It made for a rapid fire changing of the offensive guard that left many Canuck fans scratching their heads and beginning to wonder if they should maybe pick up a copy of last years Manitoba Moose roster for future reference. Up until this week, the list of players added to the Vancouver payroll ledger wasn't particularly overwhelming.

More than one fan has most likely begun to wonder if this Mike Gillis guy knows what he’s doing, as name after name on the free agency lists signed on with other teams. Gillis apparently content to wait for Mats Sundin to decide if he really, really needs twenty million dollars or not.

With that suspenseful drama apparently still playing itself out, Gillis at least could point to a couple of signings in recent days as a signal that all is not lost in Canuckland for the next season.

Today, the Canucks announced that Pavel Demitra, most recently of the Minnesota Wild will be joining the Canucks this season, signing on for a two year deal at four million dollars per year.

Demitra, who is a dandy playmaker, was at one time a regular twenty goal a year man, though his time in Minnesota seemed to reign in some of that offensive exuberance, as he tried to adjust to Jacques Lemaires strict edicts to keep a thought on the defensive aspect of the game. While Demitra’s goal scoring touch may have been reduced in Minnesota, he proved to be more than an able contributor to Marian Gaborik’s offensive numbers last year.

Demitra rejoins his former agent in Gillis, providing at least one current NHLer who apparently was willing to talk to the Canuck’s new GM.

Last week, Gillis put together a deal with Buffalo for the services of Steve Bernier, a deal that almost became irrelevant as the St. Louis Blues offered up a 2.5 million dollar offer that would have redirected Bernier to Missouri. Gillis however decided that he really did want Bernier and matched that offer from the St. Louis Blues, winning the bidding war for Bernier, and apparently setting up the foundation for a feud with St. Louis that may one day rival the Brian Burke - Kevin Lowe conversations.

It remains to be seen if Demitra and Bernier prove to be some of the key segments of the Canuck’s puzzle; there still is the huge question of whether Sundin will want to make the move to the West coast after a career of playing in the more travel friendly east and without him the offense will still be considered rather weak.

If Sundin takes a pass on the Canucks, then Gillis will need to try and find a different approach to rebuilding his team.

His moves so far haven’t exactly resulted in a wave of relief in Vancouver, a city quite anxious for their Canucks to succeed, but just a little worried that this year will be another lost year of unrewarded faithfulness.

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