Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Start the Playoffs without me!

We will have to play a little catchup on the blog when it comes to this years Stanley Cup Playoffs, as we will be away from our post for the next ten days.

Upon our return, we'll try and pick up the theme of the first round of the Stanley Cup, hopefully with all of the series still a going concern with many of the match ups going to their full seven games.

Enjoy the games, playoff hockey and the first round in particular always seem to offer up the most emotion and some of the best in excitement.

For those with a favourite team still playing hockey in April (for Canadians there's but Les Canadiens this year, making wide swaths of the land perhaps free agents this Spring) good luck, we hope that your squad goes the distance.

For those of us who said our farewells to the playoffs in late March or early April, the Stanley Cup ritual may be a little different this time around, who knows we may find a new default time by the time June rolls around.

We're taking a few shifts off... but we're not leaving the game.

Back to work on the 25th, maybe sooner if the traffic is clear.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

In Vancouver, it's Mr. Gillis that is sent to the stage coach first


With their Stanley Cup dreams officially dashed on Monday evening and the singing of the crowd (such as it was by the time the game ended) still no doubt ringing in the ears of the Aquilini's, the Vancouver ownership made their first move towards the future on Tuesday.

Dismissing Mike Gillis as General Manager and setting in motion a day long festival of rumours, with many participants offering up their view as to what the new plan will be by the time that Francesco Aquilini  holds his press conference on Wednesday morning at 10:30 Vancouver time.

The Canucks an under-performing team in the second half of the NHL season, spiralled out of the playoff hunt it seems back in January. Destined now to play out the schedule through to the weekend, most likely with a wary eye as to what is going to happen next in the gong show that they have become in 2014.

Gillis became the first casualty of a horrid year, the the guy that renovated a team that came one win from a Stanley Cup championship just a few years ago, but now could not scrape their way into the last playoff position with the simple ability of a timely winning streak.

Handed over a team built by Brian Burke and Dave Nonis, the Canucks ruled the West in subsequent seasons, Rogers Arena a place where opposing teams once knew a hard night was at hand.

Through this year, the stopover in Vancouver for the most part had become an R and R port call, particularly for the juggernauts of California, where the playoff hockey will be a featured presentation through the spring.

The Mike Gillis era was one that provided for questionable trades, lengthy contracts and a Goaltenders soap opera that in the end sent both of the team's Blue chip goaltenders to different teams, both leaving with few tangible returns coming back to the Canucks.

Three moments this season provided the exclamation marks on the year, the John Tortorella meltdown with the Flames, that sent him to exile for an extended period of time and started the slide to irrelevance that the season became.  That obviously was not a Gillis issue, but one that the coach was solely responsible for.

The second key moment, the benching of Roberto Luongo in the much ballyhooed Heritage Classic, the first signal of the fans discontent raining down on the Canucks from the expanse of BC Place.

Whether that was a Gillis decision or a Tortorella one, the fans volume was the warning shot that this year was entering a dangerous phase.

The trade of Luongo to Florida only added to the pitch of the anger. Not so much that Luongo was gone, for most suspected it was coming, but more to the way that the whole mess had been handled and that was all on the Gillis watch.

The final mis-calculation if you will, when Gillis appeared on a Vancouver radio station and effectively threw his coach under the stage coach, seemingly daring the owners to make a decision, as to who would stay and who would go.

And while Mr. Tortorella may not yet be safe (though there are a few million reasons for him to have another season, all of them in Canadian currency) Mr. Gillis wasn't, terminated the day before the season ticket holders have to make their decision to renew.

The dismissal of Gillis a sacrifice to the Hockey Gods of British Columbia, the move on Tuesday an answer to the public relations disaster that Canucks hockey has become.

Where they go for 2014-15 perhaps will be explained more fully in the Wednesday morning Aquilini press conference, the consensus on a late Tuesday evening is that the first stage is the re-emergence of Trevor Linden into the Canucks corporate fold.

With any number of roles being suggested as where Linden will be slotted into the rebranding exercise.

As for the product on the ice, no trade contracts, lengthy contract lengths and a coach who just signed on all will greet whomever the Canucks decide on to take over the pivotal role of General Manager.

The Gillis blue print was one that had to be approved by the owners, it was a foundation plan that clearly has now left the Canucks in a huge bind.  The first job of the next aspirant to the job will be to rebuild, a challenging job to begin with, let alone with the number of land mines left from the old regime to deal with.

There are many unanswered questions of this season.

The Tortorella hiring, while a burst of energy in September, has proven to be a puzzling fit for the team he was given. One imagines if he's to remain as coach, the players that fit his style will have to be brought in.

The inability of Gillis to get much value out of the majority of his trades and his botched handling of the two top goaltenders all leave the impression of the sense that perhaps the owners may have been offering too much interference for a shot at the Stanley Cup.

All are issues that need to be addressed, things that any prospective GM's will no doubt be giving much thought towards.

How the Aquilini's are going to sell their vision to any would be GM is going to be key to the future for their investment, tis a mess, but the owners have no one to blame but themselves.

Accountability has been in short supply in Vancouver all year, players, coaches, General Managers and  most importantly owners. The time for someone to step up and say this is on me has arrived in Vancouver.

Over to you Mr. Aquilini.

Vancouver Sun-- Canucks fire President and GM Mike Gillis
Vancouver Sun-- Mike Gillis made some major moves for Canucks
Vancouver Sun-- It's time for Trevor Linden to come in from the cold
Vancouver Sun-- Trevor Linden, Bob Nicholson top candidates to head Canucks
Vancouver Province-- This is now on the Aquilinis
Vancouver Province-- Canucks owners had to stop the bleeding by firing Gillis, experts say
Vancouver Province-- Naslund could be coming back to Vancouver
Vancouver Province-- Trevor Linden likely a Canuck again
Vancouver Province-- Tortorella plugs his ears and soldiers on
Vancouver Province-- The mob howls and Gillis is lynched
Vancouver Province-- Feaster's famine: Torts' buddy hungry to get back into GM's role
Vancouver Province-- Linden-as-president would have cachet in this market, but Linden keeping Tortorella here would keep this disaster rolling
Georgia Straight-- Vancouver Canucks fire president and GM Mike Gillis
24 Hours Vancouver-- Canucks fans got their wish with Mike Gillis firing
24 Hours Vancouver-- Canucks fire president and GM Mike Gillis, rumoured to be bringing in Trevor Linden
National Post-- Mike Gillis fired as Vancouver Canucks GM after team eliminated from playoff contention
Globe and Mail-- Canucks dump Gillis after six years at the helm
Gobe and Mail-- Why Mike Gillis deserved to be fired
Sportsnet-- Vancouver Canucks fire GM Gillis
Sportsnet-- Canucks ownership needs to step aside
TSN-- Canucks relieve Gillis of President and GM duties
CBC-- Mike Gillis deserved to be fired after Canucks imploded
CBC-- Canucks fire General Manager Mike Gillis

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Headlines of April

Our Archive of Headlines for April

April 15-- Florida Panthers win NHL draft lottery as Buffalo Sabres drop to No. 2
April 14-- With Toronto Maple Leafs' hiring of Brendan Shanahan, MLSE truly becomes Tim Leiweke's organization
April 13-- Canucks 5 Flames 1: Season ends on sad note as Daniel Sedin stretchered off ice
April 12--  "It was an awesome experience": Oilers' 5-2 win over Canucks marks end of Smyth career
April 11-- New Canucks president Trevor Linden has inherited a fine mess in Vancouver
April 10-- Brendan Shanahan to be named president of Maple Leafs
April 9-- Trevor Linden handed keys to Canucks kingdom as new President
April 8-- Canucks fire President and GM Mike Gillis
April 7-- Ducks officially eliminate Canucks, 3-0
April 6-- Blues lose again, this time to Chicago
April 5-- Leafs can kiss playoffs goodbye after loss in final home game
April 4-- Hockey Canada President, CEO Bob Nicholson wants legacy to be about "kids playing the game"
April 3-- San Jose Sharks edge Los Angeles Kings in possible playoff matchup
April 2-- Toronto Maple Leafs need to give coach Randy Carlyle more time
April 1-- Ottawa Senators keep playoff hopes alive with win over Carolina Hurricanes

Playoff bound Vigneault makes return to Vancouver

Tonight's match up between the Canucks and Rangers offers up one of those ironic bits of timing that the Vancouver front office and ownership could probably have done without.

As the Canucks slide further and further out of contention for a playoff spot in the West, the opposing team's coach arrives in town looking ahead perhaps to how his team will navigate the NHL East looking for a placement in the Stanley Cup Final come June.

The reception for Vigneault will be an interesting thing tonight as the Rangers take to the Rogers Arena ice, it was under his stewardship that Vancouver came as close they may ever get to a Stanley Cup parade for the foreseeable future.

The suggestions of last year that the Canucks had become too complacent, too predictable on the ice, something that fans probably can only wish for now, such has been the implosion of the team in the last season.

That's not to hang all the problems of the team on the head coach, he clearly hasn't been helped out by his bosses, who have made some choices this year that clearly haven't provide John Tortorella with the kind of team he is comfortable with.

The team he inherited in September, was very much Alain Vigneault's team, built through the years to the kind of game he wanted his squad to play, a style obviously a little different than what his replacement would find familiar.

The bottom line for the former coach is he has some hockey to play later this month, while his former team has a lot to think about as to where they wish to be when the next season comes around.

Right now, which team do you think that Vigneault wants to be a part of?

Considering the attention that the Vancouver media is putting on tonight's game, you get the feeling that they had this date circled on the calendar for a while now.

Vancouver Sun-- Vancouver clings to faint playoff hopes as road warrior Rangers come calling
Vancouver Sun-- As Canucks fall, Rangers on the rise
Vancouver Sun-- How will Vancouver hockey fans greet Alain Vigneault?
Vancouver Sun-- Comparing John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault
Vancouver Province-- Burrows affirms bond with Vigneault
Vancouver Province-- Alain Vigneault says key to success is adapting style of play to team you've
Global BC-- Alain Vigneault back in Vancouver Tortorella on Vigneault's return to Vancouver: "We're losing games so I'm the idiot"
MetroNews-- Alain Vigneault all business in second return to Vancouver, as Rangers prepare to face Canucks
CBC-- Alain Vigneault returns to face Canucks in Vancouver
TSN-- Vigneault returns to Vancouver as Rangers face Canucks on TSN

Not to be left out, the New York media has some thoughts from a different perspective, anxious to chime in on their potential reunion with the Rangers old coach as well.

New York Daily News-- Alain Vigneault has NY Rangers rolling while John Tortorella is on hot seat with Canucks
Newsday-- John Tortorella true to form in assessing 'swap' for Alain Vigneault 
New York Post-- Good chance Tortorella gets fired after this season