It's been another disappointing season for the Vancouver Canucks. After an early exit in the first round of the playoffs, for the second season in a row, one has to expect changes are coming for the Canucks. Aside from the goalie saga, the first major change that everyone is talking about is the need to fire Alain Vigneault. But why fire Vigneault when Mike Gillis is to blame for the Canucks debacle?
Where did things go wrong? The Canucks built themselves a skilled team with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy. They have two solid number one goalies in Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider and they have the all time winningest Vancouver Canucks coach behind the bench. On paper there is no way the Canucks, with all the talent they have should be getting swept in the first round.
With any disappointing season comes finger pointing. While Alain Vigneault will probably bare most of the blame and be dismissed, the Canucks management needs to think long and hard about keeping Mike Gillis.
The Vancouver Canucks were built by Mike Gillis. He built the team he thought could win a Championship, only problem is he traded many key players along the way. Perhaps one of his worst moves was destroying the confidence of Cody Hodgson and then trading him for Zack Kassian. Hodgson for the Canucks is a perfect 2nd or 3rd line centre and would have provided that scoring depth they needed. The Canucks scored just 8 goals in their first round match with the San Jose Sharks, simply not good enough. When 3 goals is the "bench-mark" to win a hockey game, the Canucks fell short by only scoring 3 goals once in the last game.
Turns out Hodgson isn't as bad as the Canucks were leading everyone to believe. He finished with a point-per-game pace for the Buffalo Sabres and has turned into a first-line centre. Maybe you should have given him a shot Gillis.
The Canucks, led by Mike Gillis have become one of the most hated teams in the NHL and they brought it on themselves. Outside from Vancouver there's not too many hockey fans sad to see the mighty Canucks fall once again in the first round. They're a smug team who looks down on everyone else in the league. They've made a mockery of diving and embellishing to draw penalties and then whine and complain when their opponents return the favour.
It's pretty ironic how the Canucks, particularly Kevin Bieksa went to the media to complain about Joe Thornton and Logan Couture diving and not playing the game the right way. Yet who was sitting in the box when the Sharks tied the game to force OT- Kevin Bieska. Daniel Sedin was also handed a questionable penalty in OT that probably wouldn't have been called on another team. Sometimes players need to realize when to shut up and just play hockey.
The main reason Mike Gillis is to blame is for how he handled the goaltending situation. What he needed to do is unload Luongo for a solid forward who would have helped the Canucks in the postseason. Instead he kept the goalie hoping to luck out and in the end it cost the Canucks. The goaltending was a distraction and a topic of discussion all season long and when Luongo started games one and two over the injured Schnieder the plot only thickened.
It's understandable that Gillis wanted to hit a home run when trading away Roberto Luongo. He's a great goalie who would improve any team, but his contract stinks. Gillis needed to accept the fact he wasn't going to get equal trade value for his goalie. Instead his reward would have been moving the netminder and putting an end to the goalie saga thus ending to the distraction. Look at the Columbus Blue Jackets, did they get equal trade value for Rick Nash, not really. Yet they still banded together and just narrowly missed the playoffs. It's not always about what you can get back, instead it's about who you already had stepping up.
I talked about how the Canucks needed to get rid of Luongo at the beginning of the season if the team was to move forward and have success this season. They didn't trade him, they didn't move forward and they didn't have any playoff success and that's because they kept Luongo.
The Vancouver Canucks and Mike Gillis are at a crossroads. After 7 years it's time for a new coach behind the bench, the Canucks core is aging and can't seem to get it done in the playoffs and the Canucks can't possibly bring back Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider again next season can they?
It's time for the Vancouver Canucks and Mike Gillis to face the facts; They don't have a team that is built for playoff success. From the head coach to goalies, for whatever reason they can't seem to conquer the playoff demons. Before you point the finger at Alain Vigneault for another dissapointing season, make sure you remember who built this team behind the scenes.