Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Lack of quality players cost the Canucks not goaltending sideshow
There are those out there that feel just as Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox does, when it comes to the most recent struggles of the Vancouver Canucks. They point to the distraction of the season long goaltending controversy between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, as the reason behind the Canucks failure to produce in the post-season. With Alain Vigneault's crew on the verge of being swept in the first round by the San Jose Sharks, it is painfully obvious, that is not the case.
There is no questioning the fact that General Manger Mike Gillis screwed up. He put his two goaltenders and head coach in a very tough situation, by deciding to not make a move prior to the start of the 2013 season. To their credit, all three men dealt with the situation admirably and in my mind, it was far less of a distraction inside that dressing room, than some made it out to be.
It's not as if we are talking about two guys who are at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to talent. If anything, it has almost been a pickem' situation, in which Vigneault really couldn't go wrong. Having said that, most coaches prefer to run with one guy as their starter and that simply was not an option in Vancouver.
Was it a distraction for Vigneault and his netminders? Most definitely but both guys managed to put together fairly solid campaigns and Vancouver took home another Northwest Division title. Was it a distraction in the room? Can't see how it could have been, especially with how well both Luongo and Schneider dealt with the never ending questions. Both guys seem to be well liked within the room and contrary to popular belief, the team plays just as well or poorly, in front of both goaltenders.
Which brings us to the real problem with this team. They were not good enough to get out of the first round of the playoffs last season and Gillis decided to do absolutely nothing to try and improve the roster. Sorry but adding former Florida Panthers defenceman Jason Garrison to a blueline that had lost a number of key pieces in each of the previous two off seasons, was not going to cut it.
Outside of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the Canucks top six forwards were about as weak a group as you could find in the Western Conference. Which was made that much worse, with Ryan Kesler being in and out of the lineup for much of the season. Yet their GM decided to stand pat and hope to god that David Booth would finally turn into the answer. How's that going for you Mike?
Back in June of 2012, I wrote a column in this very space, which focused on Schneider being the one that Gillis should have been shopping and not Luongo. To this day, I have yet to receive more emails about any one of my columns, as I did that day from irate Canucks fans. The usual comments about the Edmonton Oilers and their lack of success were sent my way, which were expected, but really had nothing to do with the matter at hand.
If anything, those of us who have followed the plight of the Orange and Blue over the last number of years, are likely more qualified than most, when it comes to recognizing inept management. Lord knows we have had more than our fair share of it in this neck of the woods. Thanks again for that Vancouver...those Steve Tambellini years will go down in Oilers history.
All of that being said, those who were under the impression Vancouver would get some sort of king's ransom for the veteran puckstopper, were fooling themselves from day one and Gillis was leading the charge. With Luongo's contract being the albatross that it is, they were either getting nothing in return or next to nothing and another poor contract coming back their way. It was pretty cut and dry.
While the Canucks GM tried to make it look as though he had serious conversations with a number of teams about the former first round pick of the New York Islanders, we all know that never occurred. Discussing the possible cost of acquiring a player and having a serious trade discussions, are two very different things. His hands were tied and he knew it.
Instead of looking for another way to try and improve his club, he sat and did nothing. The answer was staring him in the face the whole time...he just didn't want to believe it. The only way to get out from under this mess, was by moving Schneider and bringing back pieces that could possibly improve the club.
Let's be honest here, would any Canucks fan have been happy with the rumored deal involving the Toronto Maple Leafs at this year's Trade Deadline? Best case scenario, had Vancouver agreed to eat a large chunk of Luongo's salary, would have been a couple of mid-round picks and Ben Scrivens. An absolutely ridiculous return but that is as good as it is going to get. Be it at this year's deadline or the coming off-season.
That so-called window teams have to try and win a championship is definitely closing on this edition of the Vancouver Canucks. With that being said, perhaps the time has come for this organization to seriously consider bringing in a General Manager who, to quote Oilers GM Craig MacTavish, would be willing to make some "bold moves" to try and get this club over the hump. Mike Gillis is not the answer.
Should Vancouver continue to drag their feet and ignore what troubles this lineup, they will find that window slamming shut and forever dreaming about what might have been. Something the Canucks organization and fan base are all too familiar with.