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Monday, 24 September 2018

Bill Conrod

A really decent human being passed away a few days ago in Ottawa at the age of 77, Bill Conrod. Bill spent his adult life as an educator and when he was in his younger years taught at schools in Montreal including Westmount High, in California where I believe he was driving a Volkswagen Bug at the time, (To me there seemed to be a bit of hippy in Bill), and in Prince George, British Columbia. Along the way, Bill jumped from teaching high school to teaching at colleges and universities. Moving around Canada and the US must have been a challenge for Bill and his wife Jill, considering they had 4 kids in tow.
In the mid 1950s Bill and his twin brother Scott were summer lifeguards at the swimming pool at West Hill High School in Montreal. I can still recall the strong chlorine odor and the sound of the buzzer indicating the end of the swimming session, also the cacophony of excited young swimmers in the background.
I got to know Bill in his later years. He was 6 years older than me. I considered him a friend. We had a continued correspondence via e-mail for close to 6 years. We exchanged hundreds of e-mails over that time. He talked about his health struggles, his dog Buck, his family, sports, and of course politics. I’m not 100% sure but I think Bill was mostly a “Lefty’.
We connected through 2 of his books about the Montreal district of Snowden. He used a couple of e-mail things I wrote in his 2nd book. He clearly loved his growing up years in Snowden and the memories, including some mischief. It was a different time back then, the streetcars, Peggy’s Nut’s, MacDonald Park across the street from where Bill lived so very long ago.
Bill was often complimentary about my own writings and very supportive over the past several years. It was always appreciated. After I wrote a story about the Montreal community of Hampstead Bill sent me a wonderful photo of Hampstead Park in the early 1950s. The photo blew me away. I added it to my story. To me the photo was “idyllic” and captured a pure simple moment in time that reminded me of a French painting by George Seurat that was painted in 1886 and called La Grande Jatte.
It was very clear that Bill was struggling with his health issues over the last several years but he never let it diminish his curiosity about the world around him. He always kept his sense of humour. Sometimes Bill would recommend a current book he was reading, including one called North Country, which is about a Vermont author travelling along the 49th parallel between Vermont and Washington State. Other times Bill would e-mail things like an article on a survival kit for skiers. He also passed along some funny stuff.
Bill once told me that he was totally fed up with almost any talk about Donald Trump. I knew exactly where he was coming from on that. Bill was a get along with people type and it must have deeply disappointed him that the US ended up in its current state of affairs.
I also knew that Bill had a keen interest in the outdoor life and I loved sending him photos of my own exploits in that area including kayaking and fishing. He once told me about a canoe trip he took out here in BC. He would have been a great guy to share a campfire with.
Bill’s “stache” never went away. In the last year his hair got a bit longer. Was he making a statement? Had he become the quiet renegade? In the photos of Bill and his grandkids it was clear to me that he was enjoying himself thoroughly. Nice family.
Time catches up with all of us eventually. Bill had mostly a good life. Glad I got to know him a bit and I’ll miss him. I respected him. Wherever his soul has gone I hope he is taking some of his own advice, “always keep your stick on the ice”.
Adios Bill!
My condolences to Bill’s family.
Colin Paterson

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Obits

If you are of a certain age there is probably nothing that questions our mortality more than reading obituaries. A lot of us older folks read them. My guess is that many wonder when that fickle finger of fate will be selecting us. The whole subject can be a bit macabre but as humans we are curious creatures.
I first started reading obits in the newspapers years ago on the 2 hour ferry ride between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. This would have been after I had scanned the news and sports and before I took a stab at the crossword puzzle.
I would often read obits of people who were total strangers, particularly if there was some content on how they lived their lives. A lot of folks are lasting until their late 80s and 90s these days. I found in Vancouver newspaper obits that many had moved to the west coast from many different small prairie towns once they were out of school or newly married. Moving and leaving their friends and families behind must have been a big decision.
Some who got divorced or had a wife or husband die spent their final years with “companions” or “partners”. I’ve sometimes wondered which family member gets to submit the obit. Is it necessary to list every obscure relative? They are only making one submission so why not put a bit of time and effort into it? Perhaps a few funny reminiscences? What did the deceased do with their lives? If it costs 20 more bucks to have a few more paragraphs printed, who cares at this point?
The obits are all on-line these days. I try and stick to the Montreal Gazette (I grew up in Montreal) and the Vancouver Province (I spent most of my adult life in the Vancouver area.) In a way, looking for a familiar name (or last name) is kind of like gold panning. A lot more misses than hits. In a way it is kind of like looking for some unique discovery. This isn’t to say that there isn’t any empathy when a familiar name is found. There always is.
We have all seen relationships come and go in our lives. People we once knew disappear in the rear view mirror. We may be able to reconnect briefly on the net but the experiences we shared when we were younger are all in the past which can be a bit hazy for some. That’s just the way life works.
I don’t know if it can be called “trolling” but every now and then I’ll check out Facebook or just Google a name from the past to see if they are still around and what they are up to these days. Sometimes it is just a dead end (no pun intended) and rarely have I initiated contact when I have found the person.
A week or so ago I Googled the name of a guy I hung out with sometimes over 50 years ago in Montreal. I found him with just one “click”. It turns out that he died in 2015 at the age of 69 in Alberta. He was several months older than me.
Gilbert Adrian Bushe (Gil)
October 5, 1946-February 6, 2015

The year was 1968. The Viet Nam War was raging and the US was split between the anti-war and pro war types. The Hippy culture was nearing it’s peak. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated in 68’.

I travelled out to Vancouver that year with the hope of making my way to Australia. It didn’t work out and I ended up hitchhiking across the US and back to Montreal. My parents lived in the Montreal lakeshore community of Valois and I stayed at their place for a few months while I worked out my next move.
I needed some kind of job and got one at the nearby Fairview Shopping Centre working at the Simpson’s Department Store in Pointe Claire as a clerk. Simpson’s had a long history in Montreal and a large store on Ste Catherine Street in downtown Montreal. The company was partly owned by the American retailer Sears and the Canadian stores changed their name to Simpsons-Sears in 1972. The last Sears Canada store closed its doors in January of this year.
I was assigned to work in the hardware department at Simpson’s. The guy who was going to show me the ropes was Gil Bushe. I can still picture him today from our first meeting. Bell bottom pants, slip on Hush Puppy kind of shoes, and a wide tie that was the style at the time. Gil had black hair that was combed back and came almost to his shoulders. He also had a droopy mustache. His complexion was kind of olive and I think I guessed that he must have come from another country. It turned out that his parents were from India and I believe Gil’s mom and dad owned a beauty parlor (as they used to call those places) in the mall just a doorway or 2 away from Simpson’s.

I was immediately impressed with Gil’s confidence and casual manner. He didn’t seem like someone who could be rattled easily. Gil made it fun to come to work. We became friends right away. Gil and a few other employees organized a fishing trip on nearby Lac St. Louis that I participated in. I remember talk about how polluted the water was at the time and nobody wanting to eat whatever fish we caught. At the end of that day on the water I found that I had baked myself too much in the hot sun. My mother applied most of a jar of Noxema which eased the pain somewhat.
The reality is that I wasn’t at Simpson’s very long, at most a month. I do recall the turtles in the pet department and some kind of devise in the storeroom that added different colours to paint.
One day I was notified that the store manager wanted to see me. He told me that they were going to have to let me go. About 6 years previously I had stolen a red ascot from the downtown Eaton’s store and my name was recorded and shared with other department stores. I was a dead duck and by their rules I guess I was beyond redemption. For some odd reason the store manager thought my dismissal was an appropriate time to comment on the state of young people. He showed me a Life Magazine that had a piece, including a number of photos, on hippies doing their thing. None of them appeared to be wearing red ascots! What an ass!
Not long after losing my job I moved back into Montreal. Over the next 2 years I would give Gil a call every now and then and we would get together for a beer or two. The beers were always somewhere on the Lakeshore. Gil never seemed to have any interest in coming into town. Pointe Claire seemed to be his turf. One week night we ended up in the near empty Pointe Claire haunt The Edgewater. I ran into an old girlfriend I wasn’t fussy about and her and her girlfriend invited us back to her girlfriend’s apartment along with two other guys they had met that night. It didn’t take long to realize that this was kind of a stupid idea. I pulled the fire alarm on the way out of the building. Kind of a dumb thing to have done I guess.
In the summer of 69’ I spent about a week with a gal who was visiting from Philadelphia with a girlfriend. They were staying at The Holiday Inn on Sherbrooke near University St. The gal I was with told me that her girlfriend wanted to get laid pretty badly and asked if I could set her up with someone I knew. I phoned Gil but he was committed to other plans. Or so he said.
There was a period of time when I was living in a frat house in downtown Montreal where I didn’t have a phone. Gil was still living at home then and I can still remember his mom’s accent and politeness when I called. “I’m very sorry. Gil is not at home right now.”
I spent the first half of 1970 working as a purchasing agent for a company in Ville St. Laurent. It took a long time to get there each day from downtown Montreal. I worked out a deal with some Greeks who worked at the plant who would give me  a lift back and forth each day for a price. I can still remember gold teeth shining in the dark in the mornings when they picked me up.
I gave Gil a call as the summer was approaching and he asked me if I would be interested in going on a road trip with him down to the US. It took me only a few seconds to decide I was in on the plan. I believe we left on our trip in late June.
We were gone for about a week and I can’t remember chronologically where we went. I know we spent some time in the state of Maine and visited Boston.
At the time, Gil owned a Mustang fastback sports car. I think it was dark green in colour. It also had a big crack in the front window which made me a bit nervous. Gil was a bit of a speed freak and at times would be doing 120 mph. I pictured in my mind that window crack caving in at that fast a speed.
Mustang like Gil's
I hadn’t been to Maine since I was a kid when our family visited places like Old Orchard Beach and Kennebunk Port by the Atlantic Ocean. Strangely, one thing I remember seeing back then was a  trailer made out of a California redwood tree. Unbeknownst to me Gil had a plan to visit his ex girlfriend who was vacationing at Old Orchard Beach. If I remember correctly she had a new boyfriend who wasn’t with her at the time. Gil’s ex was Jewish and I remember thinking the two of them were an interesting combination considering Gils’s East Indian heritage.

Redwood trailer....something like this.
I’m pretty sure we brought out golf clubs with us because we played a round at Webhannett Golf Club in Kennebunk. I still have the scorecard.
We also visited Mount Desert Island and Cadillac Mountain in Maine. I remember both of us sleeping in the car one night and washing up and brushing our teeth in a nearby brook in the morning.
One night we were on a two lane blacktop highway winding our way through the mountains of western Massachusetts. A car behind us was using us as a guide and their headlights were glowing in our rear view mirror. This went on for some time until Gil decided to shake them. He accelerated and drove around a few curves before turning his headlights off. Once the car behind us caught up Gil turned his headlights back on. It must have freaked them out because they disappeared into the night.
I don’t recall much about our time in Boston other than spending part of a night in a sailor’s bar in the harbour area. The joint was a real dive with lots of US navy guys. A rock band was playing. Some drunk guy kept yelling for the band to play Sinatra’s New York, New York. That wasn’t going to happen.
When we got back to Montreal and I went back to work I was told that I was going to be laid off. I was really pissed off. I was good at my job. On top of that I had spent every last penny I had saved on the vacation.
I was living at a fraternity house at the top of University Street at the time and somehow ended up with the keys to the house that summer. I rented rooms to tourists for 10 bucks a night and pocketed the cash. It was a fun summer. In late August I took off to the West Coast. On the way back I stopped off in Toronto….. for close to 2 years. After that I only visited Montreal and spent most of my adult years in BC.
I guess the last time I talked to Gil was the time when I tried to set him up on a blind date. We drifted apart.
I remember Gil as a “sweet” guy….. a matter of fact sort of person….. very easy to get along with…..not a lot of pretenses.
In reading Gil’s obit I was a bit surprised to learn that he ended up in the Calgary area. Gil always seemed to like living in Pointe Claire so my guess is that the language issue in Quebec may have had something to do with his move. It appears that his family moved with him to Alberta or maybe he followed them.
I remember Gil as an outdoorsy kind of guy and Alberta may have been just his cup of tea.
Glad I met Gil. Still love road trips and fondly remember the one Gil and I shared.


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Vancouver Canucks Bottom Out, New Blood Coming, Sedins Retire

Not sure who the audience is for this piece but what the hell...... I got it off my chest I guess.

Several nights ago the Vancouver Canucks were shut out for the 3rd time in a row. They hadn’t scored a goal in their last 200 minutes of playing time. They may have reached a new low in their franchise history. Things couldn’t be any worse.
5 out of 7 of the Canadian NHL teams won’t make the play offs this year. I’m pretty sure they mostly don’t have a lot of empathy for the plight of the Canucks. The Ottawa Senators have gone from making the 3rd round in the play offs last year to trading away their veterans and defenseman Erik Karlsson may be playing somewhere else next year. Montreal has floundered and Carey Price doesn’t look like their savior anymore. Calgary has 3 elite players in Gaudreau. Monahan, and Giordano but is pretty thin after them. Connor McDavid can’t carry Edmonton by himself and the team has several slow forwards and a porous defense.
Although we have milder winters here on Vancouver Island than the rest of Canada, we too hunker down somewhat waiting for the warmer weather to return. TV is always an option for a bit of escapism. We can watch people looking to buy beach houses or get wired into “Survivor” in some tropical location and watch the contestants pull the rug out from each other.
If you like sports, watching them for 2 or 3 hours on TV can while away a few hours of the winter doldrums. Golf is always being played somewhere and I’ve been up in the middle of the night on occasion watching the Australian Open in tennis. The Toronto Raptors are having a great season in the NBA. The Olympics filled 2 weeks of this winter and Canada brought home a lot of medals.
Like many other Canadians who follow pro sports, the NHL and hockey has always been the big deal every winter. Some of us are old enough to remember when we only got one televised hockey game per week on Saturday nights and often neither of the teams was ones we were fans of.
Nowadays we get to see every home and away game of our home team. Even those that prefer to pull for another team other than their home team can buy a TV package where they can watch that other team.
We Canadians have pretty well hit the saturation point when it comes to hockey. Strangely, one of Canada’s sports networks doesn’t have the rights to broadcast any NHL games. Even without any broadcast rights that network still manages to have a panel of about 18 experts on NHL trade deadline day.
Most hockey fans in Canada closely follow the NHL team that is closest to them geographically. There are some exceptions like people who grew up in cities like Montreal and Toronto but later moved away.
When I was kid growing up in Montreal, I was a big Chicago Black Hawk fan but my allegiance changed in 1970 when the Vancouver Canucks were awarded a franchise.
I wrote a story on my blog some time ago (My First 20 Years Of Being A Vancouver Canucks Fan in December of 2013.
Every professional sports team has its ups and downs. Rebuilding eventually becomes a part of the process. Players that once could be counted on, can start to fade away. The legs are often the first thing to go as players get older.
Stocking a minor league team with young players who will eventually step into NHL jobs is a difficult thing to do. The best young players in each year’s draft get taken by the NHL teams with the worst records. The pickings can get pretty lean after the 1st round of the draft. An NHL team at the top of the league or even in the middle of the pack in points often needs some luck in finding even one young player each draft that is going to make it to the NHL.
High scoring young players from the junior leagues, college, and the European hockey leagues often don’t transition to high scorers in the NHL. In the under 20 years of age leagues high goal scorers are often playing against kids with considerably lesser skills. Defensemen usually take longer to develop and goalies almost always need years of seasoning in the professional minor leagues.
Anyone chosen in the annual draft beyond the 2nd round is really a long shot to make it. There are all kinds of young players that are not the total package. Some are small in stature, some don’t have great foot speed, and others have trouble making split second decisions.
In the old days a career hockey player could toil for as long as 20 years in the minor leagues. Those days are long gone. In most cases these days decisions are made on young hockey players when they are 23 or 24 years of age as to whether or not they are going to have NHL careers. Some who were big scorers when they were younger are converted to 3rd and 4th line defensive players. Every hockey team needs players that can score consistently at the NHL level and the audition for that role often isn’t very long.
Superstars in the NHL usually have the capability of playing with a variety of line mates and can up the game of those players.
They used to say that every good team is built down the center. 3 good centers that can distribute the puck well and score goals can take a team a long way. Today’s game is all about speed and quick transition from offense to defense and visa versa.
All of the best teams have at least 2 really offensive defensemen who can get the puck up the ice quickly and can blast a shot from the blue line. These guys also know how to quarterback a power play.
The last ingredient for an outstanding NHL team is having a superior goalie. Without one everything else doesn’t matter.
The team that has the most points currently in the NHL is the Nashville Predators. They have all the boxes ticked off…. 4 solid defensemen with offensive skills in Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, and P.K. Subban. Strong at the center position with Ryan Johanson, Kevin Fiala, Kyle Turris, and Nick Bonino. Wingers who can score like Victor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg. Role players who can chip in and one of the best goalies in the NHL in Pekka Rinne.
So How Could Nashville Get Things So Right And The Vancouver Canucks Get Things So Wrong?
The easy answer is probably better management.
To get a better idea of why the Canucks are where they are today you have to go back about 15 years. There was a period of 3 or 4 years in the early 2000s when the Canucks had one of the best scoring lines in hockey with Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, and Brendan Morrison. The trio was nick named “The West Coast Express”. As good as they were the Canucks never went far in the playoffs.
In February of 2004 Colorado forward Steve Moore hit Canucks player Marcus Naslund with a cheap shot causing a concussion. A few games later Bertuzzi went looking for Moore and ended up smashing Moore’s head into the ice. Moore never played hockey again and sued Bertuzzi for damages. The whole deal was a big distraction on the team and 2 years later Bertuzzi was traded to the Florida Panthers for goalie Roberto Luongo.
By 2008 both Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison too had left the Canucks as free agents.
West Coast Express
Brian Burke was the GM of the Canucks in 2000 and the Canucks had the 2nd pick in the draft. Somehow Burke cooked up a deal where the team would also have the 3rd overall pick and he chose the Sedin brothers, Henrik and Daniel.

18 year old Sedin Bros
For the first several years the Sedin brothers were 2nd line players and got better and better as time went on. By 2006 they were both leading the team in scoring.

Alain Vigneault
Also in 2006 Alain Vigneault became the new Canucks coach. He would direct the team to 7 ensuing winning seasons peaking in the 2010-2011 season when the Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals which went to 7 games. Young shit disturbers, mostly from the Vancouver suburbs, decided to riot and loot stores. A few cars were also burned. So much for the “mellow” West Coast eh? 

Would it have been worse if the Canucks won?

The Gillis Years

Image result for mike gillis hockey
Mike Gillis
In 2008 player agent Mike Gillis convinced the Canuck’s owner to let him run the team. One of Gillis’s clients was Markus Naslund. Among Gillis’s first moves was not resigning Naslund and Morrison. Instead Gillis tried to sign former Maple Leafs star Mats Sundin to a 2 year 20 million dollar deal. Sundin eventually signed for a partial year for 8 million dollars. He scored 9 goals in 41 games that year.

One of Gillis’s best deals was getting offensive defenseman Christian Ehrhoff from San Jose for next to nothing. Gillis also signed goalie Roberto Luongo to a 12 year 64 million dollar contract. That contract would be a killer in the coming years.
In the 2010-2011 hockey season the Canucks had the best record in the NHL and Gillis was given the manager of the year award. And then things started to come apart for him. Young goalie Cory Schneider became the #1 goalie and Luongo became the back-up. Gillis signed Schneider to a 3 year 12 million dollar contract. Luongo wanted out of Vancouver in the worst way even though he had a no trade clause. Trading a guy with 9 years left on his big contract wasn’t going to be easy.
Corey Schneider and Roberto Luongo
Unable to make a trade for Luongo, Gillis shipped Schneider off to New Jersey for their first round pick who turned out to be Bo Horvath.
Vigneault was fired in 2013 and John Torterella became the new coach. “Torts” only lasted 1 year and it was a fiasco. The team won 1 more game than they lost. The Sedin twins combined for 27 goals and 2nd line center Ryan Kesler wanted to be traded. A young Eddie Lack and Luongo were now sharing the goaltending duties. The Sedins were in the first year of their new 6 year contracts that paid them each 7 million dollars a year.
John Tortorella
In March of 2014 Luongo was finally traded. He was sent to the Florida Panthers in exchange for goalie Jacob Markstrom. The Canucks are still on the hook for part of Luongo’s salary.
In April of 2014 Gillis was fired.
The Linden/Benning Years
Trevor Linden and Jim Benning
After firing Gillis, the owner of the Vancouver Canucks, Francesco Aquilini, hired former long time Canucks player Trevor Linden as president. Gillis and Linden weren’t the best of pals and Linden stayed away from the Canucks during the Gillis years.
Personally, I thought Linden was overrated as a hockey player. His goal scoring ability ended 8 years into his NHL career. In the next 12 years he never scored 20 goals in a season. They used to call that kind of player a “journeyman”. On the upside Linden knew a lot of the players personally throughout the league because he was the head of The Player’s Association.
Linden hired former Canuck teammate Jim Benning to be the new GM. Benning had been the assistant GM in Boston.
Ryan Kesler
Long time Canuck center Ryan Kesler could see the writing on the wall as to the Canucks future. The Canucks were going to have to go into a rebuild mode. Kesler forced Benning’s hand and Kesler was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for center Nick Bonino and defenseman Lucas Krajceck.
Realizing that the Canucks couldn’t rely on Jacob Markstrom ,who they received in the Luongo trade, as their main goalie, Benning signed reliable Ryan Miller to a 3 year 18 million dollar contract.
Ryan Miller
A combination of poor scouting and not having a high draft pick because the Canucks had a string of good years previously, meant that there wasn’t much in the system in the way of a new exciting player joining the team.
The Canucks didn’t have a draft pick in the first 3 rounds of the 2010 draft and of the 6 players they chose, 1 player played 1 game in the NHL. The 2011 draft was another flop. 2 marginal players in the 2012 draft, Brendan Gaunce and Ben Hutton, eventually made the team. The Canucks used the 9th overall pick in the 2013 draft that they got by trading goalie Cory Shneider to New Jersey to take Bo Horvath.

Bo Horvat
The 2014 draft saw 4 Canucks drafts make the NHL eventually. The #6 overall draft pick, Jake Virtanen, is the only player still with the team.

Jake Virtanen
Long time minor league coach Willie Desjardins was brought in to direct the 2014-2015 team. Goalie Ryan Miller stood on his head some nights and there were just enough of the old regulars to carry the team to a winning season. Free agent Radim Vrbata helped out with 31 goals.

Willie Desjardins
Linden and Benning didn’t seem to know whether to rebuild the team totally or do some patching up by signing free agent veterans. With nothing to speak of on the farm they started to work around the edges. Veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa was shipped off to Anaheim for a 2nd round pick.  They acquired forwards Swen Baertchi and Marcus Granlund from Calgary as reclamation projects. The team didn’t get anything for defenseman Dan Hamuis in free agency. Veteran Chris Higgins was so bad that he was sent to the minors after playing in more than 700 NHL games.
Free agent Loui Eriksson was signed to a 6 year 36 million dollar contract and a Canucks first round prospect, Jarred McCann, was traded to Florida for defenseman Erik Gubranson.
The Canucks dropped to 7 games below .500 in the 2015-2016 hockey season and to 13 games below .500 in the 2016-2017 season. 2 long time Canuck veterans, Alex Burrows and Jannik Hanson, were traded away for young prospects Nicolai Goldobin and Johnathan Dahlen. By this point the Sedin brothers and defensemen Alex Edler and Chris Tanev were the only Canuck players left from the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup run. The one bright spot for the team was rookie Brock Boeser scoring 4 goals in 9 games at the end of the season.
Willie Dejardins was fired as coach in the summer of 2017 and Travis Green was promoted to Canucks coach from their farm team in Utica, NY. Green. Green played close to 1,000 games in the NHL.

Coach Travis Green
With nothing much down on the farm in Utica to promote to the Canucks, GM Benning went out and signed 5 free agents, forwards Sam Gagner and Thomas Vanek, defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Derrick Pouliot, and back-up goalie Anders Nillson.
Thomas Vanek
It was pretty obvious that the Canucks were pretty thin on defense. Before the 2017-2018 season had even started monster Russian defenseman Nikita Tryamkin (6’7” 265 lbs.) notified the team that he wouldn’t be coming back.

Nikita Tryamkin
The surprise at the beginning of the 2017-2018 season was the play of veteran shit disturber Derek Dorsett who had 7 goals in the first 20 games. And then his career was over due a severe neck injury. For some odd reason coach Green sat out Brock Boeser for the first 2 games of the season.

Derek Dorsett
The Canucks started to totally fall apart not long after Dorsett’s injury. Long term injuries happened to other key players on the team like Horvat (22), Baertchi (29), Eriksson (32), Sutter (20), Granlund (29), Tanev (41), and Gulbranson (30). Only 2 Canucks have played in every game this year.
The one bright spot on the Canucks this year was the play of sniper Brock Boeser. Unfortunately he was injured 3 times this year including a season ending one which took him out of contention for the rookie of the year trophy. He scored 29 times in 62 games. He has scored 33 goals in the 71 NHL games he has played.

Brock Boeser
Boeser also proved that he isn’t just a one trick pony with his wicked shot. It is pretty clear that like other elite players he understands the game better than most and knows where to go on the ice and can make great passes.
Many predict that Boeser will become the poster boy for hockey in Vancouver. His off-ice character is quite admirable. He once took a mentally challenged girl to her prom.
The trade deadline came and went and the Canucks dealt Thomas Vanek, who had a productive season in Vancouver, go to Columbus for veteran Jussi Jokenen and prospect Tyler Motte. Neither of these players will probably be with the Canucks next season. Brendan Leipsic was picked up from Las Vegas in exchange for Canucks minor league defenseman Phillip Holm.

Brendan Lypsic
Hockey has been so bad in Vancouver this year that scalpers are asking for a lot less than the ticket’s values.The only thing diehard fans are interested in now, in the last 6 or 7 games of the year, is how well the leading scorer in American college hockey, Adam Gaudette, does in his early audition to make the team next year.
Rating The Management, The Players, And Is There A Brighter Future?
GM Jim Benning has done a decent job of drafting in most cases and has stockpiled a number of young prospects with scoring ability including  Adam Gaudette, Ellias Petterson, Kole Lind, and Jonathan Dahlen.
The teams best defenseman prospect is Olli Juolevi. For some reason the European prospects are allowed to play in men’s leagues overseas instead of for the Canucks’s farm team in Utica.
The Canucks have a very decent goalie in Utica in Thatcher Demko and a promising goalie prospect in junior player Michael Dipietro.

Thatcher Demko
The team desperately needs an offensive defenseman with a big shot.
Benning appears to be a lot less astute at acquiring players through free agency or trades. Imagine explaining to your boss that you have signed free agent Loui Eriksson for 6 years and 36 million dollars and that Eriksson has scored a total of 21 goals in his 2 years with the Canucks? Often injured Defenseman Erik Gudbranson has 3 goals and 11 points in his 2 seasons in Vancouver and Benning recently signed him to a 3 year 12 million dollar contract. What was the sense in trading center Nick Bonino for  center Brandon Sutter and then giving Sutter a 5 year contact for 22 million?

Brandon Sutter
To be fair, Benning hasn’t had a lot to work with and limited assets to make a trade with. On the other hand he got a new contract even though the Canucks have been close to the bottom in the NHL for the past 3 years.
Coach Travis Green is a bit hard to figure out at times. From the start of his first year as coach he has made it known that players have to earn their ice time. Sounds simple enough but what he really seems to mean is “younger players” and not the vets who have big contracts.
Two of those borderline players are Nicolay Goldobin and Reid Boucher. Both spent a lot of time with the Canucks’s farm team in Utica this year. Both players aren’t great defensively but Boucher is pretty good on the fore check. Boucher scored 25 times in 45 games for Utica this year. He’s a goal scorer who I think should have been on the power play from the time he was called up. Boucher is 24 and Goldobin is 23.

Reid Boucher

Nicolay Goldobin
With all the injuries to the Canucks this year, Green often didn’t have a lot of options as to would and wouldn’t play. 4th line center Nick Dowd with his 3 goals this year got a lot of playing time and it is unlikely he will be with the Canucks next year.
The Current Roster
The Sedin Twins….
The Sedins are finishing off the 6th year of their 42 million dollar contracts this year and have decided to wait to the end of the year to tell the team whether or not they are coming back. 14 million dollars a year is a lot of money to have to pay two players. They have always been a package deal.
The Sedins have always been a class act. Several years ago the Sedins donated 1.5 million dollars of their salary to the BC Children’s hospital without any fanfare. P.J. Subban, on the other hand when he was with the Montreal Canadiens, donated about 300 thousand dollars of his own money to the Montreal Children’s Hospital and never bothered to correct fans and reporters that he didn’t actually donate 10 million dollars.
The Sedins have been Canucks for 17 years now and both have played over 1,000 games in the NHL. It is time for them to go. Yes they are still putting up close to 50 points a year but they aren’t what they used to be.
They were never fast skaters to begin with and have gotten slower and slower with the passing years. They have started to take a lot of hooking penalties trying to keep up. Of the 2, Daniel can still score a bit but Henrik has lost any scoring touch he once had.
Neither of the brothers is very good at checking. Often it seems that they are afraid to meet opposing players head on by the boards and they choose to slide in backwards to check so they can avoid any potential face injury. It is hard to take control of the puck when your back is turned to it.
Today’s NHL is geared towards speed. The Sedins don’t have that. At this point in the season Henrik has 3 goals and Daniel 21. 8 of Daniel’s goals have come on the power play which means for 14 million dollars the Sedins have scored 16 goals between them at even strength. This is not a good deal.
Opinions on the Sedins future are split in Vancouver. It is highly unlikely that the Canucks will make the play offs next year and even if they did the Sedins aren’t going to lead the team anywhere. It is time to move on and play the younger guys as far as I’m concerned.
Brock Boeser and Bo Horvath are definitely long term Canucks. After these guys, things get a little thin at the forward positions. Jake Virtanen has speed and size along with a decent shot. Goldobin is “iffy” as is Reid Boucher. Baertchi also has some skill. Sutter is s decent shut down player.

Sven Baertchi
The team is stuck with Eriksson and his 6 million per year for 4 more years contract as they are with Sam Gagner and his 3.15 mil deal for 2 more years.

Loui Eriksson
Sam Gagner
Forwards on the bubble for next hockey season: Goldobin, Boucher, Archibald, Leipsic, and Granlund.
Forwards who I think should move on or sent to the minors: Gaunce, Motte, Jokinen, and Dowd.
Alex Edler is getting on in years and too much has been expected from him. Lately he has been playing about 25 minutes a game. Regular shifts against other teams top lines, power play time and killing penalties have worn him out at times. He hasn’t had much support on the back end.

Alex Edler
The often injured Chris Tanev is the other “senior” defenseman. Defensively he is great but has almost no upside offensively.

Chris Tanev
Free agent signees Derek Pouliot and Mike Del Zotto have puck moving capabilities but aren’t great defensively.

Troy Stecher
Troy Stecher is hard worker but often seems undersized up againt opposing forwards. Ben Hutton has been benched several times this year and his play seems to have dropped off.

Eric Gulbranson
Eric Gulbranson actually has a heavy shot but doesn’t play on the power play. His best asset is his size. Spare defenseman Alex Biega is at best a good spare part.
The Goalies:

Jacob Markstrom
The Canucks goalies Markstrom and Nillson are both big guys at 6’6”. Both have the habit of letting in soft goals, often at the beginning of games. They are also both 28 years of age. Markstrom is clearly the better of the 2 and has 2 years left on his contract. Nillson has 1 year left on his contract.
Armchair Quarterback.........
The Draft
This year’s draft has a number of good young players available. Like all other bottom dwelling teams in the NHL, the big prize would be landing Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlen. The Canucks desperately need 1 or 2 grade A defencemen including one who can run the power play.
It is very hard to get a top 4 defensemen in a trade. Edmonton had to let star player Taylor Hall go to get defenseman Adam Larsson.
There are 3 other defensemen rated in the top 10 in this year’s’ draft. One of them is only 5’9”.
As I see it there are a couple of ways the Canucks could go if they don’t get the #1 pick in Dahlen.  If they pick 2nd or higher they could go with a forward like Brady Tkachuk who will play in the NHL for sure. They might also pick up one of 3 defensemen in Adam Boqvist, Jared McIsaac, or Bode Wilde if they find themselves picking 4th or higher.

The Canucks may also get a chance to get something from another team with a top draft pick by backing off a forward and choosing a defenseman who isn’t rated as high as that forward.
If the Canucks have the 2nd pick I would take 6’3” winger Brady Tkachuk. 3rd pick 6’1” Filip Zadina. 4th pick I would pass on Russian winger Andrei Svechinov. The Canucks have not had a lot of luck with Russians. 4th/5th/ or 6th pick they should take the best defenseman available.
There is a good chance that whoever they draft will have a shot at making the Canucks next year if they draft 1 to 5.
Free Agency
There are some possibilities this summer for the Canucks in free agency. At 27 John Tavares is a proven star. It is unlikely that he wants to go another team other than the Islanders. If I was Canucks management I would pitch him at 10.5 million per year for 7 years. Players like this just don’t come around. That would be 3.5 million less than the Canucks are now paying the Sedin twins. Tavares is a guy a team can be built around.
The Canucks should have enough goal scorers in the system and the only other free agent forwards I think they might consider are Josh Bailey and James Van Reimsdyk.
There are a few decent defensemen available including John Carson.
Making offers to free agents other than Tavares should have 2 requirements, that the players be under 30 years of age and the offered contracts should be no more than 4 years.
Changes Over The Summer And Next Year?
The team may have to go out and find a more capable back-up goalie and eat Nillson’s contract or send him to the minors. Possibly Thatcher Demko could be the new back-up and challenge Markstrom.
Something has to be done with the team’s defense. A defensemen who can pound the puck would be a good start.
Unfortunately both Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher didn’t get any grooming in the minors. Hutton has the size but makes a lot of bad decisions on the ice. Stecher doesn’t have the size but has a lot of tenacity. It may be time to ship Hutton somewhere else or send him down to Utica for seasoning if he clears waivers.

Mike Del Zotto
Mike Del Zotto has 1 more year on his contract at 3 miilion per and Derrick Pouliot is a restricted free agent this summer. I would resign Pouliot. He’s only 24.
Gulbranson at 4 miilion a year for the next 3 years isn’t going anywhere.
Alex Edler is 31 and has 1 year left on his contract. He still has some miles on him but the team needs another offensive defenseman to help run the power play.
Chris Tanev has 2 years left on a no trade contract. He is sound defensively but has little upside offensively. Also gets hurt a lot. It might be an idea to see if he would wave his no trade deal.
29 year old Alex Biega is signed for 2 more years. A 7th or 8th depth defenseman. Ashton Sautner is just 23 and has looked good defensively in the 4 games he has played for the Canucks.
Hutton and Pouliot may be on the outside looking in or traded depending on what other defensemen the Canucks can upgrade to.
This changes a whole lot of things including freeing up 14 million dollars annually in cap space. It also means that there will be several positions at forward open for competition next fall.
There are a number of forwards that will make the team simply by their existing contracts including Sam Gagner, Loui Eriksson, and Brandon Sutter. Sutter is a competent shut down center who can kill penalties. Gagner and Eriksson make 9 million a year between them and their contracts would be hard to move.
On the bubble: Nicolai Goldobin, Reid Boucher, Jussi Jokinen, Darren Archibald, Tyler Motte, Brendan Leipsic and Marcus Granlund.
Should be waved or sent to the minors: Brenden Gaunce and Nic Dowd.
Core forwards from this years team: Brock Boeser, Bo Horvath, Sven Baertchi.
Jake Virtanen needs to be signed to a new contract this summer.
Training camp this fall: The Canucks have a boatload of prospects at the forward positions including Kole Lind, Adam Gaudette, Elias Petterson, Jonah Gadjovich, Jacob Strukel, Adam Gaudette, Jonathan Dahlen and Oli Juolevi.

Kole Lind

Adam Gaudette
Jonah Gadjovich
Jonathan Dahlen
Oli Juolevi

Elias Petterson

Prediction Of What The Canucks Will Look Like After Training Camp This Fall
There are 22 players on an NHL team including 2 goalies. Markstrom is in for sure but the Canucks may need to look for a more competent back-up.
Defense: Edler, Del Zotto, Tanev, Stecher, Pouliot, Sautner, Biega, and a free agent. Oli Juolevi starts season in Utica. If their #1 pick is a defenseman other than Rasmus Dahlen, he too starts in Utica, Dress 6 or 7 defensemen per game.
Fowward lines: Boeser, Horvat, Baertchi……Lind, Petterson, Goldobin…..Virtanen, Gaudette, Gagner…..Archibald, Sutter, Eriksson….Lepsic, Dahlen
Let’s see what happens!
A special salute to the Sedins.

Go Jets!