We’ve covered the Canucks awful start, which is largely driven by a poor offense, and how the job of head coach Willie Desjardins has been affected as a result. Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province offers additional insight into the situation, relaying this quote from team president Trevor Linden on Desjardins’ job security from an interview yesterday on TSN 1040:
“We know this topic has been widely covered and it’s definitely not something I, or we, plan to debate publicly.”
On the surface that doesn’t sound particularly ominous but as Botchford pointed out, that was no vote of confidence and in the opinion of the scribe the statement was “ice cold.” In the past Linden has been a vocal supporter of his head coach but there wasn’t much support contained in that brief statement.
Botchford expressed the odds around the league were 50/50 whether Desjardins would be relieved of his duties before their current road trip and evidently, he has done nothing to swing the pendulum in his favor.
Whether or not the team eventually does fire Desjardins, it’s unlikely his replacement would be able to do much better unless the players start performing significantly better.
Elsewhere in the Pacific Division:
- From the same piece, Botchford ponders whether the team should trade Henrik and Daniel Sedin, even if the team has to retain half of their salaries to do so. He argues that the twins are still far-and-away the team’s best players and subtracting them would leave the Canucks bereft of quality talent. Botchford finds it difficult to fathom the team could recoup anything close to fair value in a trade, particularly since they would certainly require being dealt to the same team. He also points out that the team really has no succession plan in place. While the Canucks have some quality young talent, both on the big league roster and in the system, they don’t have the type of prospects likely to develop into a franchise-type player. Ultimately Botchford posits that the Canucks would accomplish one of two things by trading the Sedins; either they essentially gut the franchise or they finally provide the needed roster and salary cap flexibility to begin a real rebuild of the organization.
- Craig Morgan, writing for Arizona Sports, delves into Shane Doan’s early struggles and wonders whether it’s a sign that the longtime Coyotes team captain is nearing the end of a terrific career or if it is just another in what has been a fairly long line of slow starts for Doan. Through 13 games, Doan has just one goal and four points after tallying 28 times in 2015-16. For his part Doan doesn’t believe the early season difficulties will be a portend of things to come, saying: “Not in my mind, it doesn’t. That really hasn’t been something that I’ve even thought too much about. I’m more than capable of being better than I’ve been.” His coach, Dave Tippett agrees: “He’s probably a little like our whole group: up and down a little bit. He just has high expectations for himself. I remember last November he was struggling a little bit and then he scored 28 goals. Some guys just have that make-up where they need to get up and going and it takes a little while.” Morgan points out Doan is seeing less ice time this season, averaging almost two minutes less per game, and that might play a part in the captain’s lack of production.
- After addressing their goaltending situation in the offseason and adding veteran winger Troy Brouwer as a free agent, the Calgary Flames were expected to contend for a playoff spot this year. However a sluggish start suggests the team lacks an identity and needs to find theirs quickly if they want to avoid postseason elimination, writes Eric Francis of Sportsnet. First-year bench boss Glen Gulutzan believes the team is playing well at times but can’t find a way to win games: “We’re finding ways to lose. There are certain things that we’re doing well, but we’re finding ways to lose. We need somebody now to step up and find a way to win, and stop playing the victim.” Francis points to the Flames special teams as a culprit with the team’s penalty-killing unit ranking 29th in the NHL and the man-advantage failing to score a goal at home this season. Both played a role in the team’s latest loss, a 4 – 2 defeat at the hands of Dallas. Dallas’ Jamie Benn potted the go-ahead goal early in the third period while the Flames power play failed to convert a late advantage to tie the contest. It’s not too late for the Flames to find themselves but they’d better get it going soon before it’s too late.