Unless the Vancouver Canucks are able to turn their season around, and do so soon, it appears more and more likely the team’s struggles will eventually cost Willie Desjardins his job as head coach. As it stands, Vancouver’s chances of making the playoffs are dwindling by the day with the Sports Club Stats website placing the odds the Canucks will make it to the postseason at just 6.5%. However, as Jason Botchford writes in a piece for the Vancouver Sun, replacing Desjardins behind the bench mid-season is unlikely to make much of a difference on the ice for the Canucks.
First, Botchford notes that head-coach-in-waiting, Utica Comets bench boss Travis Green, is unlikely willing to jump into the NHL on an interim basis and without the benefit of a full training camp to implement his system. Another possible option, current assistant coach Doug Jarvis, has no head coaching experience at the NHL level. Ultimately, as Botchford argues, no available head coaching possibility would represent an upgrade over what the team currently has.
Botchford also discusses the frustration of the teams fan base and how that has already materialized in a lower-than-expected season ticket renewal rate of 80% for the 2016-17 campaign. Expecting a mid-season hire to revitalize the team’s followers and to sell tickets is unrealistic, as Botchford opines.
Taking it even further, Botchford believes the time is fast approaching where the organization is going to have to “sell a different direction, a new hope.” This could result in ownership mandating sweeping changes, and it shouldn’t be surprising if those changes include a shakeup of the front office.
Other Canucks notes:
- One bright spot in Vancouver’s difficult season has been the development of rookie defenseman Troy Stecher, writes David Ebner of The Globe and Mail. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound blue liner was signed by the Canucks as an undrafted free agent following a three-year run at the University of North Dakota. He has only netted one goal with six assists in 21 starts, and has posted a minus-8 +/- rating, but as Ebner notes, Stecher is one of the team’s best puck possession players and averages three shots on goal per game, a figure that ranks among the best in the league for defensemen. He considers himself more of an offensive defenseman saying: “It’s a lot more fun playing offence than defence, so sometimes I don’t really want to look for a pass if I have the lane. I just want to skate it out. One of my strongest assets is my feet, my ability to skate – I think it has to be, with my height.” It may be a small sample but to this point it appears as if Vancouver has uncovered a gem and a solid, top-four blue liner.
- Former NHL defenseman Mattias Ohlund spent 11 of his 13 NHL seasons as a member of the Canucks and tonight the team will add his name to the Ring of Honor at Rogers Arena. Iain MacIntyre writes that Ohlund overcame “the objections of his body” to become arguably the best blue liner in Canucks history. Before beginning his NHL career, Ohlund tore knee ligaments while representing Sweden in the 1994 World Junior Championships. The skilled defender would battle knee problems throughout his career and they would ultimately lead to his premature retirement at the age of 34. “I pushed myself and my body as far as I could. And then one day, after speaking to numerous doctors and trying everything I could, it was just impossible for me to practise and play and travel. My left knee is worse, but both are bad.” Ohlund is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 325 points in 770 contests with the Canucks. He would spend the final two seasons of his career with Tampa Bay after inking a seven-year deal with the Lightning in the summer of 2009.