The Canucks held their summer summit for season ticket members this week, and plied them with food and
beverages, gave them a chance to meet the prospects coming up in the system, and of course ask some questions of Canucks brass. Oh, and they were selling discounted merchandise too.
All the talk is about how fans laid into the brass with hard hitting questions, and yeah there were people who wanted to hold the team accountable, as there should be, people part with a ton of cash to watch this team 40+ times a year, never mind the parking, food, and booze that comes with every game.
Here’s my thing – have beef with players or trades? Makes sense – that’s totally justified, fans see that players performance day in and day out, they hear them interviews, maybe they seem them out and about on the town. Having beef with who gets hired to join the executive team or who is dispatched makes little sense to me. Demanding answers from Canucks leadership, then being aghast that you’re getting clear answers makes fans look like exactly what they are – fanatics.
Tanbir from Surrey
If you’re on twitter, you undoubtedly know that Tanbir from Surrey asked probably the most direct question that’s been asked in quite a while, all while holding a hockey stick purchased from the sale. He demanded to know why the Canucks have $5 million tied up in two fourth liners (Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust) – his reasoning that no team who has that much tied up on fourth liners are going anywhere. I mean, take a look at the Chicago Blackhawks, their fourth line of Bickell, Nordstrom, Desjardins would never get compensated that much right? Wrong. Bickell got $4m and Desjardins pulled in $800k. Everyone raves about Bo Horvat – as they should, he had a terrific rookie year – all of those folks also said that Derek Dorsett had a huge impact on his growth on and off the ice. Prust is very similar to Dorsett, referee issues aside. Tanbir ended off by saying he wants a cup, and wasn’t sure if the brass wanted a cup – which , to be fair, makes you lose a little credibility – you could maybe say that to the ownership group of a team – but, to the president, GM, and coach of a club? It’s a touch insulting. Tanbir verbalized what many fans across BC were thinking and wanting to say – and credit to him for doing so. Linden pulled him and another fan aside and had a little chat with them.
The other fan had mentioned that he was concerned that John Weisbrod was given such a prominent role in the organization. What? I’m assuming that the fan, who also spoke for a contingent of fans worked alongside Weisbrod, and assessed his performance. The guy has worked with the Orlando Magic, the Stars, Bruins and the Flames in various roles – primarily in scouting. The same group is outraged that Laurence Gilman and company were let go. I really like Gilman, friendly guy, who loved to talk hockey – and by all accounts he is a very intelligent man. He’s also a key builder of the team that Jim Benning and Trevor Lindern inherited. Remember last summer? Before the Kesler and Vrbata moves? When fans threatened to cancel their ice packs, all while wearing a giant puck head, and holding a piece of Canucks memorabilia? Yeah, people were outraged – if that group of people were fired last year, no one would bat an eye, but this market is so incredibly fickle. The guy that pulled Tanbir and the other fan aside was Chris Brumwell, the VP of communications and community parternships. No one really knew he was, but, let me tell you, if he got fired, people would be holding pitchforks chanting his name too. Fanatics.
My favorite part of the summit was when Benning admitted that he could’ve moved Ryan Miller. That’s a general manager with a game plan, one who is not easily swayed, and has plenty of fortitude. To say that the number one goalie was going to stay the number one goalie, despite the incredibly likable Eddie Lack waiting in the shadows, AND to mention the team could’ve got some return for him? That’s as close to Brian Burke bravado as we’re going to get in this market. Eddie Lack was great on twitter, and radio ads, and he was a good goalie, and by all accounts a great teammate. The rest of the league saw him as a backup, as Benning pointed out, and evidenced by the fact that Lack is backing up Cam Ward. Cam Ward was 25th in the league for wins and 38th in GAA by the way. He’s also making close to $7 million. Again, Eddie Lack is his backup there. A player is worth whatever a market deems him to be worth – doesn’t matter what a fanbase thinks of him.
Somebody described Kassian as a 24 year old power forward, somebody else said that, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘if he didn’t give his best while he was here, we’re better off without him’. And, you know what? Jim Benning and Trevor Linden both nodded. Willie Desjardins stared off into the distance wondering when someone would ask him a question. I thought Benning was as clear as it gets – Kassian didn’t give his all, he probably didn’t give 70% of his all, and a team that is in the midst of a rebuild needs all the positive influences it can. Benning said, ‘We know what Prust gonna give us’ which sounds much cooler if Samuel L. Jackson said it.
Can you believe that Trevor said that?
So many Canucks fans were waving their flags of outrage at the fact that Trevor said that no one in the league wants Chris Higgins $2.5 million contract. Where’s his professionalism?!, fans are shouting, ‘He’s a PR guy! He should know better’. These are mostly the same guys that tweet how many shots a player had when they saw him out, or tweet a general managers kid about the teams performance. It’s a league of men and women, everyone can take their shots. When teams buyout contracts, is that not a giant – holy – we’ve tried everything, we’re paying this guy to go away. No one talks about feelings there. Chris Higgins knows his own situation, he’s a smart guy, every player these days know what their perceived value is. Remember, Roberto Luongo with the whole ‘My contract sucks’? What Linden said is what every general manager says to every media outlet everywhere – we tried to find a partner, but, we couldn’t make it work. Let’s get off the high horse.
Overall? I thought the brass did well, they answered the questions head on, the prospects that came up, look like players – there are players you can actually get excited about, and I haven’t genuinely thought that since Luc Bourdon and Bo Horvat. Are they Jason Kings or are they Johnny Gaudreaus? Time will tell. One thing is certain, however this team spins it to sell seats, and have people keep their memberships – this season will likely be a tough one. Expect empty seats, expect slumps and losing streaks, and be content with it. I’m ok with a mediocre year or two, even if I wasn’t, aside from some seemingly great drafting, that’s what were going to get.