Suddenly, Game 7 today between the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks seems important in Vancouver.
So do the fortunes of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Of all the fallout from GM Mike Gillis’s apparent surrender last week, pushing Canucks fans to cheer for the Blackhawks is the strangest.
What many took from Gillis’s mission statement-like presentation was essentially this: He appears ready to cave, abandoning the forward-thinking, analytics-based pressure offence he brought with him in 2008 for dumbed-down, dump-it-in, vanilla hockey.
It remains to be seen if he was serious, semi-serious or just distracting those adorable salmon in town who only swim in one direction when it comes to what they think will fix the Canucks — size, size, size.
Well, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top three centres are Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski and Nazem Kadri. They’re all under 200 pounds and the team is acquitting itself just fine, thanks. And against the Boston Bruins, too.
Those in Vancouver on the other side of the ideological divide, the ones who remember the Canucks best period of the playoffs was the third of Game 4 when the defensive shackles were off, see a move toward playing like the St. Louis Blues doesn’t suit the core players, including the Sedins, Dan Hamhuis, and Ryan Kesler.
Heck, playing like the Blues didn’t even work for the Blues.
Many Vancouver fans are now cornered into cheering on the Hawks and the Wings, not only for entertainment, but to prove there is hope for highly-skilled teams, as long as you don’t fool yourself into believing players like Derek Roy and Mason Raymond are highly skilled.
Look at what you’ve done, Canucks — your fans are hoping the Blackhawks win the West.
Reset is the buzzword Gillis chose to drive home, and it will shadow him all summer like his promise of “bold moves” five years ago.
To most, the reset button means changing more than the coach, though it didn’t include that the last time Gillis hit it in 2008.
Then, he kept the core together. This time, he should not.
Aside from the provocative idea Hockey Night in Canada was tossing around, trading both goalies and signing a free-agent netminder, the Canucks’ best opportunity for a reboot is an Alex Edler trade.
The team’s defence remains a position of strength, although it proved last year it’s overrated. At least they have young players ready to make a difference.
Frank Corrado played in the playoffs and Chris Tanev was badly missed. What about having both of them in the top six to start next year?
An Edler deal also leads to more Jason Garrison. This, is a good thing. He was their best player in the first round and criminally under-utilized.
The L.A. Kings won a Stanley Cup by trading defenceman Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter. The Penguins got James Neal for their puck-mover Alex Goligoski. The Blues reshaped their organization by trading Erik Johnson for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Edler is better than them all.
His no-trade clause doesn’t kick in until July, giving the Canucks opportunity to create a market, which should include the desperate Philadelphia Flyers and the Anaheim Ducks.
How would a Sean Couturier change the Canucks dynamics? A Wayne Simmonds? How about an Edler for Bobby Ryan deal?
Ryan is the type of player the Canucks should be salivating over to bolster their top-nine. He’d give Vancouver a 1B line, alleviating the pressure they’ve created for the twins in the past two years because they’ve been a one-line team.
Of course, it’s not this easy.
In January, the Canucks signed Edler to a six-year, $30 million extension which begins in July. A component of the negotiation was convincing Edler to take less so the team could afford to bring in other assets.
He was told then he was a piece the Canucks were building around.
On an open market, as an unrestricted free agent July 5, Edler could have signed just about anywhere he wanted for at least $1 million more a season.
The concern in Rogers Arena is the message it would send if they hoodwink him after making those pinky promises during negotiations.
Sure, they could deal Edler tomorrow, but there is a rationale fear the impact would be felt for a long time.
You can be sure, the next player they try to convince to take on one of their hometown discount plans would say: “Yeah, about what you did to Edler?”
Players remember, and if they didn’t, it’s their agents job to remind them. The Canucks have spent a long time constructing a careful internal salary cap.
It’s been built by players taking discounts to stay. For all the things management has been ripped for doing wrong this week, their contract extensions have been an area of success.
A lot of the hard work could be thrust on the guillotine if they essentially mislead a player like Edler.
But the Canucks are going to have risk something to change something significant.
That’s what resets are all about.