Just so you know, Game 7 of the Canucks-Sharks series was scheduled for Monday night. Can’t give you that but we can give you the Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports.
* If you listen to Mike Gillis’ season-ending press conference, you’ll hear the Canucks’ GM begin by attempting to take some responsibility for his team’s shortcomings, then spend the better part of 40 minutes explaining why it wasn’t really his fault.
There was the lockout which completely altered the trade market. There were injuries that made it difficult to assess the team. There was a league-wide trend away from speed-and-skill and towards size-and-heft. There was the Canucks’ own success, which hasn’t allowed them to pick early in the draft. And there was the Eastern media, who’ve typecast the Canucks as divers and complainers and the Vancouver media who haven’t done enough to change that perception.
Add it all up and it’s no wonder the image which exists of this team is less than flattering It’s always the referees, or the league, or the media or some outside agency (see Toronto Maple Leafs and Roberto Luongo trade) plotting against the Canucks. Maybe you’d give them a pass on one or two of these developments but, over the last five years, it’s been the same story over and over again.
On so many occasions, a judgment was required by the organization’s upper management and, too often, they got it wrong. They didn’t read where the game was going. They didn’t acknowledge the team’s lack of size and grit which was apparent five years ago. They miscalculated terribly on the Keith Ballard and David Booth trades. They’ve drafted poorly irrespective of their position. And they should have traded Roberto Luongo in the offseason.
That’s not everyone else’s fault. It’s the the fault of the organization. Sometimes, you’d just like to hear them say it
* On a related note, my favourite moment from the presser was Gillis drawing the line between another rise in ticket prices and the organization’s outlay in analytics and sports science. Yes, the salary cap is going down by $6 million next season but, apparently, that doesn’t begin to cover the cost of sleep doctors and nutritionists.
Again, there are specific reasons why the Canucks are losing their place in the market and one of the biggest is the sense they’re after every nickel they can wring out of their supporters.
* Watching Marc-Andre Fleury’s meltdown, you wonder if the Pittsburgh Penguins would be interested in a certain veteran goalie who’s last name rhymes with Shmlongo. Wouldn’t expect too much in return. Sidney Crosby, for example, would be out of the question. But that Malkin guy might be a fit.
* If you haven’t watched any of the Golden State-San Antonio NBA series, you’re missing the coming-out party of Steph Curry. Kid’s 6-3 and built like a one-iron but he’s the best hybrid guard to come into the league since Allen Iverson. He was also the seventh pick of the 2009 draft. The Memphis Grizzlies had the second pick that year and took Hasheem Thabeet, proving once again the curse of Stu Jackson lives on.
* And finally, some mini-takes on the first round of the playoffs.
- The most impressive series win belonged to the L.A. Kings who took the St. Louis Blues’ best shot, literally, and beat the monsters from Missouri in four straight games after dropping the first two. Not sure if the Kings will have enough left after that war but they demonstrated a champions’ pedigree in that series.
As for the difference between the two teams, the Kings actually have some players who can shoot the puck in the net. Apparently, that’s still a useful skill in the NHL.
- If the Canucks were looking for a team that’s remade themselves, they need look no farther than the Ottawa Senators. Five years ago, the Sens had the same soft, underachieving reputation as the Canucks. But the team that blitzed the Habs in the first round looked anything but soft. The Sens probably don’t have enough firepower to match the Penguins, but if Jason Spezza comes back for the next round, it would change things.
- For all the drama and intrigue from the first round, it still looks like a Pittsburgh-Chicago final. At least you hope that’s the case because if another one of those roller-derby teams wins the Cup, the game is in serious trouble. Once again, the league has all but legislated the artistry out of the game and left its fans with something which resembles hockey in name only. You’d like to think the league’s stewards understand that. Past history tells you it will get worse before it gets better.