This could be, like, really bad.
It could be good, too. I guess. If you’re looking for a silver lining – and, really, you should be – the Canucks have a lot more to prove than they have to lose. That’s a start. Every season opener comes with tempers but needs tempered hearts – if you win, that’s fantastic, but you still have 81 games to go, and then hopefully more. If you lose, well… it’s time to wash down the bandwagon.
The Vancouver Canucks are entering a season on the brink, despite what Ryan Kesler would think of that. If things don’t off to a hot start in Lulu Land, John Tortorella’s mouth will get faster. He’ll drown himself out. Will that matter in the dressing room? Of course not, but it won’t look great when they lose – and, you’d have to figure presentation matters more than they’d tell you.
Roberto Luongo’s mental state – which, what would we even know about it? – will be called into question, and the man may just decide he wants out. It’s happened before. And, if you were Luongo, wouldn’t you have had enough by now? I don’t mean with the management, I mean with his fans. We treat him like Boston treats Roger Clemens, only this guy’s on our team. He never abandoned us. Never left even when he wanted to. He’s a class act with a glass heart.
You can’t even blame Luongo for making money. I know some of you do, but that’s ridiculous. He’s too nice. He deserves it. He seems to know what money is and what it’s to be spent for, and he seems to appreciate it.
Do you hate Ron Howard for making money?
Opie has plenty of it, but you’re not seriously going to rip on Richie Cunningham.
In this guy’s position – this Luongo guy – the best of the rest of us would have flipped our Vancouver faithful the bird and taken the first Amtrak south. Well, he can afford better than an Amtrak, but there’s something more “pioneer”-ing about a train, right?
The Sedin Twins’ age shouldn’t frighten you. Their contracts should. You’re really worried about the two most in-shape guys in our roster, the ones who handle more hacks, slashes, and hits to the head than anyone else and just keep rolling?
Don’t. These guys will play until they’re shown the door, and we may just be about to do that.
It’s not a question of if we should re-sign them or whether they’ll stay productive. We should, and they will.
The real brain tickle is, how much are they worth – not for now, but for four years later – and how much longer do they deserve at that rate? Are they better than whatever comes along? Are they the greatest Canucks of all-time and, if they are, does loyalty deserve a seat in the boardroom?
If Daniel and Henrik go, what happens to Alex Burrows? Granted, he’s a better two-way role player than anyone else this team could toss into that conversation – Chris Higgins? David Booth? Jannik Hansen? – but the guy’s envied ability to take the elevator from first-to-fourth line status without missing a beat on either is kind of rendered moot if our first line is dismantled.
What about our defence?
Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa are going to be free agents again before you blink. If they don’t have a Cup ring by that point, and if the club’s two best players aren’t on the payroll, you can’t blame them for giving someone else’s GM a call.
If Ray Bourque could leave Boston, those two could bolt. In a New York minute. (That pun was intended for the Islanders, not the Rangers. AV’s not getting his old boys back.)
Of course, I’m playing the armageddon game here. Every team faces these questions and they face them every season. All franchises – even at the height of their power – are forced to face a cloudy future – a place in the distance where they’re just not then what they are now. Just this summer, Boston was forced to ship off Tyler Seguin for Loui Eriksson. It’s not like that’s a bad trade, but the winds sure turned on Tyler fast, and Boston had to climatize to their conditions in a hurry. Chicago got rid of Michael Frolik and David Bolland, two guys who played significant minutes and moments for a Blackhawks team that needed overtime and a 3-1 series comeback just to reach the Western Conference Finals.
This schizophrenic salary cap doesn’t help, either. Toronto will learn that soon.
The only difference for the Canucks entering 2014 is, they’re not looking down at everyone else anymore. You know, Breaking Bad and Walter White and ‘Ozymandias’ and all that…
Sure, you could say they weren’t the king with the statue last year, either, but it wouldn’t have been a shock to see them win the Western Conference – or even the Stanley Cup. They still had it all. They were still the Presidents’ Trophy champions. (Presidents’ Trophy champions… how’s that for an oxymoron?)
If they lost in 2009, or 2010, or 2011, or 2012, they had the next year to look forward, and they could actually smile when they saw the horizon.
Well, hell… let’s just drop the puck.