Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bigger Issues in Nuxland

"The Canucks should be better. Why are they struggling to even get into the playoffs? They should be a Cup contender?"

Who are these people saying this? Where have you been the past 39 years? OK, some of you were just twinkles in your parents' eyes but even those who hopped onboard in the Pavel Bure's been 15 years since the 1994 Cup run. Wake up and smell the weed wafting over this region. You have to be high to even conclude that just getting a "world-class" goalie was enough.

Mats Sundin--please. Even if he gets straightened around and approaches that pt/game pace he should be on, is this Canuck team as good as the Sharks or the Wings are now?

How about a few less dumb penalties, too?

It's a process, ladies and texting Yaletownies. You really do have to crawl before you can walk. The Canucks are a team in transition as harsh as that reality is for most here to swallow. Is getting into the playoffs and most probably losing in rd. 1 or 2 the goal? Maybe for the owners' bottom line it is but in building a Cup team, what is the point of making the playoffs just for the sake of making the playoffs? Then all you are is a team like the Chicago Blackhawks (1970-97) or the St. Louis Blues (1980-2004) who would make the playoffs year after year and never really come close to the Cup (early '71 and '73 Finals aside for the Tony O era Hawks).

GM Mike Gillis is smarter than that, one hopes. Sundin is on a one-year deal. If the Nux do not make the playoffs, no harm no foul. They can be done with the guy.

The bigger headache is dealing with Roberto Luongo. Given Corey Schneider is no Steve Mason or Jonathan Quick, the Nux have no depth or cheaper option in net. If Luongo is who you are building your hopes around, he needs help.

That starts with a puck-moving defenceman. Pretty much every team in the post-expansion history of the Cup has had a Norris Trophy (or at the very least an All-Star calibre) offensive defenceman with the ability to feed the forwards. Look at the strides San Jose has made by signing Dan Boyle and, to a lesser extent, Rob Blake. Their D is just as strong but offensively the Sharks have leapt from averaging 2.7 per game in '07/08 to 3.5 in '08/09.

The only options the Nux have are to look at guys who may be attainable such as soon to be UFA Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Streit (signed through 12/13 at $4.1 million per), or even thinking to bring back a pricier option (one more season at $6 million on his current deal) Ed Jovanoski.

If Gillis wants to fire Yogi Bear and replace him with the Love Guru, fine, but I think we'd all sooner see an attempt at snagging a Norris type D-man.

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