The Canucks are the last remaining winless team in the NHL and trade calls are getting louder. How much more of this can the Vancouver property support before undergoing a major reorganization? TSN Hockey experts discuss that, Minnesota’s slow start, the World Cup of Hockey, and more on Insiders.
Red Gino: They are the experts: Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger. The only winless team left in the entire league, fans throwing jerseys on the ice, players and coach openly frustrated. Darren, how much more of this can Canucks ownership and management take before moving on to a complete reorganization?
Darren Dreger: Well, we know that the temperature is rising. We know that Vancouver Canucks fans continue to cry out for answers, but the reality is that it’s not that simple. The Vancouver Canucks still believe it’s too early to do anything significant or too drastic. But the Canucks also know, guys, that they’re dangerously close to having to put everything on the table. So what does that mean and what does that look like? Well, let’s start with a big renovation. That means taking out players, maybe key players, collecting draft picks, knowing there’s a really good draft coming up in 2023. You have the ability to try to do maybe a short-term fix and add a trade. But there’s certainly no guarantee that that player, the right player, will be available at the right time. And then, perhaps the most appealing thing to Canucks fans because of how bitter they are is the coach’s firing. Again, not quite there, but he’s heading in one of those three directions. Difficult point for Bruce Boudreau and the Canucks management.
Pierre LeBrun: Dregs, Minnesota Wild got their first win of the season last week against those Canucks. But overall, it’s been a slow start for Wild, especially given the expectations of a team that had 113 points last year. Now, [general manager] Bill Guerin made some interesting comments in an interview with our friend Michael Russo on The Athletic. And I went on today and talked to Bill Guerin, and he certainly didn’t take back those comments, saying it’s time for his team to wake up and, in that, saying that quote, “We’re not going to trade our way out of this.” And his point is that this is not about one or two players; this is really a disappointment for the whole team, and the team has to play with their identity and reset their identity. So a bit of urgency from the general manager of the Minnesota Wild, because as he told me, “It’s easy to dig yourself a hole you can’t get out of. It’s important for us to start playing our best hockey now.”
GRAM: We often talk about US Thanksgiving as a key mile marker in terms of how teams are doing as they plan things moving forward. But, CJ, there’s another key milestone looming even before that.
Chris Johnson: Yes, if you’re a teenager in the NHL and it’s your first season, it’s usually around Halloween when you want to stay on the roster because that will probably mean you’ve reached your 10th game, at which point your entry-level contract begins. And as you look around the league right now, there are six players in that situation, wondering what their future holds. [will be]. Interestingly, only one of them, Juraj Slafkovský, [of] the Montreal Canadiens, is eligible to go to the American Hockey League. Everybody else you see on this list has to go to the Canadian Hockey League, and a lot of them have been pretty successful there, and I think that makes decisions about them a little more complicated. I highlight Wyatt Johnston of the Dallas Stars, he was the OHL MVP last year. This is a big week for him because Dallas has a busy schedule. He’s set to make it to his ninth game this weekend, and certainly Dallas is willing to keep him past that point, but I’m sure they’ll judge each and every performance before making the final call. And another one there is Shane Wright, of course from the Seattle Kraken. They’ve taken a little bit of a different approach with him, he’s been in and out of the lineup, he hasn’t played more than eight minutes in a game yet, but there’s a lot of focus on what Seattle does with him as he gets closer. to that 10-game mark.
GRAM: We are one month away [FIFA World Cup] start in Qatar and, Pierre, are there any meetings coming up to discuss the future of the Hockey World Cup next month as well?
IT IS: Yes, more discussions between the main stakeholders (of the) NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and some federations on the weekend of November 4-5 in Tampere, Finland, when Colorado and Columbus play NHL games. Time is of the essence here. Let’s be honest, there are people involved who thought that if things had been finalized, there would be a World Cup announcement this past summer. You know, the idea was to have this tournament on February 24. You know, Gary Bettman and Bill Daly last week after the Board of Governors meeting when I was there, you know, hinted that, you know, maybe the idea of delaying this tournament is on the table now. And I’ve talked to other people today, and I think it’s something that other stakeholders have also talked about. The bottom line is that there are still outstanding issues with the IIHF that have not been addressed and of course the elephant in the room and Bill Daly and Gary Bettman talking about (it) last week: what to do about Russia? There are other countries that do not want Russia to play in that tournament because of the war in Ukraine. It’s a really tough problem for the NHL (and) the NHLPA to tackle, so we’ll see where it goes. But the idea of delaying the World Cup of Hockey has a little more force for me now than it did maybe a month ago.
GRAM: Which would be unfortunate. brad marchand [scored the] short handed goal with 44 seconds remaining for the game winner to secure Canada’s victory over Europe. The last game of the World Cup of Hockey back in September 2016 [in Toronto]. It’s been a while. They are the experts: Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger.
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