Vancouver Canucks: Why a Late December Start Could Benefit the Team

Riley Kufta@@RileyKuftaContributor IIISeptember 30, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 1: Henrik Sedin #33 and Daniel Sedin #22 congratulate Alexandre Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks on scoring the game winning goal against the St. Louis Blues in NHL action on March, 1, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Derek Leung/Getty Images

We are now 15 days into the NHL lockout. All the preseason games have been cancelled, and one would assume that unless a deal is reached in the next two or three days, regular-season games will be missed. 

For us fans, anything less than a full season will be disappointing. According to the players and owners, they feel the same way (although the effort to reach an agreement by the Sept. 15 would suggest otherwise).

A December or January start (which is quite possible) would surely leave the Vancouver Canucks in a stronger position than a full season. 

Imagine the NHL CBA is resolved for games to begin at Christmas, as the NBA did last season. 

Firstly, the Canucks would miss games against some very strong teams. Notable games include the only game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and two against the Detroit Red Wings in October; Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and the only game of the season against the New York Rangers in November; and the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild in December. 

In addition, of the 34 games missed before Christmas, 18 would be on the road. That would leave the Canucks with two more home games than away for the season played. 

While neither of these IS significant, the smallest thing could be a difference-maker. 

Where the real benefit for Canucks would fall is the health of Ryan Kesler. Following two 70+ point seasons and a Selke Trophy win in 2011, Kesler struggled with his health last season, and the result on the ice was clear; he picked up just 49 points in 77 games. 

Early in August, it was reported that Kesler was ahead of schedule in his recovery from offseason shoulder and wrist surgery. That report was quickly corrected by his agent, who claims the young forward will be game-ready in December. 

With 100 percent health, Kesler may return to the incredible form we saw a few years ago. And a late December start could very well mean that he plays a "full season" with the Canucks. 

I realize it isn't optimal for the owners, players or fans, but a late start could help the Canucks in the standings, and for all we know, win the Stanley Cup.