If you have ever faced the exasperating prospect of assembling anything IKEA, you can understand the woe begotten feelings of all Canuck fans. Yes, Mats Sundin remains the best player in the World not yet signed to an NHL contract, just as those shelves look very good indeed in a glossy IKEA catalogue. Understanding the how and wherefore of assembly, however, remains a gift bestowed to the few and far between. In Sundin’s case, it’s a universe of one. Truth be told, Canuck Land understands Sundin is not coming here unless it’s a visit along the Poker Stars Tour, but we would all appreciate this supposed gentleman’s confirmation of the obvious. Like any jilted lover, we need to move on—desperately.
Save for episodic renaissances otherwise, this has been and remains a franchise mired in mediocrity. Despite, arguably, the best goalie in the known Universe, expect more of the same this season. Expect stinky hockey. It’s difficult to see how it could be otherwise. With health, the starting six D will be closer to their much ballyhooed potential, but even healthy, this set had an amazing proclivity at surrendering quality chances. Bonaparte’s retreat from Moscow was more effective. Fire alarms have more cohesion. In this context, some local talking heads have suggested all that is needed is for the coach to loosen the defence first mantra and let Luongo do what Luongo does.
Somewhere over the rainbow this may work, but let’s review the reality of last year.
What Luongo did last year was face tsunamis of rubber and quality chances in 70 plus hockey games. This, in a defence first system. His well-documented late season fade speaks volume to this Jughead strategy.
The addition of more committed players like Johnson and Hordichuk will help, but goals remain the overwhelming question mark. Gillis’ trumpeting of their young talent flies in the face of the team’s sad sack drafting history and his own remarks at an initial press conference. Despite, in addition, acres of cap space, Gillis has found it near impossible to attract quality scoring free agents to this team. Blame the rain, blame the travel, blame the team’s paucity of success, blame the poor quality of escort services—the conclusion remains the same. To his credit Gillis has avoided imbedding this team with concrete contracts for older diminishing players, but that doesn’t help this coming season. More goals would appear to be a fading prospect which, if winning counts, means a continuation of stinky boring hockey. De ja vu all over again. A particularly salient and apoplectic conclusion for Canuck Fans since several non-playoff teams have decidedly improved, and will mount new and improved challenges for coveted playoff invitations. The Canucks, well, the ship may be pointed in the right direction, but that happy port, Lord Stanley’s Cup, remains as far away as ever.
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