Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
Let me take the time to explain a little background, about my take on coaching. As a coach at any level, you are constantly working with many varied individuals and their personalities. Some you get along with, some you don’t.
A team is made up of many players molded into certain roles. Some have naturally gifted talent, others are more physical, while others more workman like. You try to put them in positions and circumstances where they will be successful.
The common theme is always about the team, as in “the strength of the wolf is in the pack”. In working with these individuals you establish a certain bonding and want them to be “the best that they can be”.
At every level I would expect it is the same, it just is magnified “x” percentage as you progress up towards the professional level, and the importance then becomes winning. To see any of your players get injured or pushed around due to the physical nature of the game, is hard at times being behind the bench, because there’s nothing you can do.
Now a tidbit about Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault. From his junior days with Hull Olympieques, Trois Rivieres Draveurs to the CHL, AHL and St. Lous Blues in the NHL, this guy was a tough customer and played that way.
It was no mistake that his nickname was “Bam Bam”. Just take a look at his penalty minutes, an average of 186 in the QMJHL, 198 in the CHL, etc.
You hear many times about a team taking on the personality of their coach, but I do not see that in the Canucks, although I wish it would. So if that is so, it must grind on Coach Vee to witness what took place last night in Nashville, with the physical punishment that the ‘Nucks endured.
Never mind what the Hit totals were, it’s how they were received with no response. These hits were not just rub outs along the boards but were punishing, energy draining, momentum type changing.
What also happens with the physical punishment is the factor of intimidation, where the opposition starts to take liberties with your best players and then you see who on your team is going to stand up for them and how the team will respond.
It’s not always about fighting, although sometimes it leads to that, it’s about standing up for your team mate.
Follow the events last night starting with the slash to Jannik Hansen; then the high stick to Daniel Sedin cutting him; the stick massage by Shea Weber on Ryan Kesler; the head shot to Alex Burrows by Jerred Smithson and finally, the body shot to Alex Edler that took him out of the game (and maybe longer) by Shea Weber.
Yes the body check to Edler was legal but, and this is a HUGE BUT, no one, not one Canuck, took issue to any of the punishment been dealt out! How weak is that?
So for all you commentators out there that have said in the past, that the Canucks are tough enough, get your head out of the sand, and don’t give me that comparison with Detroit not having toughness, because it’s pure hog wash.
Number one, the Canucks do not even come close to the talent that Detroit had or has now, nor do they compare with the team speed or play the puck control game.
The reason that the Canucks will go nowhere this year is obvious again. Just look at how they matchup against the bigger, tougher teams in the Western Conference, like San Jose, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, etc.
The Canucks do not have the size to compete with the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau or Dany Heatley, never mind a list as long as my arm from the rest of the mentioned teams. It’s like boys against men.
Nothing has changed since I wrote about this three years ago. This team has no consistent offense once you get by the first line. The opposition knows that the Nucks will not be tough to play against and treat them accordingly, taking liberties whenever they feel like it.
Except for Tanner Glass, Rick Rypien, Shane O’Brien and Kevin Bieksa, who else is going to come to the defense of their teammates? Two of those players usually play on the fourth line and the other two are defensemen.
No one on the second or third line could intimidate the Vancouver Giants!
How has Mike Gillis addressed this issue of the “toughness” or lack of size on the ice? He hasn’t. The Nucks are still undersized and “too soft”.
Surely you get the point now.
So Mr Gillis, when are you going to provide this team with the players that allow your best players, to be your best players, and for them to know that their backs are covered?
In case you’re wondering if this article sounds familiar, it is, because I wrote most of this last season.