1. Thank you Mike Gillis for my biggest laugh of the season
As some of you may or may not know, I wrote the Canucks eulogy for Puck Daddy this week, and that rat Mike Gillis waited until about an hour before it was posted to drop a quote that would have changed the whole thing.
"I really felt the game in Boston for some reason was such an emotional and challenging game, it was almost like playing a Stanley Cup final game in the middle of the season and from that point on I don’t think our team ever really collectively got their emotions together," Gillis told reporters at the Canucks’ getaway/garbage bag day.
Oh hell. Would that this quote existed a mere two days ago; it would have changed the whole tenor of the eulogy. I mean, I never in my life thought for a second that I would see the general manager of a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy two seasons in a row blame his team’s first-round, five-game crashout on a regular season WIN from four months prior.
And yet, now that it’s happened, I don’t know how to handle my joy. It’s all too much to handle. Sure, possession statistics show that the Canucks were a noticably worse team after that point, but it really speaks to the team’s reputation for being mentally soft that everyone just accepted that a win in January could have caused a reigning Western Conference champion and winner of 105 of its previous 164 regular-season games to become not-very-good.
Getting that emotionally invested in a regular season game against a non-conference opponent that, pretty much by definition, means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, is at least somewhat understandable given that it was billed as the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals Game 8. But in beating your old foes, you’re not supposed to be so emotionally drained for another 40 games that you just can’t bring yourself to be competitive in a playoff series in which you’re playing a team that barely snuck in.
But like I said, that everyone just nodded in assent and agreed that "yeah that makes total sense if you think about it," tells you everything you’ve ever needed to know about the Canucks as they’re currently constituted.
2. Here’s something I find truly remarkable
Since the whole Brent Sutter kerfuffle a few weeks ago now, we’ve heard almost nothing at all from anyone in the team or front office, assumedly because everyone’s huddled up, watching the Heat in the AHL playoffs, and putting together a strategy for the summer.
But on the Flames’ website there was a lengthy chat with assistant GM John Weisbrod posted late last week that was a fascinating bit of retconning by the organization. You see, from the beginning of the season to the end, this wasn’t about making the playoffs with an old-as-hell that wasn’t good enough. You’ve got it all wrong. It was a chance to look at the team’s youth and see what it had.
"Obviously," Weisbrod said without the slightest bit of irony and, apparently, understanding of what the word ‘obvious’ means, "everything we were focused on since the start of the season was developing toward the future."
This is, of course, hilariously untrue. If that were the case, the roster would have been handled differently, and certainly no easily-mocked proclamations about Going For It would have been issued. Just a wonderful piece of spin. Would that they handled the team so adeptly.
3. On the other hand
Weisbrod did note, however, that the organization got a particularly good chance to take a look at some of its more promising young players as a result of the team’s roughly one trillion man games lost to injury.
Now, I don’t know what they think they saw in the various callups they made over the course of the season for younger players, but if the end result is that the team does in fact think it has some kids who can at least play and not embarrass themselves at the NHL, then I guess in the end I will accept this bit of alarmingly-revisionist history. It was fairly plain to neutral and even many partisan observers that Calgary wasn’t a team capable of competing in the NHL today, and if it took a combination of injuries and decent performances from the kids to convince them a serious retooling (at the very least) was a feasible idea, then I’m all for it.
4. Raffi Torres and 25 games
I haven’t really voiced my opinion on the Raffi Torres hit because I don’t know that I care enough about Raffi Torres and what happens to him that to have an opinion that isn’t simply, "Yeah, okay then."
Raffi Torres is at once two things, in much the same way Matt Cooke was: A menace and a useful enough player simultaneously. It’s not like if John Scott or some equally useless five-minutes-a-night player was out there running around trying to put people in the morgue. He serves a purpose outside skating around and looking dangerous.
But at the same time, boy does he ever try to hurt people. And thus, getting him out of there for 25 games is good for his opponents and bad for his wallet (though every game Phoenix wins from here on out makes it increasingly less-bad). Maybe he even learns his lesson. But probably not.
So okay, 25 games. That’s my opinion. I can’t get more impassioned about it than that. Sorry everyone.
5. Something I would like Calgary to do…
We begin and end with a note on Mike Gillis and continue with the earlier theme of proper roster management and how to handle young players:
Gillis showed once again why he’s one of the best GMs in the sport yesterday. He simply came out and admitted that after taking a close look at the team’s relationship with Cody Hodgson and decided it would be better for both parties to move on, that he mandated Alain Vigneault not start Cody Hodgson in the defensive zone pretty much ever.
Yes, he artificially inflated Hodgson’s value to ensure he got a max return for him. Now, you can argue that Kassian was not a great return but was it the best they could have gotten for the kid? Yeah, probably. Look at that, though. A team very practically and demonstrably using advanced statistics to its advantage instead of doing what Calgary normally does: Sell low.
Imagine if Feaster were as smart as Gillis. Gee whiz.