Friday, August 03, 2018

Canucks' turmoil (again)

This is about who knew what and when on the Vancouver Canucks.
Seems to me that AM Radio 650, who call themselves the 'Home of the Canucks', were in the know about coming changes in management and players since way back in February when Jim Benning signed a new contract which eliminated Trevor Linden from any effective leadership of the team.

If you could see a clip from the NHL draft two years ago, and watch Linden's face as Jim Benning made his draft pick announcement then, you'd see a look of total surprise from Linden, as though he had expected an agreed pick but Benning chose someone else. That might have been the first clue that Benning was undermining Linden.

This year it seemed that radio 650 (often called Canucks' 'In House Media') was very negative with the Sedins, and Linden. Hosts and guests talking often about how bad the Sedins were and that they were taking valuable playing time away from the young guns wanting to come up for playing time. The Sedins needed to go to free up space. And all this when the Sedins provided the only excitement in 2018 to a floundering team!
And the show hosts dwelling on the idea that Linden was on the wrong track while building GM Benning as the smart force for future success.

This may not have registered then except to say some people were commenting on AM 650 as somehow out of sync and more against the Canucks than for them. In retrospect it now seems almost that some hosts and guests on that station were in the know about future changes, and might even have been instructed to convince fans these people needed to go and so soften the blow when they did. Assuming management knew in February when they signed Benning to a contract that meant he reported directly to Fransesco Aquilini and not Trevor Linden.

So if you at least entertain this idea, many things make sense - yet bring up lots of questions; Did the team anticipate letting the Sedins go and so never considered asking them to stay on for another year? Linden once said they could stay as long as they wanted and many fans would have welcomed another year. But the speculation flourished about how much it would take for them to play another year. Some pundits thought 3 million would be too high, but if that was so, how would Benning handle the contract of Loui Ericksson, who has languished here even at a salary of 6.3 million with a few years left on that contract! Embarrassing for the GM to ask two future Hall of Fame players who were already being underpaid because they loved the team and community to accept less.

So what plans were laid to minimize the chagrin of mismanagement? Get your in house radio station to bad mouth Linden and the Sedins? But the rationale of freeing up slots for the young prospects was smashed when Benning once again, signed cast-off free agents to 4 year contracts! Saying they could mentor the young players! Really? Better then two league all-star award winners, the Sedins? Give your head a shake if you believe that one. And how important could the Sedins have been in mentoring the 168 pound Swedish sensation Elias Pettersson in this league?

Could the Sedins have been told indirectly that if Linden went, they would not be offered that one more year? And is that why they left their announcement so late, until it was obvious that Linden and the Aquilinis were about to part? And that with Lindon out, and older fifth-liner free agents signed for four years, what kind of deal could Quinn Hughes and even Boesser expect? Hughes going into limbo for maybe three years in Utica? Not to mention a coach who sat out Boesser for his first NHL game, and had to play macho games with the Sedins by cutting their playing time to single minutes until he realized he had nothing else on his roster? Shouldn't he have known what Daniel and Henrich would give? That was amateur coach ego. Not an NHL coach. And one would think the Sedins were far too classy to cause trouble. They like thousands of fans, believed Trevor Linden to be operating in the mode of Steve Yserman, who slowly but surely brought the Tampa Bay team to a Stanley Cup final.

Many are saying Benning stabbed Linden in the back but he says he knew nothing. Give your head a second shake. The team management is in turmoil and no one is wondering why. We have gone all the way back to when Arthur Griffiths thought he could run the team better than hockey people. What happened sticks as ownership meddling. And first time GM Bennings' deceit will stick with him too. And players who face years of playing with a loser run by a management front office have to make up their minds about their own future. The rumor is that many player-agents are wondering what is best for their clients. Nikita Tryampkin's agent thought it better for his client to play hockey in the KHL instead of being made into an NHL goon just because of his size. And Eric Lindros' action of actually sitting out a season is still remembered.

And if we recall what clues we got from certain Vancouver media, we begin to suspect this was all planned and executed sneakily and with money trumping hockey expertise and knowledge.

Now I know why so many fans of hockey cheer for the other team at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks' integrity left with Trevor Linden.

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