The Canucks are the last remaining winless team in the NHL and calls for change are growing louder. How much of this can Vancouver endure before a major restructuring occurs? The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss this, Minnesota’s slow start, the World Cup of Hockey and more in insider trading.
Gino Reda: They are the insiders: Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger. The only remaining winless team in the entire league, fans throw shirts onto the ice, players and coaches openly frustrated. Darren, how much of this can Canuck’s ownership and management sustain before a full-scale reorganization occurs?
Darren Dreger: Well we know the temperature is rising. We know Vancouver Canucks fans continue to cry out for answers, but the reality is, it’s not that simple. The Vancouver Canucks still believe it’s too early to do anything significant or anything too drastic. But the Canucks also know, boys, that they’re dangerously close to putting everything on the table. What does that mean and what does it look like? Well, let’s start with a major makeover. That means removing players, maybe key players, accumulating draft picks, and knowing that 2023 is going to be a very good draft. You have the option to try, maybe find a shorter term solution and add a trade. But there is certainly no guarantee that this player, the right player, will be available in time enough. And then maybe the coach’s firing is most appealing to Canucks fans because they’re so pissed off. Again, not quite there, but it goes in one of those three directions. Tough situation for Bruce Boudreau and the Canucks management.
Pierre Le Brun: Dregs, the Minnesota Wild, picked up their first win of the season against these Canucks last week. But overall it’s been a slow start for the Wild, especially given the expectations for a team that had 113 points last year. Now, [general manager] Bill Guerin made some interesting comments in an interview with our friend Michael Russo on The Athletic. And I checked in today and I spoke to Bill Guerin and he certainly hasn’t backed down from those comments and said it’s time for his team to wake up and along with that quote he said, ‘We’re not going to trade our way out of this. ” And his point is, this isn’t about one or two players; this is really a team-wide disappointment, and the team needs to play to its identity and re-establish its identity. So, some urgency from the Minnesota Wild GM, because like him too me said, “It’s easy to dig a hole that you can’t get out of. It’s important for us to start playing our best hockey now.”
GR: We often talk about how Thanksgiving in the US is an important milestone in terms of how teams are progressing in planning things. But, CJ, there’s another important milestone before that.
Chris Johnston: Yes, if you’re a teenager in the NHL and it’s your first season, it’s usually somewhere around Halloween when you still want to be on the list, because that probably means you’ve reached your 10th game at that point Your introductory contract begins. And if you look around the league now, there are six players in this situation who are wondering what their future is [will be]. Interestingly, only one of them, Juraj Slafkovský, [of] the Montreal Canadiens, he is eligible to go to the American Hockey League. Everyone else that you see on this list has to go to the Canadian Hockey League and a lot of them have achieved quite a lot there and I think that makes the decisions a bit more complicated. I would like to give a special mention to Wyatt Johnston from the Dallas Stars, he was OHL MVP last year. This is a big week for him because Dallas has a busy schedule. He’ll come into his ninth game by the weekend and Dallas are certainly ready to keep him past that point, but I’m sure they’ll be evaluating every single performance before making that final decision. And another is Shane Wright, of course from the Seattle Kraken. They’ve taken a slightly different approach with him, he’s been in and out of the lineup, he hasn’t played more than eight minutes in a game, but there’s a lot of focus on what Seattle is doing with him as he gets closer to this one 10 game mark.
GR: We’re only about a month away from [FIFA World Cup] Qatar opener and, Pierre, are there meetings coming up to discuss the future of the World Cup of Hockey next month?
PL: Yes, further discussions between the main players (of) NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and some federations in Tampere, Finland on the weekend of November 4th and 5th when Colorado and Columbus play NHL games. Time is of the essence here. Let’s face it, there are people who thought that when things were finalized there would be a World Cup announcement last summer. You know, the idea was to have this tournament on February 24. You know, Gary Bettman and Bill Daly hinted at the Board of Governors meeting last week when I was there that maybe the idea of postponing this tournament is now on the table. And I spoke to other people today, and I think it’s something that other stakeholders have been talking about as well. The bottom line is there are still outstanding issues with the IIHF that haven’t been addressed and of course the elephant in the room and Bill Daly and Gary Bettman talking about it last week – what to do with Russia? There are other countries that don’t want Russia to take part in this tournament because of the war in Ukraine. It’s a really tough subject for the NHL (and) NHLPA, so we’ll see where that goes. But the idea of postponing the World Cup of Hockey has a little more leg to me now than maybe a month ago.
GR: What a pity. Brad Marchand [scored the] Short-handed goal with 44 seconds remaining for the game winner to give Canada the win over Europe. The final game of the World Cup of Hockey in September 2016 [in Toronto]. It’s been a while. They are the insiders: Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger.
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