Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Post Mortem Craziness

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Is this crazy or what? Its Ed Willes claiming Gillis is guilty of impaired judgment because he doesn’t think his team needs to make a lot of changes and because he actually had the temerity to question the standards of enforcement during the Final. Willes isn’t exactly clear about where Gillis went wrong, but apparently he owes somebody an apology for making a mistake somewhere along the line. (Who? The league? The media? The fans?)

There will be some changes made next year because there always are, but Gillis would be forgiven for icing exactly the same lineup next year. They won the President’s Trophy by a mile, they had the best offensive team, they had the best defensive team and they won 15 playoff games, falling 60 minutes short of winning the Stanley Cup. That’s a team without many holes.

But what has Willes learned in the past two weeks? After reviewing some biting and diving trivia, he decides:

The Cup final did reveal something that was lacking in the Canucks; some elemental quality which has to do with mental and physical toughness. If you were to sum it up in word it would be maturity and it was conspicuous by its absence in the championship round.

He actually thinks that Gillis and the Canucks should take the bullshit narrative manufactured by the media about the Final seriously and base roster decisions on it!

Beginning about Game 3, the Canucks became the team the hockey world loved to hate and while a lot of that sentiment originated in Boston, it was echoed throughout North America. The commentary became so widespread, in fact, it can’t be dismissed as regional bias or sensationalism. When that many people are seeing and saying the same thing, it could be there’s something there.

And that’s something which requires a long, hard look by the Canucks and their organization.

If the Canucks are more lovable next year, they will be a better hockey team? Please. I don’t give a rat’s ass if the hockey media thinks the Canucks are a team everyone loves to hate. I don’t give a rat’s ass if the hockey media is right because most of the legitimate hatred comes with success.

Second, the negative commentary was widespread because hockey writers are not an imaginative bunch. I’d label hockey writing as pack journalism at its worst, except it isn’t journalism. Its pack fairy tale telling at its worst and should hardly ever be taken seriously.

Mike Gillis has impaired judgment because he refuses to take a fairy tale seriously. Unbelievable.

Update: According to a David Shoalts tweet, this is a great column from Ed Willes while those who disagree with him are deluded. Its Bizarro World.

Postscript: Even though there will be changes, neither the Bruins or the Canucks have to make changes because of salary cap pressures. This is because neither team has underpaid stars coming off entry level contracts. I hope this kills the meme that underpaid stars are critical to success.

Postscript II: Speaking of next year’s salary cap, the Mason Raymond injury has the same silver lining that Salo’s injury delivered up last year. The Canucks can spend his salary and pretty much count on having somebody else hurt by the time he recovers.

It isn’t good for Mason Raymond, of course, but having $2.5 MM starting next year on the injury list delights the Canuck capologist.

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Comments

15 Responses to “Post Mortem Craziness”
  1. Metaxa says:

    Thank you for this point of view.

    The media left me always disappointed and often dismayed this Stanley Cup run.

    I wonder if they think they are the only ones with a PVR and we can’t see the difference between a reported “vicious head shot” and a hard hockey hit, shoulders into the logo.

    For instance.

    As, well, Gillis has done more with the assets in three years than Burke/Nonis did in a decade so I’m good.

    As long as you keep your blog up, I can ignore the goofs at the media food table.

    First time poster, btw.

  2. cbelle says:

    I would be perfectly happy to have the exact same team:) Mike gillis n Alain vigneault did a great job. Media didn’t get Canucks to Stanley cup finals. They did. Wooo hooo. I love Canucks. You have great insight n opinions, why don’t you become the Cbc commentator next year? We need a Canucks lover next year:) sick of all the Canucks haters.

    <3 Lu <3

    • Boxcar says:

      Obviously you didn’t watch the series on CBC. Hughson, Simpson and Healy were suffering from major “man love” for the Canucks team. When Horton was lying on the ice unconsious they blathered on about Rome’s potential ejection causing the Nucks to have to finish the game with only five defencemen. (Rome was hosed on suspension by the way, if he’s a top four d-man one game at most)
      Cherry tried to be impartial, but he struggled.

  3. Dean says:

    I had the same ‘WTF’ reaction when I read that article today as well.

  4. Noah says:

    XKCD had a more scientific (but ultimately very similar) take on “pack fairy tale telling” a few weeks ago:

    http://xkcd.com/904/

    • Magicpie says:

      Speaking of next year’s salary cap, the Mason Raymond injury has the same silver lining that Salo’s injury delivered up last year. The Canucks can spend his salary and pretty much count on having somebody else hurt by the time he recovers.

      I’d call it more of a major benefit than a silver lining, same as Salo’s injury last year. It’s kind of messed up now have a major incentive to see their own players get hurt. You know I’m pretty sure this LTIR stuff is gonna be the next major loophole in the cap there’s a huge controversy about along the lines of “contracts that run until the players are in their mid-40s to lower the cap hit.” How long until we learn that some team or other was keeping healthy players off the roster (or worse, putting them on there even if they’re not seriously hurt) for cap reasons and there’s a huge shitstorm?

      • Tom says:

        How long until we learn that some team or other was keeping healthy players off the roster (or worse, putting them on there even if they’re not seriously hurt) for cap reasons and there’s a huge shitstorm?

        There are controls in place. I’m sure some recoveries are delayed some if there is a cap problem, but its not easy to put a healthy guy on LTIR. The team doctor has to lie to the NHL.

        The problem only comes up at the beginning of the year and the only reason it comes up then is because the team can replace the player in practice as well as theory. Raymond is hurt from the getgo, so the Canucks have the money to sign, say, Chris Higgins. If Raymond is hurt in November, they still have the cap space to sign a good replacement, but Chris Higgins has a job someplace else. They have the same right to replace the injured player, but there are no good replacements available.

        Its hard to see what can be done about the issue.

        • beingbobbyorr says:

          The team doctor has to lie to the NHL.

          Is that really a big deal? This is a side gig for the doctor, whose probably a fan doing it for the jock-sniffing aspect anyway. Can his real-world medical license/stature really take a hit by fibing to fool the Weasel in NY? Who’s paying the doctors . . . Individual teams? The NHLPA? The Weasel? Does it matter as long as he’s not jeopardizing the health of the player?

  5. JustAFan says:

    Could not agree more about Willes’ column. So many people on Twitter are linking to it with great comments… but I think the whole column is bizarre. If the Nucks won just one more game in the final, do you think Willes would have written a column recommending significant line-up changes?

    Willes’ whole “one team did X and Y and Z” beginning is further weirdness. As if you couldn’t write something just as nasty-sounding about Boston: “One team had a player shove his fingers down the throat of his opponent. Then even after their coach promised that his team would never taunt their foes, two of his stars did exactly that. In Game 2, one team had a player deliver a wicked two-hand lumberjack slash to the vulnerable ankle of a player on the other team who had missed the better part of two seasons following injuries to that leg. In Game 4, one team’s goalie drew back and punched a leading scorer on the other team. In Game 6, one team had a player who launched himself at three–count them, three–players on the other team, drawing penalties for all three vicious attacks… and then on his way to the penalty box made sure to taunt his opponents with a loathsome dust-my-hands maneuver. The same player, in Game 6, threw a series of cowardly blows (with a gloved hand, no less!) to the head of the leading scorer on the other team. In Game 7, that same thug even taunted the fans cheering their team on.”

    Please. Willes’ comment is a combination of paint-by-numbers narrative following, and pile-on-the-losers laziness. The Canucks lost in Game 7, so they have to endure this type of silliness. The Bruins won, so they don’t. Thank goodness Mike Gillis seems smarter than this.

    • JustAFan says:

      Not to mention: “In Game 6, one team’s worst defenceman trapped his opponent with a can-opener move, then threw a late illegal hit that shattered his foe’s spine.” See how easy that is? Willes can do better–and usually does. This column was a surprising disappointment.

  6. Roberto says:

    Stunning to see how a normally sane writer can call for major changes to a team that won the President’s Trophy, scored more goals than any other team during the regular season, gave up the fewest number of goals of any team during the regular season, and came within a single victory of winning the Stanley Cup. Perhaps he thinks Gillis should make the Canucks more like some of the other teams that accomplished none of these things?

    This is a classic case of confusing the nature of the losses with the nature of the team. Losses come in all shapes and sizes, but in the end, it’s a statistical game, and the best you can do is load the dice in your favour as much as you can in your favour and hope it works out. Gillis said at the start of the year that in order to win the Cup, you need to be good, healthy and lucky. The Canucks got two out of those three in this year’s playoffs.

    That said, I wouldn’t be against Gillis adding some toughness that doesn’t come at the expense of playing ability, but those players are coveted by every single GM in the league for obvious reasons.

  7. Kel says:

    While I am with Tom and others here for the most part, I do think the point about player maturity is worth discussion. More specifically it’s about the finger biting (and related taunting by Lapierre) and more importantly the embellishment. While making your team likeable to other teams or their fans is not going to make your team better, making your team unlikeable to the officials is going to make the outcome worse. In this particular case, those actions made it easy for the officials to not call legitimate penalties and letting most things go not penalized. That put the Canucks at a significant advantage with many playing with injuries and all those slashes and cross-checks allowed.

    • Kel says:

      That put the Canucks at a significant advantage with many playing with injuries and all those slashes and cross-checks allowed.

      That was a typo, of course.

    • Tom says:

      While making your team likeable to other teams or their fans is not going to make your team better, making your team unlikeable to the officials is going to make the outcome worse. In this particular case, those actions made it easy for the officials to not call legitimate penalties and letting most things go not penalized.

      I agree that the diving is counter-productive – but pro or con – it just not that big of a deal. It – and referee retribution for it – has been going on since the very beginning. This series and the Canucks are hardly unique in this respect. There is always some of it whether it is noticed or not.

      I agree that it gave cover for the officials in this series. Because it became a key series storyline, it allowed the officials to abdicate their responsibility without being criticised or held to account.

      But this series is surely not the new normal. This series was an aberration, hopefully never to be repeated. It would be a mistake to draw any lessons from it. If there is a dive or two in the first couple of games in next season’s Final, will you expect the referees to suddenly allow incredibly dirty play? Let players slash each at will? Suddenly allow interference in front of the net again? It could happen, I guess, but I sure wouldn’t expect to see it again.

    • Boxcar says:

      Agree completely, and I think if most posters on here looked impartially at the diving, they would agree. This constant claim of systematic discrimination against the Canucks serves no useful purpose either.Officials are human beings and when you face a constant barrage of complaints from the players, fans, coaches, managers and journalists involved with a certain team, it will change the way you deal with them.
      This squad is good enough that it doesn’t need to always try and draw the penalty. For example Ballard staying down behind the net to draw the call, while the Bruins score. Or the Sedins falling down at each whistle, losing the benefit of the doubt with the officials. Talent wise the Canucks are a step above most teams in the league so I don’t think they need to claw for each power play.
      This is a very good hockey team,and anyone who says they need to shake up coaches or the GM is crazy. Maybe just get the message around the league that “we just want to play the game, we’ll let the refs take care of calling it”.
      The future is bright in Vancouver, negatives are pretty minor compared to positives.

      P.S.I know Tom doesn’t care for this stuff but would Marchand have been so brave if Rypien was on the ice? I highly doubt it.

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