In this edition of Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors, Jim Rutherford has started his search for a new general manager (GM). Meanwhile, Bruce Boudreau continues his winning streak as the club’s new bench boss. Also, Thatcher Demko is named the NHL’s first star of the week.
Rutherford Has a List of 40 GM Candidates
The Canucks named Rutherford as President of Hockey Operations and interim GM last Thursday. The newly named President spoke to the media on Monday and stated he has a list of 40 candidates to fill the role of GM.
“I’d like to get somebody in place sooner rather than later. But if it’s not in the (near future), that’s OK,” Rutherford said.
The Canucks fired GM Jim Benning early last week before introducing Rutherford as his replacement later in the week. Rutherford added his search for a new GM includes two groups, one group of former GMs no longer with a team and another group of assistant GMs, who he would mentor.
Following the hiring of Rutherford, the Canucks fired assistant GM Chris Gear and senior director of hockey operations and analytics Jonathan Wall.
“I didn’t request any moves, but when you’re changing the culture, sometimes when you’ve had people here a long time, it’s harder to do,” Rutherford said. “I’m not saying those people couldn’t do it. But I think the more fresh people we have in there, the easier it’s going to be to do.”
Rutherford also added he has one assistant GM that he would like to bring in sometime this week. Rutherford has won three Stanley Cups, two with the Pittsburgh Penguins and one with the Carolina Hurricanes. Owner Francesco Aquilini is hoping the addition of Rutherford could bring the same results as Rutherford’s last two clubs.
Boudreau 4-0 With Canucks
Boudreau has now coached the Canucks through four games, and the organization is on a four-game winning streak. A big reason for the team’s success under the new head coach is the play of a few of the team’s top players. Brock Boeser has scored three goals and posted four points in the past four games. Meanwhile, Vasily Podkolzin has been given more playing time under Boudreau. The Russian rookie is now averaging 15:15 time on ice compared to the 11:46 with Travis Green. He’s third among forwards in expected goals with a 57.56 xGF% for over the past four games.
Meanwhile, Elias Pettersson has scored two impressive goals in the past two games, which seems to be a good sign for him. Pettersson has five goals and 14 points in 29 games, but if he continues to score big goals, he can help the team continue their current success under Boudreau. The new head coach has found a way to help a few players play at the level Canucks fans are used to seeing them play.
Demko named First Star of the Week
Demko was named the NHL’s first star of the week on Monday. During the team’s four-game win streak, the starting goaltender was stellar. He posted 1.20 goals-against average, a .962 save percentage, and a 31 save shutout against the Los Angeles Kings, the second of his career.
Demko leads the league in saves with 699. Rutherford called the 26-year-old a franchise goaltender on Monday.
“One of the real pluses is we have a franchise goalie. When you’re trying to build a championship team, and you already have that piece in place, you can start chipping away at things.”
Throughout his young career, Demko has proven to be exactly that. From his performance in the 2020 NHL Playoff bubble to his play over the last week, Demko continues to prove he is vital to the Canucks’ success moving forward. As long as he performs at the level he is capable of, the organization has a chance to win games.
Canucks Players on Team USA Watch
With the 2022 Winter Olympics right around the corner, Team USA has their eyes on a few Canucks’ players. Assistant executive director of hockey operations, John Vanbiesbrouck, told Rick Dhaliwal USA hockey has its eyes on J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, Conor Garland, Boeser and Demko.
All five players deserve to be in the mix for a spot on Team USA’s roster. Miller, Hughes and Garland have been impressive since the start of the season, while Demko and Boeser have come on as of late. Team USA has a tough decision to make with all five players.
Schenn and Lammikko Placed on COVID-19 Protocol
The Canucks announced defenceman Luke Schenn and forward Juho Lammikko have been placed into the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday. The team tested its played on Sunday, prior to the game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and received Schenn’s positive results on Monday. Meanwhile, the Canucks received Lamammiko’s positive results on Tuesday. The team’s travelling party has been tested again on Tuesday morning and is expected to receive the results before Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
As a result, since the Canucks did not have room under the cap to recall a player without using the long-term injured reserve (LTIR), the club placed Travis Hamonic on LTIR and recalled Phillip Di Giuseppe. Hamonic will have to miss a minimum of 10 games. The loss of Hamonic and Schenn is a huge blow to the team’s blue line, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson has missed the team’s last three games.
The Canucks had one of the biggest outbreaks in the NHL last season, which saw 25 players and coaches test positive for the virus. The team had a 24 day lay off due to the outbreak.
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Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.