Vancouver Canucks: The Worst Team in the NHL

Canucks GM Mike Gillis already botched the Luongo situation (CalvinChanPhoto/Flickr)

The Vancouver Canucks are a mess right now. An absolute mess. Their trade deadline was an unmitigated disaster and questions arose about who is even running the show in Vancouver.

Arguably the top prize in this year’s trade deadline was Canucks sniper Ryan Kesler. The Pittsburgh Penguins were all in on Kesler until the team had qualms about whether or not Gillis had permission to trade his own guy. They botched what was the best goaltending team in the NHL and their coach is a hot mess with a very short fuse.

Simply put, records be damned, the Vancouver Canucks are the worst team in the NHL.

Roberto Luongo Trade

(Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
(Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Going into this past offseason, the Canucks were worried about which goaltender would be dealt. It was a good problem for the Canucks to have, they had the best tandem in the entire NHL. Both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider are capable of being a starting goaltender, but the Canucks couldn’t keep both of them.

Vancouver wanted to keep Cory Schneider, but Luongo had a bloated contract, eight years left, $64 million. No team wanted to take on Luongo’s salary, so, Schneider became the expendable man in the net. On the day of the NHL Draft, the Canucks traded Schneider to the New Jersey Devils and Luongo finally became the undisputed number one goalie in Vancouver.

Fast forward to March of this year, after the Winter Olympics, Canucks coach John Tortorella (more on him later) started backup goalie Eddie Lack due to Luongo’s jet lag. Lack posted a shutout, his third of the season, and as a result, Tortorella rewarded Lack with the start in the Heritage Classic. That snub was the final straw for Luongo. He wanted out. Just before the trade deadline, the Vancouver Canucks traded their disgruntled goalie to the Florida Panthers for goalie Jacob Markstrom and a prospect. So, basically, the Canucks traded Schneider and Luongo for a total of Bo Horvat, Jacob Markstrom, and Shawn Matthias, not exactly a king’s ransom. The jury is still out on Horvat as he is still playing in the OHL, but even if he does turn out to be a star player, the Canucks still come out as losers in this one.

In less than a year, the Canucks went from a goaltending team of Luongo-Schneider to a team consisting of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, a major downgrade.

John Tortorella’s Short Fuse and Nothing to Back It Up

John Tortorella
John Tortorella (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

When the Vancouver Canucks hired JohnTortorella as Alain Vigneault’s replacement, many people thought it would make the Canucks tougher considering Torts’ aggressive and fiery attitude, but, so far, the hiring of Tortorella has become a tremendous bust.

The Canucks sit seven points out from Minnesota for the final playoff spot and it doesn’t seem like they are going to catch up to the Wild. Tortorella has mismanaged the team, most notably the Luongo fiasco that led to his ousting, and his fiery personality has done more harm than good for the Canucks.

Tortorella’s intensity led to what has been their biggest black eye this season. In January, Tortorella tried to confront the Calgary Flames after the Flames started the game using their fourth line that led to a line brawl right off the bat. Tortorella had to be physically restrained as he tried to force his way into the Flames’ locker room.

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Now matter if you think the Flames started all of this by starting their fourth line, Tortorella was way out of line and he embarrassed the Canucks franchise with his temper. Tortorella was suspended 15 days for his actions.

He has been a disaster for the Canucks this season. Vancouver still had a very talented team even without Schneider, but under Tortorella they have underachieved. This reminds me of the Boston Red Sox teams of 2012 and 2013. In 2013, the Red Sox hired a similarly hotheaded leader in Bobby Valentine in an attempt to give the Red Sox some discipline. In reality, the Red Sox finished last in their division and as one of the worst teams in baseball. Valentine was fired after that season and replaced by a mild mannered manager in John Farrell and, if you are a baseball fan, the rest is history.

I think the same exact thing will happen in Vancouver, Tortorella will be fired after just one season on the job after this experiment blew up in their faces. Hopefully for Canucks fans, they will continue to mimic the Red Sox.

Mike Gillis: The “General Manager”

Ryan Kesler
Who even had permission to trade Ryan Kesler? Management or Mike Gillis? (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Normally management will put their trust in their general manager to make moves to help better the team, I mean it’s why they were hired after all. However, in Vancouver, it might not be the case.

When the Canucks were trying to trade Ryan Kesler, the Pittsburgh Penguins were prepared to make a run for him. That was until the Penguins were concerned about whether or not Gillis even had permission to trade Kesler. ESPN The Magazine’s Senior NHL writer Craig Custance later reported that management eventually gave the OK to deal Kesler, whether or not Gillis or management decided if the offer by Pittsburgh was worthy has yet to be known.

This still shows a lack of trust by management towards Gillis. Gillis was hired to make moves and trade whoever he feels would help the team in the long term, but instead other team’s are questioning whether or not he can even make moves and that is troublesome.

Alexander Edler Canucks
(Icon SMI)

Canucks fans have bashed Gillis and his moves by editing his Wikipedia page, with someone editing it to call him the “worst GM in Canucks history” and the “Fire Mike Gillis” Facebook page has been on fire since the Luongo trade. Again though, is it really Gillis’ fault if he wasn’t allowed to make certain deals or did management just not believe in him anymore?

Gillis, much like Tortorella, appears to be a lame duck general manager and the Canucks don’t really want him to make moves that will affect the future of the team if Gillis isn’t even a part of the long term future. If Gillis is indeed a lame duck GM, then why didn’t the team fire Gillis before the trade deadline? Do the Canucks think they can get a larger ransom for Kesler and Alex Edler? Possibly, but they might have gotten some pretty nice pieces this season as well, the Canucks were looking to acquire Ryan Spooner and Matt Bartkowski for Edler, that’s a nice package for the future of Vancouver, but they needed the Kesler deal to go through and that falls at the feet of management.

They traded Luongo, but they didn’t trade Kesler or Edler? If you’re going to blow up a team, then blow up a team. Don’t just partially tear it down and call it good.

The Buffalo Sabres may have the worst record in the NHL, but at least they have an excuse, this season was a rebuilding one all along. The Canucks have no excuse to be playing this poorly and the Canucks front office is solely to blame for the team’s shortcomings.

Do you believe the Vancouver Canucks are the worst team in the NHL? Comment below or send me a Tweet, @MarkWGraham

16 thoughts on “Vancouver Canucks: The Worst Team in the NHL”

  1. Zzzzzzzzz….write when you have real insight. THIs is knee jerk, boring writing any fair weather wannaby fan can write. Don’t break your ankles getting off the bus.

  2. Not going to even try to analyse why our team is not winning – Why? Because nobody really knows the real reasons. The simple facts are that we played pretty good for the first half of the season and then we slumped badly. Suddenly the team is again motivated, maybe too little too late however I am not going to cast the first stone…. It seems to me that Vancouver sucked pretty bad about 10 or 12 years ago right up until they got rid of Donald Brashear – suddenly we turned into a winning team. (Off the record I had heard from sources that Brashear was a cancer to the team behind the scenes) As professionals Gillis, Tortorella or anybody in the organization are not about to slander anybody before during or after any incident or multitude of incidents from a player or players who may be a cancer in the room. I am sure difficult decisions are made for the greater good of the organization and they may not always be about the greatness of a player but more so how he affects the rest of the team. Unfortunately we are in a world full of media sheep and the writers get paid to lead the flock down all sorts of controversial paths – this is a perfect example of a negative path that does nothing to encourage our hockey club – if you are a sheep then bah on! Myself, I will watch and see as the only sure fact is that we don’t have all the facts. Forgive Mark Wallace Graham as he is just trying to lead the sheep in a negative direction – kick em while their down Mark you coward!

  3. being a avid Vancouver Canuck i could’ve said the same thing this article said in two words.. “we suck “

  4. Everyone above Henrik on the totem pole needs to go. Torts, Gillis, and Aquilini. Sadly, not going to happen. Too bad, because I’m done.

    Do I still have that old Penguins jersey with Mario on it? I know I have a Bobby Orr Bruins one, and a pretty nice Toews Blackhawks one. Oh whatever, Go Whitecaps.

  5. Since Gillis took over in 2008 the Canucks have had a total of 12 games played by players drafted outside of the first round.

    Think about that for a second.

    In five years of drafting the combined contribution of every player from Rounds 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 is TWELVE games for the Canucks.

  6. this has got to be the lowest a team can I the only one in bc that knew this year would be their downfall. torts was a great coach until he had to deal with the babies on the Vancouvers not a real hockey team. even the wife and son in law are disgusted.

  7. john tortellini aka; Yankee noodle dandy, the Munchausen( by proxy) megalomaniac has lost this team from day one! if you take the “A” off Kesler you should put the “C” back on.
    his idea of hockey is to get 5 guys within 15 feet of your net and pretend that they are bumper pads in a pinball game and wait for a good bounce, so you get a breakaway.
    as far as Gillis is concerned, he looks like he has a permanent concussion, seems he wants players with that condition too, with hockey IQ’s lower than their skate sizes, AT LEAST THATS WHAT HIS TRADES LOOK LIKE.

  8. Being a Leafs fan we like teasing Canuck fan’s respectfully! BUT this is crazy your teams management has lost alot of respect for it’s organization. Couldn’t believe it when they hired Tortorella ? Hey you people ever watched highlights of this guy in Florida & NY, thats why he’s not there anymore !!! I can only imagine the players thoughts when they realized he was gonna be the new coach…. (MAY DAY, DEAR GOD HELP US!). Well it didn’t even take a year, January right vintage Tortorella….This guys a cancer to players Look at the Lou screw-up for your winter classic game ! Has anyone said Thanks John?… We had some Guy like that here in TO not to long ago Ron Wilson another real boost to players confidence (YEAH RIGHT) can’t down grade or belittle players and expect effort afterwards, those days died long ago with Jack Adams. Teams often reflect there coaches look at good teams and look at their coaches and vice-versa. Hopefully the damage isn’t years in repair for your Canucks, at least you didn’t have Ballard at the rains for decades to screw your team and organization up. LOL.

  9. Are all the people commenting on this article retarded homers. the author basically put facts down on a piece of paper, how can you argue with it. Gillis is a h0rrible general manager and the day him and torts are fired is the day that the Canucks can start moving forwards.

  10. Sadly articles as this, along with hundreds of others, displays total ignorance and disrespect towards management, coaches and players of the Canuck’s, or any other professional organization; one seems to read continual destructive criticism with little, thought out, constructive criticism…I’m sure the players, coaches and management would like to hear something positive while on this losing skid… Why kick a dying horse… I have never known a player, whether professional or not, play a game with the intent to lose.. One wonders whether Mark Wallace Graham has ever played hockey or any sport???

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