By Craig Funston
I know the guy in the next cubicle is supposed to write the sports stuff for this paper, but, hey, I’m human, too, you know. I like watching the Canucks, Flames, and Oilers in the Stanley Cup finals as much as the next guy.
Trouble is, anything we watch this year will have to be archived, highlights from years and decades past.
Before we all break out into hysterics about those woeful Canucks, remember that Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Toronto will likewise be missing the playoffs. That leaves only the Montreal Canadiens (note the French rendition of that last word) as the only Canadian team (note the English rendition of “Canadian”) playing past April 13.
I have watched the implosion of BC’s favourite home team (that would be the Canucks, Maurice) over these past few months. You may or may not recall my rant of a few months ago, the one in which I lamented the hiring of John Tortorella. The chemistry, style, and baggage that he brought to the Canucks leaves no doubt in my mind that he was not a good fit for Vancouver. I still hold to that.
My good friend, Trevor Linden (now the Canucks’ president), would do well to heed the following advice: Blow up the team. The term “blow up the team” (meaning “to dismantle severely”) is, of course, an idiom, for all you grammar geeks out there.
So when I encourage my buddy, Pres Trev —okay, okay I exaggerate: He doesn’t know me—to blow up the team, I am targeting the team’s core. Yes, I am speaking of the Sedin twins, David Booth, Alexandre (note the French rendition of his first name) Burrows, and others.
What once worked, doesn’t work any more. Or better, those who once worked, don’t work anymore. Being the armchair general manager that I am, I know for certain that most players that Linden could trade would garner some serious interest from other teams. I understand from inside information that Kesler and Edler were good as gone at the trade deadline. Why they didn’t go, I will never know.
Ironically, the man who didn’t let them go, Mike Gillis, is now gone himself.
I must admit that my insider information came from Maurice; trouble is, he thought hockey was something you did when you skipped school. (Maurice, I believe that’s called “hookey.”)
Players who string out their time on any team are a real liability. They need to be replaced with younger, hungrier players. Even Tortorella himself is saying that these days. Calgary, ahem, is doing a mighty fine job bringing in young, hungry players; look for them to be a force within a year or two.
Never thought I would ever say that, Mr. Brand.
But players notwithstanding, there is a management issue here at the same time: Gillis is gone, and I think Torts (that’s what we writers say when we want to sound cool) should be out the door. In fact, by next week, you might say he could be yesterday’s news.
Any one can sit in the weak comfort of their office with a strong coffee—or in a bar with their favourite brewsky—and play General Mangler, er, Manager. Anyone can do that; it’s just that when I do it, I write with tongue-in-cheek. I have nothing to lose by sounding off.
I think both the Canucks and the Oilers need some serious shake-ups. Some of their respective moving parts should keep on moving—right out of town. In fact, maybe some of theirs could be exchanged for some of ours.
That could be young players for old, coaches for a coaches, even switching mascots. Just a few suggestions, President Linden. If you need any more, I’ll be sitting in the brave solitude of my lonely office.
Oh, by the way, Edmonton can keep their general manager: We have an opening, but we’re not quite that desperate.