Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford had plenty to say about his hockey club on local sportstalk radio on Monday with Dan Riccio and Sat Shah on Canucks Central. He seemed to point the finger more often than not at coaching.
“At this point I would have expected better,” Rutherford told them, “I didn’t like our training camp, and we continued into the early part of the season the same way as our training camp was, and in order for us to be a better team, we have to play with a stronger system and really be more accountable for some of the things the players are struggling with.”
Systems, structure and training camp all fall under the coaching umbrella.
Rutherford discussed how difficult it is defend these days in the NHL because the type of physical play that used to be allowed, cross checks in front of the net, etc., are no longer permitted.
“It’s understandable that teams are gonna give up leads, it happens all over the league,” he said, “but the fact that it’s happened as many times as it has for the Canucks in this short period of time, it’s a major concern and something has to be fixed. When you’re winning at home three-nothing in your own building and you have the goaltender that we have and the players that we have, we should not lose that game, and unfortunately we did. Every point is critical at this point.”
Take away the players and the goalie and what or who is left?
The Vancouver Canucks sit tied in the basement of the Pacific Division with nine points in the standings at 3-6-and-3. They begin a five-game road trip Tuesday night in Ottawa against the Senators that continues the next night against the Montreal Canadiens.
“When we talk to the coaches, we stress it (structure),” Rutherford added, “I do believe that the style that the team played that had success in the second half of last season was a loose style and it was more on the offensive side, and our goaltender played great in the second half and really helped win a lot of those games, or bail us our in wide open games. I don’t believe that’s a style of play that can sustain over a long period of time if you want to contend for a playoff spot.”
Not exactly a vote of confidence in systems and structure.
Ottawa and Montreal are teams that have also struggled starting the season; the Senators have the third fewest points in the NHL with eight.
We may be looking at a Vancouver must-win situation with multi-faceted consequences.