Plans are in place, whatever those plans are for the struggling Vancouver Canucks remain to be seen, but President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and team owner Francesco Aquilini met one-on-one for 45-minutes during Hockey Hall of Fame festivities in Toronto on Monday night.
The full Canucks management contingent was on hand to celebrate the 2022 induction class featuring Canucks legends Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Roberto Luongo. While most were enjoying the revelry, the others talked hockey, seemingly locking down contingency plans for a club that has started the season 4-9-and-3 and play in Buffalo against the Sabres Tuesday night.
The Canucks lost to the Sabres 5-1 at Rogers Arena back on October 22nd.
Should the Canucks struggles continue and should popular head coach Bruce Boudreau take the fall for the slow start, a number of replacement names have been suggested, including former NHL player and head coach Rick Tocchet. “Tock” is presently a studio analyst for the NHL on the TNT network in the United States. His name has come up repeatedly for various NHL job openings.
Pure Canucks Speculation
One might ponder the question; what’s Claude Julien up to? Julien’s Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The 62-year-old Ontario native last coached the Montreal Canadiens for four-plus seasons, fired 18 games into the 2020-’21 campaign. His Habs teams made the playoffs twice and both times lost in the first round. He previously coached the same franchise briefly in the early 2000’s before moving on to New Jersey and Boston.
Julien, Team Canada’s 2022 Winter Olympics coach for all but one game after falling on the ice and fracturing ribs, brings the type of structure and systems that Rutherford recently said lacked in Vancouver with Boudreau and his current hockey team.
One source close to the situation suggested Rutherford originally planned to stick with the status quo until American Thanksgiving weekend, the semi-traditional cut-off point for projecting whether or not your NHL team could or likely would not make the playoffs. It appears we might hear something much sooner if these Toronto meetings involve a change in plans.
The team lacks a few more older, character players (like Luke Schenn). A smallish forward group that are generally skilled but perimeter players. Center ice defensive coverage is spotty at best and face-off draws are a lost art for this group with Horvat, the exception. I question the general hockey IQ in critical situations. Compare this group to the previous contending group, and thinking and compete are there in depth. Horvat is the only player that would fetch a decent return at the moment. Other teams would low ball all other players at the present time.