Vancouver Canucks, Ilya Mikheyev

Canucks Prove Players, Coaches Don’t Tank

It’s that simple; Canucks management might make efforts to slow things down in the win column, but the players are out to take care of business. To a large degree, that professional pride and competitiveness will get in the way of some of the hopes the franchise has for the highest draft pick possible.

It’s considered a damn good 2023 NHL Draft, even if you don’t win the ping pong ball sweepstakes for 1st-overall pick Connor Bedard. Swedish centre Leo Carlsson and pivot Adam Fantilli, from that recent draft factory the University of Michigan, come to mind, and by the way you can never have enough centres.

The only problem is, the Columbus Blue Jackets (33 points) and Chicago Blackhawks (34) appear to be the clear front-runners to finish worst, and the Canucks helped their cause.

By beating both the Blackhawks and the Blue Jackets last week, Vancouver pushed the cellar dwellers further down the ladder and elevated themselves. Proof the players want to win.

Another great example of this: The look of almost disgust, fatigue, and anger on the face of Columbus management and personnel after they lost in Seattle on Saturday night. It wasn’t pretty. They wanted a victory.

The Kraken put a similar look on Canucks forward J.T. Miller’s face last Wednesday as he walked out of Climate Pledge Arena. It’s no fun to get your collective arse handed to you.

Canucks Pecking Order

So what does it mean for the hopes and dreams of Canucks fans? It means the odds of pulling off the percentage miracle and nabbing the top overall pick drifts a little bit further away.

Of course, lotteries are just that. Sometimes the 6-percent wins over the 18.5-percent, or the 5-percent over both of them.

Right now, the Canucks sit 6th worst, a position that gives them a 7.5% chance of winning the lottery. That’s not bad, but one thinks the front office will be trying a little bit harder. Ilya Mikheyev has been shut down with his knee injury, that helps. Trades will be made and that’ll help.

For now. The Canucks have 33 more chances to lose.

The flip side is the angry owner who’ll be pushing whatever buttons he can to sell seats. Social media was flooded with promotions as the club tried to pawn last minute tickets to the Columbus game. Unfortunately for the club’s bottom line this season, that phenomenon will continue.

It’s a weird business: Keep losing, despite the players wanting to win.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.