Vancouver Canucks, J.T. Miller

Tonight’s Canucks Game Is Really About Miller

For all the grief he takes about some of his behaviour on the ice at times, despite all of the suggestions we’ve made about trading him away before his no-move clause kicks in, Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. MIller is actually somewhat of a heroic figure.

Last season’s Canucks leading scorer and a point-a-game man since he’s been in BC, something Bo Horvat could never claim until this contract year, Miller took a “hometown discount” in order to stay in Vancouver over the next seven years. Horvat essentially scooted and took the money.

I can’t blame either one of them.

Now we hear a report on Sportsnet that the Canucks may be interested in trading MIller. We’ve been exploring that concept in these pages since just days after he signed.

“My first and only question for Canucks GM Patrik Allvin at the Miller press conference … did you backtime the no-trade clause to include this season? His answer was no.”

It’s true, it’s wide open, Miller can be traded before his new contract kicks in, but with Horvat gone, it no longer makes any sense. I also don’t think it makes any sense because Miller remains somewhat misunderstood and misjudged.

I would be one of those guilty parties.

“I think we’re going to hit the ground running and surprise a lot of people this year,” Miller said after he signed his new seven-year, $8-million per season deal on September 2nd, “At the end of the day it’s a business and it’s work and I want to be where we’re going to have a good hockey team.”

It looks like he’ll be waiting at least a little bit longer. Unless of course they do trade him.

His overwhelming desire to win he wears on his sleeve, that’s not going to change. What has changed is the Canucks locker room dynamic. I think Miller feels as liberated as Horvat does.

Winning Canucks Focus

I ran into MIller walking out of the building in Seattle a couple weeks ago and we reminisced about the fact that his WJC Gold Medal accomplishment, with the likes of the Rangers Jacob Trouba, Vince Trocheck and Jimmy Vecey, happened almost exactly a decade ago. The ten year anniversary. He was humbled by that.

We talked about how a whole half generation of NHL stalwarts may miss out on representing their countries at the Olympics, in his case team USA, because of the NHL’s decision not to participate in South Korea and China. I suggested he would have played a part. Miller wasn’t so sure.

He was also humbled by the fact he picked up his 500th career NHL point at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night against the team that drafted him in the 1st-round in 2011.

For all the piss and vinegar, this is a guy who just wants to win.

Watch him. He’s made a great play leading to a goal in both of the last two Canucks games.

I think the new coach, the new sans-Horvat dressing room, Miller’s ability to acquiesce to a potential leadership takeover by Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, all point in a positive direction. In fact, acquiesce may be the wrong word, as it suggests reluctance.

Accept and encourage the changes may be a better description, based on Miller’s thoughts on the concept last week. He thinks ‘Petey’ and Hughes would be perfect for assuming the roles.

Heroic figure? Maybe a bit much. Misunderstood. Very good chance.

Bo Horvat has moved on. The game tonight and moving forward? It’s about J.T. Miller.

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.