Vancouver Canucks, Jim Rutherford

Canucks Bosses Were Clearly Open About Tank

It’s not as if we really had to read between the lines when Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford spoke to media one month ago today.

He clearly stated he would never ask a coach or player to not try and win, but he was also straightforward about the fact that Canucks management could exercise a number of options to slow down progress in the win column, without saying as much.

Call it development. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Jim Rutherford talks to media on January 16th.

So it should come as no surprise that Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko has taken forever to come back — that was the topic of the follow-up question regarding “making sure he was healthy” — and minor league goalie Arturs Silovs just picked up his first ever NHL start. Not that rewarding the guy and giving him a shot is wrong at all; some might just question the timing.

Canucks And Others
Tweet from Larry Brooks of the New York Post on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the often mentioned trade target Jakob Chychrun is apparently being prepped for a deal by the Arizona Coyotes. As in, sat out. Umm, there just isn’t any deal for the defenceman yet.

Same for D-man Vladislav Gavrikov of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

At this point “Brooksie’s” theory hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. The desert dogs shut-out the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in a shoot-out on Wednesday and the Blue Jackets beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 on Thursday.

One can see his point however. Over the long run, take out a solid defenceman, potentially lose more games than you win.

Columbus has the greatest motivation: they were dead last in the NHL entering action on Thursday with 36 points. The Coyotes are ten ahead of them, tied with the Canucks with 46 points.

Given the prize at the end of this season’s rainbow, first overall pick Connor Bedard of the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, one might understand why managerial tanking might get, or at least be perceived, as more blatant.

The North Vancouver teenager clearly appears to be a generational player and the top half of the NHL Draft’s first round looks strong.

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.