Vancouver Canucks, J.T. Miller

Captain Or Not, The Canucks Room Is Largely Miller’s

J.T. Miller and the Vancouver Canucks celebrated an anniversary a week ago. The start of the Labour Day weekend marked one year since the now 30-year-old centre signed his seven-year, $56-million contract extension. It kicks in this season.

“The conscious decision on J.T.’s part was that ‘this is good, this can hopefully help build a contender here, help bring some Cups here, and if I leave a little bit on the table in a place that I love, that’s OK with me’,” Miller’s agent Brian Bartlett told us a year ago. “It’s still an amount that’s nothing to sneeze at.”

Miller was coming off the seventh best scoring season in Canucks history in 2021-’22 with his 99 points. Trade talk that previous winter, with the club making a strong push for the playoffs and Miller having a year remaining on a reasonable contract, were absurd.

He overcame the noise, eventually survived the club’s debate over whether to keep him or captain Bo Horvat, and established career highs in goals (32), assists (67), power play points (38) and shots on goal (206). He also led the Canucks forward group in hits with 172.

Crushing it at his age in a contract year or nearing one is not unusual for NHL players, but Miller backed it up with another 32 goals and a total of 82 points in a Canucks 2022-’23 season that somehow managed to be even more tumultuous than the one before it.

“I mean, you could write a book about last season,” Miller told a St. Louis based podcast in early August.

Canucks Room

Particularly for a team light on captain candidates, it doesn’t really matter who wears the “C” for the Canucks from Miller’s standpoint. It’s largely his room regardless. That was affirmed when Horvat was sent packing. It’s the good ole’ NHL “leadership by committee” concept, while Quinn Hughes potentially grows his way into the role.

It’s not a bad thing having a sometimes snarky, ultra-competitive 30-something in the room, particularly when the rest of the most valuable veterans on the club are either new, Russian, soft spoken, or Tyler Myers.

By the way, eleven players listed on the big league roster at the moment will have their contracts expire at the end of this season.

Miller will have to hold it all together in what amounts to another managerial transition year as it relates to player personnel and the cap. Vancouver plans to finally have some breathing room. even if and when they sign Elias Pettersson to whopping dollars.

Quieter Times?

At least the trade talk will subside for Miller. He possesses a full no-move clause for the first four years of his new deal and a modified one for the final three. It might mean more chit chats with the media, something the outspoken and sometimes impatient forward has found rather unsavoury in the past.

“Not all of them, I just can’t stand some of them, and like honestly, I think they know that I feel that way. So it’s not really anything to hide,” Miller told that same podcast last month.

Yet he also seemed ready to move on.

“I’m definitely excited, we’ve kind of turned the page and moved on and can put some things in the past,” Miller said. “I mean, with the (trade) deadline and all the rumours about people getting traded, it’s just a shit-show to say the least.”

It’ll be fun either way. Wise-cracky if the Canucks are winning; downright ornery if they’re not.

Let’s elect Miller the team’s spokesman. Like I said, fun either way.

Let Pettersson star, let Hughes work his magic, and let Thatcher Demko save the day, but at the end of the day, it’ll be on J.T. Miller to hold it all together. Or not.

Very Recents:

— Hronek Shocked By Trade To Canucks, As Was The Hockey World

— Canucks Lacked Interest In Hometown Boy Milan Lucic

The Canucks vs the Central Division with Paul Edmonds.

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.