Vancouver Canucks, Penticton prospects

Canucks NHL Sunday: Prospects Lose, Babcock Resigns

Canucks Young Stars

The Vancouver Canucks prospects blew a 2-0, 3rd period lead at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton on Sunday afternoon and fell to the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in a shoot-out.

Surrey native Arshdeep Bains, who signed a free agent contract with Vancouver in March of 2022, notched a power play goal in the 1st period to open the scoring and put the Canucks out in front.

During their third of back-to-back-to-back power plays late in the 2nd period the Canucks added to their lead with Aidan McDonough scoring his 2nd power play goal of the event. The big winger ripped a shot home from the right wing circle after being left alone, scoring from almost the exact same spot he tallied against the Calgary Flames in Vancouver’s 7-1 victory on Friday night.

McDonough was a 7th-round pick of Vancouver at the 2019 NHL Draft before playing four seasons of college hockey at Northeastern University in Boston. He played six games for the Canucks this past spring and scored his first NHL goal.

If not for Coquitlam native, Team Canada WJC 2023 champion, and former Seattle Thunderbirds goalie Thomas Milic putting together a sterling performance for the Jets in net, the score would have been much worse. The Vancouver kids had 30 shots on goal through the first 34 minutes of the game.

A fourth consecutive power play for the Canucks carried over from the 2nd period into the 3rd, but was unsuccessful.

The Jets came on in the 3rd period. Jacob Julien, a Winnipeg 2023 5th-rounder, trickled one through Canucks goalie Ty Young at the 11:58 mark to make things very interesting.

Not long after the Jets cashed in and tied things up on a power play opportunity with 2023, 18th-overall draft pick Colby Barlow lighting the lamp at 13:46.

Barlow also scored one of the Jets’ two shoot-out goals.

Young made 27 saves in the game for Vancouver, Milic made 39 saves through overtime for the Jets.

Although not a formal tournament, it appears the Canucks will face the Edmonton Oilers prospects on Monday for the unofficial title for the second straight year, with the Oilers and Canucks sharing 1-0-and-1 records.

The Oilers team won the round robin finale 5-2 last September.

Babs Is Out

In one of the more bizarre developments in NHL coaching history, former Stanley Cup champion and Olympic Gold Medal head coach Mike Babcock resigned Sunday from the Columbus Blue Jackets before coaching a game. He joined the team on July 1st after collecting the remainder of his eight-year, $50-million contract from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He was hired by the Leafs in 2015 and fired in November of 2019.

Babcock resigned less than a week after his requests for personal photos from players in a bonding effort drew criticism and an informal investigation by the NHL and NHL Players Association.

“Upon reflection, it has become clear that continuing as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was going to be too much of a distraction,” Babcock stated. “While I’m disappointed to not have had the opportunity to continue the work we’ve begun, I know it’s in the best interest of the organization for me to step away at this time. I wish everyone in the organization well in the upcoming season.”

At least one Blue Jackets player, Johnny Gaudreau, defended the coach’s “get-to-know-you” techniques, but to no avail.

“This was a difficult decision on everyone’s part, but one we felt necessary to ensure our focus remains on the players and the team’s upcoming season,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire Blue Jackets organization, we want to thank Mike for his hard work and the professionalism he has shown in working together on a plan to step down.”

Assistant coach Pascal Vincent was named Babcock’s replacement and signed a two-year contract to run the team. He’s a 51-year-old former minor league center who previously worked as an assistant coach for the Winnipeg Jets and the head coach of the American Hockey League Manitoba Moose.

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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.