Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun,
“It’s totally changed now because of the money involved,” said Benning. “Back when I played, in terms of just training, there were a few guys like Darryl Sittler who used to do off-ice conditioning and stuff but, for the most part, training camp in September was the time to get in shape and get ready for the season.
“These summer development camps kind of started about 15 years ago because of the collective bargaining agreement and the fact you don’t have the players as long. You don’t own their rights until they’re 30, like in the old days, so it’s really important that you try to develop them as fast as you can and get them to play for you right away. Teams want to teach their young guys about proper weight training, about nutrition, about all the different things to get them up to speed to where they have to be.
“What these camps do is give the players an understanding of what is needed to become an NHL player,” Benning emphasized. “Then it’s up to them to do the work.”
“I’m really excited because it’s a fresh start for everyone and you want a team where everybody pushes each other to be better and compete for jobs. It’s going to be interesting. I want to show what I can do and log some good minutes and start having some good games.
“For me at this point of my career, it’s about winning games and getting to the playoffs. We’re in a tough division and a tough conference, but if we can stay healthy and have 20 guys buying into Willie’s game plan and get good goaltending, you can compete with the best teams in the West.”
-Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks. More on Burrows from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province.
“Winning a Stanley Cup is everything. If you don’t want to win the Stanley Cup, you shouldn’t own a team. I’m learning about the ups and downs of the business and realize the success of the hockey team is not in my control.”
-Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini. A bit more by Greg Douglas at the Vancouver Sun.
from David Ebner of the Globe and Mail,
When Trevor Linden was hired as the new boss of the Vancouver Canucks, a returned hero whose chief job was a swift rehabilitation of the hockey team, he faced a three-month sprint through an obstacle course crowded with moving objects.
The holes to fill were numerous – coach, general manager, and throughout the roster – and the challenges were significant – Ryan Kesler and his microscopic trade list. Linden, a rookie NHL executive, has managed well, conjuring a rapid remake that cuts ties with the Mike Gillis era and establishes reasonable foundations for his tenure.
“It’s been intense,” said Linden in an interview Thursday. “I’m extremely pleased with how things have worked out.”
The Canucks promised change, wanting to excise all memories of the season of John Tortorella. In April, facing waning demand for season tickets, the team offered a money-back guarantee until July 11 so buyers could see what Linden deliver. Time is almost up, and most of the work is done – but it’s not certain skeptics have been converted into believers.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
There are simply too many assets in Vancouver for the Canucks to drop to the bottom of the league the way an Edmonton or Buffalo has. But if they don’t use those assets to get younger — the way Benning turned Kesler into Bonino (26), Luca Sbisa (24), Dorsett (27) and centre Jared McCann at the draft — they’ll hit the same cliff Edmonton and Calgary have fallen off.
This Canucks team will legitimately push for the playoffs, but if we know Benning — and we’ve been, ahem, right about him thus far — he may forego another first-round exit to maximize a couple of veteran assets at the trade deadline.
When you have a blueline that includes Edler (28), Kevin Bieksa (33), and Dan Hamhuis (32 in December), you’ve got options. One of those defencemen may be worth a first-round pick and a legit prospect at the trade deadline, a time when a guy as smart as Benning with a defenceman as valuable as Bieksa can be a lethal combination.
from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province,
Dollar signs and a starting role sold Ryan Miller on plunging head first into the Vancouver fishbowl.
A suitable contract with sufficient term, style of play and projected linemates would determine whether unrestricted free agent Radim Vrbata would choose the Canucks or other serious suitors like the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes, who made an effort to re-sign the winger.
He chose Vancouver.
Vrbata received a two-year, $10-million-US deal from the Canucks on Wednesday night — $4 million and a $1-million bonus annually plus a limited no-trade clause — and it’s a win-win situation. The player gets a boost from his expiring $3-million deal and the Canucks get the bridge contract they needed so younger wingers like Hunter Shinkaruk and Jake Virtanen can develop and eventually transition into the lineup. Vrbata’s agent, Rich Evans of Surrey, said he had another offer for longer term, but too much added up to the right fit here.
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
Now with Luongo, Jacob Markstrom, Eddie Lack and Miller all on the payroll, the Canucks are set to spend $9.15 million on goalies next season.
Some things never change.
Miller does have comfort with Jim Benning, who drafted him.
It won’t be easy in Van City. Especially when his backup is set to be the impossible-to-dislike Eddie Lack, who was handed Roberto Luongo’s job last season and did just fine as a rookie as John Tortorella power-drilled him into the ice.
The inevitable goalie controversy isn’t an if, it’s a when.
Miller, however, must have had some extensive briefs already on what he’s getting himself into. His agent, Mike Liut, also represented Cory Schneider and understands better than most who live outside this city the challenges of playing net here.
It’s not easy and Liut knows it.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Is Miller the answer? He couldn’t help the St. Louis Blues get out of the opening playoff round against the Chicago Blackhawks. Miller actually had a better time of it at the start of the season, playing for the Buffalo Sabres, where he put up a .923 save percentage on a 15-22-3 record and a 2.72 GAA – decent numbers considering he was playing for the worst team in the league.
In St. Louis, considered one of the most defensively sound clubs, his save percentage dipped to .903, with a 2.47 GAA and a 10-8-1 record. But the Canucks needed more depth between the pipes, where Eddie Lack had a decent season for them (16-17-5, 2.41 GAA, .912) but probably wasn’t experienced enough to be a No. 1 goalie, with only Jacob Markstrom in reserve. So Miller, who was seeking a chance to play on a West Coast team, will get a chance to get his career back on the rails.
The new general manager in Vancouver, Jim Benning, began his front-office career, working nine seasons for the Sabres (1995-2004), which coincided with Miller’s draft year, 1999. So he was there at the beginning with Miller, through the three years at Michigan State and three more years developing with their AHL affiliate in Rochester. For most of Miller’s pro career, which included a Vezina Trophy in 2010, Benning worked for their divisional rivals, the Boston Bruins.
Presumably, Benning was satisfied that Miller, who will turn 34 on July 17, still has a number of good years left.
Nick Kypreos reports Ryan Miller signs with Vancouver.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
When Ryan Miller was spotted at the Vancouver International Airport on Sunday, it really put into perspective the soap opera the Canucks have been for the past year.
Especially when it comes to the men between the pipes.
Had you taken a look at the Canucks roster exactly one year prior to Miller’s Sunday arrival on the left coast, you would have seen the names of Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo under the heading of “Goaltenders.”
Ask any Canucks fan if he/she could have guessed at that time that Vancouver 12 months later would be wooing Miller because goal was a position of need, they likely would be shaking their heads no.
A goalie? That was the least of Vancouver’s issues at the time.
My, what a difference a year makes.
continued and more hockey topics...
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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