Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Vancouver’s season ended earlier than it had hoped after recording one of the NHL’s best second-half records.
“I think those past experiences, from the regular season to the playoffs, are going to make our team better,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told ESPN.com. “We’re going to learn from those. There’s a few areas in our game that we feel we need to improve on, and if we’re able to do that we feel we’re going to be a better team.”
Here are 10 things you need to know about the Canucks heading into the new season:
1. Going for it
The Canucks believe they should have been in the Western Conference finals last season. They’re aiming higher in 2009-10.
from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,
I think Canada has two legitimate shots at winning the Cup – the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames – and a third team, the Montreal Canadiens, who are a wild card.
First, the Canucks.
The Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, have taken their game to a new level and were quite deserving of the long-term deals they signed with the team in the summer. I used to believe they ranked somewhere between low-end first-liners or high-end second-liners, but now I believe they are the type of players you can win with.
Beyond that, general manager Mike Gillis has done an excellent job of surrounding the twins with a quality supporting cast. The Canucks boast a lot of depth up front with the likes of Alex Burrows, Ryan Kessler, Pavol Demitra, Kyle Wellwood, Steve Bernier and defensive specialist Ryan Johnson.
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
This is not your father’s locker room.In the middle of the oval chamber is captain Roberto Luongo, although you expect to find captain James T. Kirk.
Sure, all the seats face inward and the muted palette—grey and walnut brown, cream and smoky blue, accented by bands of brushed steel—are unlike the jelly-bean colours that splashed across the Star Trek set. But from the moment you walk through the sliding entry doors and into the high-tech, rounded main room, there is a sense you’ve arrived not at the centre of a National Hockey League team but on the bridge of the USS Enterprise.
The Vancouver Canucks’ newest star is their 8,000 square-foot locker room complex. The team believes it is the best in the NHL, which is what the Canucks want to be, too.
from Ben Kuzma of the White Towel at the Vancouver Province,
With Mathieu Schneider and Pavol Demitra going on long-term injury reserve, the Vancouver Canucks have found wiggle room under the salary cap ceiling.
Schneider confirmed Thursday morning that offseason shoulder surgery will keep the 40-year-old defenceman from opening the regular season on Oct. 1 at Calgary. Although he has been practising, Schneider has not been able to take contact. The news is worse for Demitra, who hasn’t even healed enough to practice. Offseason shoulder surgery could keep the winger sidelined until November.
Vancouver, B.C. – Vancouver Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that Head Coach Alain Vigneault has agreed to terms on a new contract that extends through the 2012.2013 season.
“This is a significant announcement for our hockey club,” said Mike Gillis. “Alain and his staff have done an excellent job leading our team to two Division titles in three years. I believe strongly in the partnership between management, coaches and players and we are all committed to building a championship team here in Vancouver.”
“This is an exciting day for me and my coaching staff,” said Alain Vigneault. “Having the opportunity to work with the Aquilini family, Mike and his staff and our players has been very rewarding. I love working and coaching in this tremendous hockey city and look forward to continuing to build on our previous success.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Monday night, Burrows lined up for his second preseason game in his accustomed spot with the Sedins, which is where he earned the lion’s share of his success last season.
Now, this is interesting because, for everything he accomplished over the final two months of the 2008-09 campaign, that spot hasn’t exactly been reserved for Burrows. Later this week, veteran Mikael Samuelsson will audition for the job. There is also some thought that training-camp sensation Sergei Shirokov will get a look there.
This, in turn, raises all manner of implications for both the Canucks and Burrows, and you can make the case it’s the most intriguing decision Alain Vigneault faces heading into the season. Right now, Burrows is saying all the right things when he’s asked about his situation, and you’d expect nothing less from the 28-year-old Montrealer.
You just wonder how he’d adjust to life in coach after flying first class for the last 30 games of last season.
“I like to get into some scrums in front of the net. I try to play a little gritty. I’m not tough or anything like that, but I try to play hard, go to the net and shoot a lot of pucks and stay for rebounds.”
-Mikael Samuelsson of the Vancouver Canucks. More on Samuelsson from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
As they enter their, yikes, ninth season with the Canucks, Daniel and Henrik also appear to be entering the third phase of their careers. Their first, from their rookie campaign in 2000-01 to the lockout, were characterized by high hopes followed by middling production and a certain dissatisfaction with their level of play. In their second, which started in the post-lockout year and ended in 2008-09, the twins established themselves as under-rated, under-valued NHL frontliners who produced at a point-a-game clip.
Now, the question becomes, can they take the next step? Can they move into that rarefied place occupied by the NHL’s elite and which is reflected in their new deals. They took their first steps towards that club last year but to gain full membership they’re going to have to improve from the point-a-game pace to somewhere in the 90- to 100-point range.
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
With the clock having struck midnight on GM Mike Gillis’s Mats Sundin deadline, and given word he’s not even skating, the Canucks are moving on.
With the Swede quickly disappearing from their radar, the Canucks are focusing instead on the forwards who will actually be at UBC this week for training camp. And there are plenty of them. Lots has been made about the defensive logjam, but the more interesting story lines are up front.
There are 12 forwards with one-way deals, and that doesn’t include Cody Hodgson, Jannik Hansen, Michael Grabner or Sergei Shirokov, the Russian pro who got a couple gushing reviews in Alberta for tallying a few assists in two prospects games against university kids and amateurs. Though he’ll have to do a lot more than that, he is seen, by some, as one of the players on the outside who can push for a job.
With a push from below, two veterans who are expected to at least feel a pinch are Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond, a pair known for offensive skill and unrealized potential who both had frustrating seasons last year before finding salvation through the defensive part of their games.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Word is that any day now the Vancouver Canucks are going to give head coach Alain Vigneault a three-year extension on his contract on top of the year he has left.
Now Vigneault is a good NHL coach and has done some fine work here in his three years, but why would general manager Mike Gillis be so generous when there appears to be absolutely no pressing reason why a coach needs what is essentially a four-year deal?
Isn’t that what Brian Burke did with Marc Crawford? He gave his coach a three-year extension and the club ended up dining on a year of that salary. And clearly by the way the Crawford era ended here, that decision should have been made a year earlier, meaning they would have eaten two years of that deal.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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