Canucks and Beyond

Cliff Ronning & the Canucks

05/24/2008 at 7:31pm EDT

A casual remark from Cliff Ronning buried at the end of this article in a local Burnaby paper yesterday, caught my attention:

“Sooner or later I’m going to slow down a bit. My ultimate goal would be somehow to work with the Canucks in some capacity. I would stop doing everything to do that because that’s pretty well where my heart is.”

That says a lot, given that this organization didn’t exactly endear itself to Ronning back in 1996, when “the Canucks offered him a 30 per cent pay cut and everyone else a 30 per cent raise.” (Which instantly brings to mind a Mike Keenan joke, but he wasn’t even in Vancouver yet so I’ll have to bank that one. Which is annoying. Mike Keenan jokes are a crowd-pleaser.) But perhaps the money issue is understandable given that the 1996 roster must have commanded some big bucks going into the 1997 season.

Anyway, back to Ronning…

He had some very good career years in Vancouver, but chose to move on and played in numerous cities before his retirement in 2004.

Since retirement, Ronning has worked semi-frequently with Canucks TV (and perhaps Sportsnet as well? I can’t recall. Dan Murphy’s presence on both tends to confuse me as to which broadcast I’m watching), providing commentary. Ronning appeared to be a natural, and is probably a logical fixture for that broadcast, which could—frankly—use all the help it can get. image

On the other hand, maybe he’s looking for something more substantial than between-periods commentator.

According to the Burnaby Newsleader, he’s currently developing a high-end fishing resort in Port McNeil in addition to working for a hockey equipment company. But if he got a call from the team apparently he’d come running—and that might not mean TV next time, but something more interesting.

Assistant coach, perhaps?

Don’t laugh. Experience is nice, but with the Canucks keeping Vigneault around for another two seasons, I’d say that one thing the team could use more than experience is a buffer between AV’s temper and the team’s response to it.

It occurs to me that a guy with Ronning’s nature would probably be very good at keeping things smooth in the dressing room, avoiding the public personality clashes that seemed so common last season. And he always struck me as a smart player and possibly a natural on the bench, as well.

Anyway, it’s just a thought. One way or another, I’m convinced that one of the new assistant coaches will be a former NHL player not too many years removed from the game.

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