Today's blog may take some of the Canuck faithful by surprise and I may also add to the list of people who may consider me an enemy. In the end, something has to be said, enough with the pats on the back and the 'attaboys'. When you have to get something off your chest...you do it.
Now, mocking the history of the Vancouver Canucks is a rather simple thing to do. The terrible jersey's; the 15+ consecutive losing seasons; the lack of retired jersey's; and of course the lack of a Stanley Cup banner hanging from the rafters of General Motors Place. With so many things to banter about there is something that seems to constantly be overlook and that is the clubs inability to develop talent from within.
There has only ever really been a handful of prospect that the Canucks drafted, groomed and the player went on to a rewarding career. You can throw out names such as Gary Valk, Doug Lidster, or Harry Snepsts but these aren't the types of players that I am really talking about. Players that really went on to become big names around the league such as Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, Mattias Ohlund, and of course Pavel Bure, these names are few and far between in the history of the Vancouver Canucks.
Case and point? Look no futher than this seasons training camp. The Canucks line-up is laden with muckers and grinders, the coaching staff is screaming for an offensive threat and not getting any. Players like Mayson Raymond, Michael Grabner, and Jason Jaffray are looking to crack the line-up but in all honesty not one of the really has a chance at sticking with the big club this season.
There are only so many roster spots that can be had and with a quick review of the players in camp you can tell who is in and who it out. Unfortunately, while Matt Cooke, Alex Burrows and Byron Ritchie continue to perform the same function (night after night after night),the numbers that Raymond, Grabner and Jaffray put up in the minors will seemingly go unoticed.
The development of a hockey player is tough at this age. The mental strains of puting out the best effort you can on a nightly basis and having it go un-noticed can be as hard as taking that open ice hit. Players need attention at this age, they need to be babied and when they put out the effort the Raymond, Granber and Jaffray have in pre-seaon, YOU NEED TO REWARD THEM.
As much as we all like the make up of the Canucks line-up this year, you have to be honest with yourself and understand that as the deadweight at the top of the roster is going through the motions, the prospects at the bottom of the roster are suffering.
The ignorance of the minor league system began in the Burke/Crawford era but it all most made sense back then. The NHL did not have a salary cap and the Canucks became a powerhouse that needed to bring in veteran talent which usually meant draft picks and prospects went the other way. Brandon Ried and Jason King were both given their fair share of opportunity to make the club but it seemed that whenever they went into a bit of a rut, they were sent back to Manitoba. Players need to suceed and to struggle at the NHL level, they need to work themselves through these times.
I think it's time for Coach Vigneault and GM Nonis to have a sit down and review the roster. There is such a theory of having too much of one thing and not enough of the other. It's time to make some tough decisions on players and allow the prospects to flourish, especially in a salary cap era.