Canucks will want to forget a disastrous playoff and season from memory and move on to a new era with new head coach John Tortorella behind the bench. Yes the Canucks won the Northwest Division last year, but look at the competition? There was none. A team that’s used to regular season success and only one year removed from back-to-back presidents’ trophies, it felt like having kidney stones, it was uncomfortable. The main issue last season was the goalie controversy surrounding former Canuck goaltender Cory Schneider and current goalie and twitter aficionado Roberto Luongo. It shouldn’t have gone on as long as it did, it should’ve ended at the trade deadline, Luongo should’ve been gone and the team could’ve breathed a sigh of relief. But it didn’t and with that, each goaltender was walking on egg shells all season. For a team and fan base expecting the grand prize, last season was like the movie Don Jon – crappy and unexplainable.
Fast forward a few months later and it’s a whole new season with a whole new outlook. Schneider got traded at the draft, and veterans Maxim Lapierre, Keith Ballard, Mason Raymond all walked to different teams. Oh and they swapped coaches with the New York Rangers. With Luongo becoming the starting goaltender in Vancouver doesn’t solve the broken bridge Mike Gillis and management broke with him. While Luongo won’t have to look over his shoulder at new backup and fan favourite Eddie Lack to take his job away, Luongo was expecting to be playing elsewhere. Mentally he wasn’t a Canuck anymore. With Luongo likely playing with a huge chip on his shoulder and something to prove, it could provide a spark to the team to play for him. Luongo will also eye for the starting job on Canada’s Olympic team.
The importance of winning this season can’t be stressed more with this aging group. After multiple division titles in a weak division and Stanley Cup expectations, the window to win a cup is shutting and fans are starting to realize that. With most of their group in their 30s and close to over the hill of their career, this season could be the last kick at the can to win a Cup with this group. New Head Coach John Tortorella is no stranger to high expectations with coaching in New York, his attitude will be a “Must Win” attitude because the future is more foggier then my mom’s pea soup. Depending on how the Canucks do this season, it could be felt in the front office. Following two straight 1st round exits in the playoffs, Coach Alain Vigneault got the boot; the next guy should be and will be Mike Gillis.
While the majority of the aging core is locked up long term, there is still one more contract extension to give out…well two…The Sedin Twins. The Canucks are desperately trying to give out those extensions and are still working to get them signed. The Sedins asking price will likely be in the 7 Million dollar range. Next off-seasons class of free agents could be a deep one, and the Canucks will not want either brother apart of it.
Long story short, this could be the final season for the Canucks to win a Championship for a long time. It’s clear that the Canucks still haven’t got over there Cup Finals loss in 2011 to the Boston Bruins. If they don’t win now, the next step is to start a rebuild of this team from the bottom up. So if the team fails in 2014 to finally get there parade down Main Street in Walt Disneyworld…next off-season could be very interesting.