Where do the Vancouver Canucks go from here?
One year ago, the team was within a game of winning the Stanley Cup. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said at the time that injuries had derailed the team and he planned to stay the course.
"If you keep knocking on the door, you're going to break through," he said in his post-season address last June.
And so they went. For the most part, the team coasted through this season's 82-game schedule, waiting for their next crack at the playoffs. They did, however, show up for the worthy opponents. In their biggest games of the season - matches against the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins - they were 7-2-1 before February 27.
On that day, the NHL's trade deadline, Gillis rolled the dice and changed his team's course.
He traded away his third-line centre - the offensively gifted Calder Trophy candidate, Cody Hodgson - and replaced him with the defence-minded Samuel Pahlsson. The team was adapting to the way the NHL was trending, Gillis explained. His newly-adjusted roster would be able to win tight-checking, one-goal games.
Looking back now, that lack of scoring would help contribute to the club's demise. One year after going to the finals, the Canucks flamed out in dramatic fashion. They lost their first round series to the L.A. Kings, and over the five games, they potted just six goals.
The supporting cast around Daniel and Henrik Sedin that was so critical in last year's run was collectively less effective this time around. Players like Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond, Alex Edler, David Booth, Chris Higgins, and Maxim Lapierre all struggled against Los Angeles.
So now we consider their fates. Raymond and Cory Schneider are headed to restricted free agency while Sami Salo will be unrestricted.
And then there's Roberto Luongo. Despite his no-trade clause, speculation is flying about his desire to stay in Vancouver.
If that wasn't enough, there's the coach. Alain Vigneault's decisions, aside from keeping Schneider in net for Games 4 and 5, left many baffled.
Booth, who had never played with the Sedins before, was on their line in critical playoff games. Lapierre, who had chemistry with them down the stretch, was not. Burrows and Kesler, who've shown chemistry every time they were united in the past, were kept separate until the third game of the series.
Vigneault, whose regular season coaching record with the Canucks is 287-155-50, has a playoff record of 28-24 with the team. His future is also in the air.
Again, we ask the question: Where do the Canucks go from here?
As always, it's Your! Call.