The Canucks are the last remaining winless team in the NHL and calls for changes are getting louder and louder. How much more of this can Vancouver ownership take before undergoing a major shakeup? The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss that, Minnesota's slow start, the World Cup of Hockey and more in Insider Trading.
Gino Reda: They are the insiders: Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger. The only remaining winless team in the entire league, fans throwing jerseys on the ice, players and the coach openly frustrated. Darren, how much more of this can Canucks' ownership and management take before going to a complete major shakeup?
Darren Dreger: Well, we know the temperature is rising. We know that Vancouver Canucks fans continue to scream for answers, but the reality is, it's not that simple. The Vancouver Canucks still believe that it is too early to do anything significant or anything that is overly drastic. But the Canucks also know, guys, that they are dangerously close to having to put everything on the table. So what does that mean, and what does that look like? Well, let's start with a hefty renovation. That means moving out players, maybe key players, collecting draft picks, knowing that there is a very good draft looming in 2023. You've got the possibility of trying to make, maybe, a shorter-term fix and add a trade. But there's certainly no guarantee that that player, the right player, is going to be available in a timely enough fashion. And then perhaps most appealing to Canucks fans because of how sour they are is the firing of the coach. Again, not quite there, but it's headed in one of those three directions. Tough spot for Bruce Boudreau and the Canucks management.
Pierre LeBrun: Dregs, the Minnesota Wild got their first win of the season last week against those Canucks. But overall, it's been a slow start for the Wild, especially given the expectations for a team that had 113 points last year. Now, [general manager] Bill Guerin made some interesting comments in an interview with our friend Michael Russo in The Athletic. And I followed up today and spoke with Bill Guerin, and he certainly didn't back down from those comments, saying that it's time for his team to wake up and, in that, saying that quote, "we're not going to trade our way out of this." And his point is that this isn't about one or two players; this is really a team-wide disappointment, and that the team has to play to its identity and re-establish its identity. So, some urgency from the Minnesota Wild GM, because as he said to me, "it's easy to dig a hole that you can't come out of. It's important for us to start playing our best hockey now."
GR: We often speak about U.S. Thanksgiving as being a key mile marker in terms of how teams are doing as they plan things moving forward. But, CJ, there's another key milestone coming up even sooner than that.
Chris Johnston: Yeah, if you're a teenager in the NHL, and it's your first season, it's somewhere around Halloween typically is when you want to still be on the roster because that will likely mean that you've reached your 10th game, at which point your entry-level contract starts. And as you look around the league right now, there's six players in that situation, wondering what their future [will be]. Interestingly, only one of them, Juraj Slafkovský, [of] the Montreal Canadiens, he's eligible to go to the American Hockey League. Everyone else you see in this list has to go to the Canadian Hockey League, and a lot of them have been quite accomplished there, and I think that makes the decisions on them a little bit more complicated. I'll highlight Wyatt Johnston of the Dallas Stars, he was the OHL MVP last year. This is a huge week for him because Dallas has a busy schedule. He's set to get to his ninth game by the weekend and, you know, certainly, Dallas is willing to keep him beyond that point, but I'm sure they're gonna be judging each and every performance before making that final decision. And another one there is Shane Wright, of course of the Seattle Kraken. They've taken a little different approach with him, he's been in and out of the lineup, he hasn't played more than eight minutes in a game yet, but there's a lot of focus on what Seattle does with him as he gets close to that 10-game mark.
GR: We're just about a month away from [FIFA World Cup] kickoff in Qatar and, Pierre, meetings coming up to discuss the future of the World Cup of Hockey next month as well?
PL: Yeah, further discussions between the major stakeholders (of the) NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and some federations the weekend of November 4th and 5th in Tampere, Finland, when Colorado and Columbus are playing NHL games. Time is of the essence here. Let's be honest, there are people involved that thought that if things had been finalized, there was going to be a World Cup announcement this past summer. You know, the idea was to have this tournament in February of '24. You know, Gary Bettman and Bill Daly last week after the Board of Governors meeting when I was there, you know, they hinted that, you know, maybe the idea of delaying this tournament is on the table now. And I've talked with other people today, and I think it's something that other stakeholders have also talked about. The bottom line is, there are still outstanding issues with the IIHF that have not been addressed and of course, the elephant in the room and Bill Daly and Gary Bettman talking about (it) last week – what to do with Russia? There are other countries who don't want Russia to play in that tournament because of the war in Ukraine. It's a real difficult issue for the NHL (and) NHLPA to address so we'll see where this goes. But the idea of delaying the World Cup of Hockey to me has a little more legs now than it did perhaps a month ago.
GR: Which would be unfortunate. Brad Marchand [scored the] short-handed goal with 44 seconds left for the game-winner to clinch the win for Canada over Europe. The last World Cup of Hockey game back in September of 2016 [in Toronto]. It's been a while. They are the insiders: Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger.