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Sports Ed Willes: Canucks preaching prudence, patience — and still selling hope

07:51  14 june  2018
07:51  14 june  2018 Source:   theprovince.com

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Ed Willes . Finally, he was asked about the current state of the team — the Canucks were 27th in the NHL and 12th in the West before Monday’s games — and if he felt they were still a playoff-calibre squad.

• Still , if you need cheering up, take a look at what’s happening for the Canucks 7,000 kilometres away. • And finally, it seems the Seattle Seahawks will have hope as long as they have Russell Wilson, but they’ll Ed Willes : Canucks need Thomas Vanek and his unique game more than ever.

(Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.)

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Ed Willes More from Ed Willes . Published: February 25, 2017. This is the story the Vancouver Canucks have tried to sell for the last three seasons. We are a team in transition, but we’re not in a full rebuild.

Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden sent a letter to the team' s season-ticket holders on Wednesday preaching patience as the team continues to rebuild. "We still need to be patient , but I am excited about our journey ahead together." Ed Willes More from Ed Willes .

Inside the boardroom at Rogers Arena, the most influential voices in the Vancouver Canucks’ organization are holding one of their interminable pre-draft meetings.

Team president Trevor Linden is at the table along with general manager Jim Benning; assistant GM John Weisbrod; Jonathan Wall, the director of hockey ops and analytics; and Stan Smyl, the director of collegiate scouting.

These are the men entrusted with the Canucks’ key hockey decisions, a hyper-competitive group of hockey men who’ve been gifted $23 million or so in cap space this off-season after watching the Canucks miss the playoffs three years in a row.

Linden is asked if that money changes anything for his NHL team.

Not for me,” he said. “The foundation of your team is built through the draft. I think we have to recognize where we are and be prudent and patient and not get ahead of ourselves.”

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Funny, isn’t that something the Canucks have been accused of the past couple of years?

“Talking to our fans, I think they’d be happy seeing our young players (in the lineup) and our team playing competitive, entertaining hockey,” Linden continued. “I think they’d rather see us stick to the plan and be patient than spending a bunch of money.”

As for winning more games, that’s in there, too. It’s just not at the top of the list.

With another playoff season and another Stanley Cup celebration now over — at least we think the Cup party is over; anyone seen Ovie lately? — the Canucks turn to what’s become the most exciting part of their season: the draft and free agency.

Linden terms this as the “next chapter” in their story, and if that story has gone through some revisions over the last number of years, the president now says he’s clear on its central themes.

By now, the faithful are familiar with most of those themes, but there also seems to be something different about the way Linden delivers the message this time; something more direct, something which isn’t open to interpretation.

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• Finally, In an interview with TSN’s Dave Naylor, B.C. Lions’ owner David Braley said he hopes to sell the team by the new year but the Arland Bruce lawsuit is holding up the transaction. Ed Willes : Canucks ' Virtanen turns the corner … with just 'a little help'.

When I think about the teams that have success, the core that drives the bus on a nightly basis are acquired through the draft,” he says. “Maybe, you can add a core piece or two through free agency or a trade.

“(Roberto) Luongo was an example of that. But generally speaking, those guys aren’t available through trade or July 1. They have to be drafted and that takes time.”

To that end, the Canucks hold the seventh pick in the June 22 draft and pick again at No. 37. There has been plenty of, er, informed conjecture about the Canucks’ commitment to the seventh pick, but Linden says it would take a huge offer to move out of that spot.

“Never say never, but it would have to be a very compelling situation where we can add a young piece,” he said. “We feel very good about where we are. To stay consistent with the story we’ll make the pick and I imagine that will happen.”

As for free agency, the Canucks have acres of cap space and have to replace the Sedins’ production on the ice and their presence in the locker room. The Canucks will be out of the running for the whales — John Tavares, John Carlson, Ilya Kovalchuk — but 23 shmill could buy some help.

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Ed Willes More from Ed Willes . Patience . This is going somewhere. Now, understandably, it’s hard to think of a team that sits 28th in the NHL as sitting on the verge of something special, but in the next two, three years the Canucks are staring at another watershed moment in franchise history.

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But it’s not part of the story the Canucks are trying to tell.

“It’s exciting on one hand, it’s scary on the other,” said Linden. “There’s no replacing (the Sedins). We’re going to take the training wheels off now. We’re kind of on our own. It’s going to be a big challenge.

“I think you look from within and the guys who are going to get those opportunities. I think of a guy like Brendan Leipsic. He’s going to get an opportunity for an offensive role. I think Sven (Baertschi) is going to have a greater opportunity. There are a lot of guys like that.”

And Linden believes the faithful want to see those players given an opportunity. He also believes the fans got a taste of the Canucks’ new wave last season and liked what they saw.

“For whatever reason, last year felt better until Brock (Boeser) got hurt,” Linden said. “There was a sense things were different, whether it was Brock doing what he was doing, the style of play, the kids who were here doing what they were doing. For me there was a shift in our fans because there was some hope there. I think we need to continue that.”

Translation: don’t expect any fireworks this off-season. As for next season, the narrative will be about Elias Pettersson and Adam Gaudette. Maybe it will be about Thatcher Demko arriving as an NHL goalie. Hopefully it will be about Jake Virtanen taking another big step.

Just don’t expect it to be about wins and losses.

“If we can continue that story we started last season and build on that, our fans can see there’s hope here,” Linden said. “If we can be known as a team that’s well-coached, hard-working and competitive and has a chance to win every night, that’s success for me.”

And maybe one of these years it will be about something else.

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