Needless to say, us LCS Hockey writers are always in the public
eye. As a result, we tend to get a lot of comments and questions
from the general public. Now usually we either ignore or throw out
any such correspondence, but in those rare cases where it's very
late at night and a deadline is looming, they magically change from
crap to valuable journalistic tools. This is such a case. If your
letter wasn't chosen, don't fret, it just probably wasn't good
Q: I am a Vancouver Canucks fan. At the moment, it is a very
embarrassing experience. The season began with promise, but it all
of a sudden went downhill! What happened and why are you so
A: A very good question! The downward spiral in the Canucks' level
of play is due to a couple of difficult circumstances. The first is
that they were simply playing over their heads at the start of the
year. The likes of Mattias Ohlund and Adrian Aucoin were producing
a point a game each from the blue line. That type of output simply
could not be sustained for any long period of time. Alex Mogilny,
before his injury, was contributing offensively as a first line
right winger. Since his return, his production has dropped sharply.
The early surge brought with it unreasonable expectations, and the
Canucks realistic level of competitiveness has now caught up to
their on-ice results.
Q: It is now obvious that the Canucks will not make the playoffs.
Does this mean that the Canucks will get rid of some of their
bigger salaries and veteran players?
A: You'd think that would make sense, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, I
suspect that Brian Burke will not trade the likes of Dave Gagner,
Peter Zezel and Murray Baron. This would add up to an admission
that the team is done for the season, and that's a statement I
don't think Burke will ever make, especially with eight more home
games to sell tickets for. There's usually a demand for experience
and leadership at the trade deadline, so while Zezel may not fetch
much, Gagner and Baron might bring back a decent prospect or draft
pick. I don't see any of them making an impact on the team next
season, so lets give the younger guys some quality ice time now.
Q: Will next season be any better ?
A: Only marginally, if at all. The team will get even younger next
year, as Josh Holden and Peter Schaefer will be every-day players
in a line-up that already includes Dave Scatchard and Bill Muckalt.
The defence will probably average 23 years of age once Bryan Allen
is in the fold and Kevin Weekes will probably take the starting job
in goal. It could be ugly again, but at least there will be some
Q: What is the team's biggest need?
A: Keeping in mind that this team will not reach it's peak for
another five years, and Mark Messier will be 60 or so at that
point, the Canucks need to find someone who will be a number one
centre. Josh Holden will probably do a good job at No. 2, and
Scatchard at No. 3, but who will play in the middle on the top
offensive unit? I doubt it will be someone currently in the system,
so let's start looking!
Q: Are there any positives on this team? Any reason for optimism?
A: Yes, and lots. If Kevin Weekes develops into the number one
goalie that Brian Burke says he will, he will combine with an
excellent blue-line core to form on of the top defences in the
league. Bryan McCabe, Ed Jovanovski and Mattias Ohlund may all be
All-Star defencemen in a few years time, and Adrian Aucoin and
Bryan Allen very well could be. The offence is young, but has tons
of potential. Alex Mogilny (trust me, he will again be a force),
Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi and Bill Muckalt will be an excellent
group of wingers. Holden, Schaefer, World Juniors hero Artem
Chubarov, feisty Finnish winger Jarkko Ruutu and rugged but
talented Mike Brown (picked up in the Bure trade) all have great
potential. Not right way, but in a five seasons, the Canucks will
Q: When will you announce this week's Wayne Axford Award winner?
A: Right now!
This week's winner of the Wayne Axford Award for Sporting Excellence
goes to defenceman Bryan McCabe. With Ohlund and Jovanovski out of
the line-up for much of the last two weeks, McCabe stepped up his
play while logging over 30 minutes most nights. His play didn't
translate into much on the score sheet, but he redeemed himself after
a long string of lackluster play. Congratulations, Bryan, you're my
kind of hockey player. (Bryan was an editorial choice for he award,
as he fell short of Markus Naslund's 1,308 votes. He did pick up 764
votes, and the most important one, mine!).
Please place your vote for the Wayne Axford award by sending me your
selection at: firstname.lastname@example.org