VANCOUVER - Amidst all the drama surrounding the Vancouver Canucks this season, with John Tortorella's lengthy suspension, Ryan Kesler's reported trade request, and the newly-announced sequel to the Roberto Luongo goaltending controversy, it can be easy to overlook that, occasionally, the Canucks play hockey games.
Not all that well these days, mind you.
Going into Sunday's Heritage Classic, the Canucks find themselves tied with the Dallas Stars for the last Wild Card spot in the West, which appears to be the only playoff spot they still have even a shot at snagging.
It's their own fault. The Canucks can't score, especially on the powerplay, and they're paying for it now, treading water while watching clubs they once scoffed at like the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche leave them in the dust.
At this point, you wonder if their best bet of beating the Ottawa Senators is doing what the Vancouver club did back in 1915: steal the Senators' best player away by offering him a ton of money and an off-season job, then immediately play his former club.
The story of the Canucks this season is a story of decline and descent: the decline of the Sedins; the descent from their perch atop the Western Conference; descent into self-parody and dysfunction, with a player reportedly asking out for the third straight year.
It's never simple in Vancouver, and this season might be the most Vancouvery season yet.
All that in mind, the Heritage Classic could be good for the Canucks. A chance to simplify things, to return to their roots, to remember that, at one time, this game was fun.
"I want them to enjoy it," John Tortorella said Sunday of the atmosphere experience playing in an "outdoor" game.Read More »from Desperate Canucks hoping to loosen up, enjoy themselves at Heritage Classic