The Canucks (4-9-3) are currently one of the worst teams in the NHL but firing head coach Bruce Boudreau won't get to the heart of the problem in Vancouver, nor will blaming goaltender Thatcher Demko for the team's poor start to the season.
SAM CHANG: I think there's like a very interesting dynamic here where there have there have been a lot of fans who, for the last few years, have been like people who say this team is bad, people who say this team is not a contending team, are just super negative. You guys are just downers. You're not real fans. Like, this is a good core. This is a good team.
You just have to have patience for what Benning's built to be put together, like, for it to all come together. The pieces are there. They're going to contend. They'll be good. And I think that there is another sizable contingent of people who have been like, this team is not well constructed. This team is bad. They should have blown it all up and actually done a proper rebuild, not, like, accidentally drafted Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, et cetera, et cetera.
And so there's, like, a very interesting dynamic where I think the people who have said they're bad are now like, yeah, well, we told you they were bad. Like, this is not surprising. Like, who-- like what are you going to do at this point? You've already fired the GM last year. You have a new president. You have a new GM. You have a new coach.
Problems are still the same. Like, you went and signed JT Miller despite Rutherford saying this is not a well-built team. Like, none of the moves actually make any sense. So, like what's-- at this point, I think for that contingent of fans, until you get a clearly communicated plan, it doesn't really matter what you do. Like, do whatever. We're just going to live the same eight years over and over again.
But I think for the people who thought they were really good and it was all going to come together and like things were getting better, I think they're going through that period of, like, realization where you're like really upset and really angry.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: It's like the stages of grief.
SAM CHANG: Yeah. And so I think for those people they're like, yeah, fire this person, fire that person. Because they haven't gotten to the point of like, oh, wait, shit, we've already done all of this before.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Like, literally, last year, like, literally last year we were talking about the Vancouver Canucks like looking to get rid of Travis Green, and then they hired Bruce. Like, this is not like, oh, man, they've been good for so long, and this is them hitting the bottom of the floor. This legit happened last year.
SAM CHANG: Genuinely, people were like, well Bruce Boudreau took over the same roster, and they were on a 107-point pace. It's like, yeah it's a new coach bump. It happens to every team.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Oh, so you--
OMAR: I really wanted--
ARUN SRINIVASAN: You can be on a pace to-- you can move at a pace where you're pointed at any time, too, right?
SAM CHANG: Yeah.
OMAR: Yeah. I wonder how much, like, in the room they blame what's going on goaltending. I'm really curious. Because, like, Thatcher, so like Thatcher Demko's deal is like what he's making 5 over-- 5 over 5 or something like that?
SAM CHANG: Yeah.
OMAR: So, like, going into this year they probably thought, OK, this is our guy. This is going to be our person who's going to lead us and he hasn't been as good. And I really wonder if, like, management's sitting in the office saying, well, you know, what if he had good goaltending? We would have been fine. And that is what is--
SAM CHANG: If they had good goaltending they'd be what they were last year, which is a borderline team who would finish in 14 to 18.
OMAR: Yeah. This is-- they fell in love--
SAM CHANG: Demko covered up a lot of their flaws by playing out of his mind last year. Markstrom did the same when he was here. The problem is not, I mean, the goaltending is a problem. He has not been good but their problems run way deeper than that.
OMAR: Yeah. They fell in love with some pieces men. Like, they should have moved Miller when they had the chance.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Well, I wonder if there's any resentment for JT Miller.
OMAR: And they still can. They still can. Sorry?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I want to know, you mentioned about any resentment or any ill feelings about Thatcher Demko. What about for JT Miller, the guy who just signed up for all that money and started off the year being on the ice for so many goals? And also, in that Canadiens game, for whatever reason, had that pocket furthered it and decided to just give it away on a freebie to Kirby Dach.
SAM CHANG: I mean, he doesn't know what defense is. He's a guy that they thought was a 1C who doesn't play any defense.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I don't, like, no disrespect here.
SAM CHANG: He's a winger.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Look.
SAM CHANG: He's a winger.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: No disrespect but, like, if people are going to-- I'm not saying, I'm not trying to project how people are generally feeling in the Vancouver Canucks locker room. But if somebody has a bone to pick with Thatcher Demko who, as Sam has mentioned, has done his best to try to mask the issues with this team, it's just the stats aren't there, I don't know if I'm getting bad at Thatcher Demko first.
Like, goddammit, he did as much as he could to cover up this team. No wonder he's not playing as well. Now he's tired. JT Miller, you have all that money now. What are you doing?
SAM CHANG: The problem with Miller is Miller is still a point-per-game player. Like he's on a point-per-game pace. The problem is I think he's been like-- I think he's got something like 11 or 12 goals against and 6 or 7 goals for. So it's like his defensive liabilities are outweighing him being a point-per-game player, which is a massive problem for a guy who's supposed to be a 1C. That was how they paid him.