With the new year comes renewed hope -- regardless of the state of each Canadian team's current NHL season. The Zone Time crew discusses what each club North of the border should have on their list of resolutions for 2022.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: What if we found a way to come up with New Year's resolutions for each of the Canadian teams? Also, specifically for Toronto, you're not allowed to say, oh, let's get them a first round win.
Of course they want to get that. But like, they got to do something to get there. You don't just say, I'm going to lose 30 pounds. You do stuff to get to that point. You know what I'm saying? You get what I'm trying to say?
So let's see if we can go through each team. Let's start with Vancouver. Let's see if we can come up with some New Year's resolutions for the Vancouver Canucks. What's a good New Year's resolution for them?
I mean, having their media stop fighting each other is probably a good idea to start. But maybe there's some other ideas.
OMAR: I mean, I think for the Canucks, I think what you need to do is continue helping-- helping the stars feel good about themselves. I think what we saw before Bruce Boudreau came in is that this was dark and negative. And there's pessimism everywhere.
But now that Bruce Boudreau has come around, like the fans love him. There's the "Bruce, there it is" chants. He's having fun in the media.
And just the players seem like they're just enjoying playing hockey. And it's interesting, because you look at like-- like I think of a team like Buffalo a couple of years back that just like everyone looked miserable.
And I think what's happening with Vancouver is now players are just starting feeling better about themselves. A more recent development of Elias Pettersson being moved to the front on the power play. They asked him about that. And he looks like he's looking forward to that.
So I think you just need to keep finding ways for the Elias Petterssons, the JT Millers, the [INAUDIBLE] vets, feeling good, positive. Because if they're feeling good, they're contributing. The team is winning.
And who knows what could happen. The Pacific division is wild. Maybe if they get a couple of wins, they can squeak into a playoff spot by the end of the year.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: I like that, Omar. I was sort of looking to the future. Just find a general manager and commit to a direction for the Canucks.
I think under Benning, they sort of built their roster with the sort of false idea that they're like one step away from contention. And that wasn't close to it.
So I think, you know, they're in the middle of their process. I sort of give them a hard time when they hired Bruce. But it's worked out well so far.
And it seems like they're going about it the right way trying to find this next general manager. But commit to a direction really for the Canucks.
If that means tanking-- I mean, I know that's not what the Canucks fans want to hear. And maybe it's because I have World Juniors on the brain.
But Connor Bedard going to Vancouver in 2023 is going to sell tickets like crazy. So if they commit to tanking, go full out.
If they really think the roster is that far away from contention, I think they would need to go through a longer evaluation process. But that's what their New Year's resolution should be- find a GM, commit to a direction.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I'll keep it short- just savor the moment. I mean, this is-- I mean, to say savor the moment, they might not play until February with the way things are going right now in the world.
But if they do get back on the ice, and the vibes continue to be good under Bruce Boudreau, just have fun with it. And don't worry about the fact that you might miss the playoffs by a couple of points or not quite get into the lottery or whatever.
Just enjoy watching hockey again, because it's been far too contentious for far too long in Vancouver. And I think, obviously, taking that next step, it's going to take some time before everything works out perfectly.
So just enjoy what could be a nice, fun, little run under Bruce Boudreau and what could be some entertaining hockey down the stretch.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I like Cuthbert's, because considering what the Canucks have to put up with to start off the year with Jim Benning and Travis Green and the fan throwing the jersey on the ice, things were dark in Vancouver.
So anything to kind of enjoy that. And Omar, I know we touched up on that too. And Arun, you also made a really good point as well. They still need a general manager to commit to.
So things are looking a bit on the up and up for the Vancouver Canucks. What about the Calgary Flames, a team that it looks as if they're going to be a playoff team come later this year?
What about you, Arun? How about you start?
ARUN SRINIVASAN: I would say try to restore Johnny Gaudreau's confidence and the rest of these guys. I mean, two years ago, they seemed like they were a genuine powerhouse.
And I think that for the Flames, the sum of their parts seems to outweigh their output all the time. I think it's a confidence boost. Like what happened to these top six guys?
Except for Andrew Mangiapane who was just scoring goals like crazy, I think the rest of these guys need to give themselves a little bit of self-love. They're better than they actually are.
So some self-love, some meditation, some self-care. Live, love, laugh for the Flame's top six.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Wow, that's-- live, love, laugh. Isn't that-- wasn't that-- wasn't that show?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Live, laugh, Leafs, baby. Rest in peace.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, rest in peace. I was about to say, that was like a show at some point. Cuth, do you have a resolution for the Flames?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I had to take down the decal on my wall. Not really, I mean, it's kind of like-- you know, these are kind of corny, because it's like, you know--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: You really hate resolutions.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: But it's-- I don't know-- stay disciplined, I guess. You know, we've seen a difference in Calgary this year, because they are working well under Darryl Sutter.
What does it take to work well under Darryl Sutter? It takes commitment to what Darryl Sutter wants. If they stay disciplined under the Darryl Sutter system, they should stay where they are by the end of the season, which is fighting for the Pacific division crown.
So put down the sugary treats. Stay disciplined. That could apply to the Calgary Flames as well.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: No nonsense from Cuth.
OMAR: I mean, yeah, but it kind of ties into-- I remember a couple of weeks back, Julian, you got a question of if-- I think it was like if the Flames and the Oilers are in a playoff series, who would win?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yes.
OMAR: And I want to say it was both myself and Justin mentioned the fact that the Calgary's playing a more structured system. And again, a lot of that is linked to Darryl Sutter. So--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yes.
OMAR: So pretty much same thing that Justin said, as long as they're doing that, and they're staying committed to that, then no reason why they shouldn't have success, whatever that means.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, then what about the team in the province that we all would like to see success from because of one Connor McDavid and of course, Leon Draisaitl, the Edmonton Oilers? What resolutions do they need to take up for 2022?
OMAR: Clone themselves. Clone themselves.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's, that's actually-- you know what? I mean, there's the technology out there to clone them. You could do it. Like an entire-- I mean, the thing is, if you clone them, you'd have to find a way to like fit them under the salary cap, I guess.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I mean, you do ELCs for now. ELCs. You're not cloning the contracts. ELC.
OMAR: Exactly. Exactly. Clone them. Sign them all to ELCs. Literally, just like they all stand at the center of the line, shadow clone [INAUDIBLE]. You have five of them up. And then you're fine. And you're solid.
But all kidding aside, it's like it's the same thing that we've been talking about for the longest time in the McDavid, Draisaitl era. Can anyone else do something besides them?
And it's to a point where-- you know, the model has always been, OK, if you can contain Draisaitl and McDavid, then you're fine. If you can force the coaching staff to put Draisaitl on McDavid's line, you can tame that line, then you're solid, right?
I'm still standing by my take at the beginning of the season. All right, I haven't checked the numbers--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Oh, my God.
OMAR: I haven't checked the numbers. But I'm pretty sure Draisaitl spent more time on McDavid's wing than as a center.
Now again, that's not ripping on him specifically. That's ripping on the team itself and the fact that any time they need to score, they have to rely on those two.
And we've seen it time and time again. We've seen so many teams who lose because they don't have depth scoring. And how many games has Edmonton blown away because they don't have depth scoring and then their defense gets ripped to shreds?
So you know, this is the reality of the thing. So like can other players in the bottom six or anywhere else in the lineup start contributing offensively?
Or does the trade deadline come along, and you add some talent on the wing or something like that saying you have to help with scoring.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Arun.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Yeah, I'm sort of copying Omar's homework. It's hold the bottom six [INAUDIBLE] accountable. You know, I think at a certain point, McDavid seems like fed up.
I mean, he always seems fed up. That's his disposition. But yeah, being like Warren Foegele worked up OK. But they're not really getting a ton.
I mean, that's sort of been the story of Edmonton. They are a two-person team as far as we know.
So I think Omar made a good point. Be aggressive with a deadline might be a more tangible goal. It certainly relates to that.
It could be-- I think, I mean, they tried. They got Zach Hyman and he sort of fits in well in that role. You know, gets the puck back for his stars. But yeah, so I guess it would be be aggressive at the deadline.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I'll pull another stock bullet point out of 2012 New Year's resolution list that someone might have put together. How about dream big?
Dream big. Maybe they should just go after it this year. Dream big if you're Ken Holland and go out and get something that makes life a little easier on the always despondent, least it seems, Connor McDavid.
And Leon Draisaitl is a little more chipper, I guess, than his superstar running mate.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Was that 2012 list yours?
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Yeah, when I was-- before I was jaded, Julian. We were dreaming big. And we were losing weight on January 1st.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I feel like you need a hug, my guy.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I might. I'm in a dark room right now by myself in need of-- in need of some encouragement, or at least, you know, a fresh set of goals for 2022.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, yeah. OK, if we were all in person, if we were all done the recording, we'd all go to Justin and give him a big hug, OK? That's what we would all do.
And that's what the purpose of Zone Time is for. Everyone's supposed to uplift each other and make sure everyone's spirits are up. So that way, we don't think about-- I don't know-- dark thoughts.
Hockey's depressing enough as it is if you cheer for a certain team that either underwhelms or sucks.
It's not about you, Omar. It wasn't a direct comment about you. We'll get to the Leafs in a second. Let's talk about the Winnipeg Jets first.
What do they need, essentially? I mean, they're trying to live life beyond Paul Maurice. It's Dave Lowry, their head coach now, I believe.
So what resolutions do the Winnipeg Jets need to look forward to for 2022? Justin, I'll start with you.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: How about a coach like Paul Maurice?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's probably a good idea.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: What they needed was a high quality coach. And that's, I guess, what they lost. I mean, that's sort of been swept under the rug with everything that's happened in the league over the last two weeks is that a coach like Paul Maurice decided to step aside.
I guess, a strong father-son dynamic between Adam and Dave. I don't really know how it's going to go. We haven't seen it happen.
But I feel like they needed direction. They needed a quality coach. I think they just lost a quality coach. So maybe the replenishing at that position or at that role is probably the biggest thing for them here as we move into 2022.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: By the way, no one's copying on anyone's homework if you just kind of harp on the same point. We all just need to come up with like one big one, but if you come up with like two or three other small ones, that's OK too.
So if you end up being like, man, I'm just copying Justin's homework, that's fine. Who cares? You're not in school anymore.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: We can definitely improve on my resolution there. We can improve on it. Let's get a better one.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Nah, your resolution is fine.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Yeah, Cuth, I think you're being too hard on yourself. I'll pivot. I'll say for Neal Pionk to stay out of trouble. That would be the resolution.
I mean, yeah, just the way they're built, right? Like their top five forwards are pretty damn good. They're a team that's sort of imbalanced.
I mean, they sort of rely on their top 6 to generate offense and Hellebuyck to save the day. And Neal Pionk was sort of like a smart player that sort of fit sort of their holes in their team.
But if he's out making sus hits on Rasmussen and [INAUDIBLE], getting himself in the blocks and getting himself in trouble, then the Jets are going to sort of repeat their flaws of year's past.
So for Neal Pionk, be on Santa's good list next year, buddy. Because it's going to go a long way for your team.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Omar.
OMAR: Yeah, I think they just need to capitalize on what they're seeing from players like-- you know, obviously, Kyle Connor is Kyle Connor. And he's good for 30 goals every year.
But you know, Pierre-Luc Dubois, his bounce back season from last year after a tough up and down situation, I think, has been very interesting in seeing how he's kind of thrived a little bit this year. But it has been good.
So I think they really need to kind of capitalize on what they're doing, especially offensively. So I think-- I wonder if maybe-- like the Jets have rarely been a team that have kind of done the whole all in trade.
But like, you know, maybe this might be the year Winnipeg might say, hey, let's just go for it. Because Connor Hellebuyck isn't going to stay Connor Hellebuyck forever.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's a fair point. Arun, when you said, sus, is that the first time in the history of this show someone has said sus?
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Uh, I'm not sure. We'll have to go back and document. I'll proud to be on record with it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, I'm surprised no one has said 'sus' to this point. OK, now we can talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Yo, protect John Tavares at all costs.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Protect John Tavares at all costs. That's be it. I mean, he's playing the best he has since-- I forget which year was off top, but when he finished one point behind Jimmy Van for the Art Ross trophy. Does not mean his best season since then. He's been fantastic.
And you know, there are so many ways that you could point the Leafs. The Leafs are a content factory. There are plenty of things you could pick at the Leafs for.
But must protect John Tavares at all costs. He's been incredible this year. He's been the second best player on the team in my estimation, maybe third best.
I don't know, take your pick between him and Nylander, I suppose. But yeah, protect the captain at all costs.
I will say this- in July 2018, Toronto will receive two seismic athletes that change the fortunes of the city's sporting culture. One was Kawhi Leonard. The other was John Tavares.
So I really want to see what a playoff run looks like with the captain back at the helm. Protect John Tavares at all costs.
OMAR: I think you need to print out two pictures. You need a picture of November, how they played in November. And then you need a picture of last year.
And you need to enlarge it. Go to some Photoshop place, enlarge it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: So like moments from each of those months?
OMAR: Yes. Yes. Because that was the peak of Leaf playing. Like the way that Sheldon Keefe has wanted them to play has been that.
Yes, it wasn't perfect. There were some moments where you had to rely on Jack Campbell, even Joseph Woll at some moments. But as far as their commitments to not just the defense playing structurally, but also the forwards as well.
And I think they got away from that. And you know, we started seeing them lose a whole bunch of games. So I think they need to look at how they played in November and make that the standard.
The Leafs have historically have had a tendency of playing to their opponents. It happens all the time where instead of dictating the play themselves, maybe they start off that way. But then they slowly let the opposition dictate the play.
And then they lower themselves. And then they lose. So I think what you need to do is you need to look at how they played in November, and make that the standard.
And then you need to look at what happened last year and remember, hey, the regular season can be great. But it doesn't matter until the playoffs. Look what happened last year.
And I keep going back to the documentary, because it was so infuriating that any time they would bring the Leafs into the room, and Keefe would be like, hey, we're winning games, but we're also making these mistakes.
And they'd be like, oh, we're in first. It doesn't matter. So I think they just need to humble themselves and just remember what happened last year.
Yes, yes, obviously you want to move on from the negativity. But like, that's one thing--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Wait. Time out. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Repeat that last line you just said. Repeat that last line you just said.
OMAR: Move on from negativity?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Move on from negativity. Did you just hear what you just said? Did you just hear what you just said? Did you just hear what you just said?
OMAR: The players, Julian.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: What have I been saying?
OMAR: Julian, the players need to move on. Hey, the fans need to move on as well. However, comma, I can't move on when every month, they're doing something horrible.
I'm sorry. It's hard. OK, it's hard to move on when hey, this is going to be a great season. Then they lose to freaking Pittsburgh's AHL team. So I'm sorry. I'm trying.
I try. Believe me, every year, I try to go on. I try to go into every year positive. I try.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Y'all heard what he just said. Y'all heard what he just said. Y'all heard what he just said.
OMAR: The players need-- the players need to move on. However, the fans, the fans are deserving of having short term memory. OK, look at all the things that have happened, man. Look--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Justin, you got to take over for this brother, man. This dude forgets he has his own show. He can talk about this sort of thing.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I mean, he's said it a couple of times. Short term memory is a thing. But here's the problem with resolutions, right? You say, OK, I want to get into shape.
Well, there's an actionable item there. It's buy a gym membership. There's nothing you can buy to earn yourself a short term memory.
So the Leafs got to figure that out for themselves. And unfortunately, they can't just snap their fingers and do it.
Can you give yourself a short term memory? Can you put that into your own head? That's what the Leafs have to do.
And until we see it, I mean, it's just saying it, right? And we've heard Omar say it a few times.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, Omar-- by the way, if you want to hear Omar get into histrionics over and over about the Leafs, in the mentions, also in the YouTube channel for Yahoo Sports.
The Ottawa Senators are next. I think if they're just the team, that could work, I guess.
OMAR: Write it out, I guess. I don't know.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I don't know.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: I've been waiting for this one. Yo, keep Pierre McGuire away from the Senators' Scouting Department. That is--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Wow.
OMAR: It's true, man.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Say this hours after the Senators already signed Tyler Boucher to an ELC.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Keep him far away from their scouting department. I think one of the underrated components of the Senators over the last few years is that they've drafted relatively well.
Tim Stutzle worked out well. Jake Sanderson looks great. I mean, granted, the junior's maybe not the best way to sort of assess pro potential.
But he already has that gap control. He's really solid on end. Could win the Hobie Baker this year.
Keep Pierre McGuire far away from the scouting department. He is going to undo--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: But he knows so much.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: No. Pierre McGuire is the epitome of remembering some guys. We like remembering guys.
Remember that tweet that came out, dudes can have a great time just remembering some guys. It's true. But you don't want-- yeah, but you don't want your boys running an NHL team that's on the upswing.
I'm sorry, that's just the case. Maybe--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: How do you think the NHL works? Why do you think people get jobs? Most jobs that are gotten in the NHL are literally just because, oh, let my boy do this.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: And I don't--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: --all over the league.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: I'm not arguing that, Julian. And we are the resistance here. So--
ARUN SRINIVASAN: especially against Pierre. Now, the Sens are doing a lot of good stuff. I think they've drafted well. I think they have sort of the-- well, I won't say the infrastructure. Because that would assume that Melnyk knows what he's doing.
But they are building towards something good there. And Pierre McGuire could undo all that progress. So keep Pierre McGuire far away from the scouting department is my resolution.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: What was I doing in 2012? I was dreaming big. By 2015, 2016, I was setting new goals.
That's what the Ottawa Senators have to do. And I think Pierre Dorion's already done that. Because he's walked back his comments already about how he had all the pieces in place to move forward.
And now he doesn't believe he has that, or maybe, at least, not with the team just yet. So set new goals in the immediate term. Set new goals for the rest of the season.
Maybe set new goals for the next couple of years. Because they're just not quite there yet. And maybe he got a little ahead of himself. He definitely got a little ahead of himself.
And maybe I did in 2012 too.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: I want to meet 2012 Justin Cuthbert. Because I feel like--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: It's just a bit. Just go. Go with it.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: OK, all right. Fine. That's fair. Whatever. Omar.
OMAR: Yeah, can they work out something with Matt Murray? Because that whole-- like that story is just like, I feel like there's so much to it.
And I think they need to get something worked out. And I'm not saying like deal him away or trade him away.
But when it came to-- when they initially brought Matt Murray into the organization, it was just such a tough start. And then so many things have been going on off the ice for him.
And I don't think it's something that they need to move on from quickly. I think there is something that can be worked out, hopefully. I guess it just depends on whether the organization wants to.
But I think that's something that you can do. Because you can't move forward without goal tending. And you know, yes, Matt Murray hasn't had the best track record since his stints in Pittsburgh.
But if they can work something out with him, then you have a couple of those pieces. And then hey, then maybe you are trending towards-- what did Pierre Dorion say? He was like, oh, not a contender, or not rebuilding anymore, or something like that?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, something like that.
OMAR: Work something out with Matt Murray. I think that can be a turning point for the organization definitely.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's fair. We're down to one final Canadian team, the Montreal Canadiens, who are-- well, they're where they are right now. I wonder what they could use.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Can you handle this one? Because I haven't heard any goals from you. And you know the Canadiens better than any of us. I'd like to hear your resolution for Montreal, if you can take a little off my plate here, Julian.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's very fair. Yeah, geez. I think you're still dealing with 2012 you.
For the Montreal Canadiens, a resolution, they-- geez, just
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Don't be problematic. You know what? Considering everything that has endured over 2021, I would actually sort of appreciate them being vanilla and milquetoast and have nothing of significance happen in next year.
Just be-- just be and don't be problematic. Just chill in your corner. Get yourself a GM.
Try to pick up the pieces of whatever this season is. Finish. Get your top draft pick at the draft. And kind of go from there.
Just kind of chill in darkness. You know what I'm saying? Like don't be out here just being like, oh, we got to do everything big, or we got to have all this stuff going on. We're going to find a way to retool this team again.
Nah, man. Just chill. Because we've seen the ups and downs on and off the ice in 2021. I'm cool if the Canadiens just chill, and they're just kind of there for like a few months or something.
Just don't be out here trying to pick somebody problematic in the draft or something like that. Heaven forbid some team ever does that. You know, just chill in 2022, OK? Please? Seriously.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Interesting. The Canadiens haven't always been problematic, Julian, but they have never had any chill historically. That's like an ahistorical take if I've ever heard one.
When have the Canadiens organization ever had any chill? Whether it's their fan base, whether it's [INAUDIBLE], whether it's [INAUDIBLE] carrying the hockey sweater--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Classic story.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: For the last 40 odd years and then some off top, the Canadiens have never had any chill. So yeah, that was it. I didn't mean to cut you off. But I had to give a counter.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: No, you're right. You're absolutely right. The Canadiens have never had any chill. And maybe my resolution is a little bit overly optimistic.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Good reason to be chill. It's good reason to be chill if you've never been chill.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Exactly. Like what's wrong with being just chill? What's wrong with just being a team that's just kind of there? And you know, just be chill.
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Or, or, or, or, they can do the opposite and just do something very positive with the general manager position. But either way.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Baby steps or something. Omar, did you want to add anything to this? Or did you want to stomp on the Canadiens seeing that they're in the position that they're in knowing--
JUSTIN CUTHBERT: Last chance of 2021.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Last chance.
OMAR: No. I'm not going to rip on that.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Wow. You're a better person than I.
OMAR: Well, that and also, as a Leafs fan, I cannot rip on the Habs because there's an easy comeback.
But honestly, I think in a season like what the Habs are going through right now, there's a lot of opportunity to evaluate what you have in your organization. Like you know, games coming up, now you have a couple of players making NHL debuts.
And they think, you know, where you're likely going to have a high draft pick and a lot of other picks on the line. You have some new [INAUDIBLE] personnel in your front office you need to fill out.
I think it's an opportunity to say, OK, hey, this is what we have. These are what we have in place. Where do we need to build off of? Where do we need to grow? Where we need to improve on?
So I think literally just take out the magnifying glass and just for the rest of the season, just to see what you have. Give the young players, whether they have experience or not, give them an opportunity to play. See what they can do.
And then just prepare for the off season, pretty much. Because you know, seven wins on the season, there's not much you can do with that.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: It's sad times. But hey, we got through it together. We gave resolutions for each of the Canadian NHL teams, as much as we like or don't like resolutions.