Reading Between the Lines

When listening to the tone in Markus Naslund’s voice today when he was talking about the style of play of the Detroit Red Wings, he seemed happier to watch the Wings than playing for the Canucks.

He spoke of how he admires watching the Red Wings play a style of play that Naslund loves to play.  He also said Detroit has the world class players to play that puck possession style that is much a good offence as it is a good defence.

But here’s the problem with Naslund.  His goal totals were dwindling before the last two seasons.  He went from 48 goals in 2003 to 35 goals in 2004 to 32 goals in 2006 before falling even further down in goals with 24 in 2007 and 25 in 2008.

He can’t blame or even hint that Canucks coach Alain Vigneault and his defensive style of play is the reason for Naslund’s lack of goals in the past two years and, quite frankly, a lack of passion that is so blatently obvious when you watch him play or watch him in the media scrums after games and practice.

He can’t blame Vigneault because Naslund makes $6 million a year and if Naslund had the skill everyone still believes he has, he would be able to adapt.  Everyone in the league had to adapt when the NHL came out of the lockout.

Being a good player is being able to adapt to situations, whether it’s after a large hit, adapting a pass behind you in full flight, adapting to a different coaching style.

Naslund is soft.  Let’s face it.  He’s a poor choice for captain and if he does indeed come back, the first thing he should do is pass of the ‘C’ to Willie Mitchell, someone that will battle tooth and nail in the trenches, a place where playoff hockey is won and lost.

Naslund can’t do that.  If he wants to come back, he better learn to adapt, better figure out how to rekindle that passion and he better realize he got paid a crap load of money and he should put up or shut up.  Best situation possible is that common sense kicks in for Canucks GM Mike Gillis and he doesn’t decide to bring Naslund back, even for a pay cut.

Inject new life.  Naslund is not a winner, and even when he had Todd Bertuzzi and the West Coast Express, he couldn’t win.  It’s time to bring in a winner.  It’s not a matter of him being a European.  Take Detroit for example.  But Naslund isn’t the calibre of player that Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk are, in fact it’s not even close.

Seeing as how the Canucks organization feels it’s time for a change, then they should take that theory and not even offer Naslund a contract.  His time in this city is done.  Bringing him back will only prove that no one in this city has any kind of hockey sense.



2 Responses

  1. Wow. Heavy, heavy outcry against Nazzy!

    I think it may very well be that his time is coming to a close. And I also agree that the coach cannot be blamed for everything. But please don’t tell me that management can’t be blamed for some, and don’t tell me that Naslund is garbage.

    There are a number of factors here. Firstly, he’s now verging on 35. That’s old in hockey years. Almost no one gets 100 points again after reaching 35. So he’s not a Sakic… we knew that already. But he can still contribute 25 goals a year and that’s not half-bad.

    The other thing is that he has no linemate that works with him. He was very accustomed to playing alongside fellow scorers. That’s pretty important. Again, only the elite of the elite manage to score alone. Crosby, he ain’t. But the fact that he can get 25 goals without a linemate isn’t half bad.

    Naslund was always well-spoken, particularly in the first year after the lockout when his team was crumbling around him. He still puts in an effort on the ice, and never comes away from a loss looking like he’s resting easy. If anything, his spirit has been defeated by witnessing a franchise go down the drain, and his career along with it. He’s old. He’s past his heyday. And he likely won’t see a Cup any time soon in Vancouver, since they’re lacking any coherent direction as a club. That, and the fact that he’s become a scapegoat, and he has every reason to be giving up on the club.

    Now, I don’t blame the management for everything. In fact, most of all I blame fans and the media for beating up on a guy who’s past his prime. The team absolutely should offer him a contract — $2-3 million a year, just like any other aging star who can chip in 25 goals a year. I’d be quite proud to have him manning the second line and being put into a secondary role behind whatever superstars the new GM can conjure up… that’s what a 35-year old is supposed to do!

  2. Well, I’ll put it to you like this. He’s the captain. I don’t see him playing any style of hockey that would want to motivate me or anyone else. There’s no heart in his game, and even before the lock out, he was no where in the playoffs. A true sign that when push came to shove, he didn’t have what it takes. He never had what it took to take his team to the next level.

    C Tucker

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