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.



Proof the Smartest Hockey People Are in Vancouver

If you needed any more proof that the smartest hockey people aren’t in Toronto, but rather in Vancouver, then today, you probably got it.

The Canucks owner, Francesco Acquilini, has finally hired a brand new general manager after firing Dave Nonis such a long time ago.  Eight long, agonizing days ago.

The new boss:  Mike Gillis.  249 games played in the NHL in the 80’s and a current player agent for such players who get paid $6-million a season to score less than 30 goals.  It’s genius.  It’s simply freaking genius.

Now, not a lot of people really know Mike Gillis but he happens to be the agent for Markus Naslund, the Canucks captain soon-to-be free agent as of July 1st.  That’s if he isn’t resigned and brought back as captain yet again. 

This just goes to show that, like most Canucks fans out there who thought Nonis was an incompetent general manager for his lack of trading away some young guns for Brad Richards, the people that run the show simply don’t know jack about the game of hockey.

The message is for Gillis is simple.  He’s a representative of the players that are on the team, namely Naslund.  His job description has changed.  He can no longer adhere to the demands of players because his first and only task is to make the Vancouver Canucks a winning team.  No offence to Naslund, because he has represented the Canucks with class and dignity -there’s no question- but he has failed to win when it matters the most.  He folds.  He becomes soft.  He was a world class player, but he’s never been a world class winner.

If Gillis is to bring this franchise back to some level of greatness (maybe three playoff rounds instead of two) then he will have to part with his client Naslund.  The leader of this team should be tough, inspiring and fierce.  Naslund doesn’t have any of these traits. 

The mere fact that Acquilini brought in Naslund’s agent as the new general manager doesn’t necessarily mean Naslund will be back at all, but it seems suspicious, doesn’t it?

And the fact that Naslund might be back with the simple hiring of his agent just goes to show that there is no hockey sense in this city, and it starts with the owner of the biggest franchise in Vancouver history.


Cam Tucker