Following the Vancouver Canucks’ disastrous handling of Bruce Boudreau’s firing and Rick Tocchet’s hiring, team president Jim Rutherford now realizes something: He should probably stop talking.
Rutherford apologized to Boudreau for at least that part of a spectacularly mishandled process, realizing he shouldn’t have bashed the Canucks’ lack of structure under Boudreau. Rutherford asserted his new plan is to take a back seat and let GM Patrik Allvin and Tocchet do the talking.
"Part of this process, and I will apologize to Bruce for this, is probably in my interviews over the course of the season, when people ask me a question, I'm probably too direct and too honest," Rutherford said on Sunday. "So that goes back to my comment about the team playing with more structure and things like that.
"I've done that my whole career. I've tried to be honest, I've tried to answer the best I can. And sometimes that affects certain people and in this case, it probably did affect him. And I'm sorry I did that. And I've learned from it, so I've decided that I need to zip it. I'm not going to talk about the team. I'm going to let Patrik and Rick talk about the team and just stay away from those things."
Canucks may want to articulate a coherent plan, if they find one
Considering how often Rutherford’s held press conferences, one could be forgiven for forgetting that Allvin is the Canucks’ GM, not Rutherford.
Canucks fans can tie themselves in knots trying to get to the roots of the problems with their team. What’s the balance of power between Rutherford and Allvin? Going up higher, are the Canucks doomed to be in denial about rebuilding (or “retooling”) simply because ownership won’t allow it?
Outsiders can only really speculate. However, you amplify rumblings to an angry roar when you fail to communicate a clear message.
So, if Rutherford ditches his habit of putting his foot in his mouth, maybe the Canucks can regain some benefit of the doubt. It’s like a quote that’s been misattributed to Abraham Lincoln: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”
Actions speak louder than words, including at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline
Looking at the near future alone, the Canucks have opportunities to show they actually know what they’re doing.
Recently, Rutherford made comments about how the team couldn’t afford to sign captain and high-scoring centre Bo Horvat to a new contract. Like many other recent Rutherford quips, his framing failed to inspire much confidence in the competence of management. Ultimately, though, the Canucks can start to change the narrative simply by getting a great trade return for Horvat.
Granted, the Canucks face a real challenge in gaining promising returns if they roll with Rutherford’s recently-stated plan to essentially seek reclamation projects instead of picks and younger prospects.
“The trades that we make are trying to get players 25-26 years or younger and bringing this team together within the next year or two. This was never going to be a quick fix. There’s a long game here,” Rutherford said, per Canucks Army. “But I don’t want to sit here and preach patience, because I know the frustration of the fans and the media and everybody wants it done sooner than later just like I do. But in a cap world it’s not that easy to do …”
If you’re not winning games, you’re wise to sell hope. Landing first-round picks and prospects can be a way of selling fans on the idea of potential and growth.
At the moment, the Canucks instead project mixed messages about what their planned “major surgery” will look like. Is it really just a matter of moving some players in and some players out, while hoping Tocchet is worth all of the headaches? Is this truly a team that can get things together “within the next year or two?”
Vancouver fans desperately searching for hope haven’t stumbled upon many reasons for optimism after hearing front office members speak lately. Perhaps the Canucks really just need to stop talking and start doing what must be done to turn this mess around.
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