Why the Vancouver Canucks may actually be NHL’s most sportsmanlike team
It's subtle, but occasionally the Vancouver Canucks and their constituents have been known to traffic in an us-against-the-world mentality when it comes to treatment by NHL officials. They're also a franchise that, once in a while, has been characterized by opposing fan bases as a "dirty" team.
That established, Thomas Drance of Canucks Army offers a surprising observation: The Canucks are actually the NHL's cleanest, most sportsmanlike team this season through one significant measurement.
No, not in penalty minutes: The Canucks (13.0 PIM per game) are the fourth most-penalized team on average in the NHL this season. (Cut to Stephane Auger, sitting in a large chair, petting a white cat, cackling maniacally.)
Rather, the Canucks are one of only eight NHL teams not to have a player suspended by Brendan Shanahan and the Dept. of Player Safety this season: The Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils round out that list entering Tuesday night's play.
Those seven teams, however, share a common thread that the Canucks do not: They've all had players fined this season for various supplemental disciplinary reasons, ranging from slashing to boarding to leaving the bench to partake in a fight (hello, Steve Downie).
Which means the Vancouver Canucks are the only team in the NHL this season, through 79 games, not to have a player fined or suspended.
No Alex Burrows using an opponent's glove like a dog uses Masters tickets. No Aaron Rome-on-Nathan-Horton specials. Not even a momentary lapse in good judgment from Maxim Lapierre.
Furthermore, as suggested by a Canucks Army commenter, Vancouver has also drawn five suspensions and three fines when you factor in the preseason — leading the NHL.
Here's how Drance reads this lack of discipline (or is it a complete mastery of discipline?):
Perhaps the new disciplinary regime was embarrassed by the heavy-handed Aaron Rome suspension, and is making it up to the club by treating them with kids gloves this year? Yeah, probably not.
While the record indicates that the Canucks are the "cleanest team" in the league - I have a tough time buying that. Certainly there's been a couple of incidents that looked like a Canucks skater may have warranted supplemental discipline - Sturm's hit on Petrell in the preseason, Kesler's submarining of Clutterbuck and Daniel's hit on Keith all come to mind. Ultimately, I think we have to call this blind-luck, but it should hopefully give the professional firebrands gearing up for their postseason anti-Canucks rants pause.
It's also an indication that Raffi Torres doesn't play for the Canucks anymore …
The Canucks have a roster that isn't filled with prime supplemental discipline candidates. Torres is gone. So are the other Canucks players there were fined or suspended in the last three seasons: Darcy Hordichuk, Shane O'Brien and the late Rick Rypien (for that incident with a Minnesota Wild fan).
The Canucks have some pains-in-the-asses and a few players that dance along the edge of legality with their hitting. But they don't have a single case of supplemental discipline this season. As Drance writes, there's a "cognitive dissonance between perception and reality" for the Vancouver Canucks and their critics.