To call the Vancouver Canucks discombobulated would be doing a disservice to the dire circumstances Canada’s westernmost team finds itself in.
Following a press conference from Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford, it seems like things could get a lot worse from here.
Rutherford and the Canucks hosted the all-encompassing presser Monday afternoon to provide updates on a variety of topics including their tumultuous coaching situation, the club’s plan for their pending free agents, and his overall outlook on the team’s perplexing long-term plans.
Never one to shy away from providing his honest assessment, Rutherford was blunt and transparent on all fronts.
“I’m disappointed in the job that I’ve done to this point. When I first came here, I talked about getting control of the cap, getting rid of some contracts, and we haven’t been able to do that.” he said. “Until we do that, we’re not going to be able to make the changes that we need to make.”
“When I came here, I knew it was going to be a big challenge, and I thought we’d have to do minor surgery…We have to do major surgery.”
Rutherford was largely non-committal on his head coach, whose job has remained unstable for the better part of three months and has seemingly never gained the full support of Vancouver’s brain trust.
“All I can say is that Bruce [Boudreau] is our coach right now,” Rutherford told media members, despite well-circulated rumours that Rick Tocchet is all but pencilled in as Vancouver’s bench boss moving forward. "But with that, I’m calling and talking, but don’t know that we’re making a change and don’t want to make a change.”
The dramatics didn’t end there for the Canucks, who remain one of hockey’s preeminent sideshows off the ice, as Rutherford was questioned on the team’s outlook this season, and if they would consider outright tanking.
“I thought we were tanking,” Rutherford said, deadpan. “We’re pretty close to the bottom.”
“I'll say the obvious. We all want the first overall pick. This year of all years.” he added, alluding to potential franchise changer and North Vancouver native Connor Bedard.
However, when pressed on if the team should head to a full-fledged rebuild — something the Canucks have failed to commit to for years — Rutherford spouted an answer that surely won't quell any concerns from the fanbase:
Beyond the team’s future aspirations, which Rutherford noted would include looking to move money over the summer, either via buyout or trade, the Hall of Fame executive said talks have been ongoing with marquee pending free agents Bo Horvat and Andrei Kuzmenko, though neither negotiation is close to completion, Rutherford added.
“We’ve taken our best shot, and the contract we have on the table for Bo right now, I think, is a fair contract for what he’s done up until this year. But it’s certainly under market value for what he’s done this year,” Rutherford said, a sly smile crossing his face.
“So we’re in a pickle here.”
The hockey community shared their reactions to the press conference on social media, expressing their confusion with the direction of the franchise and poking fun at the questionable decision-making.
Meanwhile, some in Vancouver were upset that the team decided to hold a press conference a day after the passing of former Canuck fan favourite Gino Odjick.
"Why the hell would the Canucks hold a press conference today — a major press conference — to address the Tanner Pearson situation, I don't understand the rush," said Don Taylor on the Donnie and Dhali show. "When it comes to the Canucks, this day should belong to Gino Odjick; the late, great Gino Odjick."
Vancouver will host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Rogers Arena on Wednesday.
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