Well Known Canuck Critic Tony Gallagher Approves of Brandon Sutter Trade

Sports

You know it’s an odd day when sports columnist Tony Gallagher of the Province (newspaper based out of Vancouver) is saluting general manager Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks for a trade that sent Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and a second rounder to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Brandon Sutter…and a third round pick.

Don’t believe me? Enjoy, Vancouverites and fellow Canuck fans:

http://www.theprovince.com/sports/hockey/canucks-hockey/Gallagher+Sutter+deal+best+recent+Canucks/11255655/story.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

I have had a few days to settle down after this trade. It shocked me at first. If it was honestly just Nick Bonino for Brandon Sutter straight up, I may have taken the time to take a more in depth look at things. Instead, in typical Vancouver fashion, I was a bit upset at the trade.

Adam Clendening did not seem that bad at all of a prospect to me. He has a ways to go in terms of skating but when he was called up to play for the Canucks, he did his job. He had flashes of decency. This is my honest opinion. I was bummed when I heard he was gone. The Canucks back end does not look great outside of Tanev, Edler, and Sbisa (if he actually plays consistently well for an entire season which is doubtful). Hamhuis is most likely gone by the end of next year which is why I refused to mention him. Seriously, who do we have outside of those three then after the season ends? Bartkowski may turn out to be alright. Yannick Weber sucked in the playoffs. Hence my disappointment in losing Clendening.

Nick Bonino meanwhile started off hot and looked promising but then went cold. In the postseason he was cold. We simply can’t have a guy like that in Vancouver playing on the second line. If he was a third liner, okay. Which is why the trade is great on the Pittsburgh side of things.

Enter in Brandon Sutter. I have done research on this kid, “flat Stanley” as they call him in Pittsburgh:

The first thing people have said about flat Stanley is:

He’s a great penalty killer. One of the best in the league.

That was probably the only thing Nick Bonino was good at when he was cold and the Canucks have great penalty killing as is. It was near the top of the league last year.

We need goals, offense, and speed that Bonino failed to provide when he went cold. Sutter looks like he does bring the speed.

Twenty goals last year on the third line in Pittsburgh is also a positive sign. Flat Stanley is entering the prime of his career at age 27 or so next year. I hope he can become maybe a 50 point or so guy that can play a great two way game.

He’s also said to be a good leader and that’s one of Benning’s main focuses right now for the Canucks hockey team.

I really don’t know about this move as of now as well as the talks about Benning extending Flat Stanley to 4 years at close to 18 or so million (4.4 million a year).

Jim Benning scares the hell out of me. I still contend that his trade of plug Zack Kassian and a fifth round pick to Brandon Prust was a good move. It’s just he didn’t have to add in the fifth round pick. No one in the league wanted Kassian which is why he had to do it.

The Eddie Lack trade looks like his most ill-advised as of yet. But he is gambling on Jakob Markstrom being a better goalie than Lack. I support him one hundred percent there. I am a believer in Markstrom if he keeps excelling under goalkeeping coach of the Canucks, Melanson.

Jim Benning is either ahead of the curve, or he’s the worst general manager in the league like everyone is claiming.

Hey, I don’t think he deserves that honour yet. What worst general manager took the sixth worst team in the league and turned them into a playoff team in a year? I’ll reserve my judgement.

Tim Murray of the Buffalo Sabres is the worst general manager in the league after his move for Ryan O’ Reilly and whining on television about missing on the first overall pick in the NHL draft.

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Predicting the 2015-2016 NHL Standings and Playoffs

Sports

Well another decent season for the National Hockey League was put into the history books.

If you read my post last year, I called most of the right dark horses. I said the Canucks will make the playoffs as a wild card. They didn’t even need to be a wild card they had such a successful year. I also said the Predators would make it in but as a wild card. They soared through the rankings in the regular season last year.

Of course it is somewhat of a crap shoot but it is fun. The standings next year no doubt will not emulate last years NHL standings; there will be some teams who I feel will get in once again and others who will go down a bit. Fanbases will be happy when I stroke their team, some will be upset when I speak what I feel is the truth.

Atlantic Division Predictions

1. Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Florida Panthers
4. Ottawa Senators
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
6. Montreal Canadiens
7. Boston Bruins
8. Buffalo Sabres

So your first reaction is probably: “what kind of shit are you smoking that made you rank the Toronto Maple Leafs so high?”

I call it…the fallacy of Mike Babcock.

This is where the Maple Leafs will have a coach that is so good he will make them at least competitive no matter how bad they look on paper. In turn, this will piss off Toronto fans when they may barely miss the playoffs; they as fans will want a lottery pick. I really have this exact feeling. I may be dead wrong, but I call it the “Babcock effect”. Count me as one of the fans who feels a decent coach can turn a team around no matter how bad they look on paper.

So with that said you probably notice the Canadiens low after a decent season last year. Yeah, I believe they are trending downwards. I admittedly don’t follow them often but only hear from fans how bad of a job Michelle Therrien is doing. Carey Price is the force behind that team and I simply don’t believe a team can keep up in the ranks with their goalie playing their heart out. Just look at the New York Rangers with Tortorella. They kept trending downwards even though Lundqvist played his ass off.

The Sabres, yeah, they suck. I am not a believer in Tim Murray at all. Dan Bylsma is a wild card but I truly feel with the losing culture they had in place last year, it’s going to backfire. They are going to become the next Edmonton Oilers. Let’s not forget the idiotic trade and signing of Ryan O’ Reilly. Their two decent prospects in Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov for him? Tim Murray is going to ruin this team.

I feel the Panthers are going up. A nice young core, some decent depth, and a decent coach. Keep an eye on this team. Dale Tallon did a fine job in Chicago before putting them in cap hell. But hey, I’d prefer the cup if it means my team goes in cap hell for a few years after.

And the Lightning, yeah, no brainer. Called them in first last year. Look for them to be a threat once again this year.

One team I am honestly not sure of is the Boston Bruins. I feel Lucic was the identity of that team and I’m banking on Don Sweeney looking like a fool this offseason. Not sure if Julien is being tuned out by the roster either.

Detroit will be an interesting team to watch. I feel like Blashill will just pick up where Babcock left off. Holland will also continue his brilliance as general manager. I can’t see Detroit falling anytime soon.

Metropolitan Division Predictions

1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Washington Capitals
3. New York Rangers
4. New York Islanders
5. Columbus Blue Jackets
6. New Jersey Devils
7. Phiadelphia Flyers
8. Carolina Hurricanes

This is an interesting division. More interesting than the rest.

I truly feel the Rangers reign of dominance may come to an end. I’m familiar with Vigneault. He usually has a few good years until teams start to tune him out just like the Vancouver Canucks did.

I can’t help but think the Penguins were doing well with coach Mike Johnston until they got decimated with injuries. And with the addition of Phil Kessel, I see them playing lights out on offense while Johnston keeps them playing decent on defense. His system had Marc Andre-Fleury looking great. I just can’t see Pittsburgh trending downwards and feel last year was an anomaly.

The Capitals will be up there for sure. I’m not sure if they will rank as high as second but they will be a playoff team. And when they get in, they will be dangerous with game seven legend Justin Williams. I love that pickup. Barry has them playing good hockey. I was wrong about him as a coach. He has done a solid job in Washington.

The Blue Jackets and Islanders could rotate. I feel the Islanders may be slightly ahead. But both teams both have solid, young talent. Like I said, don’t be shocked if one or the other gets in as a bottom seed.

The Devils, not a bad team. But also not great on the forward side of things. I am not sure how their new coach from Wilkes-Barre will do either.

The Flyers I feel may trend a bit down but be good in the future. Their defense core is still the worst in the league and I believe it will take some time to fix. The other teams I ranked ahead of them I just feel are simply better teams than the Flyers, who are pretty much Giroux, Voracek, and maybe Provorov as of now. Not to forget Couturier.

The Hurricanes, yeah, no brainer for me here. Nothing screams cup contender or on the rise from that squad to me. But then again, they could prove me wrong. If they get into the playoffs that means I have a chance with Salma Hayek.

Central Division Predictions

1. St. Louis Blues
2. Nashville Predators
3. Chicago Blackhawks
4. Minnesota Wild
5. Dallas Stars
6. Colorado Avalanche
7. Winnipeg Jets

This is hands down the toughest division in hockey. All the teams in this division are good and could be considered playoff teams. I feel I will be dead wrong in my predictions for this division.

You could rotate the Jets with the Wild, the Blackhawks with the Stars. Here is my reasoning for why I ranked it how I did here:

-The Blackhawks are always going to be a playoff team as long as Toews, Kane, and Keith are there. Along with Coach Q. Sharp and Oduya are big losses but do not mean no playoffs

-The Blues are the kings of the regular season. How they do in the playoffs is the bigger concern.

-The Wild have a nice core. People thought they would trend downwards this year and coach Yeo was in trouble. Misjudgment there. Their goaltending is the biggest concern but they haven’t missed the playoffs in years with Suter and Parise at the helm.

-The Predators have the best defensive core in the league and Laviolette usually stays decent as head coach (until year three or so usually).

I can’t see these four teams missing for those reasons. The Stars are the wildcard for me. I feel they may either be able to sneak in as a lower seed, or pass the Predators or Wild. They have a nice young core and elite offensive prowess.

The Avalanche are still a big question mark but again have a nice young core. They too are speedy as hell. They are too inconsistent. One year they finish high, the next, quite low. I’m not too sure if that inconsistency means they are as good as the five I listed above them.

The Jets, I’m sorry to their fans. I really do think last year was an anomaly and I’m not buying them as an elite team. The six teams I ranked ahead of them I feel are flat out better. Of course I ranked the Jets in the bottom of the division last year, and they finished fifth in reality.

Pacific Division Predictions

1. Anaheim Ducks
2. Vancouver Canucks
3. Los Angeles Kings
4. San Jose Sharks
5. Edmonton Oilers
6. Calgary Flames
7. Arizona Coyotes

Here is when my homerism comes in and big time.

I also follow this division more than the other divisions in hockey besides maybe the central division (since that one is so competitive and fun to watch).

I don’t even know if the Anaheim Ducks are a safe bet to finish first. Bruce Boudreau has always been a regular season coach though, so they are the logical choice. Look out Ducks fans about Bieksa though. Don’t complain if he manages to bring your defense down by himself. But like I said, the logical choice for first is the Ducks.

Here is where I will be crucified; I think the Canucks will be a better team this year than last. I follow this team more than any other team. I know Willie Desjardins is a winner. I predicted wild card last year and they instead came in fifth in the western conference and had 101 points. Willie will keep the good times rolling.

Ryan Miller needs to emulate what he did last year. 28-15 as a starter and solid for the most part before he got hurt. I couldn’t ask for more from him. If Jakob Markstrom breaks out like he did in the AHL last year, this could be an awesome goaltending duo.

Bieksa, Matthias, Kassian. All misfits that are gone and replaced by better guys. I truly believe Matt Bartkowski and Clendening will be good on defense. Clendening was solid for us when we had an injury bug in January-March. Little do Canucks fans forget that Sbisa was as well.

Sven Baertschi will be coming in to play on the second line. I can’t see him playing worse than Higgins or Burrows did offensively on the second line. He will put up better numbers. I am a believer.

Horvat and especially Linden Vey will have better years. If Vey doesn’t have a better year he will be gone. I’m rooting for him as he seems like a solid kid. Brandon Prust will be a hellraiser just like Derek Dorsett was on the fourth line. And enter in big Jake Virtanen and Ron Kenins.

Call me a homer, but that’s how I see things. The sky is not falling for me. We aren’t cup contenders but we will be fine.

The Sharks are a wild card to me. Will new coach Peter Deboer be the spark needed for this team? I always felt he was a good coach in New Jersey who was just brutal on the young kids like Adam Larsson. Paul Martin and Joel Ward are also coming in. I’m not sure about Martin but I know Joel Ward is good…for the postseason at least if the Sharks do make it.

The Kings might improve or they might bust. I really don’t know. I do feel Stoll, Richards, Voynov, and Williams all gone is a huge hit to their identity and core. Yeah they now have Lucic but he doesn’t make up for four guys. They will be a team to watch this year.

The Oilers have made all the right moves this offseason. Better moves than any offseason they have had in five or so years. But they are like that dirtbag boyfriend the girl you liked in high school had. They do all the right things but then screw over their fans once the regular season starts. I can’t see how they don’t improve with the changes they made. But if they still suck, the city of Edmonton may be cursed just like Cleveland is.

As for the Calgary Flames, yeah, call me a hater. I wasn’t impressed by them at all last year even though they knocked out my Canucks. It was a giant “whatever” feeling. Bob Hartley usually gets tuned out by his team and I feel that happens anytime with this Flames squad if they keep playing the way they are. Believe it or not, I think Dougie Hamilton will be a bomb in Calgary. He certainly was when I watched him in Boston which is part of the reason why he got dealt. There also is something there that simply does not add up. Boston got rid of him for a low return, meaning not only was he a turnover machine, he may have had character issues. I do however like their addition of Frolik. But I can’t for the life of me see Monahan and Gaudreau replicating the seasons they had last year.

So there you have it. Let the hate mail commence!

Here is what I am predicting the 2015-2016 post season to look like:

Lightning .vs. Senators/Islanders/Blue Jackets (two of these three make it)
Red Wings .vs. Panthers

Penguins .vs. Senators/Islanders/Blue Jackets (two of these three make it)
Capitals .vs. Rangers

Blues .vs. Wild
Blackhawks .vs. Predators

Ducks .vs. Stars/Sharks (most likely Stars)
Canucks .vs. Kings

My Thoughts on the Canucks Offseason

Ramblings

So the Canucks have made quite a lot of significant moves this offseason.

I have followed along, analyzed, and thought about a lot of these moves. I unfortunately also had to listen to the fans who in typical Vancouver attitude bitched, whined, and trashed every move.

Let’s recap what happened:

-The Canucks get eliminated by the Calgary Flames in six games in the NHL quarter finals

Let me start off by saying the Canucks had a successful season all things aside. No one in Vancouver or on the NHL pundit side picked as high of a finish as fifth in the western conference WITH 101 points. They finished the year before with around 80 points and picked sixth overall. I don’t care what anyone says or how they did it, that is a success.

I thought they had a chance to make it to the second round since the Calgary Flames, no offense, were the worst squad to get into the postseason. At least in the western conference. What happens? Well, six games later, the Canucks lost. I won’t really get into the first four games where they went down three games to one. But they looked like they were getting their act together thereafter. Of course until the second period of game six where they forgot what defense was.

How do you go up 3-0 to losing 7-4? That can’t be on coaching. Willie can only do so much if his squad decides to stop playing defense or playing at all. No wonder Benning made huge decisions on the squad after this sham of a performance. There is completely no excuse, I don’t care where you are playing, to lose in that matter. You also can’t blame it on Ryan Miller. If you put a sad sack of losers who refuse to play defense in front of any goalie, and that goalie is coming off a good game plus an injury-esque season, the blame is not on him. The blame is on the leaders of the team and the defense.

-The 2015 NHL draft happens

So after the embarrassing game six and an early start to golfing season once again for the Canucks, the management team made no moves until after this draft occurred (or at least started).

The draft was by all means not that bad. Brock Boeser will be a future NHL player and looks like he has good character in the videos I’ve seen. Lots of people were saying this was a solid, shrewd pick. Craig Button who is an analyst on TSN was high on him. Who could we have drafted over him that was available and better at the 23rd spot? Pretty much no one. He is young and still playing in the US high school hockey league. But in four years, this may be a great pick.

Guillaume Brisebois with the third round pick we got in the Eddie Lack trade (I will talk about this next), looks like a good pick. Too bad he’s in a rough spot with the fans. They will ask for his head whenever he doesn’t perform well because “we got rid of Lack for him”. Typical Vancouver fans once again.

Dmitri Zhukenov was said to be a decent pick in the fourth round as well. Adam Gaudette from Boston College in the fifth round is a player many scouts are said to be high on.

Basically, we will have to wait four years to see how this draft went. But all the positive signs are there. I am a believer in Jim Benning’s ability to draft and develop. The 2014 NHL draft he had the year before was the best draft the Canucks have had in a while.

-Eddie Lack traded to Carolina Hurricanes for a third and seventh round pick

I knew this was going to happen. We were not getting rid of Ryan Miller since he is experienced and will handle the load next year unless he goes down to injury once again.

Therefore it’s a choice between Eddie Lack and Jakob Markstrom.

Let’s be logical here, Canucks fans.

Markstrom was once said to be the number one goalie prospect during his days in Florida. He had an MVP caliber season in Utica the last season in the AHL.

Eddie Lack has never had that potential. He was good in the AHL, no doubt, but not the clear cut best goalie like Markstrom was for Utica last year. And he’s never been talked up to possibly become on the better goalies in the league.

It was a tough decision but what had to be done.

The return? I’m not a fan. Brisebois who we draft in the third round is the wildcard. And Jim Benning is high on him. He has great character and became captain on a QMJHL team at a very young age.

I do believe Benning when he says Carolina will use Eddie Lack as a backup. Cam Ward has never lost the starting job while there. Lack will be a 1B to Ward’s 1A. Lack as a 1B behind Ryan Miller this year was alright. Not outstanding like the fans claim. He didn’t win games like Ryan Miller did. I don’t care about the stats or numbers quite frankly. Miller is ahead of him regardless.

So those are my thoughts on that. Good luck in Carolina, Eddie.

-Zack “unmotivated” Kassian and a fifth round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Brandon Prust

Let me start off by saying that this is a fantastic trade.

I don’t give a shit what people say.

Good riddance to you, Zack Kassian. You have to be delusional as an NHL fan if you think this guy will ever be an all star in the league.

Let me count the amount of coaches who have put this kid in their doghouse. I’ve lost count, quite honestly.

If you don’t give it your all in this league, you will have a path like him and fellow good friend Rene Bourque had. A career of being put in the doghouse of coaches and thrown onto the waiver wire.

You think Michelle Therrien will be all buddy-buddy with this guy and turn him into an all star? You belong in a mental institution. Willie Desjardins is one of the nicer coaches in the league to his players. He’s hard and intense, but if you think Therrien is a nicer guy on younger players, you have another thing coming. The guy demoted Alex Galchenyuk to the third and fourth lines on the Canadiens and Galchenyuk has ten fold more skill than Zack freaking Kassian.

Just mentioning Kassian’s name makes me angry. Whenever I read about Canucks fans discussing him on forums and talking up his potential, I don’t get what they are seeing.

Brandon Prust, welcome to the team buddy. I love the way this guy plays. No doubt he will give it his all here. The only problem is he may affect big Ron Kenins playing time. I am a Kenins fan as well. Hopefully these two challenge themselves and play well this year.

The way this trade happened? A waiver wire loser and a fifth round pick for great guy Brandon Prust.

Ignore the fans here, Prust. The true fans are happy Kassian is gone and you will be holding the fort on the fourth line with Dorsett.

-Kevin Bieksa traded to the Anaheim Ducks for a second round pick

An excellent trade for Jim Benning, almost a fleece.

The fact we got a somewhat high pick for the worst defenseman on the Canucks all season long is a great trade.

He also accepted the trade since the foolish Anaheim Ducks general manager will extend him. This guy was pure poison in the postseason for the Canucks. Worst player on the squad by a country mile.

He was to Sbisa like that bad kid in high school that you hung out with was to yourself. Your parents hated that bad kid and thought he was a bad influence. Bieksa was the same to Sbisa. He was so bad that Sbisa in turn was bad when they were paired together.

People forget that during the time Bieksa and Hamhuis both went down, Sbisa and Clendening actually played well. They did and I’m not lying. We won games during that injury riddled stretch.

Bieksa returned and the pairing with Sbisa was probably the worst I’ve seen since someone like Eric Weinrich played for the Canucks. The Flames must have scored every time in the series when those two were on the ice.

Let’s not slander Bieksa much though. He was an awesome leader, teammate, and citizen to the city of Vancouver during his time here. A great individual and a great player when we were an elite team in 2011.

I wish him well on the Ducks.

-The management team from the Gillis regime gets canned along with head trainer Mike Burnstein

Okay, this is the one move that took me off guard and was strange. But it sort of makes sense, all things aside.

This is essentially Benning and Linden declaring themselves as the new sherriff’s in charge and wanting to build the organization from the top down.

Gilman was a great assistant general manager but it was clear he had no role on the team anymore. Benning did not go to him before negotiating the Sbisa and Dorsett contracts. That is clear. I doubt Gilman would be advising him to pay that much to both. He’d also maybe want a classic Gillis no trade clause added in.

Lorne Henning was a strange move. He managed the AHL team apparently and they had a great season. I think Benning is taking it over more now as shown by the moves and prospect deals last year.

Eric Crawford I could see why he was let go. The drafting has been shit for years. But if he goes, Ronald Delorme should have gone too. Delorme and Benning did after all used to be team mates on the shitty Canucks squad in the late 1980s. So maybe that friendship still lingers. Crawford did have to go regardless. The scouting needs to be changed immensly. Gillis could not draft worth a damn during his time here. Neither could Dave Nonis.

Mike Burnstein was an odd move. I have no clue why he was let go. Could we speculate and say that maybe he handled the Brad Richardson and Zack Kassian injury situations poorly? Who knows.

Best of luck to them on their future endeavours, I guess.

-Matt Bartkowski free agent signing

A great signing. Love it.

If you hate this move, kiss my ass, Canucks fans. Really. This guy will be solid on the bottom pairing and fit in Willie’s high speed system like a glove fits a hand.

Welcome to Vancouver, Matt.

So there you have it, those are my thoughts. A successful offseason. Jimmy Benning will keep the good times rolling here and will give his middle finger to all the pundits who complain, riot, or whine about every little move.

The next time you complain, think logically Canucks fans. You deserve a team on par with the mid 2000 Edmonton Oilers if you are going to have that attitude.

Watching the 2015 Canucks summer summit video on Youtube where season ticket holders attended and asked the brass questions left me ashamed. The East Indian kid with male titties was among the worst. He should be banned from Rogers arena or following anything Canucks related.

GM Jim Benning Has Done a “Good” Job

Sports

1297563887360_ORIGINAL

The keyword is in the quotes, good.

Not great, not bad, good.

Every time I read hockey forums people are quick to bash general manager Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks for his moves. Such as how he gave away 2nd/3rd pairing Jason Garrison for scraps. And not to forget he essentially got rid of Ryan Kesler for Nick Bonino and Derek Dorsett.

First off, Kesler for Bonino in a few years will look like a solid trade. When I watched the Anaheim Ducks play over the last year Bonino was a solid second/third liner who played a hard game and racked up more points than Ryan Kesler did. Kesler has been hurt and horrible ever since the cup run in 2011.

Hearing how Kesler wanted to leave Vancouver for a cup and handcuffed them into only accepting a trade to either Anaheim or Chicago speaks volumes. The fact Benning got a decent return for him is incredible. He was a waste of money. Good riddance to him. He won’t win a cup in Anaheim either with Bruce Boudreau as the man in charge. That guy is the worst playoff coach in the league next to Dan Bylsma and Alain Vigneault. They should be called the three stooges come playoff time.

After ranting about Kesler, Benning made a solid hire for his vacant coaching position. Willie Desjardins has a solid track record and has won everywhere outside of the NHL. He also plays a high tempo game, unlike coach Tortorella. He also wants to be here and did not accept an offer from Pittsburgh, again, unlike Tortorella who lived in freaking Point Roberts, Washington and as a result constantly canceled practices.

Then we have the Ryan Miller pickup for 6 million a year and Radim Vrbata for five. Those are a bit steep, but decent acquisitions. Eddie Lack is not ready to be the man in charge. In a few years he may be. Ryan Miller only failed in St. Louis and apparently the goalie coach was horrible while he was there (he got fired after the season ended).

Radim Vrbata has a decent track record on the Coyotes and the contract length is not long at all. If he sucks after his first year, well, there’s only a year left. And if he turns out good after his first year, the contract is a success.

And I really liked the Canucks selection at 6th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft of Jake Virtanen from Abbotsford. Just a good BC boy who looks tough as nails, is big, and can skate. If he pans out we will have a very solid tandem in the future with him and Horvat. Two good Canadian kids who aren’t afraid to throw their bodies around. A change from Mike Gillis drafting 5 foot tall figure skaters.

I’m excited about this season as a loyal Canucks fan and think these moves have been solid. The key was to getting rid of John Tortorella (one of the worst coaches I’ve ever seen in the NHL, not just his Canucks season but also his time on the Rangers) and Ryan “never will win a ring” Kesler. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks are neck and neck with Anaheim next season. Yeah I wouldn’t put my hopes up with the Canucks competing against the tough LA Kings but don’t be surprised if Anaheim looks silly picking up Kesler and getting rid of Bonino. Again, Kesler has not looked good for years.

Exhale Canucks fans.

Are the Blue Jays For Real

Sports

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The Toronto Blue Jays are 20-4 in their last 24 games played this season, 38-24 this year, and hold a huge lead of the division over division rivals. In fact, their biggest lead of the division since 1985.

The question many ask is if they are for real. Are they contenders?

My answer is the safe one: no.

If they want to prove they are for real they need to make some noise in the post season. If they keep up their pace they absolutely could make a run for the world series this year. However, last year they were supposed to be world series favourites after their roster additions before the season started and they flat out sucked.

Let us not forget that the San Francisco Giants are good for a world series title every two years as well. They are the best team in the league right now at 40-21.

I absolutely hope the Blue Jays prove they are for real by making the post season and then making noise in it. It’s been a while since a Canadian baseball team has done such a thing.

Pittsburgh Penguins Hit the Reset Button

Sports

Jim-Rutherford234

First they have another disappointing exit from the playoffs (when they were leading the semi finals series 3-1 but ultimately lost it in seven games to the Rangers).

Then they fire general manager Ray Shero.

Then they bring in veteran general manager from the Carolina Hurricanes Jim Rutherford.

Then he takes out the trash and fires coach Dan Bylsma.

My first reaction? About freaking time.

Never have I understood the appeal for Dan Bylsma. His first year was a huge success winning the cup. But it seems that was the driving force on why the Penguins kept siding with him and keeping him far too long.

The next year they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games (who were backed by hot goalie Jaroslav Halak) despite being up in the series 3-2. When you look at both rosters that year there is no way in hell Pittsburgh should have lost game seven at home even if the Canadiens were backed by god himself in net. They played like shit in game seven essentially.

The year after that you can give Bylsma his due though. He still took the team to fifth place despite Malkin and Crosby being missing in action. However, again despite being up 3-2 in a series they lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And you have the Flyers series in the 2012 playoffs. Wow that was tough to watch. The Penguins were cup favourites that year and just lost their freaking cool that series. Bylsma lost control of his roster. That should have been his first and final warning that he needs to control his team.

It was proven he couldn’t. In the lockout shortened season he had a roster that was favoured to win the cup once again. If they didn’t this time they would be labeled as chokers. They faced the tough Boston Bruins in the conference finals and…got their asses kicked.

That series wasn’t even close. As a Canucks fan I was feeling embarrassed for the Penguins. They scored no more than two-four times the whole series despite having a roster loaded with all stars (they added Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrow to an already stacked roster at the trade deadline that year). Not only could they not score, they lost their cool again. Just check out the first game in that series. They were picking fights with the exact team that feeds off of that energy, the Boston Bruins.

I said Bylsma should have been fired right after that series. Instead they extended him. He should have been gone. Three strikes. The Montreal series, the Flyers series, and then this.

He proceeded to get outcoached by Alain Vigneault of all people the very next year. Despite being up 3-1 in the series.

The Penguins should be applauded for demolishing their office this season. They should send the message that their should be zero tolerance for their awful postseason performances year after year.

Look at the Blackhawks. They have essentially the same big three that Pittsburgh has in Letang, Malkin, Crosby but Keith, Kane, and Toews. Keith is easily miles better than Letang but Malkin and Crosby should be putting Toews and Kane to shame in the postseason. Instead it’s the opposite. Chicago is the team that looks like the dynasty.

There is my daily rant. Hopefully the Penguins can make some noise this postseason. Like the Canucks firing Vigneault it was time for the Pens to move on from Bylsma. Hopefully they get that coach who lights a fire in their behinds.