The Canucks publicly embarrassed Boudreau for this guy?

Maybe the most galling aspect of all of this is that Rutherford and the rest of the Canucks front office put Boudreau out on an ice float so they could hire Rick Fucking Tocchet. There is nothing to suggest that Tocchet isn’t the same moron that most every other NHL coach is, a beloved former player who keeps getting work because he was a beloved former player and that’s it.


Tocchet has coached for six years, two in Tampa and four in Arizona, and while neither roster was all that close to good, it’s not like he got any of them to play over their heads. He’s never come close to sniffing a real playoff spot (no, the bubble doesn’t count), and it’s hard not to notice his immediate replacement in Tampa, Guy Boucher, was able to goof a conference final appearance in the first season he took over. There isn’t even a raft of young players you could argue he helped develop into real stars. One gets the impression Steven Stamkos probably finds his way to 500 goals if he hadn’t spent two seasons under Tocchet’s tutelage.

But there was Boudreau, left dangling in the wind all week, perhaps with his bosses hoping he would quit in the turmoil and get them off the hook for what they owe him, coaching two games at home with everyone in the building knowing that he was going to get fired. And it seems Boudreau knew exactly why it was dragged out this long.


Could anyone possibly watch Tocchet’s work on TNT and conclude that he’s anything other than a pillock? What exactly about this doofus merits treating Boudreau this way? By the way, Boudreau has playoff appearances and 100+ point seasons as a coach dripping out of his ears. Generally, he knows what he’s doing, even if he hasn’t come all that close to a Cup.

Vancouver’s problems are not due to Boudreau

But even Boudreau couldn’t get it working in Vancouver, because they’re that big of a mess. In Washington, in Anaheim, and in Minnesota, Boudreau walked in and immediately rocketed those teams to the top of their divisions. In Vancouver, he couldn’t manage to keep the axles from falling off.


To be fair to both Boudreau and Rutherford, this mess was created before they arrived in B.C., thanks to the rudderless leadership that came before. Former GM Jim Benning never wanted to start over, but it is arguable whether the Canucks ever started either. Under Francesco Aquilini’s ownership, the Canucks have always grasped at the bottom playoff spots instead of starting from the ground up, which has led to a mangled roster full of players desperately nabbed and signed to ridiculous contracts simply because the Canucks needed someone. They traded for Oliver Ekman-Larsson just in time to watch his bones and skills turn to cardboard. Tyler Myers has always been a stiff, and yet the Canucks couldn’t help but be wooed by the fact that he’s 6-8. Conor Garland isn’t that financially prohibitive, but Benning gave up draft picks and more to get him and OEL when he’s just a guy, much like anyone else who’s put on a Coyotes jersey.

The whole organization is in shambles

The Canucks haven’t been helped by some younger players who looked like stars stalling out. Elias Pettersson looked like he would be what Karil Kaprizov is as a rookie four seasons ago. He’s never really moved beyond that and looks like a really good second-liner. Brock Boeser looked like a 40-goal scorer in his rookie year before getting hurt. He’s never been totally healthy since and has never taken another step forward, though a couple backward. He’s been a healthy scratch at times.


The Canucks haven’t really earned the trust of their players either, which Quinn Hughes let out of the bag when he told the world he thought Tanner Pearson’s injury had been mishandled. At no level below Rutherford does anyone feel like they’re being treated well.

Rutherford also decided to extend J.T. Miller instead of trading him, and Miller’s a fine player coming off a 99-point season, but he’ll be in his 30s by the time the team is relevant again. There’s no space to extend captain Bo Horvat, who is headed for the exit door possibly by the time you read this. Which is fine, Horvat isn’t really a franchise-turning player, but how do the Canucks plan to find that? They’ll have to hustle to get into the mix for Bedard or Adam Fantilli, and there are just enough players not quite good enough to make for a contender but not anywhere bad enough to see Vancouver bottom out. They don’t really have too much cap relief coming for another couple seasons unless they can rob some other team blind (never out of the question in the NHL). They’ve seen what a team built around Horvat, Pettersson, Boeser, and Hughes can get them, which is a handful of themselves. Now it’s time to try with just Hughes and a new crew.


But how do they get there? The Canucks have never shown any evidence they know how, which is just about the only tradition they’ve managed in their existence.