NHL coaching is now about relationships as much as it is Xs-and-Os

Adam Proteau
Evgeni Malkin (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

New Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston traveled to Russia this weekend to talk with star center Evgeni Malkin about the team’s new direction in the wake of sweeping change to management and the playing roster. The trip is a must for Johnston, because, now more than ever before, relationships can mean the difference between coaches winning and losing at hockey’s highest levels.

The days of autocrat bench bosses barking orders at their charges are long-gone. Just ask the short-gone John Tortorella and his former employers in Vancouver who can’t do enough to distance themselves from that awful experiment. The Canucks replaced Tortorella with Willie Desjardins, an affable, considerate man who paid his dues in the hockey world, but who also has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in social work. Desjardins may not succeed in his new gig, but his well-rounded background will serve as the template for NHL coaches in the years to come.

Seeing the continued evolution of the coaching profession brings to mind something former Leafs executive Dave Poulin told THN a few years back: he believed the label “coach” didn’t accurately describe what the men who served in the role did every day. He thought baseball had it right in calling their coaches “managers”, because so much of the average NHL coach’s job today is about managing: managing on-ice strategic adjustments – in-game and game-to-game – and, more importantly, managing the personalities of players as they attempt to form a cohesive unit. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 27: Vancouver Canucks

Rory Boylen
canuckslogo

The Vancouver Canucks have had a few primary logos in franchise history – and we think the current look isn’t very good.

Why? Because in 1995 the Canucks came under control of Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment and though the name was changed to Canucks Sports and Entertainment in 2008, it’s the same thing. And in 1997, the Canucks changed their color and logo away from the streaking skate to the current whale, which could also stand for the ownership company. So this logo promoted the ownership as much as it did the hockey team. Major turn off for us.

But at least with Vancouver being a coastal city the whale jumping up out of the water makes sense. And, of course, the “C” stands for Canucks. So while we aren’t fans of the Canucks logo, it isn’t the worst because a) it’s a logo, unlike Washington’s look, and b) it does make sense for the city.

But we like some of their alternate logos better.

Think you can design an improved logo for the Canucks? As we’ve done with Carolina, Colorado and Washington, we’re opening it up to you, the reader, to get creative and come up with your own design for the Vancouver Canucks. Use whichever color scheme you want, whether it’s the current combination, the old yellow, orange and black, or some other variation, and send it in to editorial@thehockeynews.com. After we’ve finished rolling out all 30 NHL logo rankings, we’ll pick the best redesigns for each team and share them on the blog.

(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)



North Vancouver’s Joe Borovich
hit the nail on the head with his Stink-in-Rink design for the very first Vancouver Canucks NHL logo. The blue and green color combination connect well and the stick that breaks up the oval makes the logo into a “C” formation for Canucks. Vancouver enjoyed its first success with this logo, finishing atop the Smythe Division in 1974-75, although they were bounced in Round 1 of the playoffs.

This one was so good the team throws back to it often today. The Canucks’ colors and look have changed a few times over the years, but none are better than the original. Here’s hoping the Canucks go back to this look full-time someday. Hey, they’d move up in our rankings.

canucks1

The black, gold and orange (later yellow and red) color scheme was introduced in 1978-79 and though the skate blade was the main logo, the awful, awful jerseys hid it on the shoulder. Rememeber the Flying V? Yikes. Read more

Which franchise will be the next to win its first-ever Stanley Cup?

Wild-Blues

We recently sorted out our Yearbook predictions for 2014-15, which included projected standings and which team will win the Stanley Cup. Without giving it away, our anticipated winner has been to the promised land before. Which mathematically, should not be surprising. Only 12 of the NHL’s 30 teams have never won the league title and it’s hard to say who will be next. When the Los Angeles Kings won their first Cup in 2012, they broke a streak of futility that had stretched back to 1968 when the team originally entered the league. The following teams would like to join them:

Read more

Jordan Subban sounds like an incredibly fun teammate

Ryan Kennedy
Jordan-Subban

When the Vancouver Canucks tabbed defenseman Jordan Subban with the 115th overall pick in the 2013 draft, they knew they were getting a bundle of skill with great bloodlines. After all, older brothers Malcolm and P.K. were both in the game and P.K. had just won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top blueliner.

But along with sharing a position, Jordan also seems to have P.K.’s gift of gab, as evidenced by this recent video of the Belleville Bulls blueliner going through the paces at Canucks development camp with a hot mic on:

Read more

Top 5 controversies of the 2013-14 season

John Tortorella (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

1. TORTORELLA CHARGES FLAMES DRESSING ROOM
Every NHL team has its best-and-worst-case scenarios laid out before each season begins, but there’s no way the Vancouver Canucks could have envisioned the nightmare that was to unfold. The franchise stumbled and bumbled on and off the ice and fell from third in the Western Conference in 2012-13 to 12th in 2013-14. And it’s hard to say which mistake was worst.

If you go back to the summer of 2013, the trading of goalie Cory Schneider certainly qualifies as a contender. After years of grooming Schneider to be Vancouver’s starting goalie for the next decade or more, then-GM Mike Gillis shocked the hockey world when he shipped the 28-year-old to New Jersey for the ninth-overall pick in last year’s draft. Schneider and veteran Roberto Luongo, who had nearly been dealt at the 2012-13 trade deadline, were dumbfounded by the move. But that was only the beginning of the madness. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Red Wings ‘D’ hunting; Reimer stuck with Maple Leafs?

#34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs stands by the net during a break in action in a game against the Edmonton Oilers on October 29, 2013 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

After striking out in their efforts to land a right-handed defenseman via free agency, the Detroit Red Wings could turn to the trade market to address their need.

Wings GM Ken Holland told Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News his club needs “another defenseman, maybe two,” adding he’ll see what the summer brings. Kulfan speculates Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien and Edmonton’s Jeff Petry could be available.

Ansar Khan of mlive.com also believes the Wings could try to bolster their blueline via the trade market. In addition to Myers, Byfuglien and Petry, Khan lists Washington’s Mike Green and Toronto’s Cody Franson among the right-handed options, along with left-handed shots like Arizona’s Keith Yandle and Vancouver’s Alexander Edler.

The asking price for most of the aforementioned would be expensive, costing the Wings one of their promising young forwards as part of the return. The Wings won’t part with Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar, but clubs could seek Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco or Anthony Mantha. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson believes if Petry’s available the Oilers must get a young center for him. Read more

Vancouver Canucks look for bounce back season, sign Radim Vrbata for two years

Rory Boylen
Vrbata

The Vancouver Canucks aren’t bowing out yet, nor should they.

Another of a dwindling free agent class came off the market Wednesday night when Radim Vrbata signed a two-year deal at a $5 million cap hit with the Canucks. It’s a deal that will help Vancouver through a transition phase and put Vrbata back up for auction in a couple years, after the salary cap rises.

Vrbata could fit on the Canucks’ top line with the Sedins, or on the second line to spread out the scoring a little. Vrbata scored 20 goals and 51 points for Phoenix this season and scored 62 points just two years ago. He has positive possession stats and fits under the team’s cap structure. As far as forwards go, $5 million is par for the course this free agent season. Read more