The Canucks shouldn’t have any retired numbers and other unpopular Canucks opinions
Twitter was abuzz last week with controversial food opinions. A trending topic kicked off rather innocently by a baseball blogger and analyst, thousands of people jumped into the conversation to declare their hate or love for certain foods.
It was mostly innocent fun before it took a sour and kind of racist turn towards the end. To be honest, it never interested me all that much. Food is so subjective what tickles the tastebuds of one person might taste like sour garbage to another so it’s hard to actually have a debate.
Yes, I like pineapple on pizza and think it provides an element of sweetness and tartness to the flavour profile. Some people think pineapple on pizza is a crime against the very concept of pizza itself. That’s okay: you can eat what you want to eat, I’ll eat what I want to eat and neither of us are wrong to do so.
Controversial opinions about food are inherently self serving. You’re getting your own opinion out there and maybe finding like minded souls, but you’re not going to convince anyone else that you’re right. “Pumpkin pie is better than apple pie!” “Nuh uh, I like apple pie better!” “Okay!”
Controversial sports opinions, on the other hand, can spark conversations for days on end.
When it comes to sports, everything feels a little more objective, and this is particularly true for hockey. At the end of every game (at least since they abolished the tie), there’s a winner and a loser. At the end of every season, one team hoists the Stanley Cup.
We have all kinds of statistics to fuel our “Player X is better than Player Y” debates, whether you want to use traditional stats like goals, assists, and plus/minus, or delve into the minutiae of analytics.
Hockey makes people believe there is a right answer, even if some things still come down to a matter of opinion. If the coach would just put the guy you like in the lineup ahead of the guy you don’t like, your team would win more games. If the GM would focus on getting bigger/faster/more skilled, then your team could win the Stanley Cup.
As a result, controversial hockey opinions things that most people think are wrong are actually right! are just a little more fun than controversial food opinions. At least, in my opinion.
## ## So, I went on Twitter and asked my followers for their unpopular Canucks opinions. I got over a hundred responses. Some weren’t as unpopular as the person tweeting them might have thought, some were unnecessarily mean, and some were just plain silly, but here are a few of the best and most controversial.
The current numbers retired should not be retired. Ring of Honour, yes, but not retired. At the same time, suggesting that none of the current numbers retired not Trevor Linden’s, not Pavel Bure’s, not Markus Naslund’s, and not Stan Smyl’s belong in the rafters? That’s bold.
The Canucks admittedly have a lower bar than some other NHL teams. What is the criteria for retiring a number? Major awards? A Stanley Cup? Or is it something else, something harder to define?
Stan Smyl played all 13 of his NHL seasons with the Canucks, serving as captain for eight of those seasons, and was beloved by the fans, but he was never among the league leaders in scoring and only led the team in scoring twice. Even in the 1982 run to the Stanley Cup Final, Thomas Gradin led the Canucks in scoring, with 19 points in 17 games.
Smyl didn’t even represent the Canucks at a single All Star Game. John Garrett went to more All Star Games than Stan Smyl.
The question is, does any of that matter? If the Canucks felt that Smyl, with his hard work, determination, and longevity, represented the Canucks to such a degree that no one else should ever wear his number, isn’t that enough?
We have not had a truly effective powerplay point man since Paul ReinhardtThis is an interesting one. Paul Reinhart played just two seasons with the Canucks before chronic back pain forced him into retirement, but those two seasons are two of the best in franchise history among defencemen. Those two seasons lead all Canucks defencemen in points per game, with 57 points in 64 and 67 games.
Reinhart had 39 and 31 points on the power play in those two seasons, which stands first and fifth among Canucks defencemen all time, and clearly first and second when you look at points per game. Reinhart had fantastic speed and puck control and was even used as a forward at times early in his NHL career. He was the quintessential quarterback on the power play, coordinating everything with his playmaking and vision, and popping in quite a few goals of his own.
Here’s the thing. In 1988 89, when Reinhart had 39 power play points, good for 15th in the NHL, the Canucks power play was actually one of the worst in the league: 18th of 21 teams with a 19.0% success rate. The same was true in 1989 90: Reinhart led the team in power play points with 31, but the team as a whole struggled.
Perhaps it’s unfair to place blame on Reinhart for the team’s power play struggles perhaps he did everything he could given the quality of his teammates but I find it hard to say that the Canucks have never had an effective power play quarterback since Reinhart when they have since had some of the best power plays in the NHL.
The 2010 11 Canucks had the best power play in the league, with Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler manning the points. Does Ehrhoff not count as a “truly effective power play quarterback”? What about the West Coast Express era Canucks, with Ed Jovanovski at the point on the power play? Or Jyrki Lumme in the 90’s?
The argument would be, however, that the Canucks’ power play success was driven more by the forwards in those instances than the defencemen, and that they could have been even more successful with a true power play quarterback at the point. Maybe there’s some merit to that argument.
Now, however, one player might make this argument a moot point: Quinn Hughes is currently fifth in the NHL in power play points, with 13 in 23 games as a rookie defenceman. Perhaps he can be the first truly effective power play quarterback for the Canucks since Reinhart.
Sven Baertschi is a legitimate top 9 forward. Didn’t think that was an unpopular take before this year.