How are we feeling about the Vancouver Canucks?

By: Brayden Fengler / September 28, 2023  

Over two weeks ago, before Young Stars, before Training Camp, before the horrific ten-nothing loss to the Calgary Flames during the Canuck’s first exhibition game, we put out a poll on our Twitter X account.

Now, we’re not operating under any delusion that this poll has the sample size to make it significant, and overlly meaningful. Nevertheless, it serves as an interesting snippet from one moment in time regarding a handful of Canucks fans with very polarizing opposite opinions so early in the NHL calendar.

Why Do We Feel This Way?

Canucks fans who aren’t emotionally ready know why, but the wonderful thing about being a Canucks fan is that there are so many reasons to choose from, there isn’t necessarily a one defined winner in the “why” category.

On the surface of Canucks fandom there exists a general feeling of not wanting to get one’s hopes up. Given last year’s disappointing season and the compounding disappointments from many seasons past.

Last year was the first full season of the Allvin and Rutherford era. Many had big hopes that were quickly crushed by the first month of the season. This January, we will be reaching their two-year anniversary at the helm of this hockey club, making the fact that it didn’t work out last year feel all the more nerve-racking.

The Canucks only have so much time to get it going. They have players that are worth a damn now, and if the Canucks don’t prioritize making them happy, fans know that means players like EP40 may soon find another team that can utilize their talents while they’re still in their prime.

Why might Canucks fans feel good? Well, if you’re a Canucks fan, short of having recently seen your doctor for medicinal help it may be because of the relief felt in the form of some cap restraints that are no longer on the team.

Thanks to the Oliver Ekamn-Larsson buyout this summer and the recent Tanner Pearson trade to name a few items, the team’s proverbial wallet looks less like George Costanza’s than it has in recent memory.

Further to the good vibes, it may also be because the team has acted swiftly to name a new Captain in Quinn Hughes. With Hughes announced as captain – a fan favourite, and a decisive choice – the potential nagging storyline of “who’s going to be the captain” has been eliminated from this season.

Young Stars & Training Camp

For those that couldn’t wait for the main club to get going on the regular season, or even for the exhibition games, the Young Stars tournament & training camp recently provided fans a mostly positive glimpse into Vancouver’s future both in the long run and in a few week’s time.

In the name of a few brief highlights, the Young Stars tournament saw some respectable play by some Canucks that aren’t as far down the depth charts as they were this time last year.

Aidan McDonough, who is soon to be making a real case for the NHL club, put up an impressive showcase over the four days that the club spent in Penticton. Capitalizing on special teams for the young Canucks in a variety of different situational plays.

24-year-old Akito Hirose was another offensive sight to see at the Young Stars games. With a number of quality set-up plays Akito’s puck handling earned the undrafted d-man a good assortment of apples over the length of the tournament.

Speaking of young, the team also signed Ty Young to a three-year entry-level contract following his appearance at the Young Stars tournament.

The Prince George Cougar posted a less than ideal 3.89 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage during his last WHL season, but he put up a respectable showcase in Penction with a few highlight moments.

Young was unsurprisingly sent to the minors just this week on Sept 25th but despite his lackluster save percentage over recent years he continues to pique the interest of Ian Clark. It’s unclear how to feel about this player and his implications on the Canucks goaltending future, but it’s clear that the Canucks are not done with him yet.

Training camp in Victoria kicked off just days ago and gave Canucks fans their first glimpse of the “Real Canucks” with new line combinations being tested. A practice as old as time, but one that could understandably give some Canucks fans a reason to start stressing early as this was the first time that recent acquisitions were sharing the ice together.

There’s an underlying fear of wondering if the team has enough new blood, or if we’re going to be witnessing more or less the same players in the same blender.

Execution Exhibition

To bookend this article with another poll, just hours before the Canucks first exhibition game we asked what the vibes were going to be after the game.

Which is a very “hip and with it” way of saying, score aside and ignoring the actual tangible production on the ice, how is everyone going to feel after watching this version of the Canucks take the ice for the first time?

Overwhelming, the again not scientifically sound poll results had 90% of people feeling that there would be good vibes after the game.

With the end result being a 10-0 loss. I’m willing to bet that the results of this poll would’ve been different if it had taken place after the game.

It’s of course important to keep in mind that the Canucks were missing Pettersson, Hughes, Miller, Demko, etc, while the Calgary Flames iced essentially an NHL-ready roster. The disparity was so apparent that the Flames sat players like Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri on multiple power plays because even if this was a regular season game, their presence still wouldn’t have been needed in those opportunities to make a difference.

While on paper it becomes immediately apparent that there are valid reasons why the Canucks lost their first exhibition game, it’s still an understandable blow to the “vibes” when in the first exhibition game of the year hands the opposing team’s in-house fans the opportunity to shout “we want ten” for a good amount of the game, followed by Calgary in fact getting 10 goals.

The Canucks’ much closer contest with Edmonton on Wednesday night likely improved the vibes a touch, but the wound in fan’s hearts of a double-digit slide in the opening contest may take the entire preseason to heal.

A Lot to Do

There are still plenty of games to be played before these vibes can be certified bad. There are lots of adjustments to be made to the starting line-up of the Canucks and hopefully, the next time the Canucks play, the visiting team will be chanting for a few less goals.