Left on Read: Rathbone Should Return + Hockey Canada Disappoints

By: Brayden Fengler / January 8, 2022  

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these. Left on Read is a series here at where we dive into #Canucks Twitter in search of questions from Canucks fans that have gone without a response from the rest of Twitter.

Below you will find five tweets that meet the criteria for “Left on Read”, and what these tweets will get is an uncalled-for overdone response far-stretching beyond Twitter’s tyrannical character limit of 280 characters. So join us, as we address some burning Canucks questions, Left on Read.

Rathbone-Saw is Reeeeeady

“Spider-Man: No Rath Bone” is the current state of this NHL Canucks team. COVID-related or not, Jack Rathbone should find his way back onto the Canucks lineup sooner rather than later, as his early-season performance. Although his time has been limited to only nine NHL games this season, he was promising in terms of the offensive side of his game, and his ability to generate shot attempts for his team.

Rathbone’s time with Abbotsford hasn’t been too shabby either, as he only has seven games under his belt with the Abby team, and even still he is nearly a point a game defenceman with six points this season. Right now Tucker Poolman and Kyle Burroughs have been doing the dance of which D-man is going to be scratched night after night. To this point in the season though I think Burroughs has earned himself the right to keep having that dance, Poolman, on the other hand, has not.

Although Poolman, like many Canucks players has improved under new head coach Bruce Boudreau, Poolman is not this team’s future, but Rathbone still could be. Let’s see how Rathbone does under this new and improved leadership group.

Let Rathbone and Burroughs battle it out for that third pair role night after night. Poolman, although an expensive AHL shelf, is no longer tied to the reputation of an existing Canucks GM. No one needs to worry about saving face by not sending Poolman down to the minors, so just do it.

Let Them Play

An interesting idea for sure, but sadly one that for a number of reasons just isn’t possible, and likely would never be made possible by the league and the teams. Firstly a major concern would be, say for example the Canucks lend J.T. Miller to the baby Canucks for a game or two just to keep his legs warm and let’s say give his ego a shot in the arm.

Well, what if some AHL goon decides that tonight is the night he’s making a name for himself, and boom! Cheap shot on J.T. Miller and now a huge piece of this Canucks team is injured thanks to a meaningless game. Obviously, that’s worst-case scenario stuff, but it’s the worst-case scenario stuff that will be the determining factor in these situations, always.

Would it be great for AHL Canucks players to play alongside members of the big team and see if there is any unexpected chemistry with some guys? Of course, that would be great. It would also be great for Abby fans to get a chance to see some big-name talent without the big gas-guzzling drive.

However, the risks simply aren’t worth the rewards for the NHL and the teams. Not to mention the fact that this idea would have to somehow completely skip over the whole waivers process usually involved in sending guys to their farm teams, even if it was just for a short stint, while the main club isn’t playing. 

A big reason why the AHL might also object to this idea is that it would drastically throw the entire competitive structure of their seasons out of balance. Having AHL teams that could at any moment be randomly built out with top-level NHL talent, is not something that would lend to healthy competition in the affiliate league.

It could make it harder for teams to judge the caliber of their prospect when they’re just being used as pylons for the NHL guys while they’re on a minor league road trip.

This all sounds like I’m trashing this entire idea, and the reality is I don’t mean to, it’s one of those thoughts that as a concept I love. But when thought about for any extended amount of time, clearly becomes inherently impossible due to the multidirectional roadblocks that would occur.

Trader Jim, Again?

I’m sorry, you lost me at “would Rutherford be willing to trade”. The answer to that question is always yes. Rutherford is never afraid of a trade.

Based on his record, he’d trade a player like Jaroslav Halak during a midnight pee and go back to sleep without skipping a beat. In 2020 while with the Penguins, Ruthford traded Patric Hörnqvist to the Florida Panthers, a depth difference-maker on the Penguins that has continued to be that for the Panthers.

This trade occurred during a year when both teams were likely to be playoff-bound, and although the Panthers exist outside of the Pens division, in terms of playoffs, the chance of the two teams crossing paths was still always there.

At the end of the day the thought of “playoff rivals” is likely not on Jim’s mind, when it comes to making the best moves for this Canucks team especially. 

Although Jim may be considering his decisions based on if the team does well or not in the coming weeks and months, he was likely hired for his vision of how he would build the team up over the years to come. So when Jim does start making moves with this club, they are likely to reflect that timeline, rather than being aimed at helping this club make an in-season turnaround.

If Jim believes his team will get a bump by trading Halak, even if another team in the same division will get a short-term bump, it’s likely to happen. However, as Trent Leith wrote in his recent piece just this week, Halak is likely to hit both of his bonuses this season and unless this trade happens within days, Halak is about to become a more expensive goalie than may be worth it for some teams.

Eastern Tunnel Vision

Sadly this is just how the cookie crumbles and has always crumbled season after season, year after year. As much as me, you and everyone on this side of Hudson’s Bay hates that there is a clear Toronto/ Ontario bias in our sports coverage, the sad reality is that 70% of Canadians live under the 49th parallel near the metropolitan areas in Ontario.

As a result of this density, not only is the hockey coverage focused on the teams in that area, but the hockey minds are hyper-localized to that area and their conference as well.

The same reason why movies about Hollywood itself always seem to clean up at the Oscars, because they appeal to those casting the votes, Hollywood people. The spotlight is often only placed on players like Thatcher Demko when they and their teams create a story worthy of breaking through the barriers of what your typical eastern-based Canadian sports fan would find interesting.

So small moments of excellence are often missed by voting parties out east, because well, they simply don’t get a chance to see them, as often.

This isn’t to say that those casting Vezina votes are unfamiliar with anyone who isn’t wearing a Leafs’ jersey, but if you’re not a western-based sports journalist, then you simply just might not have been exposed to Demko’s name that much over the course of the season. This compared to a name like Jack Campbell, who also sits with a higher save percentage at the moment mind you.

Even if Demko begins to outrank someone like Campbell, he may still have an unfamiliarity bias working against him in the race for a trophy like the Vezina. Again, this doesn’t imply that voters don’t know who he is.

But if you’ve had someone mentioning Pepsi to you for the better part of a year, even if Coca-cola (which is the better drink by the way) is mentioned in conversation a few times, when it comes time to place your order, you may just fall back on what you’ve heard the most.

You Would Think at the Very Least…

What a sick and twisted award for being accused of sexual assault, the person in question becomes considered to represent our country on the world stage. Now although it’s not official yet, as the above tweet outlines Jake Virtanen, disgraced Canucks forward, who was bought out by the team due to sexual assault allegations, is apparently on the shortlist to represent Team Canada in an NHL-less Olympics.

This news should be extremely disheartening for any self-respecting Canadian Hockey fan who was looking forward to supporting their country at the upcoming Olympics. But this is first and foremost a slap in the face to those victimized by Virtanen’s alleged actions.

By even considering him for the team, Hockey Canada is saying that they don’t care about what kind of person Jake is off the ice, they don’t care about what this says about the country and the culture of the sport. They clearly only care about winning, and if they think Jake can help them, then they have no problem compromising whatever morals they may have by allowing Jake to participate.

I’ve tried to choose my wording carefully here, as these crimes that Jake is accused of committing are in fact alleged, and not confirmed in a court of law. However, the excellent reporting by Alanna Kelly who broke this story back in May of 2021, shares first-hand details of events that should not just be shrugged off as a mere “allegation”.

Jake Virtanen deserves his day in court and to his credit, he has denied these allegations. That said, how about at the absolute minimum, we as a society don’t reward someone who has been credibly accused of sexual assault charges, with the chance to represent the best of us on the world stage? Can we at least agree that there are existing Canadian Hockey players that are more morally deserving of that honour? 

Read and Replied ✓

We got a bit heavy at the end there, but hopefully, you got something out of at least one of our replies to these questions and comments Left on Read by the rest of Canucks Twitter. Thank you for joining us in what was only our second piece of this new year.

As the Canucks hopefully get going again in a positive way (not that type of positive), we look forward to putting together a wealth of new Canucks coverage for you here in 2022!