|The season was every bit as awkward as this photo.|
After another first round exit, courtesy of the San Jose Sharks, Canuck fans are once again left with feelings of frustration and disappointment. With only one win in the last two playoff appearances, the Canucks didn’t look like the team that was a single win away from the Stanley Cup in 2011. So what happened? As Gillis put it “this was a messed up year”. Or was it? Let’s take a look back at the Canucks 2012-2013 season and see if this year truly was “messed up;” because everyone knows hindsight is .
After getting knocked out of the first round for the first time since 2007-2008 (when the Canucks didn’t even make the playoffs) Vancouver went to work with the pen and paper. The Nucks gave GM Mike Gillis a 5-year contract extension, and then days later gave head coach Alain Vigneault a two-year contract extension. Also, Schneider, Burrows, and Edler were signed to multi-year contracts while Weise, Ebbett, Raymond, Pinizzotto, and Volpatti were all signed to one-year contracts (some of these players would be signed just before the beginning of the season). As well, the Canucks lost Salo and Rome in free agency, and replaced them with the likes of Garrison and Barker. The Canucks had to deal with some injuries, primarily Kesler. During the off season Kesler had wrist and shoulder surgery. And that’s just the offseason people!
The Dark Ages a.k.a The Lockout
Of course the 2012-2013 NHL season didn’t begin as expected (like I need to remind anyone, but I did just for fun!). The NHL and NHLPA began a labour dispute on over the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) (god, I have heard that term enough for a life-time). After 113, painfully boring days the two sides finally came to an agreement, and the NHL season would be salvaged into a 48-game schedule. Besides the players and GM’s, the people that were hit hardest from the lockout were employees of these NHL teams; businesses such as bars, restaurants, and sports stores - and lastly the fans. Many people lost their jobs, and businesses lost patrons and income. Of course many fans lashed out saying that they would boycott the season, not buy merchandise, yada yada yada. Although there were ways for the fans to get back at the NHL and NHLPA, which yours truly wrote about, no one did anything; everyone came back in droves. So rest assured the NHL knows they have the fans by the balls come next lockout (which more than likely, will occur).
Before the season could even start the Canucks had to scramble like every other team to get players back from overseas, the minor leagues, and into game shape. Well, that actually wasn’t too hard for the Nucks, because Vancouver had one of the fewest numbers of players playing overseas. The only Canucks overseas were Raymond, Hansen, and Weise (who absolutely light it up in the Netherlands). And, just for fun, to add to the mad scramble of getting a competitive team ready for a shortened season, during training camp Booth would sustain an injury that would sideline him for several weeks after the start of the regular season. Now the Canucks had to deal with out of shape, unprepared skaters, and they also had to begin to solve the infamous 2012/2013 problem: the 2nd line centre.
The “Season” (48 Games)
Well, even 48 Games offers a lot of stuff to cover, so in the hopes of not boring you I am going to do this semi-point form. Here we go!
- Canucks fans were informed that Schneider would began to take over the reins from Luongo as number one goalie.
- The Nucks would begin the 2013 season the same way they would eventually end it, with an embarrassing 7-3 loss (So glad I didn’t see that game!)
- Mike Gillis believing Malholtra was vulnerable on the ice, placed Malholtra on injured reserve.
- Kelser plays first game .
- That same night Henrik Sedin records two points to become Vancouver’s franchise leading scorer, with 757 points.
- , Booth returns to the ice. Short lived though, he would eventually sustain another injury and play a mere 12 games for the entire season.
- Around , it is revealed that Kesler fractured his foot. He would be out until (5 weeks).
- After a game against Chicago, Hansen would be suspended 1-game for “carelessness and force of which the blow was delivered” against Chicago’s Marian Hossa (cough* bullshit *cough).
- Kevin Bieksa would miss 13-games throughout the season with a groin injury, mostly in February and March; and the Canucks would realize just how valuable the right-hander is to their team. Vancouver’s record was 3-7-3 without Bieksa in the lineup!!!
- In a battle for the North West Division’s top spot, the Canucks lost to the Wild 4-2 and dropped to 6th place in the Western Conference. The Wild would give the Canucks a run for the top of the Northwest for a couple weeks, but ultimately would trail off Vancouver would return to their rightful place on top the Northwest.
- , Canucks wore their (sick) retro Millionaires Jersey in honour of 100 years of hockey in BC. Burrows recorded the franchises fastest goal—6 seconds, but the Nucks would lose 5-2 to Detroit.
- Two days later, the Canucks scored a power-play goal against Minni ending the horrible drought of the special team that went 0-36 on the PP.
- Mid-March the injuries piled up for the Canucks. Booth sustained a leg injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season and the playoffs. Kassian would tweak his back in a fight, putting him out for a few games. Weise hurt his shoulder, and Pinizzotto would be out for a few games due to the flu.
- With all the injuries Ballard would jump up to play forward for a few games (finally getting some ice time!).
- , the Nucks went on a 6-game winning streak.
- , Canucks fell to the Edmonton badly, with Taylor Hall recording an Oilers’ franchise record, fastest hat-trick.
- The Canucks would lose their last two games (including an absolute bashing from Edmoton, 7-2) to finish off the season and head into the playoffs…and we all know how that went.
Coming soon: We use all this knowledge to analyze what went wrong in the playoffs.