Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford Press Conference Shows Who’s Boss

Rutherford press conference
Spread the love

The Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford press conference showed one thing. This isn’t last season’s – or any of the past seven years’ – Vancouver Canucks.

Allvin and Rutherford Press Conference Prove They Are Always Working

There are many issues to go through with the previous administration if you want. One of the constants through the years was just how much Jim Benning hated doing media. Not a surprise for someone who keeps his working groups small. It didn’t help that Vancouver was his first general manager post, either. The public differences between him and Rutherford or Allvin are dramatic, but the biggest is clarity. There is little in the way of hedging when the new arrivals are answering a question, no matter how awkward.

The moves Benning made could be understood on an individual basis, whether fans and media agreed with them or not. But when asked, Benning often turned prickly and defensive about his decisions. End-of-season availabilities often had somewhat vague statements. That certainly wasn’t the case this time. Rutherford and Allvin talked with concrete examples of a clear plan for the future, both short- and long-term. That has been consistent since Rutherford’s arrival in December.

There were a number of surprises in the press conference. We’ll look at individual players through the off-season, so our focus will be on other areas for now.

Ooo, Pretty!

One thing we hammer on is that players are humans first. Fans pretending that NHL ’22 is somehow good training for a GMs job may disagree, but you can’t simply take a player from one place and slot them into another and expect the results to be identical. When Mike Gillis was pushing for the Stanley Cup, very few expenses were spared. He brought in analytics specialists, sports psychologists, tracked the sleep patterns of his players, and more. That’s a stark contrast to the massive cuts – on and off the ice – in the years since, most dramatically in the 2020 off-season.

It is, of course, the owners who make the final decisions on how money is spent. And with this availability, it looks like money is getting spent again. A training facility has been discussed for years and now looks like it finally might get done. Improved media facilities, revamped dressing rooms, and reworked arrival bays on the arena all got mentions. While it’s not as obvious an improvement as getting a star player – and nothing beats winning – it is like any other job. If your employers obviously want you to feel good coming to work, you feel better about them. That doesn’t hurt when it comes to re-signing players.

And that includes the facilities in Abbotsford. The team is clearly willing to spend the money for top-end AHL talent to take full advantage of the new location, so it’s not a surprise to hear some improvements will go on there, too. Having minor-league players who can come up in an emergency, or even for a few NHL games, in a very expensive city means paying for them. But it shows just how serious the Canucks are in correcting previous mistakes.

Oh, Yeah! Players

To say the off-season is complicated is an understatement. “[…]Probably a little more complicated here than we’d like.” as Rutherford himself put it. As mentioned, though, we’ll get into individual players in the coming weeks. But the two don’t sound like they are relying on the optimism of Vancouver’s final run to end the season. The bottom line is that the team didn’t make the playoffs, and a recurring theme at the Allvin and Rutherford press conference was that almost making it isn’t good enough. The defence was picked out for difficulties they had throughout the year, though they performed better than we expected. That’s perhaps damning with faint praise, but it clearly needs to improve in overall talent.

As far as we’re concerned, the offence underperformed their skill level if anything. Some great individual numbers appeared by the end of the season, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the atrocious start. In their first two months, Vancouver scored at a 2.3 goals for clip. By the end of the year, it had jumped up to three goals per game, which is close to where they should have been all along.

It’s tempting to harp on about how the team hasn’t had any playoff games in town for seven years. But to do that you have to pretend that this is the same group in charge, and it very clearly isn’t. Both Benning and coach Travis Green were often very hesitant to criticize their players in public. This time? We heard how the team didn’t play well enough. And a surprising amount of criticism for the coach.

Coaches, Coaches Everywhere

What they won’t be spending money on is an extension for head coach Bruce Boudreau. That’s taken a lot of folks by surprise, including us. It looks like what we thought would be a minor hurdle – Boudreau not being Allvin’s choice – is a stumbling block. Whether the decision is ultimately Rutherford’s or Allvin’s, they’re willing to wait for next season’s results before deciding.

Now, Boudreau did get plenty of praise at the Allvin and Rutherford press conference. But the curious shape of the contract signed means that he can walk away if he wants. That can still happen, of course, especially over the summer as more teams decide a coaching change is needed. A big option looming is in Philadelphia, a short distance from where Boudreau and his wife own the USPHL Hershey Cubs. The Philadelphia Flyers recently announced that Mike Yeo won’t be returning to the team. Given that his greatest strength is revitalizing players it’s hard to picture a better match. If any team needs an injection of optimism, it’s the Flyers.

Another possibility is in Toronto. While their head coach is unlikely to get moved, Boudreau has hinted before that the Maple Leafs are the only NHL team he’d be an assistant coach for. Not only is he a childhood fan, he still cheers for them whenever they’re not playing against his team.

Still, it’s hard to picture a better coach for Vancouver than Boudreau right now. It’s currently his choice to make, with both sides saying they’d love for him to return. But the Canucks aren’t going to guarantee anything outside what he’s already signed for. If he thinks he deserves more, he can make a good pitch to interested teams.

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images