Willes’ Musings: Purple-hot Flames present a strong blueprint for surging Canucks

Calgary Flames constructed their franchise round a core group of gamers, and so can the Canucks

With the Vancouver Canucks in the course of a playoff race, right here’s one thing else you may not count on to be good, the Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports activities.

The Calgary Flames got here to city Saturday night time with their first-place staff and the NHL’s most prolific offence, which is galling sufficient to the trustworthy.

However if you happen to’re questioning how the Flames received to this place — and the Canucks are the place they’re — we refer you to the 2015 playoff collection which, if reminiscence serves, marks the final time the Canucks certified for the post-season.

That yr, the Flames second- and third-leading scorers had been Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, then of their rookie and second seasons respectively. Their second- and third-leading scorers on the blueline had been Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie. They acquired a strong contribution from centre Mikael Backlund in a supporting position and, late within the season, referred to as up Michael Ferland from their AHL-affiliate and first-round draft choose Sam Bennett from junior who, it might be revealed, was 18-years previous.

Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau (13) is checked by Vancouver Canucks’ Chris Tanev throughout first interval NHL hockey motion in Vancouver on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019.



Now hit the fast-forward button. This season the Flames’ two main scorers are Gaudreau, who sits fourth within the league, and Monahan, who’s on tempo for 40 objectives. Their two main scorers amongst defencemen are Giordano, who’s over some extent a sport and must be getting some Norris Trophy votes, and Brodie.

Backlund, in the meantime, centres a dynamic second line; Bennett is not 18 however he performs a significant position within the backside six and, this summer time, Ferland was flipped to Carolina in a bundle which introduced Elias Lindholm to Calgary.

Lindholm has 61 factors this season, as many as Alex Ovechkin and one fewer than Sidney Crosby.

And your level?

4 years in the past, the Flames recognized a core group and people gamers now type the nucleus of a first-place staff. It helped that they added Matthew Tkachuk, however someplace over 4 drafts they figured so as to add an impression participant.

Then there are the Canucks. There are, basically, three gamers from their final playoff staff nonetheless on the roster. Bo Horvat was a rookie that yr and Alex Edler and Chris Tanev had been on the blueline.

OK, Sven Baertschi was acquired from the Flames on the 2015 commerce deadline and Alex Biega, then as now, was a depth defenceman. However that doesn’t alter our thesis. The final time the locals made the playoffs they’d one younger constructing block in place and it’s taken them 4 years to assemble a gaggle round him.

Because of this, the Canucks at the moment are roughly in the identical place the Flames had been 4 years in the past. We will argue in regards to the choices which introduced them to this place and acknowledge Elias Pettersson has helped them regain some floor. However, by labouring underneath the phantasm they may stay aggressive whereas rebuilding, they set the entire course of again two years.

Jim Robson and his grandson at a Canucks open follow in 2008.

Ward Perrin /

Vancouver Solar

• Wish it might have been underneath totally different circumstances final week but it surely was a uncommon deal with to speak to Jim Robson in regards to the late Andre Boudrias and the Canucks’ early years.

The interview, such because it was, began with this probing query: “Are you able to inform me about Boudrias?” and the good broadcaster was off, pulling names and dates out of his reminiscence banks with astonishing velocity and readability

Do you know, for instance, Boudrias scored a five-on-three shorty towards Chicago on Dec. 26, 1970 which was three days after Bobby Baun wrecked Orland Kurtenbach’s knee in Toronto. And if you happen to ever have 15 minutes to kill, you possibly can ask Robson in regards to the Canucks’ first playoff look in 1975.

Their historical past hasn’t all the time been nice however the Canucks have a historical past that predates the Luongo commerce. Robson, as a lot as anybody, is the institutional reminiscence of this franchise.

Former NHL participant Sheldon Kennedy.

Ted Rhodes /


Very nice job by the Hometown Hockey crew in Swift Present this weekend, particularly on Sheldon Kennedy.

There’s a lengthy and painful historical past with Swift Present and Kennedy however to see the previous junior star in tears as the brand new Sheldon Kennedy out of doors rink was opened supplied a therapeutic second for the person and the town. Worry and disgrace reside at the hours of darkness however whenever you shine a lightweight in these locations, you possibly can see issues extra clearly and Kennedy has been shining that gentle for over 20 years.

This weekend additionally marked the 20th straight yr administration at this paper has rejected my proposal to put in writing a first-person account from the AT&T Professional-Am at Pebble Seashore. I’ve received to be trustworthy with you. I’m starting to assume it’d by no means occur.

On this Nov. 9, 2005, file picture, President Bush awards baseball legend Frank Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award within the East Room of the White Home in Washington.



• And lastly, if all you knew about Frank Robinson was on the again of his baseball card, you’d perceive he was one of many sport’s immortals. He’s the one participant to win the MVP in each leagues. In 1966 he gained the Triple Crown whereas carrying the Baltimore Orioles to the World Collection. He nonetheless ranks 10th on the all-time house run checklist, seventh if you happen to throw out the drug cheats.

However when he turned the primary African-American to handle within the huge leagues, Robinson turned one thing extra; a logo, a pioneer, a vanguard of change. A minimum of that’s the way in which the story ought to have performed out. Thirty-four years later you marvel how a lot we’ve advanced however that doesn’t diminish Robinson’s profession or his impression on the sport.

Again in 2004, your agent was dispatched to Seattle to cowl the Expos of their final season in Montreal. That yr, they performed 22 “house video games,” in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the collection in Seattle was in the course of a 25-game highway journey.

Robinson was the supervisor of that staff, an appointment by MLB who owned the Expos earlier than they moved to Washington, and he knew he was in a no-win state of affairs. However I bear in mind him in a scrum, proud and defiant, decided to struggle for each base, each pitch.

He had, in any case, confronted more durable battles in his life.


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