NHL Preview: How Will the Vancouver Canucks Fare in 2013?

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by Kolby Solinsky

Editor, White Cover Magazine

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Remember, Vancouver… dissent is not disloyalty.

It’s not like Bob McKenzie has any obligation to be kind to the Canucks or their fan base, but Canadian hockey folk have a tendency to be ever so sensitive. Maple Leafs fans are touchy to the fact they haven’t made the playoffs in over two lockouts. (Seriously, how embarrassing is that?)

Montreal fans are sensitive about their bloated contracts and their need for 24/7 bilingualism. Edmontonians don’t want to hear about how bad the Oilers have been, even though they had been. Flames descendants will stand up for Jarome Iginla, even when he’s 53 years old and still the team’s top right winger. Jets fans don’t want to spend money, and they’re offended when your bring it up. And, the Ottawa faithful don’t even know they have a hockey team.

We all have our faults. Vancouverites are among the worst for it. They want to win a Cup, and anyone who says they have problems is dead to them.

Unfortunately for them, Bob McKenzie is right.

“The Vancouver Canucks, on paper, are by far Canada’s top team and the best hope to contend for the Stanley Cup, but even coach Alain Vigneault’s talented club has a long list of questions heading into training camp,” he said on TSN.ca on Monday morning.

“Some of those queries don’t even involve Roberto Luongo.”

The questions aren’t all negative, but they are questions. They involve uncertainty, and any uncertainty always seems detrimental to a team that needs unity more than ever.

Their Hall of Fame calibre goaltender may be shipped off. Their most complete player, Ryan Kesler, is out and there’s no timetable for his return. And, the team is till licking its wounds after a Stanley Cup Final loss in 2011 and a five-game loss to the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings in 2012.

“As long as Kesler can’t go, there’s a chance the Canucks could move a winger to play second-line pivot. Burrows is a candidate as is Chris Higgins.

“Can Manny Malhotra still contribute to the centre-ice cause? If not, third-line centre is very much up in the air too.

“Little Jordan Schroeder of the AHL Chicago Wolves will get an audition and if the Canucks deal Luongo, chances are there will be a centre coming back, so if the goalie trade with Toronto materializes, for example, perhaps we can pencil in Tyler Bozak as a second- or third-line centre.”

Schroeder? Bozak? Malhotra? Higgins? Burrows?

In his quest to find the Canucks’ second line centre, McKenzie is just tossing paint at a screen door and looking for the blood splatter. It’s his only option. It’s Vancouver’s only option.

When you consider that Vancouver will still have to rely on additional scoring from the unreliable blades of David Booth and Mason Raymond, a march to Graceland doesn’t seem any more probable.

So, does trading Cody Hodgson still seem like a good idea?