Canucks general manager Mike Gillis kept banging the “we don’t need a tough guy” drum yesterday, telling the Vancouver Province that the team’s recent success is proof his philosophy is working.
The Canucks are 9-1-0 in their last 10, a stretch that’s seen their opponents try to rough them up Boston Bruins style.
“You can’t argue with the results,” he said. “We had very good results last season and we’re starting to do it again.
“There are some players who want to run around and hit guys from behind and that’s a league issue and it’s something the league is getting out of the game. If officials do their jobs, we will win games.”
But as the article’s author, Jason Botchford, points out, it’s hard to keep winning games when your players keep getting hurt. David Booth is out for an extended period after taking a knee-on-knee hit. Cody Hodgson is day-to-day after being run over Saturday.
Gillis seems to relish the fact that teams are running around against the Canucks, because it means more opportunities for the league’s best power play.
Unfortunately, a referee can’t do anything to bring Booth back.
It begs the question, is Vancouver at risk of winning a bunch of little battles at the cost of losing the war? After all, referees only have so much power. Ditto for the league. Say a marginal player takes out Henrik Sedin in Game 1 of a playoff series. Even if he gets a major penalty and receives a lengthy suspension, who wins that trade off?
But would that marginal player take out Henrik Sedin in the first place if he knew it would mean his team’s best player would be visiting the hospital next?
It may sound barbaric, but in hockey, the good guy doesn’t always win. Canada’s greatest international hockey victory was predicated on a brutal attack on its opponent’s best player. The game might’ve changed since 1972, but it’s not figure skating quite yet.