Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Can Ryan Miller resuscitate Canucks?
By Scott Burnside
There is something equally perfect and sad about the Vancouver Canucks ponying up $6 million a year for three years for goalie Ryan Miller.
If you believe in things like karma -- or just weirdness -- then maybe this was how it was all supposed to work out for one of the NHL’s most mercurial franchises. Not that you’d have imagined this a year ago, when the Canucks had two top-end goaltenders in Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider.
Of course, the team for whom dysfunction didn’t become just a word but a way of life didn’t manage to hang onto either one, trading Schneider for the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, and sending Luongo to Florida at the trade deadline for a marginal goalie in Jacob Markstrom and marginal winger in Shawn Matthias.
That left them with Eddie Lack, who showed only hints that he could be the Canucks' goaltender of the future, as they missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Since then, general manager Mike Gillis was given the heave-ho, as was John Tortorella after his first season as the coach. And they were replaced by president Trevor Linden, Jim Benning as GM and Willie Desjardins as coach, who curiously turned down a chance to coach Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And then there was Miller, the former Vezina Trophy winner and MVP of the 2010 Olympics in (where else?) Vancouver. Miller was acquired at great expense by the St. Louis Blues from Buffalo at the trade deadline in the hopes that he might help them erase decades of Stanley Cup frustration.
But after the Blues went up 2-0 in their first-round series against Chicago, they lost four straight, with Miller turning in just adequate performances in allowing 12 goals in the final three losses. It was a performance that brought his tenure in St. Louis to an abrupt end and sent him to the free-agent market with his reputation in need of some serious rehabbing.
Will that get done in Vancouver?
Well, it would make for some serious storytelling if Miller is somehow able to resuscitate the Canucks’ flagging fortunes, what with center Ryan Kesler gone after demanding a trade, and the team in a definite state of flux and rebuilding.
Just as Luongo is being counted on to somehow lift the Panthers back to respectability in the Eastern Conference, Miller will get a chance to show that his turn in St. Louis was a blip on the radar and that he has the goods to help an average team be so much more.