Changes expected after Vancouver Canucks’ tumultuous season: GM

General manager Patrik Allvin said the Vancouver Canucks are looking to make a change this summer.

He also asked players to figure out how they could help the team improve.

“I’m thrilled with the reaction from the players,” Irving said in a season-ending news conference Monday. “But I’m sure we have to keep working with the players … to see how we progress.”

The Canucks have had a tumultuous season both on and off the ice.

Vancouver got off to a rough start, going 0-5-2, including the home opener, with jerseys thrown on the ice and boos from the stands following a 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabers.

The Canucks finished the campaign with a 38-37-7 record and missed the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons.

The medical staff faced problems when a string of high-profile injuries hit the line-up, including a groin disease that kept star goalkeeper Thatcher Demko out for almost four months, and winger Tanner Pearson suffered multiple setbacks after suffering a broken hand.

Management came under fire before the All-Star break, and after lengthy speculation, the Canucks eventually fired head coach Bruce Boudreau. On January 22, the veteran bench owner was replaced by Rick Tocchet.

“I have a lot of faith in the players,” the new coach said Monday. “It’s been a tough year. So I give them a lot of credit for how they bounced back in some ways.”

Vancouver finished the season 20-12-4 under Tocchet.

The success has divided the market, with some saying the Canucks should have lost more games to improve their odds in the upcoming draft lottery, while others attributed the win to an interim new coach.

Tocchet heard all the chatter in his team.

“I love this stuff because it cheers the players on. It cheers me on,” the former NHL forward said. “We can change the narrative, no matter what people say.”

The midseason coaching change created a new atmosphere around the rink, Allvin said, noting that Tocchet, new assistant coach Adam Foote and new defensive development specialist Sergei Gonchar brought a new mindset to the team.

“(The players) have to know what their roles and responsibilities are,” the general manager said.

“My job is to communicate to the coaching staff how we’re going to take this team going forward. And I think the coaching staff has built the trust of the players in a fairly short period of time. They love coming back here, they love practicing, they love taking Teach, communicate, push yourself harder.”

This off-season will see more changes, Allvin said.

Vancouver has a core of young stars, including center Elias Paterson, who scored a career-high 102 points this season, and defenseman Quinn Hugh, who broke the Canucks defensive record with 76 points this season. s.

Both the front office and the coaching staff are figuring out how to surround their top players with a solid supporting cast, Allvin said.

Finding a third-line center — either from among the team’s current burgeoning talent or on the open market — will be a priority. Management will also consider the option to back Demko, although Allvin said he doesn’t want to spend too much money on a second netminder.

“Our job is to get better from Game 1 to Game 82,” he said. “I’m really excited about the core of good players we have here. And I don’t see a reason why we can’t push (for a playoff spot) into Game 1 next year.”

However, Vancouver remains tight against the NHL’s salary cap heading into the 2023-24 season, with the GM acknowledging that he will need to get creative in order to tweak his roster.

Allvin said he expects to make “lateral moves” and “hockey deals” in the coming months, and he doesn’t plan to buy out any contracts currently on the team’s books.

“This group is scratching the surface of what it’s like to be a good team,” he said. “So I don’t want to use acquisitions if we don’t have to, and that affects us in a couple of years, at which point this group actually — hopefully — takes off.”

—Gemma Carstens-Smith, Canadian Press

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