With their season on the line and a goaltender making his National Hockey League debut standing at the other end of the rink, the 2013-14 Vancouver Canucks mustered a paltry nine shots through two painful periods on home ice.
The Canucks would fire another nine in the third frame, but Anaheim Ducks newbie turned them all aside for an 18-save shutout in his first NHL contest, a 3-0 win.
So as one man’s NHL career sprung anew, another man’s was encouraged to die. The general manager overseeing this disaster is not a popular man in town.
Vancouver fans either departed early in disgust or hung around to voice their displeasure with “Fire Gillis!” chants Monday night as the clock ticked down on the home team’s playoff chances.
“[Fans] paid big money to come to these games. It’s their prerogative how they handle themselves,” said coach John Tortorella, who is just as much on the hot seat as his boss. “As far as fans are concerned, that’s their call.
“They pay money to come see the games. They’re not happy. They can voice their opinion how they like to.”
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa heard the negativity raining down on the ice. He wasn’t impressed.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, but at the end of the day the fans come and they can do whatever they want,” he said. “Put it this way: we’re all going to take the blame for this. It’s not just one or two guys. It’s the whole team. We’re going to take what we get, move forward, push through this.”
The morning after the Canucks’ funeral, multiple reports indicated that a change in the Canucks organization could occur as early as this week, before the team’s meaningless final three games are played out.
“I’m not sure I’ll be back next season,” GM Mike Gillis told a Vancouver radio station Thursday when asked if Tortorella would be back.
The decline of the Vancouver Canucks
2010-11: Presidents’ Trophy winners; 117 points; lost in Stanley Cup final
2011-12: Presidents’ Trophy winners; 111 points; eliminated in first round of playoffs
2012-13: Northwest Division winners (third in West); 59 points; eliminated in first round of playoffs
2013-14: Fifth in Pacific Division (11th in West); 81 points (through 79 games); missed playoffs