Rutherford again criticizes Canucks’ structure: ‘Something has to be fixed’

Vancouver Canucks' President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford spoke on Sportsnet 650 today about his dislike for his team's style of play, which saw them have success last year in the second half of last season, but he doesn't see as sustainable.

After another loss, and yet another blown lead, Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford criticized his team’s dreadful start to the season — and once again shared his thoughts on what’s caused it.

Speaking to Dan Riccio and Satiar Shah on Sportsnet 650’s Canucks Central, Rutherford said that he “would’ve expected better” from Bruce Boudreau and his players.

“In order for us to become a better team we have to play with a stronger system and really be more accountable for some of the things that some of the players are struggling with.” Rutherford said.

“We’re at a point now where we have to make players more accountable and we’ll have to take the necessary steps to get players’ attention.”

Asked if he had the right personnel behind the bench — with Boudreau at the helm — to have that accountability and structure, Rutherford did not directly answer nor did he defend his head coach.

“When we talk to the coaches, we stress it,” Rutherford said. “I do believe that the style that the team played that had success in the second half of last season was a loose style and more on the offensive side and our goaltender played great and really helped win a lot of those games or bail us out in wide open games. And I don’t believe that that’s the style of play that you could sustain over a long period of time if you want to contend for a playoff spot.”

Rutherford acknowledged how hard it is to defend in today’s NHL, and that teams will give up leads, “but the fact that it has happened as many times as it has for the Canucks in this short period of time, it’s a major concern. And something has to be fixed.”

This is not Rutherford’s first call-out of the Canucks’ structure. The 73-year-old told John Garrett and Scott Oake on After Hours back on Oct. 23, “we have to play within a stronger structure to make that game easier for all our players”

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Rutherford added that Vancouver’s blue line has been the biggest cause for concern.

“If we were playing in a real, strong structure, it would make it easier for our defence to play and it wouldn’t matter who was on our defence, but right now we don’t have that strong structure and we need to change the makeup of our defence,” he said.

The club president stressed that adding to the right side of the Canucks defence is priority number one.

In the NHL now, the way the game’s played and the way the game’s called by the referees, it’s hard to defend.

“We need to make it younger,” Rutherford said. “We took a step forward there when we finally were able to get Ethan Bear, we worked at that deal for a few months but we didn’t have the cap space and finally got creative enough that we could do it.

“When a defenceman comes along like it did in the offseason, we were in on just about every one of those players that moved to another team but there were always circumstances that meant we couldn’t get them.”

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