Tanking

A weekly sports column for the 100 Mile Free Press

The Vancouver Canucks have officially been kicked out of contention for the playoffs.

That shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone. Their record (as of March 18) is 25-38-9 for 59 points and fans and management are probably more than content to allow the organization’s woes to continue with the upcoming Swedish defenceman, Rasmus Dahlin as the ultimate prize of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Of course, ahead of Arizona and Buffalo in the standings and the Detroit Red Wings (just above the Canucks) losing ten games in a row, with only 11 games left in the season the race for the draft lottery (to determine initial draft picks) is on.

At the beginning of the season, Jim Benning and Trevor Linden, the team’s general manager and president hoped and expected a better position in the standings.

Sports can be a cruel world sometimes. With the injuries of sensational rookie Brock Boeser and Erik Gudbranson, the Canucks are only getting worse. The ageing Sedins, Bo Horvat missing a good chunk of the season, the play of an injury-plagued Chris Tanev and almost the entirety of the Canucks forwards being unable to score a goal hasn’t helped the franchise out this season either.

But should professional sports teams tank with the purpose of taking a chance on a 17 or 18-year-old player in the hope they will become a franchise-defining star? I mean, it obviously worked for Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby but Edmonton has failed to capitalize so far with their first-overall draft picks. Nail Yakupov is now with the Colorado Avalanche, Taylor Hall is now with the New Jersey Devils and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, still on the team, isn’t the player anyone hoped he could be nor should be.

An organization shouldn’t give up on a season if the first half or three quarters goes wrong and settle on heading to the league’s cellar in hopes of coming up next season with the best wine. Sometimes the wine isn’t what you expected, sometimes it ends up being Alex Daigle.

An organization should strive on being the best organization in the league and tanking purposely doesn’t help. It breeds poison, it builds a culture of losing and frustration.

There are different ways of building a franchise, despite what the armchair general managers will tell you on Facebook. Yes, the Detroit Red Wings are struggling now but they had 25 seasons of playoff contention and it wasn’t through tanking and collecting first overall draft picks.

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