Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sami Salo Cloud

The Canucks just wrapped up a 5-game road trip with 3 losses and 2 of them were shutouts. Sole ownership of the number 1 spot in the league is gone for the moment. And if we’re being honest, Luongo let in some weak ones in the 4-3 loss to the Avs.

So is the streak over? Are we sliding into a slump? No and no.

As of today the Canucks are tied with the Flyers in points but sit #2 in the league standings. And that Avalanche loss was in OT which means Bobby Lu has not lost in regulation since December 5, 2010. He’s also improved in shootouts and has stopped the two penalty shots he’s faced this season. All that is happening here is that a white-hot team is currently only red-hot.

But that doesn’t mean we Canucks fans have nothing to worry about.

There is a dark, ominous cloud that hangs over the Vancouver franchise and its name is Sami Salo.

If Sami “Made of Glass” Salo steps on the ice for a game the Canucks are in salary cap hell. Keeping the Fin means gambling with the emotional and physical dynamics of a winning team. It also means betting on a guy who can’t seem to sneeze without pulling his groin or tie a skate without breaking a finger.

In a perfect world, Salo would waive his No Trade Clause and we’d dump him on someone else. When Salo is healthy he is great so someone could get a solid game or two out of him, I’m sure. But you can’t trade a player who is not on the active roster and to get him on that roster we have to make salary room. It’s a really nasty dilemma.

It seems like the only option is to mess with the roster of a team that San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan recently called “Complete”.

If we have no other option, who goes?

For the last couple of years no matter the situation, if a trade seemed necessary every Vancouverite, journalist, analyst screamed “Bieksa!” I’m beginning to think it’s because it’s just such a fun name to say. And honestly, I don’t know a girl who wouldn't want to be screaming his name (but maybe not for trade reasons).

Now though, Bieksa has adequately pulled himself out of a point/performance slump and his name seems to be off the trade table. This is a good thing because I would also argue that he’s a solid member of the emotional core of the team and probably contributes off-ice in ways we are unaware of no matter his plus/minus. And on behalf of the female fan contingent I must also point out he is currently the best-looking Canuck. Every team needs a hottie for female fan morale purposes.

Haven’t heard of him? That’s because I Bennifered the names of Rome, Torres and Samuelsson – one or more of them may have to be dumped in order to get one old, under-conditioned, injury-prone defensemen back on the bench.

Now there are arguments that Torres is under performing, Samuelsson is past his prime and Rome sucks. But we need to remember that while Torres might be slumping right now, the man has made it to a Stanley Cup final so he knows what’s required. If he lets Kesler and the Sedins perform now and he picks it up in March, when the twins have repeatedly fallen asleep, I’m okay with that.

Samuelsson is definitely under performing at the moment, however last year Samuelsson didn’t heat up until the latter part of the year and he was stronger in the playoffs than Kesler and Burrows combined.

Rome. Well, my only argument for Rome is that he is able to stay healthy longer than Salo. Why trade someone who stays relatively healthy for someone who completely does not?

The Expensive Hip Check
Ballard is really not living up to his hype or his paycheck. Yeah, the hip checks are entertaining but not that entertaining. Then again, Ballard, like Rome, is currently healthy and likely to stay that way longer than Salo. And for a team that hollered about being plagued with injuries when they went down yet again to the Hawks in the playoffs…. They might live to regret trading him.

Last Year’s Whipping Boy
I can’t believe I’m saying this but trading Alberts would be a bad idea. The defensemen, who was the well-deserved butt of fan jokes everywhere last year, has really picked up his game. He’s hitting, he’s grinding and he’s generally – finally – making more positive plays than negative. Yes, he still skates as fast as geriatric, bloated Big Bird, but as Mason Raymond’s performance lately has shown, speed isn’t everything.

And then there was “E”
Ehrhoff could be seen as a logical trade on paper because his contract is up next year and the Canucks will likely not have the financial means to hold onto him. But that’s exactly why we should keep him. Because he’s brilliant and worth way more than we’re paying. And he’s been a key, integral part of the core players that have worked hard over the last couple of years and gotten the Canucks where they are right now.

It feels like a lose-lose situation. If Salo doesn’t sneeze and rupture his last good ball, or hang a picture in his house and put a nail through his hand, we’re pretty much up the salary cap creek without a paddle.

The team that got us to the top of the league may not be the team that enters the playoff race. And that worries me much more than a 2-2-1 road trip


  1. "Bieksa" *is* a fun name to say. Bieksa. BI-EK-SA.

  2. LOL. If only we could teach Don Cherry to say it right!