A week ago, nearly everyone was expecting the Vancouver Canucks to return to Rogers Arena.
Well they were there on Thursday, but not to play Game 5 of their playoff series with the San Jose Sharks, instead they were discussing where it all went wrong following their tremendously disappointing four-game sweep.
“This year we had high hopes, really high hopes,” Daniel Sedin told a crush of reporters. “We made a few too many mistakes, there’s no doubt about that.”
Having to watch to his team’s season end from the penalty-box in overtime made the loss especially difficult for Daniel.
“It hurts. I thought we played extremely well. We battled back and probably should have lost that game, but in the end penalties cost us. That’s the frustrating part. I thought we did a lot of things to ourselves that hurt our team and looking back we probably could have done a few things differently.”
Daniel was penalized on a questionable boarding call that referee Kelly Sutherland made from over 100 feet away, 13 minutes into overtime.
“The other referee was standing two feet from me and doesn’t make the call and Kelly makes it from the red-line, so that’s really the only thing you could maybe ask him.”
Despite the controversial call and the fact the Canucks were penalized at a much higher rate than San Jose, Daniel refused to question the referee's integrity.
“I believe that the referee’s are professional. When they come into games they should look at both teams the same way and I really believe that.”
“I’m just disappointed,” Cory Schneider said. “It’s strange to be watching hockey and to not be a part of it. I think as a group it just feels like too soon to be packing up and saying good-bye. Disappointment is the only word I can think of.”
The goaltender saga was a story throughout the year for the Canucks and it only escalated in the playoffs with Roberto Luongo starting Games 1 and 2, before Cory Schneider returned from his mystery injury, which he was able to clarify Thursday.
“I tweaked a groin in the Chicago game and I was hoping to get it better in time, but sometimes things don’t respond the way you want them to,” Schneider said.
The 27-year-old netminder wanted to make clear that he was 100% confident in his abilities before returning and doesn’t want the groin injury to be viewed as an excuse.
“It wasn’t an issue, the groin was fine.”
As for Roberto Luongo, he admitted the back and forth starts with Schneider early in the season were an issue but mostly, he just wants a starting position.
“My main goal is to be a starter, I want to play, at the end of the day that's what I want,” said Luongo.
“What's happened over the last two years suggests that maybe it's not my time to be the starter here anymore.”
The two goalies maintained a positive relationship throughout the season.
“The game is full of things you don't expect. Roberto was tremendous through the whole process,” Schneider said.
Following back-to-back first round eliminations in which the team only won a single game, it’s likely a vastly different team will be back for the beginning of next season but the players remain strong in the belief that this team can win a championship.
“I’m a firm believer in what’s going on here,” Kevin Bieksa said. “With the players we have and the staff we have in this organization I don’ t think that the window is closing unlike some of the talk I’ve heard.”
Jason Garrison, who completed just his first season with the club, agreed with Bieksa’s assessment.
“I think the players in this room can do it for sure. I don’t think a change is needed, but that’s not my decision to be made, that’s up to management.”
“I expect a team that’s going to be ready to play and ready to start the grind all over again,” Ryan Kesler said. “I think our core here is strong and I think we can still be better and we need to prove that next year.”
Many Canucks will be jumping on cross-Atlantic flights in the next couple of days to represent their countries at the 2013 World Hockey Championships, including the Sedins and Alex Edler, who will suit up for host Sweden.
“It’s special because it’s on home-ice. That makes it something special for us to come back there and play for them, but I think for every player that’s over here the World Championships are second-nature,” Henrik Sedin admitted.
“You want to win over here.”
Nicklas Jensen, who played in just two games as a Canuck this season, will suit up for his native Denmark.
Former Team Canada members Dan Hamhuis and Alex Burrows say a decision on if they will be donning the Maple Leaf will be made in the next couple of days.
Jannik Hansen will not be playing for Denmark because of a shoulder injury suffered late in Game 4 against San Jose.