At training camp in Whistler last September, GM Jim Benning and Head Coach Travis Green told me this was going to be a building year for the Canucks. A year to establish a new culture and a faster, more urgent style of play. They felt compromising the future for any short-term gain wasn't worthwhile. I agreed.
We had specific goals this season. Forge a new identity, one not shaped by the Sedins. Identify the foundational players we can build around. Have our young guys, supported by veterans, come together and develop and learn just how tough it is to win in this league.
Play hard, entertaining hockey, Never give up, battle every night. I thought we did that, almost every game. We played with a lot of heart. You could see chemistry develop and guys playing for each other.
Don't get me wrong. I hate losing. I don't like finishing where we did in the standings. When you've come within a game of winning it all, that's the standard. I'm disappointed that we slipped out of playoff contention after hanging tough most of the season.
It's easy to point fingers, but it's more productive to focus on progress and the big picture. Of course we will do a careful evaluation of the team and the whole franchise. But that's done to inform the future. We're looking ahead, and I saw many exciting positives this year.
Jacob Markstrom developing into a true number 1 goaltender, and Thatcher Demko coming along nicely.
Bo Horvat maturing into a skilled, durable leader who can play with anybody, against anybody, in any situation.
Brock Boeser becoming a consistent offensive producer while developing his two-way game.
Elias Pettersson stepping into the league with more skill and excitement than any Canuck rookie since Pavel Bure.
Quinn Hughes providing an instant upgrade to our offensive game from the back end, looking right at home in the NHL from his first shift.
Other young players gaining experience, growing noticeably, solidifying their spots on the roster.
Jim and his group brought in some valuable additions who strengthen our team and give us needed depth. And they signed some young prospects we think will help us down the line.
I'm confident we're on the right path. Do I wish we were further along? Of course. But I recognize it's a long process, it requires patience, there are no shortcuts.
We're absolutely determined to get back among the elite teams, capable of challenging for the Stanley Cup year after year. As an owner and lifelong Canucks fan, that's what I'm committed to.
That means we've all got serious work to do-everybody in the organization, on and off the ice, pulling together, focused on the long-term goal. I believe we're a big step closer than we were a year ago. And we'll be another step closer a year from now.
We're all looking forward to the entry draft here at Rogers Arena in June, and the many celebrations we've got planned for an unforgettable 50th season. Expect more news on that front soon.
We're moving in the right direction. The ownership group-my father Luigi, brothers Roberto and Paolo, and myself-are committed to providing the resources needed to build the team that Vancouver fans deserve.
Thank you for your passion and your continuing support.
-Francesco Aquilini, Owner and Governor