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Managing expectations

by Dave Tomlinson / Vancouver Canucks
With the Vancouver Canucks regular season about to start, the expectations for the team continue to be the same, get to the Stanley Cup Final and win the Holy Grail.

With a new coaching staff, to play within a newly formed Pacific Division, there is a myriad of things to consider in how the team can get there. As well, there are different pressures for individual players in how they can contribute to the team's success. There are the established vets, the youngsters, and the newly acquired that all play a part.


Dave Tomlinson, radio Colour Commentator for the Vancouver Canucks, and analyst of all things hockey.

For the veteran group, Henrik and Daniel Sedin will certainly play under supreme scrutiny, given they are in their contract years and are considered the team's offensive dynamos that need to produce. For them though, the individual point totals at the end of the season are not as important as the team's overall record and playoff success. They've won the personal awards already, and realize the critics won't be completely satisfied until they win more than just the Presidents' Trophy. In fact, if they do win a Stanley Cup, they will join an exclusive group called the "Triple Gold Club", which consists of players who have won a World Championship, an Olympic gold, and a Stanley Cup. My opinion is that they will be counted on far more this season by coaches and management for their leadership, work ethic, and all-around game versus a run for the NHL scoring title.

For the younger group, Chris Tanev's season is about establishing himself as a shut-down defenceman, while simultaneously adding more shots towards the opposition's net in hopes of creating more offence from the blue-line. With a solid one-year contract in hand, Tanev will look to continue his improvement, with the pay-off being a multi-year deal in the future. To earn that, he must continue to move the puck efficiently and be prepared for more minutes per game.

As a newcomer, Brad Richardson is caught between replacing what Manny Malhotra brought during his tenure as a Canuck, and also showing he can move throughout the line-up when called upon for different roles. With experience in the previous Northwest division playing for the Colorado Avalanche, and his more recent participation in the "old" Pacific Division, Richardson is acutely aware of the challenges of playing an 82 game schedule from the West Coast. His acclimation process to the team should not take long, and his worth will be equated with a solid 25-30 point season, which is well needed from his centre position.

In all, the Canucks hope to gel quickly playing a new system, one in which more skating is required going up-ice, and more compact play is expected in the defensive zone. With contributions from the above named players at their expected levels, a top three finish in the division is a certainty.

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