“YES! . . . NO! . . . . . . . . . . . . yes.” That was my reaction upon coming across a trade suggestion: Roberto Luongo and Nicklas Jensen for Marty St. Louis. I immediately started salivating at the prospect of a truly elite right winger going crazy with the Sedins! He is durable (having missed only 7 games in the last 10 years) and even though he’s 37, his points per game is higher this year than ever before. And, of course, it would mean the Canucks getting a significant asset back when trading away Luongo (which I was beginning to think wasn’t going to happen).
But after the initial flush of euphoria passed, some cold, hard facts came into focus. First, the Sedins need a linemate who can muck it up in the corners, and be a presence in front of the net, and that’s not St. Louis’ game. Also, St. Louis is a pass-first guy (32 assists over against only 7 goals this season), and the Sedins would be best served with a sniper on the right side. And there’s no getting around the fact he’s 37! He may be having a career year, and his current contract does run through the 2014-15 season, but how long can we realistically expect him to keep up this stellar play?
On the other side of the ledger, there is the giving up of Jensen, a sparkling gem in an otherwise underwhelming crop of prospects. Even for the immense help that a St. Louis would bring, should the Canucks further weaken an already weak prospects pool by trading away Jensen?
Then, a thought hit me. “Would it be so bad to mortgage the future in exchange for the sight of Hendrik Sedin hoisting the Stanley Cup this summer?” I couldn’t believe I was even contemplating this! But as I thought about it more, I came to a sobering realization: I MAY NEVER SEE A CANUCK CAPTAIN HOISTING THE STANLEY CUP MY WHOLE LIFE.
Let’s put this into perspective. Each of the Original Six have won the Cup multiple times, and with the Kings winning it last spring, there is now only one team from the 1967 expansion that has yet to sip from Lord Stanley’s Cup: the St. Louis Blues. But after the Blues, the Canucks (and their expansion cousins, the Sabres) are next in line for years as a franchise without a Cup win, a drought of 42 years. I’ve been following the Canucks right from day 1 back in 1970, and I’ve always thought, “Just be patient. . .it’s only a matter of time before it’s the Canucks’ turn.” But recently, it occurred to me I have absolutely nothing on which to base this belief. Absolutely nothing! For all I know, it may take another 42 years for them to win it (by which time, I’m not going to be around).
This has got me thinking, “Sure, trading Jensen away would clearly be mortgaging the future. But by the time he is ready to be a prime-time contributor, the Canucks’ current window of opportunity to win the Cup will have already closed. So, maybe mortgaging the future is a reasonable price to pay for a Cup win now.
It all boils down to this basic question: “Would you prefer: 1) a team that is in the hunt for the Stanley Cup every year, but run the risk of never attending a Cup parade down Robson, or 2) a team that does give you the parade, but then slips into mediocrity?” For years, I had not wanted the experience of Carolina fans who got their Cup, but then, were left wondering every year whether their team would even make the playoffs. But now I’m thinking that maybe being able to have the experience of seeing Hendrik skating around the ice with the Stanley Cup over his head, and of joining with hundreds of thousands of other Canucks fans for the parade, and of reveling in the fact that the Canucks have finally DONE IT . . . maybe having all that is worth going back to the days of mediocre hockey.