Canucks hosting the Jets in a two-game home stand
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
“There’s probably not going to be enough time left to make the playoffs—and fully save the season. So, in terms of expectations, and the feeling that people had before the season compared to what occurred—it’s been the most disappointing in a couple of decades.”– Iain MacIntyre
The NHL season is past the halfway mark going into week 11. The Vancouver Canucks are out of a playoff spot when this article was submitted. With too many teams ahead of them (with games in hand), the odds of the Canucks making the playoffs and going on an extended playoff run are about as good as Piers Morgan and Meghan Markle sitting together for coffee.
Sportsnet senior writer, Iain MacIntyre, wrote in his March 14 article that there are zero margins for error with few games remaining for the Canucks: “But this is mid-March, and Vancouver remains so far back in the standings that the only thing that matters now are points.” MacIntyre has covered the Canucks for 30 years—first as a writer for the Vancouver Sun from 1991 till 2017, and since then he has written for Sportsnet.
He says covering the team during the pandemic has been bizarre and unlike any other year in his long career as a sports journalist. Prior to COVID-19, MacIntyre was used to being at Rogers Arena frequently watching Canucks games then later quickly obtaining quotes from players and coaches so he could write his stories to meet his deadlines. Now, his only access to Canucks players and head coach Travis Green is via Zoom conferences. MacIntyre says the Zoom conferences take a long time to get through—making waiting in rush hour traffic to cross the Lions Gate Bridge seem more enjoyable. “Now, Zoom is both a blessing and a curse,” MacIntyre said in a phone interview with the Other Press. “It’s a blessing because it’s well organized and it’s scheduled and it’s dependable. It’s a curse because it takes so long to sit through the Zoom call. When the dressing rooms are open in a normal season, I’m in and out in five minutes—and that’s because I don’t have a lot of time to spend in there. But now with the Zoom calls, it takes longer to get some quotes, to get some input from the players, [and] the coach.”
He writes columns for Sportsnet.ca and most nights during Canucks home games, he does not start writing his stories until 10:15 pm (and the deadline is 11 pm). In addition, MacIntyre does television hits and makes appearances on the Canucks’ post-game show on Sportsnet 650 providing his in-depth analysis. He embraces the late-night radio appearances because it is after he has finished submitting his articles to Sportsnet. MacIntyre can then relax and just be himself when he joins post-game show hosts, Satiar Shah and Andrew Walker, for some late-night banter and silliness. MacIntyre is given the star treatment with a hyped-up enthusiastic introduction by Shah as he introduces him as the “triple threat” and “closer” of the Canucks’ post-game show. MacIntyre even has his own intro music—Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower”—as he quipped on a March 10 post-game show: “Let’s face it. This is the best part of the whole night. Not me, this song!”
However, MacIntyre finds the television hits to be the most stressful. “The TV work is the most stressful because it hasn’t come naturally to me. It’s not a field that I was trained in. It’s one that I’ve kind of picked up along the way [….] So, TV always feels a little bit foreign to me. And I always feel like there’s a hundred thousand people staring at me! So, it’s great to work with [longtime Sportsnet on-air Canucks host] Dan Murphy and he’s a real pro. And Sportsnet has a really good production crew, who puts these games on. But that’s always a very stressful part of my night,” he says to the Other Press.
MacIntyre states that the Canucks have played better but it may not be enough to make the post-season—due to their inconsistent play. “This is a 56 game season and they’re probably going to run out of time, even if they keep playing well. There’s probably not going to be enough time left to make the playoffs—and fully save the season. So, in terms of expectations, and the feeling that people had before the season compared to what occurred—it’s been the most disappointing in a couple of decades.”
In the first month of the season in January, the Canucks had a record of 6 to 5. At the start of February the Canucks went on a six-game losing streak. This was followed by another losing streak of four consecutive games to end February (Canucks’ record in February was 2 to 11). As of March 18, the Canucks have seven wins and two losses in their last nine games. The last two weeks of March have the Canucks playing a three-game home stand against the Winnipeg Jets on March 22 and 24—and then the Calgary Flames on March 31.
MacIntyre offers his own reasons why he believes even though the Canucks have played better recently, it still may not be enough to capture that fourth playoff spot in the North Division. “It was kind of a perfect storm of circumstances that worked against them at the start,” states MacIntyre. “But the reality is as well, they just weren’t very good. And a lot of players struggled individually, certainly the team struggled collectively, and they’ve basically been trying [to] dig themselves out since then. They’ve played much better the last five weeks than they did the first three or four weeks. But it still probably isn’t going to be enough. And overall, the season has been a disappointment—there’s no way around that.”