Canucks this week: Could the code come into play with the Red Wings in town?

Talk of the code heats up with the Wings in town, Brock Boeser spills the beans in Gretzky’s basement and an NHL GM leaves Quinn Hughes off the list of top defencemen

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Your weekly roundup of what they’re saying about the Vancouver Canucks around the hockey world:

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Decoding the code

The code calls for many things — some less understandable than others.

A slap shot into an empty net resulted in a cross-check to the head and a five-game suspension.

So what kind of response — if any — does a dance dubbed ‘The Griddy’ warrant after an overtime winner?

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After discussing the Ridly Greig-Morgan Rielly incident on the latest 32 Thoughts podcast, Sportsnet insiders Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek turned to the Canucks.

“Do you think anyone is considering the Vancouver Canucks soft for not reacting to Jake Walman … for hitting ‘The Griddy’ on the overtime winner”? asked Marek.

Replied Friedman: “I have, no doubt, heard from people who said they should have done something about that — or the next time they play should do something about that.”

(Clip is at 20:45)

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That’s the second time Walman has done the deed after scoring on Casey DeSmith, with the first coming in a game on Dec. 28, 2022.

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On that day, DeSmith’s Penguins didn’t respond. And unlike the Canucks, who weren’t on the ice during the penalty shot in Detroit, they had the opportunity.

Friedman goes on to say, “I guarantee, because of this, both those teams are going to be warned about that game.”

That game, mind you, is Thursday in Vancouver.

Canucks fans appear to be of two minds on the matter, with 52.3 per cent suggesting the team not seek out revenge on Walman in a recent online poll that had nearly 2,000 votes.

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Whatever happens at Rogers Arena, the code will come up at some point.

You’d think, however, that a first-place team with bigger fish to fry doesn’t take the bait and overreact like Toronto did.

A calm, cool and collected Brock Boeser was on the Spittin' Chiclets podcast this past week.
A calm, cool and collected Brock Boeser was on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast this past week. Photo by YouTube /Spittin’ Chiclets

Boeser unfiltered

It’s the kind of interview we don’t see every day in Vancouver, despite having the player here for the last eight years.

A confident and relaxed Brock Boeser sat down with the Spittin’ Chiclets crew in none other than Wayne Gretzky’s basement over All-Star weekend in Toronto and gave Canucks fans the kind of unfiltered insight into the team — and into his journey to the pros — that was newsworthy not only in these parts, but also in his home state of Minnesota.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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In the podcast released Tuesday, the 30-goal scorer dropped at least one F-bomb in a 30 minute-plus segment which covered it all, including the commitment of coach Rick Tocchet.

“He gets on the ice before everyone,” Boeser said. “He’s always the first guy on the ice. You see him come and grab like a f***** handful of gum and stick it in his pocket and walk out (of the dressing room) and no one’s on the ice yet,” he said, drawing laughs.

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There were other golden nuggets from the interview.

Spittin’ Chiclets producer Pasha Eshghi was chirped by the crew for calling linemate J.T. Miller a “power play merchant” earlier this season.

Boeser broke it down: “I wouldn’t say that’s true … the reason I score 5-on-5 is because of Millsy. I personally think Millsy is one of the best guys down low with the puck in the league.”

In Boeser’s home state, they’re talking about his recollection of events that led him to play college hockey in North Dakota rather than Minnesota.

“Because my cousin played at Wisconsin I hated the Gophers. I went on a visit there two different times, I tried to see if I could like it, I just couldn’t do it,” Boeser recalled.

Brock’s cousin, Dan Boeser, played for Wisconsin from 2000-04.

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“Minnesota? Well, to be honest, my sophomore year of high school we were going on a visit, we were sitting in the parking lot and we called them and we’re like ‘Hey where are you?’ and they were like ‘Oh we gotta reschedule’ so that was off the bat,” Boeser said.

“That wasn’t good.”

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Boeser went on to say the old Olympic-sized rink at the University of Minnesota wasn’t ideal for developing his game, leading him to commit to Wisconsin — before changing his mind and going to North Dakota, where he won an NCAA championship in 2016.

The biggest takeaway from the interview was that Boeser is back to playing his game — and back to loving the game — after a tough couple of years personally.

Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils and Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks on the red carpet during 2024 NHL All-Star Thursday at Scotiabank Arena on February 01, 2024.
Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils and Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks on the red carpet during 2024 NHL All-Star Thursday at Scotiabank Arena on February 01, 2024. Photo by Bruce Bennett /Getty Images

Hughes unranked

It’s one thing to rank Quinn Hughes a notch below Stanley Cup-winner Cale Makar.

It’s another entirely to not rank Hughes at all among the top defenders in the game.

ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski published the first results from the 2024 NHL Positional Rankings — which combines player surveys and executive polls — aiming to go “behind fan conjecture and media narratives to reveal the best of the best according to those inside the NHL.”

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With the defencemen up first, Colorado’s Makar was at the top of the list, with Vancouver’s Hughes in second.

That’s not the story.

The story was one NHL GM not including Hughes on their ballot at all.

“Last season, Hughes didn’t appear in the top 10 among defencemen on any of our 20 ballots,” Wyshynski writes. “This season, he received 146 points and appeared on 19 of 20 ballots — although one NHL general manager left him off theirs completely.”

A quick look at the stats sheet show Hughes leading Makar by six points and is second in the league with a plus-34 mark.

Come to think of it, this may be worse than The Athletic ranking Hughes as a Tier 3B defender to start the season.

Vancouver Canucks prospects Jonathan Lekkerimaki in action for Orebro HK of the Swedish Hockey League during the 2023/24 season.
Vancouver Canucks prospects Jonathan Lekkerimaki in action for Orebro HK of the Swedish Hockey League during the 2023/24 season. Photo by Orebro HK /Submitted

Prospects rising

Until this season, the Canucks’ prospects pool was seen as a shallow one.

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Not anymore.

Vancouver moved up 10 spots in The Athletic’s prospects rankings to 18th overall, released on Tuesday.

The surge comes despite trading promising defenceman Hunter Brzustewicz to the Flames’ organization in the Elias Lindholm trade.

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Topping the list — before the paywall popped up — was world junior MVP forward Jonathan Lekkerimaki, who is leading the SHL among U21 players with 12 goals in 35 games, including scoring in two straight games this past week.

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We’ll have more on the Canucks’ top prospects on Sunday with the weekly prospects tracker.

Top of the pops

And still …

For the second straight week, the Canucks are topping power rankings across the board.

ESPN’s latest rankings have Vancouver in first overall, pointing to the recent play of goaltender Thatcher Demko and the lack of back-to-back’s in the team’s upcoming schedule.

Over at Sportsnet, the Canucks are also in first, with the Bruins coming in second again.

And at, Vancouver was the consensus No. 1 pick.

Wherever you look, the Canucks are on top — as they should be, leading the league in points in this dream season.

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