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Overcoming Adversity


JeremyCuddles

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Just a little appreciation thread for a couple guys that have had their fair bit of adversity and overcame them. Got a TLDR section so you don't gotta read this wall of text if you don't want to. Didn't plan on this getting so long winded but there's a lot of history to cover.

 

Lets start this with Smilin' Ben Hutton. To start his rookie season he blew us all away with his poise and puck handling ability. 5th rounder Ben Hutton was destroying expectations. He came in and took the team by storm, becoming a instant fan favorite. But things would only start to go down hill for Ben Hutton after his rookie campaign. As his sophomore season seen him slightly regress, then last season seen him completely fall off a cliff in terms of production and fan approval. In the eyes of many, myself included, he was seen as completely expendable. He was out of shape, he seemed off, his passes not as crisp, sloppy puck control and nothing was going in. Literally nothing. Hutton finished the season with 0 goals in 61 appearances where he was a healthy scratch on a good many nights.

 

A guy that many were fine with moving for whatever the Canucks could get, put his nose to the grindstone and came into camp seemingly brand new. With 4 goals and 6 assists through 24 games this season in which the Canucks have been absolutely beat up. He is not just playing lots of minutes. He is giving us quality minutes. Battled through last seaons adversity, worked his tail off, and is now one of our best most reliable defenders. All while wearing his trade mark nothin' but money smile. Boy am I glad Benning didn't overreact like I did after last season. I was one of the folks that wanted him gone after last season. Good work Ben. Hard work is really paying off.

 

The main reason I wanted to start this thread is Jake "Big Country" Virtanen. His struggles and failures have been under a microscope since he was drafted. Further magnified by the success of fellow 2014 draftees Nikolaj Ehlers and William "tell me I'm pretty" Nylander. His adversity started before he was even a Canuck. He had shoulder surgery that cost him all of his offseason training. Jake's rookie year, while not a complete dud, was not quite up to fans expectations either. Was in and out of the lineup. Played 4th line. Only tallied 7 goals and 6 assists in 52 appearences. Not to mention the World Juniors where he was Canada's whipping boy after a poor showing and a bad game against Finland in which he had some bad penalties that in the eyes of many cost Canada the game. Fans had a field day with these failures.

 

Things only got worse for Jake Virtanen. Going into the 2016/17 season it was widely reported that Jake Virtanen had "bulked" up in a major way. Going from 200 pounds to roughly 230 pounds. This was not for the better. He was out of shape, much slower, and far less effective than the previous season. In just 10 showings that season he had 1 assist and had just 13 shots before being sent down to the AHL. He was all but considered done for as a top prospect on this team. Many believed we'd be lucky if he ever became a 3rd liner in the NHL. In the face of this adversity though began the Jake Virtanen renaissance. With the help of Travis Green, Jake Virtanen got into much better shape and his defense took major steps forward. Despite that though, some fans only seen his offensive totals. Jake Virtanen in 65 AHL appearences had a modest 19 points (9 goals and 10 assists). Not nearly up to the expectations being set by the aforementioned Ehlers and Nylander both of which were drafted after Jake Virtanen. During the 16/17 both scored 60+ points in the NHL for their respective clubs while he struggled to hit 20 in the AHL.

 

While that year in the AHL was the beginning of the turn around for Jake Virtanen, not many fans were buying into it just yet. And you can kind of understand why. Jake continued to build on that successful AHL season during the 2017/18 season. He was in much better shape at camp. That speed we got a taste of in his rookie season was back and yet he seemed faster. He was much more active defensively and caused havoc for the attacking team with his speed on the back check. He has battled through all this adversity to become a much better player. The year wasn't a major success, but it was a step in the right direction. Jake Virtanen had a pretty slow start to the 17/18 season, but when injuries piled up. We really got to see what a beast he can be. Jake finished the 17/18 season with a modest 20 points (10 goals and 10 assists) in 75 appearances. 

 

26 games into the 18/19 season and the Jake love is at an all time high. We have people shot gunning beers after his goals, drink responsibly folks. We are seeing a major turn around in Jake Virtanen appreciation in game day threads and post game threads. All the adversity and hardships he went through these past years have only made him a better player and a better person. As the season has gone on Jake only seems to be getting better as well. Sky is the limit for this kid.

 

TLDR: Jake and Hutton have been really, really good. Both had their fair share of struggles and adversities they had to battle thread. I wanted this thread to also include talking about Alex Edler and Sven Baertschi but as you see it is already long winded with just two players so they are relegated to a shortened version here. It's no secret I am not a major Edler fan, but boy has he ever been good for us when he is in. And when he isn't you really see what a huge hole he leaves. Baer struggled to live up to that 13th overall selection. He struggled to find a spot with our team at first too. But he reinvented his game and has become a great two way player that can tally 20 goals (pace wise). Sadly he is still going through adversity in the way of injuries. Here's hoping the concussion troubles does not negatively effect his life going forward. 

 

Edit: Greener has done a fantastic job with this team as well going through adversity on a team level. With all these injuries and all the AHLers finding their way onto the team it’s no easy task getting this team to come out and battle night after night.

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Good points you've brought up.

 

What we really need to take away is:  have patience.  Don't decide too early on.  Give an ample period of adjustment before labeling someone a bust. 

 

And Sven and Eddie also  do deserve your attention, so please feel free to add a "Part ll" to this.  Would be happy to read it.

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43 minutes ago, FedorFedorov said:

Yeah this team has had to overcome a lot especially having Green as head coach. Not being a troll just think he's a bad coach. That's all. 

 

 

You "think" but can never really back up that claim with anything substantial.  It's like saying you 'think' the earth is flat.

 

 

He knows what it is like to be a player and has a great understanding of what guys need to hear to improve.  The guy was an elite scorer in Junior that had to adjust and re define his game to have a solid NHL career.  The guy understands hockey inside and out- can you say the same?   Virtanen's development alone under TG has been phenomenal.  Clearly Jake bought in to what TG has asked of him, Hutton as well.  

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1 hour ago, FedorFedorov said:

Yeah this team has had to overcome a lot especially having Green as head coach. Not being a troll just think he's a bad coach. That's all. 

 

 

I think we all got your message FF, you’ve made a point in sneaking that into pretty much any thread repeatedly over the last couple weeks.  Experts disagree, despite the losing streak he was voted as third place after the first quarter for the Adams. If the theme continues that would make him a finalist by the end of the year.  Pining for the days of Megna, Chaput and WDs moustache?  Vancouver could do a lot worse.   He’s proven capable of turning careers around, JV case in point, scrubs entitlement out of the lineup, and isn’t afraid to mix things up when the team (or player) needs a spark like moving Boeser onto EPs line (which briefly ignited Boesers stagnant offense).   He’s making lemonade right now, a team that supposed to finish just above OTT at the start is still in spitting distance of a playoff spot despite a terrible schedule and multiple key injuries.  If we make the playoffs he will win the Adams, not bad for a sophomore coach.

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2 hours ago, Kevin Biestra said:

 

Yeah we did give up on Skriko a little early.

Year four is an important time for young players, that’s when a lot either show they belong and move up the depth chart, or settle into the bottom six  for as long as they can.  Occasionally it’s a year later too, it’s important for a team to know when it’s the right time to double down on a player, or cut bait,  not they easy.  Every team makes mistakes both ways,  Benning seems to be a patient fellow so far which is also hard to do with constant pressure to produce, good thing too.

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On 11/25/2018 at 1:12 PM, FedorFedorov said:

Yeah this team has had to overcome a lot especially having Green as head coach. Not being a troll just think he's a bad coach. That's all. 

 

 

The thread is about Hutton and Virtanen - two players Green has done a great job of developing / getting back on track.

 

On 11/24/2018 at 7:37 PM, FedorFedorov said:

Not anymore. I'm changed after a stern warning. 

 
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