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THE MOJ: If it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any Canuck luck at all

Horvat and Miller contract timing typical of what we’ve come to expect from this franchise
Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat waits to take a faceoff against the Washington Capitals during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canuck Luck.

It’s been bad more than good over the years.

It started with an infamous spinning wheel to determine who would select Gilbert Perreault in the 1970 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal.

The wheel was numbered 1 through 13. The Canucks would get the first pick if the wheel stopped between 1 and 6. The Sabres would win the right to select first if the wheel landed between 8 and 13. If the wheel stopped on 7, they would spin again.

When NHL President Clarence Campbell spun the wheel and then called out “one” the Canuck draft table erupted. Buffalo General Manager Punch Imlach asked Campbell to look again. The eyes of the 65-year-old league executive had failed him as the wheel had stopped at 11.

Buffalo had won the right to pick first.

They drafted Perreault, who would enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990 after racking up 1,326 points in 1,191 games as a Sabre. Vancouver then chose Dale Tallon, who would last three seasons as a Canuck.

And so it began.

The spinning wheel is long gone — having been replaced by a system using ping pong balls that only an MIT grad can figure out — but even with that method in place, the ping-pong ball has never come out at just the right time to secure the Canucks that elusive number one pick.

When talking about Canuck Luck you have to mention a couple of gut-wrenching game seven losses in the Stanley Cup Finals – one which includes Nathan LaFayette hitting a post, the other watching the Canucks blow a 2-0 series lead by losing four of the last five games to Boston including game seven on home ice.

If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can add trading away a future Hall-of-Famer in Cam Neely or Calgary’s Joel Otto kicking in the puck for a series-winning OT goal in 1989. There are more examples we could draw from, but we’re limited in space.

The latest chapter isn’t as grand but nonetheless involves Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller.

It’s been recently reported that the Canucks are now exploring trade options with their captain before he hits free agency.

The irony of all this is that the decision to move on from Horvat was basically made on Sept. 5. It was on that day that Vancouver re-signed Miller to a seven-year, $56-million contract.

With the organization being up against the salary cap, it had to chose between Miller or Horvat as keeping both would have been a luxury.

The Canucks decided to invest in Miller.

The approach was commendable as there would still be a somewhat small chance that the Canucks could fit Horvat under their salary cap.

One small problem: with 20 goals in 28 games, the asking price on Horvat has gone though the roof, especially after the Dallas Stars signed Roope Hintz to an eight-year contract worth $67.6 million with an AAV of $8.45 million.

The 26-year-old Hintz may have a higher ceiling as a goal scorer than 27-year-old Horvat but he doesn’t have anywhere near the resume that Horvat has.

CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal has reported that the Canucks have given their best offer to Pat Morris, the agent for Horvat, with the team’s offer coming in the $7 million-plus range per season while the agent is seeking a number well over eight.

With the possibility of re-signing Horvat slim, the Canucks are now working the phones looking to move him before the NHL trade deadline on March 3.

So, you ask, what does all of this have to do with Canuck Luck?

In case you are wondering, Miller’s previous best output was 72 points in 2019-20. The Canucks re-signed him after a career best 99-point season last year. Horvat’s been a perennial 20-goal scorer who potted a career high 31 goals last season. This year, he’s on pace for a 59-goal campaign.

Two key players with expiring contracts and both have career years to bolster their value at just the right (wrong) time.

Just call it another example of Canuck Luck.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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