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Markus Meyer The Hockey Writers

Published on Sunday, April 3, 2016





The Nuck Stops Here: Chris Higgins, Brendan Gaunce

‘The Nuck Stops Here’ is a Vancouver Canucks news and opinion column running every Sunday throughout the season.


Victor de Bonis promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Aquillini Group

Vancouver, BC – The Aquilini Group announced today that Victor de Bonis is taking on an expanded, new role as the Aquilini Group’s Chief Operating Officer. His promotion will strengthen the Aquilini Group (AG) while also maintaining the excellent business operations of CSE.

de Bonis’ new role will have him now oversee Aquilini Group’s Entertainment, Hospitality and Treasury Divisions. He will stay closely involved with the Vancouver Canucks as he continues to oversee the team’s business operations, including his successor on the Senior Leadership Team. He will also continue to work with and support Hockey Operations President Trevor Linden and will continue to foster League relations as Alternate Governor, NHL.

“Victor is a strong leader that will help our growing businesses, including integrating our entire group of operating companies,” said AG’s Managing Partner and Chairman of CSE, Francesco Aquilini. “CSE is one of the strongest sports and entertainment companies in North America thanks to Victor and the collective vision and efforts of his team. I am very proud of what we have accomplished and I’m looking forward to this next chapter of our business.”

de Bonis has served as Chief Operating Officer of Canucks Sports and Entertainment (CSE) since 2007 and has been a member of the Canucks organization for over 22 years.

Jake Virtanen

Canucks’ forward Jake Virtanen (Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports)

Jake Virtanen suspended two games for hit on Sharks’ Roman Polak

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Wednesday that Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen was suspended two games for his hit on San Jose Sharks defenceman Roman Polak.

Virtanen was asses a major penalty on the play for interference, as well as a game misconduct. He will forfeit $9,614.70 in salary, which will go to Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. The 19-year-old Virtanen has posted seven goals and 13 points through 51 games in his rookie year this season.

Scores of the Week

Vancouver Canucks – 2 : Chicago Blackhawks – 3

Vancouver Canucks – 1 : San Jose Sharks – 4

San Jose Sharks – 2 : Vancouver Canucks – 4

Anaheim Ducks – 2 : Vancouver Canucks – 3

Current Record: 29-36-13 (71 Points ~ 6th in Pacific Division, 12th in Western Conference, 26th in NHL)


Chris Higgins

Chris Higgins [photo: Lauren Zabel]

Chris Higgins taking advantage of second chance

After many years of being a valuable member of the Canucks’ supporting cast, and often even playing in a top-six capacity, Chris Higgins took a colossal step backwards this season, being demoted to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League. With recent injuries, however, Higgins has gotten a second chance with the Canucks, and he’s taken advantage of it. While he’s hardly blown anybody away, Higgins has been noticeable, with a bit more jump seemingly added to his game. He’s had a presence on the forecheck, hasn’t made any glaring defensive gaffs, and even scored a shorthanded goal in a recent contest against the San Jose Sharks. Is he the second line forward he was back in 2011-12? No, certainly not, but with the fairly impressive stint he’s having, he may have saved his National Hockey League career. It’s still not likely the Canucks will get much in return for the 32-year-old winger, but they may be able to salvage a late round draft pick for him, given that a club may be looking for a veteran third or fourth line winger that can kill penalties. There may be some revitalized interest in Higgins due to this recent stretch of decent play, which is good not only for him personally, but for the Canucks as well.

Brendan Gaunce Utica Comets

Brendan Gaunce looking like a legitimate NHL forward

Brendan Gaunce has re-emerged this season as one of the Canucks top prospects this season, with an offensive campaign of 15 goals and 33 points in 48 games with the AHL’s Utica Comets. Once tagged as a one-dimensional defensive forward, Gaunce flexed an offensive muscle that hadn’t been seen before in 2015-16, which much helps his stock with the Canucks. The 22-year-old has gotten a chance to play with the big club over the final stretch, and it’s safe to say that he hasn’t looked out of place. Playing in Vancouver’s bottom-six, Gaunce hasn’t done much offensively – in fact, he doesn’t boast a single point over the course of his most recent call-up – but he does appear to have some decent offensive instinct, with the ability to drive the net, as well as some decent poise with the puck. While he’ll never be a big-time point producer, he does appear to be able to read NHL play well, and could be a decent secondary scorer in the future. Additionally, he hasn’t looked out of place defensively, and appears to do well in terms of reading defensive situations. The one criticism would fall in his skating which, while improved from the past couple of years, still lags a tad behind the rest of the competition. While Gaunce doesn’t look out of place, and he certainly doesn’t get blown away by NHL-caliber foot speed, it is an area to work on if he hopes to develop into an effective forechecker in the future, an asset for a player who play in a role like Gaunce will. He hasn’t dominated by any stretch, but the 2012 26th overall selection looks extremely comfortable in an NHL environment, and it’s reasonable to say that Gaunce has already nearly locked himself into a roster spot moving forward.


Fun links about the Vancouver Canucks from all around the internet

The Canucks have some budding stars playing in the NCAA this year [Hockey’s Future]

How the Canucks have been trying to rebuild without pain [The Globe and Mail]

Nine things you should know about the Canucks’ recent nine game losing streak [Sportsnet]

Why the recent winning streak is a silver lining for the Canucks [The Canuck Way]

The Canucks should keep drafting Russian and NCAA players, despite the risks [CanucksArmy]

Dan Hamhuis was the unanimous choice as the Canucks’ Masterton Trophy nominee [The Province]


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