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[Article] Q&A: Canucks GM Patrik Allvin talks changing the narrative this season


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Q&A: Canucks GM Patrik Allvin talks changing the narrative this season

Iain MacIntyreSeptember 16, 2023, 3:17 PM

PENTICTON – It was a beautiful day to sit by the lake.

As Vancouver Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin sat down Friday near a window in the lobby of the team’s lakefront hotel, another Young Stars tournament about to begin in the Okanagan, he was reminded that his perch was the same one he occupied exactly a year ago in a one-on-one interview with Sportsnet.

“Maybe we should change it up,” he said.

The Canucks are desperate to change course as an organization, to finally move decisively upwards in the standings after three years of turmoil and upheaval, which is what created job openings on the West Coast for Allvin and president Jim Rutherford in the winter of 2022.

But while the chairs Friday were the same, the feeling around the team is profoundly different because there is finally organizational alignment and a singularity of purpose to hockey operations after Allvin fired the coach he inherited, Bruce Boudreau, in January and hand-picked Rick Tocchet to replace him.

Systems and, Allvin believes, culture began to change immediately.

In his post-summer, pre-tournament interview with us, Allvin discussed this seismic shift, the possibility of re-signing Elias Pettersson sooner than people think, an improved roster, the importance of a good start despite another tough schedule, facing hard decisions to become salary-cap compliant and go-time for the Canucks’ core group.

This interview has been edited slightly for clarity and brevity.

Sportsnet: How different is the feeling around your organization compared to 12 months ago?

Allvin: It definitely feels different because I feel that we’re more aligned from the top to the bottom. I think we’re all preaching the same message. We know the players. And there was definitely a big momentum boost after last year when we did the coaching change.

Sportsnet: Is the alignment between management and the coaching staff the biggest positive factor?

Allvin: I think it’s big for the players. The players got a chance to get to know Rick and (new assistants) Adam Foote and Sergei Gonchar last year and see what they were all about, and building that partnership and having that trust in each other. I think that’s why the players are excited about coming back. It’s a different vibe this year.

Sportsnet: Tocchet told us a month ago that everyone is tired of losing, and he is challenging players to “change the narrative.” He said they must get comfortable being uncomfortable. Do you agree?

Allvin: That’s no different from what we’re talking about as a hockey operations staff, too, because if we don’t (change), we’re going to be stuck here. Players-wise, we haven’t made the playoffs and obviously we need to do things differently. The approach Toc has and how he wants to play the game, you need to be fit to play. And I think that’s what he emphasized to the players — the fitness level in order to be able to play the right way. That’s where I give the leadership group a lot of credit because the players came together and sent out the texts and everybody showed up earlier than ever before.

Sportsnet: Elias Pettersson dropped a news bomb before returning from Sweden that he wants to wait during his final season under contract before deciding whether to re-sign. Did this surprise you?

Allvin: Ever since I got in here, I’ve had a great relationship with Elias. And I know that he’s excited with working with Tocchet and what we’re doing here. I think his focus has been to continue to have a good offseason training-wise and health-wise. I see a big improvement in his maturity and his commitment to that, and I give him a lot of credit for that. That being said, his agent, Pat Brisson, and I have a relationship that goes back (to Pittsburgh and Sidney Crosby) and we talk pretty frequently. When the time is right, hopefully we’ll get something done.

Sportsnet: Could that time still be early or in the middle of the season and not necessarily at the end of it?

Allvin: Absolutely. I know that Elias is happy here, happy with how we want to play, the additions of the players we got this summer and the direction the team is going.

Sportsnet: It seems like Pettersson wants to see if changes you’ve made to the coaching staff and roster translate to a better team. Are you comfortable that your best player is taking a wait-and-see approach?

Allvin: The best players are probably going to dictate the outcome of the season. There is no secret that our players are dictating the outcome of the season. So with the growth of our younger players — a significant improvement I felt from Quinn (Hughes) and Elias, not just their individual games but how they approach the team game and how they approach their teammates and practice habits and all that — that’s where I think it’s going to feed our results. I think they are committed and understand it’s not about their individual points now; it’s how it translates to team success.

Sportsnet: The team never recovered last season from an 0-5-2 start. The year before, it went 6-14-2 in the first quarter. Both those starts were preceded by disjointed training camps undermined by several factors. Do you need a better camp and pre-season this year to have a better start?

Allvin: Absolutely. I one-hundred-percent believe in that. I think that’s what the players understand now, too. It’s not just a mindset of: OK, we’re coming in here for training camp and we’ll get going. What they’re showing now is that they understand that you need to be in here (early) and be ready for Day 1. On Day 1, we’re going. It’s about how you prepare the whole summer leading up to this point. I think our coaching staff have done a really good job interacting with the players during the summer, talking hockey, talking systems. I think that’s why the players are excited about coming back here now.

Sportsnet: A common factor in those last two starts was a difficult, road-heavy schedule: six straight road games to begin 2021-22, and a five-game trip last season. And now again you have a tough, five-game roadie this season after opening at home against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 11. Why does the organization not address this with the NHL to give the team a better chance to start well?

Allvin: We were working with the league. I think all the teams are doing that, quite honestly. The difficulty in making the schedule, I don’t think you can please all the teams in every aspect. But we get a chance to at least start at home and then go on the road. I view it as an opportunity to come together more as a team. I definitely think this year we will be up for the challenge. We will be better prepared.

Sportsnet: Is it a better roster?

Allvin: I believe it’s a better team also with the individual improvements that I saw last year, too. I think every single player improved their game, to be honest, the last 30 games since Rick got here. The details of the game changed and I think that helped a lot of our players. That being said, we were very happy with the additions we did this summer. It gives us definitely a different look on the back end with Carson Soucyand Ian Cole and a healthy (Filip) Hronek as well. I think we were the team that used the most defencemen last year: 15. It shows that we have good depth defencemen in our system, too, and that will make training camp very competitive.

Sportsnet: Is it time for this core group to elevate the team?

Allvin: I would say it’s my job to give them the resources to be successful, and it’s my job to push them and hold them accountable. I feel that what we have created here with the new staff members and with the new structure, I feel they (core players) should be able to continue to grow their game. I think they are all driven, competitive players. Petey and Quinn have been here five or six years, and I saw a lot of maturity over the last eight months. That’s indicating to me there is more to come. Talking to those guys and (J.T.) Miller. . . they want to get better. It’s my job to give them the resources to get better.

Sportsnet: The summer acquisitions have put you over the salary cap by about $5 million, although there are obvious LTIR considerations. But are you prepared to make hard decisions, like sending NHL players to the minors, to become cap-compliant?

Allvin: Training camp will dictate our roster. As I said, I’m excited about the competition here. I would imagine that a lot of players are looking up on the board seeing all the names and wondering where they fit in. So I think the performances at training camp will dictate the roster. As I’ve said going back to when we picked up Filip Hronek (in February), we always have discussions about the salary cap. We will be cap compliant. We have different ways to be it, but we will be cap compliant.

Sportsnet: You want to win a Stanley Cup. Everyone does. But realistically, what does success look like to you this season?

Allvin: I want to see that we are able to carry on the momentum and what we started to build on last year: the mindset, the habits and being a team that is hard to play against every night. You don’t need to win games 6-5, 7-5. You can win games 2-1 by playing the right way and being a very, very consistent team. I think that’s what we (strive for), being very consistent in detail. I want to see. . . us making sure that we take care of all those little things, because those little things will change the big picture.



Edited by RWJC
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  • RWJC changed the title to [Article] Q&A: Canucks GM Patrik Allvin talks changing the narrative this season

This is a great interview. This management is just so much more precise in everything they do.


In terms of alignment, I think people really underestimate the importance of the hockey operations being aligned. They put a lot of priority on that from the start to lay the operational foundation. 


This gives me great confidence so far at this early stage before the season. I've long said we need to be uncomfortable, embrace the uncomfortable, and do things differently.


Talk has run it's course. The players need to prove it on the ice.


Sportsnet: Tocchet told us a month ago that everyone is tired of losing, and he is challenging players to “change the narrative.” He said they must get comfortable being uncomfortable. Do you agree?


Allvin: That’s no different from what we’re talking about as a hockey operations staff, too, because if we don’t (change), we’re going to be stuck here. Players-wise, we haven’t made the playoffs and obviously we need to do things differently. The approach Toc has and how he wants to play the game, you need to be fit to play. And I think that’s what he emphasized to the players — the fitness level in order to be able to play the right way. That’s where I give the leadership group a lot of credit because the players came together and sent out the texts and everybody showed up earlier than ever before

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