Is there anything in hockey we're more obssessed with than "the room"? We're always trying to find out what's going on in there. We ask players about it constantly. What's the atmosphere in the room? What are you guys saying in the room? Who's the most vocal teammate in the room? Is there a cancer in the room?
Players add to the mystery as well. That's an issue for the guys in the room. We have a good room right now. We talked about it in the room. That stays in the room.
So naturally, we're going to latch onto anything that comes out of the room, especially the stuff that was supposed to stay there, such as this quote from Canucks defender Andrey Pedan:
Andrei Pedan to Sport-Express: 'McCann was the only guy in #Canucks I couldn't get along. Sometimes he acted like he's the lonely star here'— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) May 31, 2016
I'm reminded of an old quote: There's always that one lonely star that fires its way to stardom. For Jim Benning's sake, let's hope that's not McCann.
Anyway, Pedan shouldn't have said this. You know who's not a good guy in the room? The guy who tells the media that a teammate isn't. Poor form. Plus it looks like a classic post-trade character assassination, although I'd point out that everybody feels more comfortable talking garbage about someone they dislike once that person is gone.
It's worse than that, though. Now everyone is going to start talking about Jared McCann's "character", and that's going to be hard to shut down, since this isn't the first time it's come up. Throughout the season, there were rumours that the Canucks didn't like McCann's attitude. And remember Beth Bartkowski's endearing radio appearance, when she gushed about her experience on the mothers' road trip, save for this little coda?
"Every guy on the Canucks is the nicest guy... oh my god, except that little 19-year-old, what's his name?"
That could, of course, only be one of two dudes. But the hosts didn't press for clarification (probably they could barely get a word in edgewise -- Beth Bartkowski talks like the Micro Machines Man). Still, one could make an educated guess.
Then there was Daniel Sedin's unusually candid condemnation of the play of certain teammates: "From some guys right now, the effort is not there. I think those guys know who they are. I think it’s embarrassing."
It's enough to lead one to believe that the Canucks were willing to part with McCann not just because they deemed him a fair price for Erik Gudbranson, but because he had "character issues".
He very well may have. I was 19 once. I had character issues. I've met very few 19-year-olds who don't. And if you'd been plucked from junior, where you were a star, and now you're in over your head in your rookie season, and you don't think you're getting the chances you need to play your way out of it, and you're not used to taking care of yourself, and you're all the way across the continent from your friends and family, and maybe some of your teammates think you're acting like a spoiled brat, but they're mostly old family men who don't want to party, and the team doesn't want you to party either, and you don't think your employer should be allowed to tell you how to spend your free time, I could see something of an attitude developing.
That's not to say it's acceptable behaviour. Again, I teened it up for a good seven years, and most of the time, acceptable behaviour was the least of my interests.
But the thing about these attitudes and actions is players mature beyond them. Especially 19-year-old players. Teenagers tend not to stay teenagers. Hell, Jared McCann turned 20 today. He's already growing out of it!
It's also not to say that the Canucks would be explicitly wrong in shipping out a potentially disgruntled prospect, if this played a role. You do have to protect the vibe in your room, and since, again, the room is a sacred space into which we are rarely invited to peer, we don't know how much its vibe was threatened. It's entirely possible that if you'd spend last season in the room, you'd be agreeing with Pedan right now.
Still. Jim Benning arrived in Vancouver having already orchestrated at least one trade jettisoning a potential star due to character issues, and the kid's team won the Western Conference this season. That deal looks terribly short-sighted now, because, hey, whaddya know, Tyler Seguin matured as he aged. He learned from his mistakes. He even got better and more well-rounded as a hockey player. Who saw that coming?
As a Vancouver fan, I don't want to be on the wrong end of another deal like this. Time makes fools of us all, but especially those of us who give up on teenagers because they're immature. If the Canucks get into the habit of trading kids away because they occasionally act like children, this rebuild is going to take forever.