The Vancouver Canucks finished the job. They bowed out of the NHL playoffs in four games, allowing the San Jose Sharks to complete their sweep.
Questionable officiating gave them a nudge out the door, but the Canucks deserved to lose that series.
“We put ourselves in the situation where one bad call costs you a game,” Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa told the Vancouver Sun. “It was four games of not executing. This wasn't an isolated incident; we were in a 3-0 hole. We didn't play good enough to win the series. It sucks. There's no way to sugarcoat it.”
They have lost 10 of their last 11 playoff games. They are growing old and less relevant.
So what happens now?
General manager Mike Gillis could fire coach Alain Vigneault, but the pool of head coaching candidates is underwhelming.
Gillis could try to trade goaltender Roberto Luongo again, but he will have a tough time finding somebody to take the rest of Luongo’s onerous deal.
The Vancouver Province raised the possibility to moving the Sedin Twins at some point next season to turn the page on this era. That concept seems unpalatable . . . but so does the notion of giving Henrik and Daniel additional years at big dollars.
The Province’s Ed Willes summed up the scenario:
The Canucks were exposed against the Sharks. They were exposed as being too small and too soft to compete at the highest level of an NHL which now rewards other attributes.
This team is no longer close. The window is closed. You saw it over these four games; four games in which the Canucks grew old before our very eyes.
As for the rest of the 2013 campaign, the most exciting part is coming up for the Canucks and that’s all you need to know about what they’ve become.