Canucks risk Demko’s development by leaving Ian Clark unsigned
If there was any doubt that the Vancouver Canucks were taking a huge risk by leaving goaltending coach Ian Clark unsigned, there’s no more.
Like head coach Travis Green, Clark is without a contract beyond this season and will soon be able to go to the highest bidder. As one of the NHL’s most successful goaltending coaches, there shouldn’t be a shortage of teams lined up for his services.
Clark returned to Vancouver in 2018, after seven years as a goaltending coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky won two Vezina Trophies under his leadership in Columbus and quickly saw his numbers drop after Clark left the Blue Jackets.
Jacob Markstrom became an elite goaltender after only half a season working with Clark, and was part of the Vezina Trophy conversation last season. Now with the Calgary Flames, Markstrom will post his worst save percentage in five years.
Clark’s latest star pupil is Thatcher Demko, who went above and beyond when asked about the uncertain future of the Canucks goaltender coach. Demko is generally stoic in interviews, so his comments carry extra weight.
“Clarkie, he’s amazing. I probably owe him pretty much everything, ”he said.
“Obviously I do the job, but the way he guided and mentored me, it was amazing. I desperately hope they can find something and bring it back.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning cares so much about Demko that he signed him for a five-year, $ 25 million contract extension. It’s a huge commitment for a goalkeeper, even as promising as Demko.
There are countless examples of seemingly excellent goalkeepers whose game is falling apart. Watch Carter Hart this year in Philadelphia.
Or Bobrovsky, and to a lesser extent, Markstrom.
Even though the Canucks want Clark back, at this point they’ve risked alienating him. By extension, they risked the development of Demko.
“I think the momentum he and I have right now is exciting,” said Demko. “There’s still a ton of room for me to grow and the work Ian and I have been doing over the past few years, and just the habits and routines, and the way we’re able to think about the game and be sure. the same page now is something I would like to continue doing here for the next several years. I really hope he comes back here.
The pandemic has put financial strain on all NHL teams, and the Canucks are no different. But the salaries of coaches are pale compared to the money players make, despite the huge effect they can have on a team.
How would Demko play without Clark by his side? It’s a question we don’t know the answer to, which is all the more reason not to take any chances.
It’s like buying a new Ferrari and parking it in a low-traffic area without an alarm system. That might be fine, but if you have the money for a Ferrari, why the hell don’t you do all you can to take care of it?
Demko didn’t hesitate to say how difficult this season has been for him, but through it all he has established himself as a legitimate No. 1 goaltender, posting a .915 save percentage.
“It was a crazy year, and certainly the most difficult year I had to go through… I felt like it was a good year for me, to the point of taking another step in my development… just learning on myself, learning how to play through adversity at this level. I started to feel like I understood my game and what I needed to do to be successful every night by playing a lot of games.
“It is important for a goalkeeper to close the door yesterday so that he can open the door today with a fresh mind.” #Canucks Goalkeeper coach Ian Clark works with Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby. pic.twitter.com/dB0WeDoub3
– Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) February 8, 2021