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Willes' Musings: We'll probably never know if this Canucks team was good enough to make the playoffs

Didn’t get out a lot this weekend which left lots of time for the Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports.

We’ll likely never know if the Vancouver Canucks were good enough to secure one of the eight playoff spots in the Western Conference this season but it’s an intriguing question.

To qualify for the post-season, the Canucks had to finish ahead of one of Nashville (they were tied with 78 points but the Preds had one more regulation win when the NHL suspended play), Calgary (they were one back of the third-place Flames in the Pacific with a game in hand) or Winnipeg (two back of the second-wild card spot with two games in hand) while holding off the charging Minnesota Wild.

The Canucks had 13 games left on their schedule: six at home. They also faced six teams who sat under the playoff bar over that stretch. Eight wins in those 13 games gets them to 94 points which might have been enough. Nine wins and 96 points might have been a lock but was this team capable of delivering that down the stretch?

That’s debatable. They lost their nerve when Jacob Markstrom went down against Boston on Feb. 22 and Markstrom wasn’t coming back any time soon.

Yes, they were coming off a shootout win over the Islanders when the NHL went dark but think of some of those losses in late February and early March: at Ottawa, at Arizona, home and away to Columbus. A playoff team might have lost one or two of those games. But all four?

Sorry, can’t help thinking those games would have eventually cost the Canucks a playoff berth.

In a world turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, maybe it’s fitting WrestleMania 36 provided the only, er, sports entertainment of the weekend.

But if you believe this is a sign the apocalypse is truly upon us, we invite you to reconsider.

The WWE comes along at a time when it’s needed most, filling a void created by the suspension of MLB, NBA, NHL and other leagues which have been shuttered by the pandemic. True, professional wrestling isn’t exactly part of the sports’ mainstream but you might have noticed we don’t have a lot of options these days.

Whatever else it is, wrasslin’ gives us content and something to talk about. Yes, most of us will have to play catch up to familiarize ourselves with a new generation of stars — who, for example, is Drew McIntyre and how did he get a title shot against Brock Lesnar on Sunday night?

But wrestling isn’t terribly complicated. I can, in fact, envision a universe where the coverage of professional wrestling mirrors the coverage we give to those major sports leagues which are currently shut down.

We could have our own insiders sucking up to Vince McMahon for scoops — ‘“I’m told Seth Rollins has been nursing a hip pointer which is why he bowed out of his match with Randy Orton,” or, “Sources tell us The Undertaker is considering retirement. Again.”

We could have beat writers working the cards all over the country, filing match reports on tight deadlines. Junior writers could learn their craft covering the lesser companies, your All-Elite Wrestling or Impact Wrestling where they could make their reputation by identifying rising stars in the game — “I saw John Cena when he was with Ultimate Pro Wrestling.”

Who knows. Maybe wrestling lends itself to analytics. Someone could work out a an equation which determines expected pin falls arising from the use of the atomic drop — I’m here assuming they still use the atomic drop.

This would also lead to a generational divide in which veteran writers dismiss the work of the number crunchers — “I don’t need data to tell me Bret Hart was the greatest wrestler who ever lived.”

No one knows how long the pandemic will last so we’d have to expand our coverage to include special series such as “All-Star Wrestling, the Gene Kiniski years,” or historical retrospectives like “Who was the greater heel: Sweet Daddy Siki or The Sheik.”

We could go on but you get the point. But be forewarned if this goes on any longer, you can expect a three-part feature on Iron Mike Sharpe.

Tweet of the week: “My wife and I play this fun quarantine game, it’s called, ‘Why Are You Doing It That Way?” and there are no winners.”

Have a friend who’s in the wine business. He reports these numbers:

– On Mar. 12, the day the NHL, MLB and MLS closed their doors and the day after the NBA shut down, they were roughly 10 per cent below their sales from Mar. 2019.

– They finished March 37 per cent ahead of Mar. 2019 sales.

– A case of 12 bottles usually represents seven to eight per cent of all sales. For March, it was 37 per cent of sales.

And finally, saw K’Andre Miller at last year’s World Juniors with Team USA and the young defenceman looked like a legitimate prospect: big, mobile and physical, he was still learning a new position after playing forward but, given his skill set, you’d bet on him figuring things out with the New York Rangers.

That’s all you should know about Miller. Instead, most hockey fans now know him as the subject of a gutless racist attack while he was conducting an online chat on the Zoom app.

The act has since been universally condemned by the hockey community but how does this happen in 2020? More to the point, why are we still asking that question.

If you have an answer, please enlighten me.

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