But they may never share another game as teammates. It sounds dramatic, but it’s also the harsh possibility the Canucks and their players face after a decisive 2019-20 season that saw the rebuilt squad win two playoff rounds and take the Vegas Golden Knights to Game 7 of the semis. conference finals before losing Friday. in Edmonton.
Tanev is one of only two players left in the Canucks’ locker room to welcome Horvat to the NHL as a 19-year-old rookie in 2014. Defenseman Alex Edler is the other. A third teammate, goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom, was in the minors when Horvat’s rookie season began almost six years ago.
Tanev, 30, has been a constant, stable and united influence during the development of Horvat into a prominent two-way center.
The defenseman really wants to stay with the Canucks. Horvat and the organization want to keep him. Why not?
But Tanev is set to become an unrestricted free agent amid the flat-cap crisis facing all NHL teams, and general manager Jim Benning has repeatedly said his top priority at UFA was Markstrom. After that, the Canucks need to find out if they can stop top winger Tyler Toffoli from leaving as a free agent.
Tanev and the other players will likely wait to see how much ceiling space drains downward.
“I said as long as I’m here I would like to stay with the team,” Tanev told reporters. “I love the organization, I love all the guys, I love the city, the fans are great. That’s obviously the goal – to be able to stay a Canuck for as long as I can. I didn’t think about the possibility of playing my last game, to be honest.
“Jacob is our MVP and he’s been great for us the past few years. It’s going to take priority and it is, so I mean you have to be prepared to wait a bit. In reality, it doesn’t matter if you sign today or the day before free agency. If you are a Canuck, this is what will happen.
Not everyone will sign.
The hope and excitement generated by the Canucks’ season is suddenly tempered by this.
“We want to keep this team together,” said Horvat. “I think we have a great base group. I think we have a lot of good aspects in this team. Obviously, some tough decisions have to be made. I wouldn’t want to be in (the leadership’s place) but hopefully they can do the right things and hopefully we can get just about everyone back to do this race again.
Of Tanev, Horvat said: “Chris has been amazing, not only in the dressing room, but for the organization. On the ice, off the ice, from day one when I got here, taking me to dinners and making me welcome and comfortable in the city. Her play speaks for itself. He brings it in every night and you can always count on him.
It’s hard to count on anything as an NHL offseason draws near as new and unknowable as many other things that have happened during the year of the coronavirus.
The big picture of the Canucks, the big picture, is always beautiful. But how will they get there?
Their young nucleus, Horvat, 25, and Elias Pettersson, 21, Quinn Hughes, 20, and Brock Boeser, 23, are some of the best in the NHL. Alternate goalkeeper Thatcher Demko is 24, and another handful of talented hopefuls will be looking to be part of this talented squad over the next few years.
Edmonton and this year’s Stanley Cup tournament were a giant leap forward for the Canucks and certainly shouldn’t be their last. But not everyone on the team will be there for the next jump.
Affectionately nicknamed “dad” by his younger teammates, Tanev spent his entire 10 years as a pro in the Canucks’ organization and played all of his 514 NHL games with the team.
Few players have literally sacrificed themselves as much for their team as the oft-injured Tanev, who has played all 69 games for the Canucks this year and finished fourth in the NHL with 159 blocks. In the playoffs, Tanev finished second behind Edler with 54 blocks.
“The young guys were obviously amazing to us and they’re going to grow older as they get older,” Tanev said. “Quinn is 20 and Petey and Brock are so young. It was just a great opportunity for the guys to gain some experience (this summer) and learn what the playoffs are like.
“As they get older and do this more often, they will understand what it takes to always go further than us. Everyone is proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we would still love to play right now. Hopefully over the years this is what happens.
He also hopes to be part of it.