<table width=90% align=center><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/raymond_blog.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=3 hspace=4>After enduring the fitness testing yesterday morning, we almost immediately took the ferry over to Victoria. I’ve never been to Victoria so it was really exciting, as if there wasn’t enough excitement with just camp itself, going on the ferry was great. There aren't a whole lot of ferries where I am so the big ship, the water, the whole experience, it was really cool.
We were lucky because the weather was cooperating. I’ve heard about the BC rain and changing weather but it was beautiful so I would've never known about the rain if I wasn't previously warned about it (not that I mind that much anyway). It was good to get to just relax after the intense morning, we got to do some sightseeing out on the deck and just hang out. It won’t be this easy once we get on the island that’s for sure.
I slept a little better last night but I mean the beds were so comfortable and the rooms are so nice, it's hard not to sleep well. I really feel almost spoiled here. The nerves are still there but this environment helps ease that – well at least a little bit. I can’t ask for anything more than to just be here in Victoria right now.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/raymond1_09072007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/raymond1_09072007_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=3 hspace=4></a>It was a quiet night since everyone was trying to rest up for today’s session…
Going on the ice, I felt like a kid in a candy store today. We’ve been doing mostly off-ice conditioning training so to get on the ice and do some skating felt great. My nerves went away when I stepped into the rink this morning, it was like home and I got to go out there and show them what I can do.
I'm happy with how the day went though. I felt that I performed well and hopefully caught the coaches and scouts' attention out there.
Warning: Clichés ahead.
There’s still a lot more work to do and a long road ahead so I’ve got to take it one step at time. But to tell you the truth, I’m just happy I got the first day under my belt and got the chance to skate out some of the jitters. It was a good day overall.
It’s weird how I normally would be back in school and now I’m here fighting for a job in the NHL. Unbelievable, really.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/raymond2_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/raymond2_09062007_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=3 hspace=4></a>Back in Minnesota, it’s not really much of a tryout, there are a set 25 guys who come out and skate and that’s kind of it. It’s kind of weird that way, there’s still competition of course but in a much different way. It’s a lot more relaxed and the anxiety’s kind of not really there like it is right now.
I’m just excited for tomorrow and get to go back out there and do it again.</td></tr></table>
<table width=90%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/ellington3_09062007_blog.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=3 hspace=4>So, I’m about to check a couple of "firsts" off my list today: my first NHL training camp and my first ever blog.
My approach is pretty much the same for both - I don’t have a whole lot of expectations, I just want work as hard as I can… well, maybe not as much on the blog as on the ice, but I’m prepared to give it my best shot.
I was a little nervous last night (who wouldn’t be?). I met my roommate for the first time – Martin Thibeault. He’s a really good kid. He’s from Val-d’Or.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/ellington4_09062007_b.jpgg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/ellington4_09062007_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=3 hspace=4></a>I don’t think he’s ever been to Victoria, but then again, I don’t think too many guys have, except for Dan Gendur and some of the guys who played for the Salmon Kings.
I don’t know how many of you know this, but I grew up there. Actually, Dan and I both grew up on the Island. I guess pretty much everyone likes the place they grew up, and I’m the same. I love Victoria.
I left here when I was 16 to go play junior hockey in Everett for the Silvertips. I move back to Victoria every summer to train, and I try to get out to Sooke as much as I can to do a little fishing on the lakes out there. We won’t have time to do anything like that – it’s going to be an intense week – but if we get a few hours, and anyone wants a tour, I’ll take a few guys down to the inner harbour. It’s amazing down there.
Now, I'm not saying that I don’t like Vancouver, it’s just that I haven’t seen a traffic jam in Victoria ever… well, you just don’t have them. It's slower there. I just like that I suppose.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/ellington5_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/ellington5_09062007_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=3 hspace=4></a>It’s going to be neat having my first pro camp there. For sure I’ll see family and friends, and be able to see my parents once more before I head down to Everett. It’ll be nice, and I’ll have a lot of support there I think.
Short term, I just wanted to get the first day over with and get through the testing. After that? I just want to get into camp and perform. I definitely feel pressure, but that motivates me. I had a hard summer of working out, and I think that’ll help.
My plan is to just go out there and get noticed.
I still have to shake my head every once in awhile: the Canucks, the NHL… It’s still not quite sinking in. </td></tr></table>
<table width=90% align=center><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/raymond_blog.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=3 hspace=4>Last night I tried to have a relaxing night - I just went out to dinner with a friend at the Cactus Club. I tried to watch some TV, but I knew I had to get my rest for a big testing day this morning. To tell you the truth, I didn't sleep the best. I was a bit nervous for today. My mind was just racing, mostly because I was anxious to see what lies ahead.
It's my first NHL training camp. I've been to lots of camp before, but nothing like this - it's a whole new experience for me. I just don’t know what’s coming ahead, but I’m excited to see what the future brings.
I had a really good year last season in college, and I feel like I’m ready to make the jump - that’s why I made the move in the first place. People always talk about how hard it is and the commitment it takes to make it to the next level, but I really feel like I'm ready to become a professional hockey player. Hopefully I'll be here in Vancouver in a few weeks.
For me, the biggest change from college will probably be the game schedule, because you only play about a 38 games in college and here you have a 82-game regular season schedule. That’ll be a big adjustment.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/raymond_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/raymond_09062007_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=3 hspace=4></a>I get asked quite a bit about going to college instead of playing major junior. For me it was a great experience. I loved it. You meet some great people down there for sure, and you’re kind of killing two birds with one stone because you get hockey and schooling. The thing I’ll miss most is probably the hockey side – the rink and the atmosphere is very exciting and is always something you’ll remember. But one thing I have to admit that I’m not going to miss the homework or classes. That could be a tough a juggling act at times.
I'll admit that I'm feeling a bit of anxiety coming here. The testing wasn't too bad - I mean it was hard and everything - but I know it's only the beginning. I don’t really know what to expect, so that kind of adds to the nervousness. I know you hear people say it all the time, but my focus really is to just go as far as I can and give my best effort. I want to make it a tough decision for the coaches.
I don’t know who my roommate is yet, that's going to be another adjustment for sure, but it would be a dream to room with someone like Markus Naslund or one of the Sedins or something like that. I’m not too picky I guess, but someone not too loud or messy would be nice.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest9_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest9_09062007_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=3 hspace=4></a>In college, I lived with four other guys and it was fun but the house was a mess all the time and it was always something scary. I don’t clean as much as I’d like, but at least I kept my room clean. I couldn’t say the same thing about the other parts of the house. Thankfully, we invested in a dishwasher, which helped... sort of.
Someone asked me what I'm looking forward to most of all. I guess it's getting each day done, because that way I’m closer to the main event. I'm anxious to find out where I’m going to be and really excited to hopefully play in an exhibition game.
We started testing about 8 am this morning and we're heading over to the ferry almost immediately. It’s feels like a long day already but tomorrow it all begins again. I think we're on the ice at 9am and go straight through till the afternoon. I'm looking forward to it.</td></tr></table>
<table width=90%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/mikeblog.gif border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1>You know how an airplane has to burn all the fuel on take off just to get to a cruising altitude and fly smoothly the rest of the way? Well, that’s September to us hockey fans: it’s the launch - finally! - of the hockey season. And it couldn’t come any faster; any longer without it and I may have started caring about Arod’s poor ankle or what guy on which NFL team is in jail for what.<br /><br />
What are you excited for? Seeing the Sedins zip around like the Swedish cycling demons that they are? Seeing warriors like Naslund and Linden put the new jerseys on their backs and lead this team to another divisional title? Or seeing opposing players sigh, curse loudly to themselves, and stare upwards at the arena rafters after Luongo stymies them yet again?<br /><br />
OK, sure, it’s all of the above.<br /><br />
Currently though, it’s time to get psyched to see the kids at the prospect camp show their stuff and play the role of dark horse in hopes of cracking the big squad come opening night against the Sharks. Sure, it’s a long shot, but that’s part of the fun isn’t it? The prospects camp, if nothing, is usually a time to see the future of the franchise and what up and comers could turn into a Bieksa or a Sedin (obvious reference to an identical twin brother aside). <br /><br />
Here are a few to keep your eyes on in the next several days:<br /><br />
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest5_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest5_09062007_tt.jpg border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Luc Bourdon – I know, it’s hardly a shock to not cite the biggest prospect in the club so far, but even Bourdon would be hard pressed not to admit last year’s flirtation period with the Canucks was disappointing. He ended up playing nine games, but didn’t record much more then 4 PIM’s in that time. Critics said he looked wildly out of place and a year of that weighing on the 2005 first round pick’s mind should bring a new mindset to camp this year. And while the Canucks top six defensemen is currently pretty damn deep, imagine how much deeper it gets with a revitalized Bourdon ready to take his play to the next level.<br /><br />
Cory Schneider – He’s the most talked about guy in the media this past off season even though he’s never played a second for the Canucks or even stepped foot on the ice for the Moose. Schneider, the Canuck’s 2004 first round pick, bolted Boston this summer for the comfy confines of the Vancouver organization, but in doing so, leaves Boston College as one of their best goalies ever. Last year alone he had 15 shutouts (a school record) and helped guide them to an NCAA National Championship. In fact, no goalie in the NCAA played more minutes (2,516:33 to be precise) and more games (42) then Schneider. Hmm, having one workhorse already backstopping the Canucks and another ready to test his mettle with the Moose? Go ahead, try and complain about that depth I dare ya.<br /><br />
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest1_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest1_09062007_tt.jpg border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Michael Grabner – May as well get the first rounders out of the way all at once! This speedy 2006 first rounder spent most of last year in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs, but was third on the team in points and then jumped to the Moose in the AHL for a handful of games. Grabner is still progressing obviously (Nonis went on record this summer saying he needs to bulk up), but has the pressure of the first round pick on his shoulders and may use that to try and make a statement at camp this year. Besides, last I checked the Canucks could use as many goal scorers as they can possibly find and Grabner may be a big answer to that, if not now hopefully soon.<br /><br />
Jannik Hansen – I’m not sure you’re a bonafide Canuck fan if you’re not pulling for Hansen. You can ignore his time with the Moose last year where he was sixth in points if you want, but you can’t ignore his call up with the big squad during the first round against Dallas. During that series where we all saw some regular Canucks struggle, Hansen always seemed to jet down the ice and make something happen. And, hey, he’s the first Dane to play ever in an NHL playoff game. Hansen’s just a feel good story waiting to happen and maybe that time is now.<br /><br />
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest9_09062007_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/rookietest9_09062007_tt.jpg border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Mason Raymond – Maybe the darkest horse of them all falls to Raymond, a University of Minnesota-Duluth player who opted to forego his final years at school for a chance in the bigs. This second round pick of the 2005 draft, Raymond was top point-getter on the Bulldogs, tied for second in points last year in the entire WCHA and lead the league in assists and power play points. He joined the Moose for eleven games at the end of the season and then, out of no where, Dave Nonis mentioned him this summer as a potential hidden gem at the prospects camp. Go for it Mason, the big guy called you out. No pressure at all!<br /><br />
There’s plenty to like about this group and - along with Bliznak, Coulombe, Edler, Rahimi and Simek – it’s a great time to keep your eyes and ears peeled to see what level of play the future of the franchise has. As an added bonus, it’s a great opportunity for you to get taste of some hockey before the real season begins.<br /><br />
So sit back and keep those trays in their upright and locked position (or you won’t get any damn peanuts and we’ll sit the annoying screaming child directly behind you). Who knows what’ll happen at the prospect camp, but hey, we’re all Canucks right? It’s time to cheer on the baby ‘nuckers.</td></tr></table>
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/hendersonblog.gif align=left hspace=4>
I always say “the deeper they go in the playoffs, the better the jerseys look”. And the sweater they are wearing when they finally win the Cup? Well, that one will be cherished as the most beautiful garment imaginable. Men will get married in that jersey.<br><br>
Only in hockey-mad Vancouver would so many fans turn up on a warm and sunny summer afternoon to get first gander at what will be adorning our lads come puck-drop. This is what passes for “Fashion Week” here on the sartorially-laid-back west coast. There are markets all across America where you couldn’t get that many customers out to watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final (note to Gary Bettman – the True North loves hockey, carries hockey. You might want to seriously consider another franchise in this fair country).<br><br>
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/sweater20_082907_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/sweater20_082907_t.jpg border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Frankly, if given a choice, I always prefer an event where the boys are removing clothing, like Jerseys Off Our Backs. Still, if I hadn’t been trapped at the office, I would have attended the sweater launch. In the end, though, it was a bit of much ado about nothing. The new jersey isn’t startlingly new. In fact it’s rather old school. And I like it. I love the colours, but I loved them last season. I think I prefer this slightly starker version of the orca, although I was hoping they might take the opportunity to tweak the design – to give the whale a different look. Still, I’m not complaining. <br><br>
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/sweater18_082907_tbjpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/sweater18_082907_t.jpg border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1></a>I was also hoping, for comic effect, that Canucks management might first unveil some fake sweaters before they revealed the actual thing: Kevin Bieksa in a pink girl-jersey, for instance. Or a deadpan announcement of the return to the heritage “Halloween colours” for both the orca and the skate. But I suppose freaking out the faithful is a dangerous exercise. And I wouldn’t want to be the one to break the news to Kevin – talk about dangerous!<br><br>
As curious as I was about the jersey, I was more interested in seeing what the captain’s annual new fall coiffure would be. Ah Markus, wicked wrist shot and seriously gorgeous hair. No wonder they made him captain (o.k. - I secretly like to believe that choosing the leader involves whipping out the measuring tape). It’s just so great to see the boys back on the ice where they belong.<br><br>
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/sweater17_082907_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/sweater17_082907_t.jpg border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>And it’s great to be back in front of a televised hockey game. I have been watching the 6:00 a.m. broadcasts of the Canada Russia Super Series before heading off to work. I swear my whole body relaxes the first time I hear the colour commentary at the start of the season (even if it is the annoying Peter Loubardias and the hyperventilating Pierre McGuire). It hardly seems like 35 years ago that they wheeled the television into my elementary school classroom and we watched breathlessly as history unfolded. It was a great day to be a Henderson, that’s for sure.<br><br>
Speaking of great days, training camp is just around the corner and the start of the pre-season is less than a month away. Much as I hate the ever shortening days, I love, love, love the start of hockey.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/hendersonblog.gif align=left hspace=4>WHEW!
It was incredibly difficult to believe that the Canucks organization would ever make such a spectacular misstep. Screwing over perhaps your most beloved player once is bad enough, but twice? Unthinkable! Thank heavens we have dodged that bullet. I was pretty sure that Dave Nonis was far too canny to allow it to happen, but years spent following the Canucks can encourage a fan to brace for the worst. Next week, when Trevor dons the mysterious new uniform, it will do my little heart good.
It was an ugly decision to bring to town Trevor’s hated 1994 rivals, Messier and Keenan, especially after they had stolen his and our dream of hoisting the Stanley Cup. To add insult to injury, our darling boy was allowed to be demoted and demoralized, then traded away. But that unpleasantness had almost completely faded from memory. Trevor’s triumphant return to his adopted city made it seem like those intervening years in New York, Montreal and Washington were just a bad dream That Trevor had, in fact, played his entire career with the Canucks.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/aug2107_linden02_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/aug2107_linden02_t.jpg border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>That’s why the delay in re-signing Number 16 to another season, in light of his excellent play during the latter half of last season, and especially during the playoffs, was so confusing to this fan. We were repeatedly told last year that getting into Coach Vigneault’s good books was a matter of playing above expectation when you were given the opportunity. This mantra, though, seemed not apply to our Mr. Linden. And that is completely baffling to me. When you have a veteran player who won’t take a big bite out of your budget, who so thoroughly understands the game, has important playoff experience, almost never makes a dangerous mistake, has well documented leadership skills and has a desperate hunger to win the Cup, what could possibly prevent you from signing him? I doubt we will ever hear the story behind the story, but let me add my voice to the rejoicing chorus: Welcome Back Trevor!
Meanwhile, despite the fact that full frontal sunny weather has yet to arrive in Vancouver, summer is drawing to a close. It has been many a long month since the boys were last on the ice. This is the time of year when I always get twitchy and agitated because the hockey vacuum has become glaringly apparent to me. So, it always cheers me up to see the first pre-season footage of the lads getting together for practices out at 8 Rinks.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/aug2107_linden04_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/08/aug2107_linden04_t.jpg border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Ah, this is the magical time, before actual wins and losses and local hysteria can disturb the fantasy. The time to believe that maybe, just maybe, this is the year. Or rather, The Year. The Year We Win It All. Lots to drive us forward. Trevor is the oldest active player not to have his name inscribed on the big prize. Markus returns year after year to face the abuse because of his tremendous desire to lead this team to victory. We have all seen just how desperately Louie wants to win, and, for a change, our goalie’s talent actually matches his drive. Dave must be a bit peeved that Brian Burke brought the Cup to his ‘hood to party – that should provide some motivation. We won the Division, we handed the Ducks their toughest battle in the playoffs, we’ve got plenty of upside.
Oh, drop the puck already! Just can’t wait.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/mikeblog.gif border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1>Hockey never feels further away then it does when the calendar is stuck in the middle of July. Making matters worse, we fans didn’t get a huge trade to keep us fat, happy and talking until the first leaf drops in the fall either. That's not to say Sir Dave Nonis, while his counterparts drunkenly emptied their wallets at the start of free agency, hasn’t been a busy guy this offseason. Let's take a look at the newest Canucks and see what they'll offer the team when the regular season rolls around:
Brad Isbister – This is the biggest UFA that has come to town all summer (hold your applause). Stands to reason because Isbister's a big boy. A rather big boy; in fact, he's bigger then anyone on the 2006-07 Vancouver roster except Taylor Pyatt. Even with that size, some folks may raise an eyebrow at a guy who couldn't use that size to the best of his ability on the Coyotes, Islanders, Oilers, Bruins and Rangers. Then again, those teams didn't have Jack Adams...ahem...Alain Vigneault at their helm. If Vigneault can tap into some of the raw talent that this 3rd round pick from the 1995 draft has, then he should be a welcome addition to the club.
Byron Ritchie – Last year it was Willie Mitchell's turn to make a triumphant return home and this time it's Ritchie's. In addition, anytime you can pry away a guy from a competitor in your own division, it is a good move. No one is going to mistake Ritchie for Iginla or Tanguay, but like half of the Cup-hoarding Duck roster, he brings a good deal of needed grit and scrappiness. He is also coming off a career year (although it’s just 14 points, but hey, it’s 14 more then I have!). If he can earn some ice time on the third or fourth line, he could turn into a mini-Matt Cooke, and since we have Cooke anyway, just imagine how many teams will LOVE to see the Canucks across the ice?!
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/jul1707shannon01_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/shannoncup_tt.jpg width=120 border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Ryan Shannon – Funny to think Shannon is the lone Cup veteran on this team at the rusty old age of 24. Shannon is a lot like Ritchie: a guy who has been fighting to keep his slot at the NHL level and will now get a great chance with Vancouver. The knock against Shannon is his height (5'9'') but he overcame that during last year's preseason with Anaheim when he notched six goals and 13 shots in five games. The previous year Shannon scored 86 points in the AHL which was second amongst rookies. You get the gut feeling Shannon has a lot more he wants to prove and one can only imagine what lies ahead if he gets some quality ice time on a team that desperately needs some clutch goals.
Curtis Sanford - The unenviable job of backing up a workhorse like Roberto Luongo this year falls to Sanford, formerly of the St. Louis Blues and the "I always beat the Canucks when I play them" syndrome (5-0-0-2 lifetime against Vancouver). You likely won't see much of Sanford (and if you see too much of him then the Canucks have a whole host of new problems) but he's an upgrade to Sabourin in terms of sheer experience (64 games played and an even-steven 26W, 26L, 2.79GAA, .901SV%) and shouldn't have too much of a problem keeping the team afloat if Luongo needs some rest.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/pyatt04_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/pyatt04_tt.jpg width=120 border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1></a>Don't forget that Nonis also brought back Pyatt after his career year along while locking up Jeff Cowan (ahh, the bras...), Lukas Krajicek and Ryan Kesler and also extending Kevin Bieksa’s deal. Moreover, Nonis has locked up many of the younger prospects. Take your pick between Cory Schneider, Jason Jaffray, and Juraj Simek who are now joining a youth corp alongside. In a season or two, we'll all know these names by heart.
So sure, the summer is boring for hockey, so I guess we’ll just have to take heart in that the core of the NW Division champions remains predominantly intact, they have some new blood coming who are eager to prove their worth, they have more experience in net and have signed some top prospects ready to showcase their stuff.
Now take a deep breath, be happy and go outside and enjoy it. Besides, you'll be spending all of your fall and winter indoors staring at the computer anyway, right? That's right, we all will.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/hendersonblog.gif align=left hspace=4>Will it be splendidly emblematic of everything we stand for here in Canuck Land, or will it be Buffalo banana slug ugly? That will be the question when the local hockey faithful finally get to clap eyes on the brand new team jersey.
I find it rather amusing that men whose typical, carefully-considered sartorial routine consists of grabbing the cleanest t-shirt and pants off the floor, manage to get so whipped up about what their team’s jersey looks like. Message boards abound with debate and we haven’t even seen the garment in question yet.
I will go on record as having neither adored nor despised any of the past Canucks products. I have adored (and on rare occasions, despised) some players wearing the jersey, but not the jersey itself. I have owned at least one piece of clothing from each era, including the so-called “Halloween Jersey”. In fact, I remember actually liking the bold colours when they first appeared. Now when I flip through my ancient Canuck calendars and see those jerseys, I just feel a fond nostalgia.
I think the stick in the rink logo has a spartan elegance that stands the test of time, and the current take on the vintage design, with its lovely cool blue and green colours, looks mighty sharp on the boys. I would say it’s my favourite. A graphic designer friend of mine offered a rant about the skate logo, and what a muddled, messy, difficult to read design it was. Maybe, but I still love to wear my old Canucks jacket emblazoned with that logo to games, possibly because I associate it with the beloved 1994 team.
So, in the current spirit of anticipation and hysteria, I’d like to offer up a couple of takes:
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/cowan01_t.jpg align=right hspace=4>Lingerie tossing is soooo 1970s. But I was rather hoping the leopard print underwear incident would result in a few, brave male hockey fans showing up at the rink sporting bras. So, in honour of our newly re-acquired tough guy and ersatz scoring sensation, Jeff Cowan:
I have always thought the killer whale was good symbol for the Canucks – we are really the only team in the NHL where an orca is an appropriate logo (the cetaceans, like hockey fans, cannot really be considered residents of California). But maybe we need a different critter. We seem to be stocking up on pesky, irritating players, what with Cookie, Burr and the recently acquired Byron Ritchie. So maybe we should consider the mighty mosquito, whose incessant whining could also be considered an homage to some local sport media and so-called fans.
I’m looking forward to seeing the fresh design. But, no matter what the new Canucks look it, I’m sure that I will wear it…proudly…as always.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/hendersonblog.gif align=left hspace=4>Are you kidding me? For this I spent an entire hockey season grimly following Swedish Elite League games on the Internet?? Grasping at charity scrimmages and prospect tilts like a shopper grasping for the last pair of size 7 sling-backs at the Army and Navy Shoe Sale? (Sorry boys, but there are so few chick analogies in sports writing – you have to throw the occasional one in).
Silly me, I believed the reports that said the lockout year and the new deal between the NHL and the NHLPA would result in a brave new world of parity between teams, and rationality when it came to contracts. Wasn’t this the deal that was going to save general managers from themselves and prevent them from making foolish offers in a moment of desperation?
Well, gee, that worked great. New York continues to chuck wads of cash at anyone with the vague scent of stardom, while the Oilers are still unable to convince anyone that the joy of playing for a storied franchise, and pots of filthy lucre, are adequate compensation for actually having to live in Edmonton.
It’s not even the money being thrown around that alarms me, although some of the announced dollar amounts are pretty head shaking. No, to me what is most unbelievable is the length of the contracts. An eight year deal for Daniel Briere? Yes, Danny is clearly a talented lad who has blossomed under the new NHL rules. But seriously, folks. Briere will be nearly 38 years old when the contract expires and he won’t be any taller. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if the mighty mite gets his clock cleaned within the first few months of playing traditional Flyers hockey. I think it’s quite a gamble to imagine that Briere, or the other long-term signings, will be legitimate six or seven million dollar men through the run of their contracts.
Yep, it all seems like madness to me, but that isn’t preventing local fans from screeching at Dave Nonis to leap in with chequebook extended. Well, I say stay the course, Dave. So far, his minor signings seems ok to me and quite possibly upgrades on the players we are losing. Yes, we still need at least one more top six scoring talent, and while I was (unrealistically) hoping that some skilled player might be seduced here by the prospect of excellent sushi, as well as a well-rounded team, smart coaching, superb goaltending, and the chance to accept tape-to-tape passes from either Markus or the Sedins, I certainly wasn’t expecting a July 1st super-signing. If we can get a decent forward here for a season or two at a reasonable price, then great.
But considering how close we are to the salary cap, I’m not holding my breath. I still think one of our recently signed, talented Manitoba farm boys may yet make a difference, and I do expect Taylor Pyatt and Ryan Kesler to improve this season. I expect Nazzy to show off in the last year of his contract. I expect the ever-improving Twins to take one more step forward.
Besides, we’re languishing in the heat of July and I always believe in waiting until at least the first puck drop to start panicking.
For the second time in three games, the Victoria Salmon Kings have won a game in a shootout by the identical 3-2 score. This time the victory came in a rink that has often frustrated Salmon Kings fortunes. Randall Gelech would open the scoring and in the second Chad Painchaud made it 2-0. Shortly after captain Wes Goldie missed on a breakway, the puck ended up on Aces captain Scott Burt's stick. Burt then send the puck flying into the Victoria net. With the Aces third line buzzing, they created the space that allowed Bryan Miller to tie the game with a little less than two minutes played in the third. Overtime solved nothing, thus both teams advanced to what some call "the dreaded shootout." For Victoria it was deju vu all over again. As in Utah, Wes Goldie scored in the opening round. Alexandre Imbeault would tie the shootout in the third round, then as against the Grizzlies, Mike Hamilton's fifth round attack proved to be the game winner. CONGRATUALTIONS TO ALASKA STAR SELECTION TEAM....for the seond night in a row, the Sullivan Arena Star selectors showed objectivity and hockey knowldge that is all to often lacking in the National Conference. David Shantz was, for the second night, named First Star, Aces Colin Hemminway was Second Star, and with a first goal assist and the shootout winner, Mike Hamilton was chosen Third Star. EVEN NUMBERS---yes an even game on the score and in other areas. Shot advantage Victoria 31-39, plus minus as a team had the Salmon Kings at plus two and the Aces at minust two, plus minor penalties had Victoria with four and Alaska with three. STREAK NUMBER COINCIDENCE...both the ECHL and NHL have the same numbers for the longest winning streaks in their top two. In Jan-Feb 2008 the Cincinnati Cyclones won 17 straight, as did the 1993 Mario Lemieux led Pittsburgh Penguins. With a streak of 15 wins last season, the Salmon Kings have the second longest ECHL victory streak. The 1982 Stanley Cup bound New York Islanders had the identical streak of 15 in 1982. Now with twelve in their current streak, the Salmon Kings are tied with seven teams at this mark. An interesting note is that one of them was the 1989-90 Erie Panthers, who later became the Baton Rouge Kingfishers before their rights were transferred and the franchise became the Victoria Salmon Kings.
I think it is time that the intro song for the Canucks was changed. Sorry but here in Vancouver our streets do have names as U2 would otherwise have us believe! I have found a track that would not only pump up the players but the fans as well. Check out this link on You Tube and lets get the new song pumping in GM Place!
This little clip took all of 10minutes to throw together but I think it shows that the track playing would be alot more adrenaline boosting then U2's sleepy, old song! Yes/No?
When Team USA announced their roster at the end of the Winter Classic, I could have bet money that Zack Bogosian of the Thrashers would have been on the team. Luckily I didn't because Burke made a mistake by not including him in his National roster. Insted of Bogo, Burke picked the likes of Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson, Brain Rafalski, and Ryan Suter, all of whom were obvious choices to make the squad. What surprised me the most was the other 3 Dmen taken: Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, and Mike Komisarek (Although Komisarek was a given seeing as he plays on Burke's Maple Leafs), out of all these players I would still take Bogosian over them, and here is why:
-Zack Bogosian: GP:41 G:8 A:9 P:17 +/-:-12 PIM:36 TOI:22:37
Bogosian is a big, hard hitting Defenceman who can be played in all situations. Tied for 6th in Defencemen goals scored with his 8 goals. Is a -12 due to the fact that Atlanta has the 5th worst GAA in the entire NHL while playing in the high scoring SE division. Bogosian has represented America at the 2009 Men's world Ice Hockey Championship.
-Brooks Orpik: GP:38 G:0 A:14 P:14 +/-:3 PIM:28 TOI:20:00
Orpik, Like Bogosian, is strong and loves to hit the opposition. Can only be relied on as a stay at home defenceman due to poor showing in the offensive zone. Won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009. Has never represented Team USA before.
-Paul Martin: GP:9 G:0 A:2 P;2 +/-:1 PIM:0 TOI:23:57
Has been out with a broken arm for almst the entire NHL season. Can be overpowered by bigger forwards in front of the net. Martin is consistant in his own end and can chip in offensivley if needed. Has represented Team USA at the 2008 World Championships.
-Mike Komisarek: GP:34 G:0 A:4 P:4 +/-:-9 PIM:40 TOI:17:54
Komisarek, like Orpik and Bogosian, loves to hit opposing forwards. Is prone to taking dumb penalties at the worst time possible. Isn't showing any consistant defence this season, and can't score offensivley either. Komisarek has represented Team USA at the 2000 U-18 WJHC, 2001 & 2002 U-20 WJHC, and the 2006 Men's Ice Hockey Championships.
Zack Bogosian is the only player mentioned that can produce any offence and can run the PP. But why would Burke leave him off the team? Well, you could say that he is inexperienced seeing as Orpik has a Stanley Cup and Komisarek has played for Team USA 4 times. You could also blame the lack of media coverage for the Thrashers and Burke and his staff just forgeting about him. But I think what really happened was that a couple of big egos got in the way and forced a couple of defencemen that don't deserve to be on the Team. Burke and Komisarek, Shero and Orpik, Lamoriello and Martin. All 3 of them wanted to showcase their over-hyped defencemen at the price of letting a guy like Bogosian not get a chance on the team.
Weather patterns were reveresed on the second night of the new decade as a howling blizzard started near Victoria and roared into Cook Inlet. It raced through downtown Anchorage and reached its peak right over Sullivan Arena. Until a warm wind blew in from the Aleutian Islands near the end of the game, the Aces were floundering, with the Salmon Kings swamping them with six unanswered goals. Two goals for the Anchorage team at the end made it a 6-2 final for the Salmon Kings. Randall Gelech led Victoria with two goals, and Patrick Coloumbe, Mike Hamilton, and Olivier Latendresse each had double assists. Wes Goldie reached a milestone with his 150th goal in the colours of the Victoria Salmon Kings. David Shantz was named the first star, Chad Painchaud 2nd, and Randall Gelech 3rd. Many National Conference locations would have found a star for the home team, but on this night the selectors in Anchorage showed knowledge and objectivity in their selections. In the first period, the Salmon Kings had an amazing shot advantage of 12 to 1, and ended up scoring 6 goals on 15 shots. Thus the streak continues now at eleven wins in a row. IT PLAYED IN PEORIA..former Aces coach Davis Payne,who went on to run the AHL Peoria Rivermen was just selected to replace Andy Murray as bench boss of the St. Louis Blues. That makes him a member of a select few who have coached at all levels of an organization. Ironically, his first game was a loss to Chicago, by an almost identical score as the Aces loss, 6-3. His successor in Alaska, Keith McCambridge joined the Manitoba Moose as an assistant coach. THREE STAR LEADERS AT HOME...Salmon Kings leaders as selected at SOFMC. FIRST Star, a tie with three apiece to Wes Goldie and Olvier Latendresse.SECOND Star..with two, Glenn Fisher. THIRD Star, with two Chad Painchaud. ROAD STARS...FIRST Star, with two, David Shantz. SECOND Star, tied with two each, Scott Howes and Chad Painchaud THIRD Star, two for Olivier Latendresse.
Happy new year everybody, and welcome. This coming October the Vancouver Canucks will begin their 40th season in the NHL. Given that there are 10 months left until October, I figured it was only appropriate to count down the months with an ever-popular top ten list. With one blog a month, I will be posting my top ten Canuck moments and memories.
Things to keep in mind:
1) This is in my opinion, and mine only. You don't have to agree, nor do I expect most of you to.
2) I was born in 1985. While I was able to name Canuck players and their numbers at the age of two, most of my memories don't really start until the early 1990's. So don't expect me to name any events from the 70's or 80's and don't get upset when they are not brought up.
With that being said, I kick off 2010 with my number 10 moment:
#10 - Trevor Linden Returns to Vancouver
February 6th, 1998 was a dark day for Canuck fans everywhere in the province of BC. After a strained relationship with new head coach Mike Keenan, Linden was traded to the New York Islanders for Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, and a draft pick that eventually became Jarkko Ruutu. While Linden had voluntarily given up captaincy of the Canucks to the incoming Mark Messier, to fans Trevor was still the real captain of the team.
For months, and even years after the trade occurred, it always felt like a piece of my favourite team was missing. Trevor being gone had left a hole that nobody seemed to be able to fill. Trevor never had been and never would be a true NHL superstar and The Canucks on paper at the time should have been fine without him. Mark Messier, Pavel Bure, Alex Mogilny. To think that a team with these players could completely lose its identity seemed ridiculous. The 1998 season would end terribly for the Canucks, and they were stumble through the next few as well.
However this is not about the trade that sent him away, it's about the trade that brought him back. One season prior, the Canucks had finally returned to the playoffs only to be swept away in the first round by the Colorado Avalanche. With optimism in the air for 2001-2002, Brian Burke pleased fans everywhere in the second week of November by trading a first round pick to the Washington Capitals in order to bring Trevor back to Vancouver. I have always believed that this move was the biggest part of getting the Canucks over the hump and into contender status earlier in the decade. The West Coast Express was tallying the points, but the Canucks had their heart and soul back when Linden #16 returned.
On March 26th of the same season, Trevor played in his 1000th game. In what can only be described as "Typical Trevor", he asked for any ceremony in his honour to be delayed as he did not want the team to be distracted from the playoff race they were in the middle of.
Until his retirement at the end of the 2007-2008 season, Trevor continued to prove why he is considered by many as the greatest Canuck of all time. His clutch playoff performances over the years would include a goal against Detroit that led to an overtime win, a shorthanded goal against the Blues in game seven to ice the victory, and two game-winning goals against Dallas - the series-winner in game seven being the biggest.
While Trevor returning to Vancouver was a huge boost to the team, the real winner was the city of Vancouver. Not only was Trevor one of the big reasons the city was excited about the team again, Linden also was closer and had more of an opportunity to take part in another love if his, charity. Canuck Place, BC Childrens Hospital, the Trevor Linden Foundation, and the many other beneficiaries of Trevor's diligent charity work were all ecstatic to have Captain Canuck back where he belonged. In 2003 Trevor was awarded the Order of British Columbia as a "hockey player and humanitarian".
As far as the biggest Canuck transaction of the last 20 years or so is concerned, I'm sure the majority of votes would go to things like the Luongo signing, Bertuzzi trade, Bure trade, or even drafting the Sedins. In my opinion bringing Trevor back to Vancouver is right up there, and maybe even higher on a scale of importance. For Trevor to return and finish his career in Vancouver was only right, and cracks my top ten Canuck moments of all time.
The Vancouver Canucks have hit the midway point in their quest for hockey's holy grail, Lord Stanley's Cup, - here are 5 more players with the top grades so far this season.
Christian Ehrhoff, A
Ehrhoff nods while celebrating his OT winner against the St. Louis Blues Dec. 31/09
Even after registering 15 points in his first 13 games with the Canucks, "B-Mac" from Team 1040 (radio) still wasn't sold on Christian's defensive abilities. But I say that's why Vancouver has the Mitchell's and the Salo's - they've got shutdown defencemen. The ex-Shark gives the Canucks a dimension lacking in seasons past, and that's an offensive upside. The other undeniable part of his game is his timing and even-strength play. His +21 rating is right near the top of the NHL, let alone for defenders. Mike Gillis deserves part of this grade for securing his very, very useful services in the offseason.
Daniel Sedin, A
Daniel Sedin has potted the most Game-winning goals (4, -Vancouver) despite playing just over half the games (AP Photo/ Bill Boyce)
ere's a testament to the kind of player that Daniel Sedin is: He's played just over half the games that his teammates have, and yet he leads the club with 4 GWG's (game-winning goals).In 23 games, he has 10-19-29, and is just shy of tied for 2nd best +/- rating on the team with +12.
Earlier in the season, after he was lost to a broken left foot, the team tried to rally without him, but there is a discernable difference when he is not playing. Not just because of the uncanny symetry that he forms with his wonder-twin, but also because of the attention other teams must focus on him when he's present. I'm convinced he would be right there with Thornton, Crosby, Gaborik and his brother for the NHL lead in points were it not for his injury.
Steve Bernier, B-
Bernier manages to keep his balance and protects the puck against Eric Brewer (AP Photo/ Bill Boyce)
Interestingly enough, another ex-Shark makes the top 11 Canucks list. Big and strong, with a good sense for where the puck will be, Bernier's committment to offseason conditioning has paid dividends this season. He lost 15 lbs over the summer, and got faster in the process, which is helping him to not only win races to the puck, but also forechecking.
Playing just a shave under 15 minutes a night, he has 10 goals and 8 assists in 39 games. I'm of the belief that he is one of the cleanest bodycheckers in the league, if not one of the hardest. Just watch any opposing defenceman these days when Bernier is bearing down on them, -you'll witness the speed with which they get rid of the puck. He might not be Eddie Shack, but boy, when he's coming, yeah, you better "clear the track".
Roberto Luongo, A
Nothing I could add could do this picture justice... (The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)
For any of the 'haters' that feel that Luongo should have gotten the best grade, I would direct them to my comment about the pictured save. Yes, I do recognize that Luongo has been selected by Team Canada. I am also aware that he is one of the best in the NHL, has a .919 save percentage, is 20-12-1-2, and is sporting a 2.29 goals against average. While trying to remain objective, I will also point out that I clapped my hands together rather audibly when I discovered he was a Vancouver Canuck, via a trade with the New York Islanders.
Hockey pundits, though, have a valid argument about postseason success, but that is not what is being discussed here. His season to this point has been strong, and the amazing thing is that purists know that at any moment, he could become red hot and nigh invincible tending goal. His penchant for strong finishes to the season surely has fans humming Bryan Adams' "The Best was Yet to Come".
Henrik Sedin, A+
Henrik Sedin celebrates with Sami Salo after a goal, a scene witnessed 19 times already (The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
Trevor Linden knew this day was coming.As a matter of fact, he even told Henrik so, which is one of the reasons 'Hank' had the confidence to achieve the heights that he has. But it wasn't always so. For a few years, there were the jeers of "The Sedin Sisters", or "The Pantene's" (in reference to the popular line of hygenical products). I've heard them all. Now, I just think of the people who uttered them as insightless, unknowledgeable critics.
They certainly don't have much to say about Henrik Sedin currently 2nd in the entire NHL for points, only 2 points removed from the top. They also don't have answers to how two "Sisters" managed to become strong, well-trained men that boast rugged, injury resistant careers. Perhaps if they followed them to Ornskoldsvik (Sweden) and watched them train like demons in the offseason after a short, 2 week break, they'dstart to understand. Henrik Sedin stands tall amongst his peers, as one of the best players in the game. Period.
More second half excitement in store at www.thecanuckway.com
Larenzo Jensen, with files from The Associated Press and AP Photo
so Ive watched every game in the playoffs so far and after tonites game I'm a lil shakey about the finals. for starters luongo is gota pick it up rebounds goin everywhere. he gets so off his game trying to push byfuglien everywhere and then they scored. for seconds the NHL does not want the cup in vancity. the reffing is horrible. Chicago is gettin away with too much. and 3rds. the PK can't get anybetter of luo doesn't pick it up. they say ur best penalty killer is the goalie well folks our goalie isn't so far this series. so there u have it, I hope to see the Canucks in the finals but boys u Goya pick it up and win a big game 5.
well I watched game 6 and was stunned. luongo was good in the 1st period but sucked the rest of the game. off season gillis should do a lot. trade luongo for a decent goalie and some prospect or for a decent goalie and some d-man. and if mike doesn't do this then take the C from luo cuz it's just a big distraction for him. now kesler had to be injured or something cuz he wasn't good at all the whole series. D-man. nothing at the back end at all. bieska what where you thinking when that pass came. soo 2-0 not that big eh Canucks have came back before right. well pavel what the frack were you doing. soo 3-0 maybe a comeback. obi with decent goal. ok here is a comeback. until luo let's in a weaky vs Kane. game over from there.
Montreal for the cup now.
signing till next season.
Burr14Ever For Life