<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>Jiminy Jillikers Radioactive Man! What are they putting in the Gatorade over at GM Place? Who among us would have imagined that the way to add offence was to subtract defence? Go figure, Pythagoras.
Yesterday, right next door, our local, solid-from-top-to-bottom football team should have won but couldn’t. Meanwhile, stripped of veterans and playing with a number of baby-faced defencemen so wet behind the ears that their heads should have been encased in blocks of ice by the end of the game, the hockey squad triumphed.
The team that can’t score has ten goals in two games. I know it was chillier this morning but has Hell actually frozen over? Is Satan flying down the wing making tape-to-tape passes? Because the Canucks sure are. Last night, post game, John Garrett suggested that the Sedins had finally gotten Nazzy to play their style.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov1907_radioactiveman_tt.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov1907_radioactiveman_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>
I think it’s the reverse – Markus has coaxed the Twins into his more freewheeling world. Or maybe it’s a combination of both. The redheads are making spectacular moves in front of the net, not just behind it, and the Captain is also skating into the dirty areas to clean up the garbage. He was certainly looking like Classic Naslund last night, zipping around, hypnotizing the opposition.
And I know we turned the clocks back a couple of weeks ago, but did we turn them back to the early 1990s? Because it was vintage Trevor Linden scoring his first goal of the season against Minnesota.
It’s all enough to make your heart positively sing. I know I have previously moaned about the current schedule, but, considering that we have yet to lose to a Northwest Division opponent in regulation time, I guess I wouldn’t mind if we played nobody else for the rest of the season.
And lastly, I admired the restraint shown by Dave Nonis and Mattias Ohlund when answering questions regarding the latter’s four game suspension for slashing Mikko Koivu. I wish Matty had shown the same restraint in responding to an elbow to the head, but I understand that, as they say, in the heat of battle sometimes restraint is not an option.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov1607_min@van03_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov1607_min@van03_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>
I must say, four games seems a little severe to this viewer who has witnessed infinitely worse whacks over the years that raised nary an eyebrow. Last week we were treated to Mark “The Blubbering Mess” Messier being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Old Moose was hardly known for his gentlemanly use of the stick during his playing days.
The Hall is, in fact, littered with lads who used their lumber like axes. But, I’m all for issuing suspensions for two-handed swings of the stick and for shots to the head. I’ve always hated those things. But I would like the suspensions to be equitable, whether you play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Rangers or the Vancouver Canucks; whether you are a superstar or a rookie nobody. Frankly, I don’t think we are quite there yet.
<table border=0 align=center width=90%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/macri_headshot.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>So everything’s rosy again in Vancouver. Sure, we’re still only 3 points up on last place in the conference, but we’re only 3 points shy of fifth. We might be in the gutter, but we’re staring at the stars. Speaking of stars, if you become one playing hockey in Van-couver, it might be wise to do everything in your power to remain a Canuck. The follow-ing five players, all of whom played in Vancouver in 2005-06, failed to heed such ad-vice:
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/photos/mugs/thumb/8459444.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Todd Bertuzzi
Then: A bruising power forward who could put the puck in the net, check an opponent through the end boards, and grow a beard that was thick but touchably soft - all before the end of the first period. While never quite returning to the dominating form he exhib-ited in 2002-03, he put up a respectable 71 points in his final season in Vancouver.
Now: Apparently Todd decided to go as Eric Lindros for Hallowe’en and forgot to take his costume off. Currently sidelined with a concussion, Bertuzzi has suffered a variety of ailments, ranging from back to neck to the aforementioned concussion problems. Since being traded to Florida, he’s amassed a total of 13 points in 22 games played. He’s also currently getting paid $4 million by the Ducks. Counting last year, Todd has earned roughly $300,000 for every game he has played. To be fair though, he tried, in like, al-most half of them.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/photos/mugs/thumb/8460516.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Dan Cloutier
Then: A dominating, firecracker of a goaltender who had the ability to single-handedly win games for his team. OK, maybe not, but he was...pretty good. Sometimes. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I really liked the guy while he was in Van-couver. He wasn’t in the company of the greats, but he put up some decent numbers while he was here. Three consecutive 30 win seasons, and a GAA of 2.27 in his best year is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, any guy who once pummeled Tommy Salo into sub-mission is alright in my books.
Now: He’s...alive? I think? His bio says he’s playing for the King’s AHL farm team, the Manchester Monarchs. No word on how he’s doing, but according to Photoshop Maga-zine, Manchester now ranks as the nation’s top producer of images featuring large beach balls situated behind goaltenders. Oh, he’s also getting paid $3.1 million.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/photos/mugs/thumb/8460492.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Ed Jovanovski
Then: Known as “Jovo-Cop,” he patrolled the Canuck blueline like no one else could. He could score, hit, and occasionally happen upon a defensive play or two in his own zone. In 2002-03, he tallied 46 points in 67 games, and was a +19 to boot. When he was on his game, he possessed the ability to carry his team on his back.
Now: Jovo-Cop was asked to turn in his gun and badge. But not for being a loose can-non. It’s because he is...not...good at hockey. Yes, Jovo-MallSecurityGuard has also experienced the all-too-predictable fall after leaving Vancouver. Now in his second sea-son in Phoenix, Ed is a -10 through 16 games played. He also decided to pack a sou-venir from Vancouver when he departed for the desert: a penchant for abdominal inju-ries. I tried to tell him that a snowglobe would be more appropriate, but no, Eddie wanted to be a big boy and pack his own bag. The Coyotes are also paying him $7 mil-lion per.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/photos/mugs/thumb/8459156.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Anson Carter
Then: The “other brother,” Anson was a nice complement to the Sedins. Carter racked up 33 goals with the twins, all but two of which were scored less than 3 inches from the goal line. After bouncing around from team to team prior to landing in Vancouver, Anson had found a comfortable place to play out the next few years of his career. All that was required for him to cash in on a nice little raise was to realize that the twins made him, not the other way around...
Now: ...woops. Instead of signing whatever Nonis put in front of him, Carter’s camp felt that it was a prudent business move to play hardball and wait for the offers to roll in. I mean, surely, a 33 goal scorer would be a rare commodity on the free market, right? However, what Carter and co. hadn't counted on was that general managers around the league would have a temporary moment of clarity and recognize what Carter had re-fused to: no twins, no goals. After finally landing in Carolina, Anson managed only a third of the tallies he had scored in his lone season in Vancouver. He is now the leading scorer for the (Toronto Maple Leafs) some team in Switzerland.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/photos/mugs/thumb/8467913.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Alex Auld
Then: Fresh off of an team MVP season in 2005-06, Alex appeared to be ready to han-dle the starter’s role in Vancouver, a task that many had failed to accomplish in the past. Posting 33 wins, a goals against south of 3, and a save percentage north of .900, Auld posted decent numbers for a sub-decent team. In the summer of 2006, he could often be overheard uttering his newly-coined catchphrase, “everything’s coming up Alex!” That is, until it all came crashing down on the 23rd of June. While many Canuck fans equate that day with Christmas (it was, after all, the day the saviour was born in Van-couver), Alex might rate it up there with receiving a prostate exam while being audited.
Now: Being traded for Luongo was the beginning of the spiral into oblivion for Auld. Af-ter losing his starting role in Florida to a 78 year old Ed Belfour, Alex resurfaced as the seventh-string goalie in Phoenix, a team known for its mediocre goaltending. Recent highlights for Alex include his trip to the Grand Canyon, learning to speak French, and perfecting his impression of one those Tiny Tot goaltenders who play at intermission as he let in Jeremy Roenick’s 500th career goal.
Let this stand as a warning to any current Canuck who is thinking of testing the market once his contract is up: unspeakable horrors lie ahead (of course, you will be compen-sated handsomely).
<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>Phew. After the Canucks secured seven out of a possible eight points in the last week and a half, things are looking a little brighter. Passing is crisp, the stickwork is excellent, defensive systems are being deployed properly and Roberto rocks. We still can’t win faceoffs and scoring is still a rarity, but at least these are familiar problems. I can finally watch the games without cringing.
I have been meaning to have a small rant about the Sedins. Now, I like the Sedins. After all, they are our best chance to score most nights. So it makes me almost ashamed to admit that I think it is unlikely that I will ever love the Sedins.
This is partly due to the fact that they are basically a black hole of charisma. Personality-wise, they seem as bland and milky as their Nordic complexions. They appear to be nice and a bit playful but pretty darn dull. Even their goals seem a little too workmanlike. Maybe one of them (I’ll vote for Henrik) could practice being the evil twin, to give them an interesting edge.
Hard working and impressively determined they are. Dazzling, they mostly ain’t. Or maybe, after all these years, I am rarely dazzled by their telepathic passing anymore. As I’ve said before, I long for the days of a top line that can skate, pass and score without ever having to dig the puck out along the boards.<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1907_canuckvsking05_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1907_canuckvsking05_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>
When Coach Vigneault was hired here, the one edict that came from on high was “Thou shalt not split up the Sedins”. This seems like stating the obvious, as a lifetime of shared genetics and a career of shared passes has made the Sedins unique in the NHL. But I also believe it has acted as a bit of a crutch and possibly slowed their development in some ways.
The more I watch, the more I think our homeliest of Swedish twins would benefit from being separated, if only occasionally in practice. Teams around the league have begun to deal with their cycling. Not entirely successfully, mind you, as the redheaded lads have 31 points between them, but there are shifts and nights when Daniel and Henrik get trapped behind the opposition net, controlling the puck, sure, but not getting anywhere near a genuine scoring opportunity.
They also have been getting stuck in their own end for too many shifts. The blame for this is usually heaped upon whatever Triplet is lining up with them, but at this point, I think the boys should be able to shoulder the load themselves. Now, to their credit, every year the Sedins work to improve and they do get better. But it seems like a slow process.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1907_practice14_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1907_practice14_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>They’re 27 now, smack dab in the middle of their prime, and have never played apart. A little separation anxiety might force the Sedins to think their game differently, perhaps more creatively, and to expand their repertoire. Maybe Hank would start to shoot the puck more. I’d like to test my theory in a game when the team is down by three goals, but I don’t expect it to happen.
Meanwhile I do like the look the defense right now – adversity becomes them. Willie once again demonstrated why the longest stick wins and even young Luc is growing confident enough to display some wicked moves with the puck. And I love to watch Jannik Hansen – his enthusiastic skill and energy are a sweet Danish delight. That lad is overdue for a goal, so much so that I would have sent him out in the shootout last night. Ha – that will be the next crazy idea from the NHL head offices to generate more fan interest – the audience choosing the shooters.
<table width=100%><tr><td><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sunny_blog.jpg" align="left" hspace="4">Run for your lives! Randy Myers is coming into the game!
That was the reaction of many Toronto Blue Jays fans during the 1998 MLB season.
The Jays had acquired Myers by signing the free agent reliever to a three-year, $18 million contract the previous winter. It was during a weird phase for Toronto, in which the Jays organization deluded itself into thinking it was a World Series contender when it was anything but. Oddly enough, that phase continues today.
Myers was deemed to be the final piece of the puzzle, a shutdown closer coming off a 45-save season with Baltimore in which he was an all-star and finished fourth in voting for both the American League MVP and Cy Young awards.
What could possibly go wrong for Toronto by signing the 35-year old pitcher to a long-term deal for an average salary of six million dollars?
In one word: a whole heck of a lot.<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/myers.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/myers.jpg" align="right" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>
Myers’ overall numbers as a Jay can be a bit misleading. He compiled 28 saves in 33 opportunities in a Toronto uniform. That percentage puts him roughly on par with the work done by closers such as Mariano Rivera and Bobby Jenks this season.
But it was the way Myers collected those saves that had him traded to San Diego just over four months into the campaign.
Nothing was easy. Myers would routinely enter a game with his team up by three runs and quickly give up two. He’d then load the bases before recording a strikeout or double play to get out of the jam.
This happened all the time. Jays fans were terrified by the sight of Myers jogging out of the bullpen as they knew their hearts would be pounding uncontrollably in just a matter of seconds. A once-comfortable lead was destined to nearly fade away under the closer’s watch.
But Myers somehow managed to get the job done the majority of the time, albeit just barely.
So what does any of this have to do with the Vancouver Canucks? Well, it turns out this Canucks team has a little Randy Myers in it. Vancouver uses every tiny bit of breathing room at its disposal to narrowly escape with two points, often leaving its own terrified fans curled up in the fetal position.
Take Friday night’s home win against Colorado, for instance. Vancouver took a 1-0 lead into the third period but couldn’t hold it. The Canucks were bombarded by the Avalanche for much of the frame, including a late Colorado powerplay. Vancouver managed to escape with the overtime win after a lucky bounce off a Colorado defenseman. <a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0307_avs06_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0307_avs06_t.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>
The 3-2 victory over Calgary the night before followed a similar theme. Vancouver took a 3-0 lead into the third period. But rather than make things easy for themselves and their fans, the Canucks gave up two goals in 33 seconds to let the Flames back in it. A tense final minute concluded with the Flames buzzing around the Vancouver net, just barely missing out on tying the game. Randy Myers couldn’t have scripted it better himself.
On November 3, the Canucks held 3-1 and 4-2 third period leads against Colorado at the Pepsi Center. But Vancouver found a way to make it interesting both times, with Brad Isbister taking a holding penalty that allowed Marek Svatos to make it 3-2, and the entire team falling asleep on a Svatos breakaway that made it 4-3 in the final minute. Again, Vancouver held on for the win by the narrowest of margins.
On October 26, the Canucks had a 3-1 lead against Washington with three minutes to go. Then Taylor Pyatt took a high-sticking penalty that allowed Alexander Ovechkin to make it a 3-2 game. Sami Salo took a slashing penalty just 19 seconds after the goal, giving the Capitals a golden opportunity to tie things up, though they eventually ran out of time.
Finally, on October 6th, the Canucks held a 3-1 lead against the Flames going into the third. But Vancouver gave up two goals to Daymond Langkow in just over six minutes, sending the game to overtime where Daniel Sedin poked one past Miikka Kiprusoff with five seconds remaining in the extra frame.<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/images/wire/ap/2007/11/bdd86d72-86a6-4fe0-b715-095916acf859.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/calgary_3_luongo_t.jpg" align="right" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>
The Canucks have narrowly escaped with two points after holding third period leads. On four of those occasions, they’ve been up by more than one goal but been unable to keep their opponents from rippling the mesh and drawing near or even.
This might very well be a source of concern for Canucks fans, but if Randy Myers taught us anything it’s that it is possible to win games in which you nearly give up your full lead but hold on by the skin of your teeth. It’s nerve-wracking, but it somehow works.
In which case Canucks fans might want to consider setting up appointments with their cardiologists as soon as possible, because with the way this Vancouver team looks intent on making things interesting in the third period, we’re due for one heart-thumper of a season.
<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>Well, I’ve been back with the Moose for over a week now and finally settling down into some sort of routine. It’s obviously disappointing whenever you get sent down, but I try to make the most of it and focus on what needs to be done. Like writing this blog. Haha.
Didn’t get much sleep for a few days after leaving Vancouver early last week. Got into Winnipeg late Monday night, and then left with the team for Chicago early Tuesday morning. No trick-or-treating for us on Halloween, but we did beat Quad City in a shootout that night.
Then we bussed it to Milwaukee for a game Friday night, and the whole team pulled together for a big come-from-behind win. We got down 3-0 early, but we churned out six straight goals to take them 6-3. Schneids made some great saves that game . . . It’ll be great for fans to get to see this guy in action when he makes it to the big club.
And then back into Illinois Saturday to play Rockford. Lots of time on the bus. That’s something I really don’t miss in Vancouver.
Traveling is so different down here. Night and day compared to the NHL. You go from chartered planes and leaving when you want, to commercial flights and airports and busses. That’s just the way it is in the American League, I guess, so you’ve gotta make do.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1807_practice12_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1807_practice12_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=3 hspace=4></a>It’s been nice to sit down and relax a little bit this week. I’m staying with family, and it’s great to be able to see everybody, unpack your clothes, and eat some home-cooked meals.
We’ve got back-to-back games against Milwaukee this weekend. That’s another AHL thing that takes a bit of getting used to. I guess to help keep travel costs down, we always play double-headers when at home. That’s something you don’t see too often in the big league.
It all gets underway tonight. Getting some wins at home is the most important thing, because that makes practice more fun and makes it easier to head back out on the road next weekend.
Anyway, that’s what’s been going on with me. I’m trying to get better at these, but I never know what to say. I’ll try to think of something interesting to write next time.
<table><td><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sunny_blog.jpg" align="left" hspace="4">It’s only fitting that the next game for the slumping Vancouver Canucks comes against the much-hated Calgary Flames.
After all, these Canucks are the Calgary Flames.
Now quit vomiting for a second and hear me out.
This Vancouver team is built around tremendous goaltending, strong defense, and has a great deal of difficulty putting the puck in the net.
Sound familiar? It should. The 07-08 Vancouver Canucks mirror the Calgary Flames of years past.
Those Flames teams also shared one other trait with these Canucks: they were notoriously slow starters.
In Miikka Kiprusoff’s first year with Calgary, the Flames were just one game over .500 through the first two months of the season before a red-hot December righted the ship.
The next season, Calgary was 4-7-2 through October and fans were panicking that the decision to trade the tractors for season tickets was a mistake. But the Flames found their game in November, winning 10 of 13 contests. <a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct0607_flames02_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct0607_flames02_t.jpg" align="right" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>
Even the 06-07 Flames struggled out of the gate, opening with a 3-6-1 record. It’s worth noting, however, that that Flames team had a different makeup and more offensive mindset than seasons past, with Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius, and Daymond Langkow each now capable of providing legitimate scoring depth.
Regardless, the point is that these similarly built Calgary teams struggled out of the gate just as much as Vancouver has this season. Yet for each of the years mentioned, the Flames made the playoffs. In one, they claimed a division title. In another, they went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
What then to make of all the doomsday warnings circulating around Vancouver less than a quarter of the way into the season?
While every team wants to get off to a good start, it’s not necessarily required to play great hockey in October to guarantee a playoff berth. Teams that are accustomed to playing tight-checking, one-goal games have the uncanny ability to string together long winning streaks that make up ground on other clubs.
Take Calgary, for instance.
In each of the last three seasons, the Flames were able to work around a tough start by putting together months in which they regularly won 8, 9, or even 10 games.<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/09192007_flames06_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/09192007_flames06_t.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>
Can’t Vancouver do the same thing?
Well actually, they already did.
Last season, the Canucks were under .500 as late as Christmas. But then Santa, or Mr. Hanky, depending on your belief system, brought Canucks fans an extra special present: a team that learned how to play together and won 8, 8, and 11 games in the following three months, respectively.
That team didn’t essentially turn it around until January. Yet here we are in early November and the panic across the city seems much more severe.
So while it’s tempting to put on a Chicken Little mask and run around claiming the sky is falling, it’s not necessary. And while you might be convinced that drafting Anze Kopitar would have the Canucks 14-0-0 right now, it ultimately doesn’t matter a great deal.
There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played.
There’s still a lot of time for Vancouver to find its game.
We’ve seen it before.
<table width=90% align=center><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/bear_head.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>The Canucks need to stop watching Michael J Fox movies and start worrying about their hockey. The hockey team this year seems to be either trapped in the past or stuck in their Halloween masks. Let me explain.
The Canucks of the 1980's, pre-Linden, were a group of competitors who showed up to the rink each night and gave it their best shot. Often, the only compliment they would receive from the media was a hearty "at least they tried". Oh, there were characters on the team to be sure, but they weren't going to dominate any games. The team was plagued by the Oilers, Flames, and Canadiens, who would beat them with ease almost nightly.
The team we have this year seems to be keen on transporting themselves back to that team; the only exception is that our media will not submit that the team "tried". Why the Canucks of today, a team that can win the division and go far in the playoffs, want to play like a team of two decades ago is both bewildering and frustrating. As a passionate fan, I see a great team spinning its wheels, and the only thing I can think of is that they are nostalgic for the bad old days. Please, we fans deserve better.
Well, if the team isn't trying to get "back to the future", then they must be proud of their Halloween masks; so proud that they don't want to take them off. So here is a list of the players currently wearing the "masks" of former Canucks:
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/photos/mugs/thumb/8465185.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1">Willie Mitchell: Dana Murzyn
Willie is clearly still one of the best defenders in the game. Why he is getting skated around so often this season is a mystery.
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/photos/mugs/thumb/8458530.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1">Markus Naslund; Dan Quinn
Does anyone remember how talented Dan Quinn was? He could have scored a ton of points, but for some reason he can't seem to put the biscuit in the basket the way he used to. Markus still has the talent, he just needs some puck luck.
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/photos/mugs/thumb/8466141.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1">Roberto Luongo: Sean Burke
He's still fantastic, and he is a big goalie who still stops every shot he is supposed to, but the players in front of him are making him look mediocre.
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/photos/mugs/thumb/8467881.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"><Taylor Pyatt: Todd Bertuzzi
Taylor has size, skill, and the ability to take over a game; why he doesn't more often is a wonder.
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/photos/mugs/thumb/8467875.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/photos/mugs/thumb/8467876.jpg" align="left" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1">Daniel and Henrik: Daniel and Henrik as rookies.
They still have oodles of skill but seem to be struggling to adjust to NHL defenses this year.
The bad news is that this team is off to an awful start. The good news is that we have yet to play a game when healthy. This is a team that has six great defenders, talent up front, and a world-class goaltender. The team, once they remember what made them great, will be fine.
I truly believe that the players will lose these masks, we will get healthy, and we will have a run starting in December that will have teams around the league remembering why we were division champs a season ago.
I believe this because I don't wear the mask of a bandwagon fan; and neither should you.
(bloggers note: this was written just prior to the game vs the Avs Nov 3)</td></tr></table>
<table border=0 align=center width=90%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/macri_headshot.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Being a Canuck fan really is a special thing. It's a club that sees every member endure a rite of initiation. Invariably, that initiation is one of disappointment. I'm sure that there are plenty of people that might say that they started following the team when the West Coast Express was at their peak; others might say it was Roberto Luongo's arrival. However, it is the true Canuck fan that comes back after having their heart broken.
My own induction came in 1994, as the Canucks reached the Stanley Cup Finals, only to...actually, my mind has completely erased game seven from its memory bank, but people tell me that they didn't manage to win. Now, many would argue that the '94 playoff represents the pinnacle of hockey in this city. All I know is that pinnacles shouldn't make an eleven year old kid stain his dinosaur-themed bed spread with salty tears. And I had been eating Salt'n'Vinegar chips that night, so those tears were extra salty.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/jul2607_morrison13_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/jul2607_morrison13_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>Relatively recent members (those who began watching the team in the WCE era) might site their induction point as game seven of the 02-03 Western Conference semi-finals against the Minnesota Wild. Up 2-1 going into the third, the Wild scored three unanswered to take a series in which they were down 3 games to 1. According to some, the 07-08 season might just be the next galvanizing disappointment.
Admittedly, things haven't gotten off to the best start. Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa are both facing lengthy time on the injured reserve, and the team is once again having troubles putting the puck in the net. Mix in the fact that Roberto Luongo has yet to find the elite form he established last season, and you're bound to have some rough outings. Of course, as I'm writing this, the Canucks have just put forth their (arguably) most complete effort of the season in a 4-3 victory over the Avalanche, so it's tough to get a good read on where the team stands. But I think it's fairly obvious that the team isn't exactly foreshadowing a deep run in the playoffs; and on some level, there's something comforting about that.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0307_avs13_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0307_avs13_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>I recently had a conversation with a friend about what it would be like if the Canucks went all the way one of these seasons. I had a hard time imagining
my reaction, but for some reason, I envisioned that I might feel a loss of identity (I fully realize that I just associated my identity with losing, but I can't think of a convincing argument to dissuade such a correlation). Now don't get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to see the team I have spent countless hours watching win the Stanley Cup. But I imagine that such an event might be comparable to a father giving away his daughter on her wedding day; it's a bittersweet confrontation of joy and loss.
It's a feeling that Anaheim Ducks fans couldn't understand. It's all early success and delightful family comedies starring Emilio Estevez in Southern California. There was a time when Boston Red Sox fans might find solace in an empathetic head-nod from a Canuck fan, but that elephant got up and left the room in 2004, and recently returned only to leave a peanuty heap of dung on the carpet. Indeed, The Confederation Of Frustrated Fans Enduring Ennui (COFFEE) is dwindling by the year (don't you love forced acronyms?).
There will probably come a day when the Canucks win the Cup, but until then, the official fan club (and I’m not referring to C-Force) will be initiating new members, broken hearts and all.
<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>On top of everything else, even the schedule is conspiring to extinguish any momentum. All these stoppages in play. Later on, the boys seem to have endless back to back contests but right now there are an awful lot of days off between games.
I have to admit, I turned on Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday with dread in my heart. I had my orca shaped cyanide pill clenched between my back teeth at puck drop, just waiting to bite down when the situation became hopeless. In fact, I had to switch back and forth between the Canucks game and the Lions game (the Leos being in that happiest of situations – where the outcome meant nothing). So it was a pleasant surprise to see both teams triumph and especially, to see the Canucks rise to the considerable challenge in front of them.
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The horrific, gory injuries to our blueliners during the Nashville game were more appropriate for Halloween than November 1st. Watching replays of the great gouts of blood pouring out of Sami’s shattered face was almost unbearable. Can’t the scientists of Canucks Labs come up with a full-body, Kevlar uniform for our most injury-prone defenseman?
And pity poor Mrs. Bieksa, with two babies to care for: the tiny newborn and the undoubtedly crabby, unhappily cast-bound, tough guy husband. Yikes, girlfriend, you have my sympathies.
Still, happily, despite being written off by pundits and plebs alike, the Canucks looked strong almost throughout and managed to wreck the Avalanche’s perfect record at home in the process. Amazingly, putting all our Swedish meatballs in one basket actually worked. Our scorers scored! This joyful feeling may be short lived but we better enjoy it while we can.
Which brings me, once again, to the wisdom of so-called fans booing the Canucks at GM Place. In case you hadn’t noticed, you’re not helping. No wonder their record at home sucks. The lads are practically paralyzed with fear that they are going to make a mistake and disappoint everyone. These days our talent-depleted team needs every ounce of confidence it can muster if it is to have any hope of winning.
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But booing the goalie? Well, that requires a special brand of idiocy. We ain’t the New York Islanders, folks. We don’t have our brilliant backstopper wrapped up for the better part of two decades. When his contract is up in a couple more short seasons, Roberto will ponder his future and the numerous offers he will receive from teams around the league. Now, it’s unlikely but possible that he will be thinking “gee, those torrential November downpours sure beat the heck out of boring, endless Florida sunshine” but if the crushing damp hasn’t completely put him off by then, the behavior of fickle, ungrateful fans may knock us right into the reject pile . Listen you morons, it is an extreme rarity in the history of the Canucks to have the play of the netminder be the absolute least of the team’s worries. Gift horses like Louie are as rare as Triple Crown winners so knock off digging around in his dental work. Sheesh!
Fans caught booing the home team should be issued a restraining order that will keep them at least 10K away from the eventual victory parade.
<table width=90% align=center><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/kesler_blog.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=2 hspace=6>It’s been three days since we last played and honestly, I’m getting kind of bored. I don’t like long breaks between games and when you have this much time, you don’t know what to do after a while – I just want to play. It’s actually kind of painful having to wait so long between games. I’d rather play everyday or play nine games in 16 nights than have one game every week.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0607_guitarhero_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4>While we were on the road last week, there was less free time and when we got back, we played right away so that was good but this week I’ve had a bit more time on the xbox. A lot of you guys are asking about my online name and I don’t think I’m going to go there. There are for sure a lot of good players out there and always so many people online. Yesterday I played and there were close to 500,000 people playing.
Like I said, I haven’t really had much time to play between games and travel – the only time I get is usually later at night when my wife falls asleep on the couch. No one else on the team plays video games (that I know of), except Luc but he’s big into Guitar Hero 3 – I think he’s a musician or something so that’s more his thing.
We did signing day today. Signing day is where the community department sets up a bunch of jerseys, hats, and other merchandise that gets signed by the players and is donated to various charities and foundations affiliated with the Canucks. There is a lot of stuff – but today wasn’t that bad actually. At the beginning of the year, that was the major signing day that was set up downstairs that filled the whole hall and then around the corner and around the corner.
They’re only set up three times a year, and usually pretty close to the beginning of the year so we get it all done with. They’ve been really good with it and it’s good to do something for charity.
The only problem I have with it is that the new jersey fabric is really hard to sign because the pen gets stuck in the little holes because it’s kind of got this texture to it. Because of that though, the signatures are hard to read too and they don’t look so great – I mean, I can’t even read my own on there.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0307_avs18_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/nov0307_avs18_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>There were a lot of items that the whole team signs and some of the guys were saying how Markus has the best signature and I noticed that Alex Edler's isn’t that good. You couldn’t read it, it almost resembled a seventh grader but I’m also not saying that mine is that much better.
It’s definitely changed quite a bit since I was seventeen and definitely since the first one I signed. I think the first one I ever signed was at the big Quebec tournament when I was in peewee on the local Little Caesar’s team in Michigan. It was just regular cursive, “Ryan Kesler”. I don’t write out my whole name any more, now it’s just “RK”, it’s much more efficient, especially for signing day.
We’re practicing tomorrow in the morning and then flying out to Calgary for the game Thursday. I think if we play a solid defensive game, limit their opportunities, and just play a hard working game, we’ll be right in there. That’s how we’re going to have to win now with some of they we have out of the lineup.
I think everybody played well Saturday in Colorado, Roberto had a great game, our power-play was clicking, I think we really limited their opportunities, we played a good line matching game and I think that was the difference. We’ve just to keep it up and come out with the two points.
<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>I am forced (at gun point sometimes) to at least know what is going on in the Yankees world if not vehemently care about it. See, the Yankees own my town and thus will make the front page of the papers quicker then you can say "Ghostrider was a terrible movie." The Yanks are used to winning at all costs no matter who they have to kill, so when the city had to watch their rivals cruise to their second championship this decade while the Yanks, simultaneously, lose the best player in the history of our species to pick up a bat and swing it (Alex Rodriguez) you can imagine the degree of utter chaos and bedlam surrounding it all.
It's not too far off, honestly, from how the Canucks are being talked about these days. It's getting to the point where you'd think they’re the heir apparent to the 1974-75 Capitals:
"Oh they have a million injuries and Luongo isn't any good anymore"<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/van_vs_nas_gallery_5.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/van_vs_nas_gallery_5_t.jpg border=0 align=right hspace=4 vspace=1></a>
"Oh they're last in shots per game"
"Oh the playoffs are a pipedream now"
"Oh they're last in faceoffs won"
"Oh [insert some statistic and then start profusely crying right HERE]"
Gotcha. Understood. Nothing's working. The Sedins are slumping, Vigneault's ornery, Mitchell's annoyed, Krajicek's injured, Bieksa's lucky to have his one leg entact, Rypien's got a case of the Sami Salo's, Sami Salo has a case of the Sami Salo's, etc, etc, etc. This squad isn't doing much right these days.
Then I think..."69 dude". Don't read into that, just remember Bill and Ted said it and look how happy they were a few decades ago. Perhaps Keanu Reeves is a prophet? Discuss amongst yourselves.
No, there are still 69 games left. That's over 3/4's of the season. Nothing is over so it's a bit premature to start acting like the Canucks are 0-13 and haven't scored a goal yet.
So they'll have to play from behind for the foreseeable future, so what? You never want to be in that position but sometimes that level of adversity proves your mettle as a team. Anyone recall a certain Calgary Flames (ugh) team that has a mediocre start in 2003-04 only to find their rhythm in the winter months and steamroll into the postseason? Or ditto the 2005-06 Oilers (UGH) who started the year even worse and found their legs later on? Its sports: part of the fun is the unexpected craziness.
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So before anyone starts talking about Vancouver’s chances for the first pick in the 2008 entry draft, why not see what the boys, Vigneault and Nonis can do with the majority of the season that's left in front of them? These guys took us all by surprise last year, it's just time for that second act (preferably sooner rather then later). They have many of the pieces they need, they just need to get that rhythm back, that “winning is contagious” mentality back and that sweet swagger of knowing they can ice any opposing team when they put their minds and sticks to it.
One last thing: Don't boo Luongo, we fans damn near canonized him a mere six months ago. He’s not the problem and he’s the face of the team, so booing him is stupid.
Instead, just keep saying "69 dude" to yourself, giggle accordingly and pass it on. Nothing's over yet, not be a long shot.
<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>With apologies to the late, great Vincent Price:
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty lousy years
Zombie-Sedins play five-on-five
The fans hopes barely stay alive
The Northwest Chumps, the skating dead
Each home game fills the crowd with dread
The year’s a bust, the corpse stone cold
(The season’s only 12 games old!!)
We’re hanging on, we’re watching filler
Until we finally get a thriller
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Well, the end of the Washington game was pretty exciting. Heart-stopping actually, watching Ovechkin buzz around the net. But the happy result was good for what ailed us.
It’s Halloween. Maybe we need a supernatural solution. If we can’t buy or draft a top six forward, perhaps we could build one in the lab. Where is Coach Frankenstein when we need him?
If we cobbled together the finer parts of a few players, we might just have something: Brad Isbister’s size, Ryan Shannon’s speed, Alex Burrow’s feisty puck pursuit – all stitched together in one monstrous package. Or maybe the neck bolts just need to be tightened on a few of our existing players.
It would be nice find someone who could win the occasional draw (I was going to insert the old joke about having to trade for a leper who could win in the face-off circle, but that would be tacky, as well as both politically and medically incorrect).
I don’t know what it is – but the Canucks have too often been cursed in this regard over their history. But if the lads hope to maintain control of the play more, they are going to have to figure out how to succeed from the drop of the puck.
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In these dark days of fall, it’s hard for the loyal fan to decide whether to dress up as Pollyanna or Cassandra but, for now anyways, I’m going to stay of the sunny side. I still think we are closer to team success than abject team failure.
For the ghouls who suggest that our captain is merely a ghost of his former self, I’d like to whisper the names of Mike Weir or Dave Dickenson. Never disregard the determination of smallish greats supposedly past their glory – they have the hearts of lions, otherwise they wouldn’t have succeeded in the first place. And all previous history points to the Sedins being able to take the next necessary step.
I still say they would have developed faster if we had just spent the money to bring in a skilled veteran to guide them, back in the day. Never mind - I think they’ll get there, just the same.
So here’s hoping all spookiness is banished for the start of November that our beloved Orcas gnash Gnashville, and the good ship Canuck is steered away from the dark shoals of disaster, with self doubt and mental errors forced to walk the plank.
Otherwise it will be tears and too much stale candy for me.
<table><td><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sunny_blog.jpg" align="left" hspace="4">I guess it turns out FOX was just ahead of its time.
In 1996, the network, which then carried NHL action in the US, introduced a glowing puck for its television broadcasts. Called “FoxTrax” by company executives and “What the hell is that?” by everyone else, the puck emitted a blue on-screen glow when it was controlled and a red streak when it was shot faster than 70 miles per hour.
The idea came about because the central complaint of American viewers, even more common than “There aren’t enough flaming car crashes in this sport,” was that the puck was too hard too follow. If it glowed, the argument went, more viewers would not only tune in, but more importantly, would stay tuned in.
Of course, FoxTrax was a terrific failure (think: Sega Dreamcast, the XFL, and Nick Carter’s solo career). While FOX received positive feedback from some new viewers, hockey purists denounced the dumbing down of the coolest game on earth. FoxTrax died in 1998.
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I myself didn’t really care for the feature. Which is why I find it extremely ironic that I’m now wishing someone would bring FoxTrax back.
You see, I, like many others out there, have been spoiled by high definition television. I simply can’t watch a TV program that isn’t in HD. I spend more time thinking about how bad the program looks than paying attention to what’s going on.
Take Friday night’s non-HD game in which the Canucks battled the Washington Capitals, for example.
I simply could not find the puck because it seemed like someone had smeared Vaseline onto my television screen. I felt like Roberto Luongo out there, ducking my head left and then right, trying to peek around the screen to see where the puck was. Non-HD TV was my Chris Clark.
The Canucks won the game 3-2, though I only know that because of Jim Hughson’s commentary. My own two eyes failed me. I think the Capitals put on a late charge and almost tied the game in the final minute, led by Alexander Ovechkin. But without HD, it’s hard to read the name on the back of the jersey. It might very well have been Dmitri Khristich wreaking havoc out there.
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I envy those who’ve never seen a game in HD. I wish I could go back to the days when my simple little analog television was all I needed to enjoy 60 minutes of hard-hitting action.
But high definition has ruined me. It’s left me completely unable to follow the action in a non-HD game. I need FoxTrax just so I can again figure out what’s happening on the ice.
Bring back FoxTrax.
<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>California has spontaneously combusted and so have the Canucks. No, hang on...
It’s a sunny day, so let’s start on the sunny side, shall we? As Luongo goes, so goes the team. Roberto has played very well the last two games and is beginning to look like our beloved superstar backstopper again. Our new backup was sharp too, in his only start.
I can’t say with any real authority because I haven’t been able to watch the away games in their entirety (damn this having to work for a living), but during the periods I have watched, I don’t think the Canucks have played appallingly badly – well, okay, Mitchell and Miller suddenly taking up pairs ice dancing was bad, especially as it resulted in the winning goal.
Clearly, we need to start taking more shots if we’re going to score more goals. Or more accurately we need to start generating some genuine chances. Which brings us to this week’s media controversy. Oh Markus, when are you going to stop having those outbursts of truthfulness?
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Frankly, I couldn’t agree more with the captain – I’ve been saying the same thing since last season. Controlling the puck means dictating the play and forcing the opposition into taking penalties. Dumping and chasing, for anyone who is not on the third or fourth line, is for losers.
A team that does not have at least one line that can consistently carry the puck into the attacking zone, make perfect passing plays, and get the shot away quickly and accurately will win nothing, especially in the playoffs. Defensive responsibility and ferocious checking are important (at no time did the captain disagree with that) but offensive creativity is every bit as crucial.
Alain Vigneault’s response was predictable, given his love of physical role players, if not a little frank as he suggested his top forwards were soft. “Whereas our grinders, the ones with any points, are doing it by hard forechecking and going to the tough areas. That's the way the way the game is played now; you have to have the willingness to want to do that."
It seems to me that most of top lines across the league give only a passing nod to the tough areas. Zetterberg isn’t doing a great deal of dumping and chasing right now. Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza aren’t famous for getting rid the puck, then flailing in the corners to retrieve it. Fans want to see dazzling skill. At least, that’s what I want to see when I part with my hard earned bucks.
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I appreciate the very good work our third line has been doing lately. But asking Markus to emulate Rick Rypien every shift is like buying a toaster, then expecting it to make coffee. You are going to be disappointed by the lack of grind (or grinds). Every player should be prepared to battle to win.
Markus should be expected to occasionally go into corners to dig out the puck, should drive to the net sometimes, and I keep noticing him doing those things. But he also needs to be helped in his bid to play to his strengths. And that, once again raises the issue that was not addressed last season, nor over the summer – the need to acquire at least one big strong skilled forward with a scoring touch.
That said, I don’t think we are a million miles away from success. Sami’s back, Kevin’s a proud papa, so the defense is likely to start clicking again. I anticipate improvement soon.
<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>Again, it’s been too long since I last submitted a blog, but in my defence, it’s been hectic. This is a far cry from college hockey.
Last week I went from Vancouver to Winnipeg and back in 36 hours.
I was told after the San Jose game on Monday that I was being sent down. I had a pretty good idea that I was coming back up, so I didn’t check out of my hotel here in Vancouver. I just grabbed my plane clothes, a suit, and my shaving kit and left for the airport on Tuesday around noon. Thankfully I didn’t play that night.
We practiced Wednesday morning, played that night (we beat the Rochester Americans 7-1) and was back on a plane to Vancouver at 3:30 am (PST).
I don’t remember much, I slept most of the way to tell you the truth, but obviously a flight that early in the morning is tough on the body. It was good to get in Thursday so I had time to rest up for Friday’s game.
That kind of thing does throw you off, but that’s the nature of the business I guess.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1807_practice03_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1807_practice03_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=3 hspace=4></a>Obviously I want to be here in Vancouver, but it was good to go down and play in some key situations and be a go-to guy.
Now that I’ve played a couple of games here, I really see the difference between the NHL and the AHL.
The game is different, but I don’t know how to pinpoint it exactly. Sometimes when you think you have more time to make a play here in the NHL, it’s less time down there – which is weird. And it seems like it’s the opposite there. I guess it’s just more scrambly or something.
And I’m supposed to write something about my “Welcome to the NHL” moment. That’s hard because that was almost a month ago now, and I don’t know that I really had one.
I guess it really sank in when I lined up for a face-off in the home-opener. I looked over and Thornton and Cheechoo were there – that’s pretty neat. I was watching them last year in the playoffs and all of the sudden they’re right there, and you’re playing against them. That was a neat experience.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sep2607_sharks03_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sep2607_sharks03_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=3 hspace=4></a>Learning lots though. Some of the guys up here have really helped me out and gone way out of their way to make me feel comfortable.
They’ve been very welcoming and have always made it clear that if I need anything, I can come to them.
I went over to Trevor Linden’s one night for a great dinner. His wife cooked pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes and salad. And a few of us guys went to Markus’s house for Thanksgiving dinner: myself, Ryan Shannon, Mike Weaver, and Mattias Ohlund’s family. It was a wonderful dinner.
You’re really thankful for it when you’ve only had two home-cooked meals in the last month and a half.
Most of us guys at the hotel eat together. Nobody’s cooking, so Earls has been pretty popular. So have The Keg and Cactus Club.
Somebody asked me to talk about my skates, I guess because they’re different. I wear Graf skates. Not many guys wear them – for one, they don’t do sponsorships. Bauer is probably the biggest skate around the locker room, but I like Grafs.
I know the owner from growing up in Calgary.They also have a factory in Switzerland. And for the guy that asked, I take a 5/8ths hollow. I like them sharp.
Okay, I’ve got to get some things together before the next flight. Hope that was okay.</td></tr></table>
<table width=90% align=center><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/bear_head.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>It's a strange thing for a Canucks fan to be a Flames fan. I imagine it is akin to being a drug addict dealing with withdrawal.
You wake up feeling nauseous, defeated, and disgusted with the way your life has become. You look into the mirror and claw at your eyes so that you may cease to view the troll that looks back at you. You are ashamed to call your parents, talk to your friends, or even get out of bed because of what you have become. I have to say, I hate it when I am a Flames fan.
I hate it almost as much when I am Leafs fan, or a Sharks fan, or a Canadiens fan. Every time I cheer for a team I despise with all of my heart, I hate myself a little bit.
Take Philadelphia for instance; I have disliked Philly for as long as I can remember. They play a gooned out style of hockey that rewards toughness over skills, and for years, a GM who did business in the same manner led them.
Yet a few nights ago, I was a Philly fan. I cheered when they scored. I punched the air when they won, and I had a smile on my face when they took 2 points (granted, I had to shower right afterwards, I felt so dirty).
Why would I do such a thing? It is very simple: The Flyers were playing the Flames; a team I hate, and a team we will battle with this year for the division crown.
It is safe to say that there is no other team in the entire NHL I dislike more than Calgary. They are so smug with their oil, their country music, and their underpaid goalie.
I hate the Flames and wish them nothing but misfortune and misery in their NHL season. Misery, that is, until they play a team that needs to lose so we can make the playoffs. I hate it when that happens, but it does.
At some point during the season, I will actually be cheering for Iginla and Kipper to be successful, and I hate myself for it. I hate it when I have to cheer for a team that I hate. I cheer for them because my love for the Canucks trumps my hate for the Flames; I cheer for them because I would rather the Canucks succeed than the Flames fail… but it is close. Real close.
The NHL is a funny league in that regard. There is so much parity, the divisions so close, and the playoff race so tight that eventually every real fan of the game will cheer for a team they dislike.
Senators' fans will cheer for the Leafs, Wings' fans will cheer for the Avalanche, and Rangers' fans will cheer for the Islanders. I bet you, dollars to donuts, that each and every one of those fans hates it when they do that.
So, if you happen to be walking down the streets of Vancouver and you stumble across someone in a Flames hat beating themselves with a piece of bamboo, just let him be, because that is me, and I deserve it.
<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>A week has passed since Philadelphia racked up their Frequent Flyer Points. And as predicted, our team took the lessons from that hideous loss into their next three battles. Defensive positioning was better, stickwork was better, the Sedins can control the puck for an entire powerplay. Yes, the collapse in the third period against San Jose means the boys still have a way to go but, all in all, things are looking up.
The Canucks swore up and down that they were going to get off to a better start this season; that they would begin this year as well as they had ended last. Unfortunately, that’s not happening yet. Our golden goalie is ramping up slowly, just as he did last year. We have replaced several mediocre players who understood how to execute Coach Vigneault’s defensive systems, with several mediocre players who don’t.
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Poor Dave Nonis - I can relate. Often, I have headed to the supermarket with the express purpose of purchasing milk, because, you know, I really, really need milk. I arrive home with bags of groceries, but, oops, no milk. Dave approached the off-season with the clear intention of acquiring a big, physical forward with a scoring touch, because, not having one saw us eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
Once at the NHL fair however, Dave discovered that those forwards were commanding ludicrous contracts and he was lured into impulse buying by enticing Isbisters and Ritchies, tempting him with pleading puppy eyes from the bargain bin. So here we are, two weeks into the season, our youthful potential scorers dispatched to Moose country, and we still can’t generate goals when we need them most.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/092607_sjsharks10_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/092607_sjsharks10_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>Ryan Kesler, you’re killing me. Markus gifts you a spectacular pass, you have a yawning net to shoot at and you miss. Aarrgh!! Much as I wish it were otherwise, you still appear to have less finish than an antique armoire soaking in acetone.
And Brad Isbister. Cripes, you’re 6’4”, 225 lbs, and you can draw penalties like nobody’s business and muscle your way to the net while strong-arming a defender in a style not seen here since the moody, hulking one was dispatched to Florida. You should be a freaking superstar, baby. But at 30 years old and on your sixth NHL team you are cutting it pretty fine in terms of your emergence from your cocoon. All of Vancouver promises to love you unconditionally if you can finally get it together in our lovely city.
The Kings should be paupers by the time our lads get done with them on Friday, emphasis on the SHOULD. If the Canucks don’t do that incredibly annoying thing where they underestimate a weaker opponent, come out slow and sloppy, spend the first two periods like they’re skating through sludge, then forlornly bleat useless excuses at the cameras after the game. Los Angeles is a team in goalie meltdown and we have the “best goalie on the planet”.
So boys, if you could just pretend that you’re playing a team that you hate or a team that scares you, maybe you could win this one in style, cheer up the rightfully crabby home crowd and put yourselves in a positive mindset for your week long road trip.
<table width=90% align=center><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/kesler_blog.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=2 hspace=6>We had a day off yesterday, which was nice since we’ve going pretty hard since the season started. It’s kind of weird to have three days between games but it’s good because the next week will be pretty intense. Typically on off days I sleep until 9… maybe 10 but I actually slept in until about 11:00, which is unlike me but you know what, sometimes you just need it.
It was a pretty low key day, I played some video games. I got Halo 3, which was released just recently but hadn’t really had much of a chance to test it out so I got to pull out the 360 and play some of that. I was playing four on four with some random people online. It’s still pretty new so I’d say that I’m average but I can hold my own.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/Nationwide_Arena_tt.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4>Lately, my favourite restaurant has been a new place that just opened up downtown called Italian Kitchen but for dinner, my wife and I went to Gotham Steakhouse. It was the first time in three years that we’ve been there and I forgot how good the steak there was. I should probably think about going more often.
While Halo was great, the highlight of my day was actually the Kanye concert. I went with my wife and Taylor Pyatt and his wife. I sat probably as far away as you possibly can for Ludacris and then I finagled my way to the front for Kanye. Wait - okay finagled might not be the best word - my buddy had tickets up there so we went to join him. It was the first time I ever sat front row at a concert so it was pretty neat. I like Ludacris more so it was kind of disappointing that we were so far away for him but but Kanye was really good so I have no complaints.
I actually had a pretty busy and I would say productive day off because usually I just lay around the house all day so this was definitely good for me. If I have family in town, I’d bring them to the Suspension Bride or something like that. I went last year but I wouldn’t go there that much, it’s one of those places that you go to show people who are visiting from out of town.
Speaking of family, I get to see them next week when we play Columbus because it’s about a 30 mile drive from Detroit. I’m excited about the road trip – the first real long one since the season started – but it’s going to be an expensive one because of all the tickets I’ll have to buy. I think there’s gong to probably close to 30 people from my family at that game and we’re playing Detroit too so it’ll likely be a repeat of that when we go there.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/092607_sjsharks01_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/092607_sjsharks01_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>The best part of it is that I get to see my little niece Aubrey. She’s my wife’s brother’s daughter and it’s always so much fun to see her. She’s almost three years old and she loves hockey too, which is great. Maybe she’ll get into it too but I’ll leave that up to her parents to make that decision.
Every time I go back, I bring her a gift so if I don’t have something she’ll ask where her present was. It’s really cute. She’s got our old jersey but not the new on yet so I got her one of those. There’s no number on it yet but I think my mom’s going to do it when we get there. It’ll be fun for sure.
<table border=0 align=center width=90%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/macri_headshot.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>A lot of you* have sent in letters asking me what being a blogger is like, so I thought I’d indulge your curiosities with a behind-the-scenes look into my life. Last Wednesday, I kept a diary as I went about my day. Some of it is pretty normal stuff, some of it will blow. your. mind. So enjoy the unabridged record of my life on Wednesday, October 10th.
4:30 am: It’s early, but I like to start my day off with squat thrusts and chopping wood. The burn in my thighs is deep, but I feel alive. Only fifteen hours until the Canucks take on the Flyers. It’s going to be a good day.
5:45 am: A light breakfast consisting of a grapefruit quarter and a dozen raw eggs.
6:00 am: I dictate my day’s schedule to Lupé, my personal assistant. We argue briefly about the socio-political vendetta of land reforms in Sri Lanka, but Lupé’s inability to speak English greatly impedes this conversation. Thirteen and one-half hours until puck drop.
6:30 am: I retire to my den to watch Saved By the Bell. Jesse Spano’s addiction to caffeine pills is especially troubling.<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer04_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer04_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>
3:30 pm: It seems I fell asleep while watching SBTB. Downside: the children at the orphanage went without Uncle Mikey’s Story Time and Vitamin Bonanza. Upside: Only four hours until game time.
4:00 pm: Preparation for tonight’s game has begun. I travel downtown to my bank branch and withdraw $12.95 (plus an allowance for applicable taxes) in order to purchase the game on pay-per-view. PPV games are always a little more exciting, because it feels like a small form of gambling. What if they play poorly? Oh, the waste of $12.95 plus applicable taxes! However, I’m pretty confident that this will be money well invested.
6:45 pm: More squat thrusts.
7:30 pm: Game time. The atmosphere in my den is electric. This should make up for the time last time the Flyers were in town, when my friend Andrew and I had box seats on New Year’s Eve, only to watch Simon Gagne score the game-winning goal with less than three seconds left on the clock. Yes, revenge will be my candy. Sweet, sweet revenge candy.
7:52 pm: Jeff Carter scores. All right boys, chins up! Let’s get it back quick!
7:53 pm: R.J. Umberger nets one. Why did it have to be Umberger? Okay, no big deal. A little quick for my liking, but we’re only down 2-0.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer08_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer08_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>7:57 pm: Shannon! You know, I had a good feeling about this guy. Couple goals already...looks like we’ve solved our problems up front! This guy isn’t getting sent down any time soon. 2-1 Flyers. ‘Nucks are on the comeback trail.
8:04 pm: Damn.
8:07 pm: Oh God No!!!
8:16 pm: End of the first. Down 4-1. Uphill, but totally doable. Totally.
8:33 pm: Start of the second. Here we go, boys!
8:34 pm: Are you kidding me?!?!
8:35 pm: I make a frantic phone call to Shaw explaining that my PPV order didn’t go through properly. The gentleman on the other end calmly explains that he is aware that I am lying. He also persuades me to subscribe to Showcase Diva. I am fuming.
9:28 pm: Finish watching Desperate Housewives on Showcase Diva. That Edie is a maneater! Watch out guys, this cat’s got claws!
9:29 pm: Flip back to the game. Seems as though we’re on a 5 on 3 powerplay (wonder what happened?). Well, it’s 7-2, but maybe we can build a little confidence going forw...whoa, bad pass by Shann...damn. 8-2.
9:30 pm: Put on my sweats, get out a pint of chunky monkey, and relax with my new-found friends from Wisteria Lane. Oh Showcase Diva, such sweet comfort in times of despair. Hey, a Blossom marathon is coming up next! Things are looking up.
*Not that many.**
<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>I’m not a gal who opposes the occasional light spanking, but C’MON!! That was just brutal. I was going to have another brief moan about the stupid NHL schedule, but perhaps a six year interval between Flyers visits is a good thing.
And here I was all atwitter to be attending my first game of the season, moving merrily with the mob down Georgia Street in eager anticipation. At one point, I had to make a heads-up deke in order to avoid a hip-check from a woman wearing a Ruutu jersey. Which got me wondering…do fans take on the characteristics of the players whose jerseys they don? Is a guy more likely to get into a bar fight if he’s wearing a Bieksa sweater? If he challenges a guy in a Cooke jersey, will number 24 avoid confrontation and curl up under a table?
Speaking of jerseys, I couldn’t believe the number of people in attendance wearing Lindros Philly sweaters. Jeez – did your mommies accidently order those from the Eaton’s catalogue? The trade that brought whiney, underachieving Eric to the Flyers quite rightly topped Sportsnet’s all time worst list last week.
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This is me avoiding talking about the game. Cripes, it was agony the first time – I don’t really want to rehash it. For a hash, it certainly was. Well, the first few minutes looked promising. The boys were forcing the Flyers to the outside, controlling the tempo of the play and vigorously keeping the play alive in the attacking zone.Then came some lazy backchecking where our boys seemed hypnotized by the opposition, sweet Lou let in two goals in a matter of seconds and the wheels came off.
During the second period, I was thinking if it were up to me, today I would put the team in the pink jerseys and bag skate them all morning. But by the end, I felt maybe hugs were in order. The lads looked so crushed. I don’t know how the crowd had the heart to boo them – as cruel as kicking a hurt puppy.
And thoughts go out this morning to the worst hurt puppy, Ryan Kesler. Man, I hate to see a player lying on the ice like a broken doll. I thought maybe the addition of skilled, baby-faced, mighty mite Daniel Briere would signal a sea change in Philadelphia – a slight increase in cuddliness to the nasty team from the City of Brotherly Love. But no. Bobby Clarke goonism lives on. When you’re leading by six goals there is absolutely no need to run over a goalie, but the stick-to-the-face by Jesse Boulerice was an appalling act and ought to result in a hefty suspension.<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer04_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer04_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>
Trudging home from the game last night, I was thinking, I’m really glad I’m not married to a Canuck. I would be rounding up the kids and sleeping at my mother’s house. But after a night of tossing and turning, I hope the boys return to the ice fiercely motivated not to be so utterly embarrassed at home again. Note to Coach Vigneault – just a thought, but you might want to go over the defensive systems again. There was some terrifically pretty passing last night, interspersed between the vast waves of groaning awfulness. I enjoyed seeing some brief flashes of offensive prowess. But the meat and potatoes of this less-than-superskilled team are the defensive systems. Back to basics, lads, and I think you’ll be okay. We’re only three games into the season. We can probably hold off panicking until, say, game six.
<table width=90% align=center><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/bear_head.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Two different people have more or less, delivered the most exciting moments of my history with the Canucks. It seems like every time I recall one of those highlights that make me grin from ear to ear these two guys are a part of it.
Greg Adams might as well change his name to Mr. Clutch. He scored some of the greatest, and most timely, goals in Vancouver history. Game 7 vs Calgary in '94 everyone recalls Bure scoring his beauty in OT, yet people never talk about the guy that got them there. Greg Adams, in the third period of that game, scored in the last minute to send the game to over time. It wasn't the piece of art that Bure's winner was, but it was, one could argue, far more important. Without Adams' goal, there is no cup run.
The second memory comes from the same playoffs. After getting shelled throughout game one by the Rangers, Adams stole the game with an OT winner over the shoulder of Richter. His picture was enshrined on the sports section of every paper in NY and Vancouver and he was the man who gave Vancouver our first finals victory.
The last memory from Adams was a moment that should rank as the best moment in Canucks history. Nothing pleases me more to this day than the memory of Felix Potvin sitting in absolute despair as the Leafs' season was finished. While we would lose the Cup to the Rangers that year, beating the Leafs was almost as sweet.
<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1307_canuckvsoiler08_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1307_canuckvsoiler08_tt.jpg" align="right" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>So who is the other player? Well, he is a player who, like Adams, seems to get hurt a lot. He is a player who, like Adams, is not the star on the team. He is a player who, like Adams, always seems to score the big goals. He is Brendan Morrison.
It's about time there was some love given to B-Mo for all he has done in a 'Nuck's uniform. He rises to the occasion when regulation time is out. He has more GWG vs Calgary than any other Canuck player and, if it isn't in OT, he seems to arrive out of no where to score a goal when needed, just like Greg Adams.
Morrison has more OT goals than anyone on Canucks history, and yet he continues to be a lightening rod for criticism. When he is scoring, people complain about his defense. When he is shutting down the opposition, people complain about his lack of scoring. Never has a player achieved so much for the Canucks and been treated so poorly by many fans out there. He has earned, and deserves, more.
Brendan Morrison and Greg Adams deliver and have delivered many times for this team. Adams was Mr. Clutch for Vancouver, and Morrisson IS Mr. Clutch now. Stay tuned for the next OT game for Brendan to prove his worth once again.
<table><td><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sunny_blog.jpg" align="left" hspace="4">I really dislike Jerry Maguire.
It’s 40 minutes too long. It disguises itself as a sports movie when it’s actually a love story. And it’s forever cursed Western society with, “You had me at ‘hello.’”
So imagine my dismay now that I find myself taking a page straight out of Jerry’s handbook.
In the film’s opening minutes, Maguire has a vision. Tired of the cut-throat and shallow world of sports representation, in which he’s a top gun, Jerry drafts a 20-page mission statement aimed at cleaning up the system’s inequalities.
Like Maguire, I, sitting at my computer late one night, had a utopian vision for all Canucks fans.
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In case you missed the news, the band Radiohead recently made their new album, “In Rainbows,” available for download through the group’s official website. The cost? Zero dollars. And zero cents. If fans want to donate when they download the album, they’re more than welcome to. If they’d prefer to hold on to their money, that’s fine too.
And that’s when it hit me, when I learned what I should aspire to do in my new role as a Canucks blogger: I should get the organization to implement a similar pay-if-you-want-to philosophy for all regular season and playoff games.
Think about it. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
The Canucks organization would generate an unprecedented amount of good PR by invoking such a policy. The streak of consecutive home sell-outs would continue into the next millennium. And unsightly scalpers would no longer congregate around GM Place since they would be rendered moot.
The Canucks players would be under far less stress out on the ice, since fans who’ve paid zero dollars for their tickets are far less likely to boo the team than those who’ve paid an arm and a leg.
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And those same fans would be able to attend as many games as they wished, provided they were willing to wait out the inevitably long lineups.
I ask you, who loses in that setup? Sure, maybe the organization won’t make as much money as it does now, since ticket revenue will undoubtedly fall to $4.21 a game. Total.
But it’s just money, right? This utopia I’ve envisioned as your Canucks blogger is worth far more than mere colored paper.
I just wish I could remember what happens to Jerry Maguire at his workplace once he hands his mission statement in…
<table><td><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/sunny_blog.jpg" align="left" hspace="4">Microsoft had just released the original Xbox. Nintendo had followed a few days later and launched its Gamecube. And after a 28-game stint as a Washington Capital, Trevor Linden had barely rejoined the Vancouver Canucks.
Yes, a lot has changed since the Philadelphia Flyers last visited General Motors Place on December 31st, 2001. Thankfully, even more is about to.
After long affirming that the NHL’s unbalanced schedule is necessary to build divisional rivalries, commissioner Gary Bettman shifted course last month when he conceded that a change needed to be made and that more out-of-conference games needed to be played.
Bettman’s epiphany came as a surprise to many. He had long been the unbalanced schedule’s staunchest supporter. What could possibly make him change his mind? What force could be so strong?
I’ve figured out the answer.
Gary Bettman watches “24.”<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer05_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1007_canuckvsflyer05_t.jpg" align="right" border="0" hspace="4" vspace="1"></a>
You see, in season four of the hit television show about Jack Bauer’s efforts to save the world, beleaguered President Logan makes a shrewd move.
When the lead terrorist is killed and potential conflict with the Chinese is diverted, Logan, who’s been on the wrong side of the day’s key issues, develops selective amnesia. He ignores the mistakes he’s made and dares everyone around him to point out that he wasn’t onboard all along. No one does.
Bettman, who’s been under fire for months for his unwillingness to change the schedule format, is now following Logan’s lead.
He’s no longer trotting out statistics about how 60 percent of NHL fans are in favour of the unbalanced schedule. Instead, he’s focusing on the good that will come from a city like Vancouver seeing the Flyers more than once every six years.
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Don’t think that’s been his point of view all along? Prove it!
And so, when Philadelphia returns to Vancouver again next season, or the season after, don’t just thank the security guy at GM Place for letting you into the building.
Don’t just thank your mom for buying you the ticket.
Thank 24. Thank President Logan.
They made it all possible.