<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>The world is indeed a small place, meaning that sometimes you’ll see an old friend you haven’t see in years while buying a can of Coke at the store and, moments later, you’ll see an ex-girlfriend from high school (who you NEVER wanted to see again) on TV as an NFL cheerleader...at which point you punch a hole in the wall and develop a new understanding of why apartments are rented with security clauses. But in the sports world it's even smaller so there are times we, as fans, get to see some old faces swing back our way and reminisce about what once was.
As it so happens, this week we get two of those old faces back to back
Last night's tilt brought the return of Brent Sopel to GM Place. Good old Sopes, a fan favorite from 2000-2004 before being shipped off to two different asylums (Long Island & Los Angeles) before Dave Nonis reeled him back during last year's playoff run.
Sadly, Sopel couldn't be retained due to that whole salary cap thing and now skates for his dinner money with the upstart Blackhawks. The astute reader will note my lack of listing any statistics or waxing poetic about his defensive prowess suggests I don't miss Sopel; well, you'd be spot on (and I'm not even mentioning the Kentucky waterfall haircut or the cracker incident).
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So it was with distinct pleasure that my Sunday TV viewing included Kesler dumping a 19-year-old over the boards into Sopel's lap and, moments later, Sopel taking a delay of game penalty that lead to Morrison's first period goal. I'm much happier seeing Bourdon and Edler come to the rescue of an injury-plagued Vancouver defensive core then Sopel's rampant miscues, but am happy as hell he's still in our conference and willing to put his team at a disadvantage whenever possible.
This leads us to Todd Bertuzzi returning as a member of the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow night. Amazing to think it’s only been a year and a half since “the trade” that sent Bertuzzi to the other side of the continent. So do you think fans should boo old #44? I think you should definitely boo, just not him. You should absolutely boo Pronger (in fact, if you don't you have no soul), you should absolutely boo Rob Neidermeyer (it WAS an elbow hit in game five you clown) and hell you can even boo Brad May, but Bertuzzi should get a Messier-esque approval from the rafters of GM Place down to the ice level.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/bertuzzianaheim_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/bertuzzianaheim_t.jpg border=0 align=left hspace=4 vspace=1></a>The guy made his name as a Canuck between 2001-2003, posting 85 and 97 point seasons alongside Naslund and Morrison. He became the defacto power forward for a handful of years and Vancouver benefited from it, at a time when the Sedins were still learning how to skate at the NHL level. Even in his most notorious moment on ice, it was still done defending (no matter what someone tells you) the current captain of this team. He was moved to give him a chance to resurrect his career and, in return, is ANYONE out there upset with Luongo backstopping Vancouver for years to come? Some will boo because they never liked him, but I hope most remember that this guy was a monster for a team that rarely gets these sorts of players. And, after you applaud Bert, then go back to wanting various members of the Ducks to plummet to the ice with groin strains. Sound fair?
There are no other old faces to look forward to for the rest of the season (unless you move a rock and find Anson Carter under it), so getting two back to back isn't bad. And we should all keep those fingers crossed that L.A. gets the injury bug and has to recall Cloutier. Can you imagine Cloutier V Luongo in GM Place? It's a small crazy world indeed.