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Growing up in a hockey-mad city, I idolized the Canucks. As a kid, you don't pay as much attention to wins or standings or special teams efficiency, and although the adrenaline rush of watching your team win is unmatched, you're always rooting for a single player. But given the economics of the league, players are drafted, signed, traded, waived, or bought out, coaches and GMs are hired, fired, and re-hired. For me, the appreciation of a single player was enough to keep me interested. When I attended Canucks games, which weren't many, considering I'm not a season-ticket holder and single game tickets can be pricey, I was watching one player and one player only: Trevor Linden. I can honestly say that I've never, ever left a game early, and I always made my dad stay until the three-star selections. It was a huge delight for me to see Linden skate in a mini-circle and give a wave to the fans, if only it lasted less than five seconds. You cheered for your favourite player, even in tough losses. So it is particularly disappointing for me to hear that the Canucks have now grown a tendency to not come out during the three-start selections. Back in May, I ripped the Canucks for not saluting their fans after the Blackhawks ended the Canucks' playoff run on home ice. This is what I wrote: "Vancouver fans are no stranger to disappointments. After 40 years of futility we've seen just about everything. But never have I ever seen any Canucks team fail to salute the fans after the end of the season. That perhaps was the most frustrating part of the game. Sure, most fans booed and with the way the Canucks showed up to this game I wouldn't want to stick around the rink any longer than I should, but there are fans who still cheer for them through the tough times and who still genuinely care. Vancouver's a passionate hockey town and for the team to ultimately disrespect their fans like that is discomforting. The majority of the fans left the rink with a sour taste in their mouths but that's no excuse to not acknowledge the support Vancouver fans have given the team all year." (May 12, 2010) <img src="http://mattgunn.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/game4lost_ducks.jpg"class="imageFloatRightFramed">I understand the bitterness after a loss. Everyone's experienced it before. Words are harder to put together. Movements are slower. You're in disbelief, then your shoulders drop and you wonder what you could've done better, then you start getting angry, wondering why you weren't good enough, having been eliminated in a similar fashion the year before. I get it. But what I don't get, is why these professionals can't suck it up and give their fans a little wave of thanks. There are many fans who don't care - a win is a win, and after all, it is a team game. But there are also many who do care. There are a lot of kids today who wait to get an extra glimpse of Henrik, Dan, Kesler, Luongo, or whoever. If 18,859 people walk out of Rogers Arena not caring about the three stars, the players should still come out and give that one person remaining in the stands a salute. It doesn't mean a lot to us because we don't care, but there are still those who do, and given the prices these fans pay to come to games, it's not too much to ask. On January 5, I ripped Luongo on Twitter for not coming out after being named the game's first star in a 3-1 win. It was quite obvious to me that he was upset at losing his shutout with only 10.3 seconds to go in the game. "I'm a competitor and I want to stop them all and I was a little disappointed that one went in at the end," Luongo had said after the game, after declining an on-ice interview when he was named the game's first star after stopping 43 shots. Wait. Was Luongo actually so bitter that he lost a statistic that he refused to come out and acknowledge the fans? Could he be that selfish and petty? I sure hope not. But sure enough, after losing to Detroit in a 2-1 shootout loss, the Canucks once again failed to come out. Luongo and Ballard were named two of the three stars but neither came out. I can understand why players don't come out during road games, like Jimmy Howard, because this isn't their hometown crowd, even if there are plenty of Red Wings fans in the stands. So in both wins and losses, the Canucks just don't come out. It's not like being named a star isn't worth anything - the Canucks' Molson Cup award is annually given to the player who is named one of the three stars most over the course of the season. Luongo won the award three consecutive times, from 2006-2009. I don't get it. Then, Iain MacIntyre reveals to us that the Canucks have "... a loose, long-standing policy against asking their players to return to the ice after losses. Ballard, in fact, didn't even know until [MacIntyre] told him that he'd been named a star and was horrified at the possibility fans might think he had disrespected them." Kudos to Ballard for actually feeling guilty about the whole thing, but what kind of organization does this to their fans? When did the Canucks become such prima donnas? We understand that the Canucks' first goal is to win and quite (unfairly) both the organization and fans think that a Cup title will all of a sudden exonerate all of the past miscues. Not really.
In celebrating the Vancouver Canucks' 40th anniversary, this season the club has introduced the Ring of Honour, an exclusive club of four members whose contributions to the franchise will be recognized. Since the club's inception in 1970, the franchise has seen its fair share of up and downs but through the good times and the bad, the Canucks have had its fair share of hockey heroes. On October 26, 2010, when the Canucks played host to the visiting Avalanche, Orland Kurtenbach, the franchise's first-ever captain was named as the Ring of Honour's first member. In continuing this celebration, the second member of the Ring of Honour will be revealed one month today on November 24 when the Canucks again play host to Colorado. For a franchise that has produced four different players named to First All-Star teams (Pavel Bure, Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund, Henrik Sedin), three named to Second All-Star teams (Kirk McLean, Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo), and two different Jack Adams winners (Pat Quinn, Alain Vigneault) as the league's best coach, and numerous other players and public figures that have made innumerable contributions to the franchise, the Canucks have no shortage of candidates for the Ring of Honour. Here are my top five candidates. <img src="http://www.farmteam.de/AUDIO/linden_mclean1994.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Drafted second overall in the 1988 draft, Medicine Hat Tigers alum Trevor Linden came with high expectations and did not disappoint, becoming arguably the Canucks' first-ever franchise player. Linden cracked the NHL lineup at just the tender age of 18 and scored 30 goals that same year, becoming the first Canucks rookie to do so. A hard-working player and mature beyond his years, Linden won the Cyclone Taylor Award as the Canucks' most valuable player in his rookie year. His efforts were recognized league-wide and he garnered a Calder nomination as the league's top rookie. At age 21, he was made captain of the franchise, one of the youngest captains in league history and led the team to two consecutive Smythe Division titles to go with four consecutive 30+ goal seasons. The obvious highlight in the franchise's history under Linden's leadership was a riveting Stanley Cup run in the summer of 1994 and a against the Mark Messier-led Rangers. While the end result was hard to swallow, it was one of the best finals the NHL had ever seen and while and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hEPzALqeS4, it was Linden's drive and never-say-die attitude that got them there. Despite being traded to Long Island in 1998 after feuding with "Iron Mike" Keenan and brief stints in Montreal and Washington, Linden's heart always belonged in Vancouver. Immediately after Brian Burke was named general manager, one of his first moves was to bring back number 16. While his 30-goal days were behind him, Linden's work ethic remained unquestioned and when called upon he always Linden would suit up for the Canucks for six more season before retiring at the conclusion of the 2008 season. Linden was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his leadership on and off the ice in 1997 and continues to be active in the Vancouver community. In total, Linden suited up in 1140 games for Vancouver and is second on the Canucks all-time scoring list with 733 points. <img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/06/Smyl_full.jpg"class="imageFloatRightFramed">Before there was Linden, there was Stan Smyl. Drafted 40th overall in 1978, Smyl was another relentless forward known for his blue-collar style of play, earning him the nickname "Steamer." Despite standing only 5'8", Smyl never let his lack of size stop him and in his rookie season, playing on a line with rookies Thomas Gradin and Curt Fraser, Smyl scored 38 points in 62 games. After captain Kevin McCarthy went down with an injury in the 1982 season, then general manager Harry Neale named Smyl as captain and he didn't disappoint, leading the Canucks to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance despite having a losing record during the regular season. While the Canucks were swept in 4 games by the Islanders, Smyl captained the team for a total of eight season before retiring in 1991 with 673 career points, all with Vancouver. Smyl's contributions to the Canucks were not limited to the ice. After retiring he was named as an assistant coach to Pat Quinn and later a head coach for the Canucks' AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch in 1999 and the Manitoba Moose in 2001. In 2004, Smyl joined the Canucks front office as Director of Player Development before becoming Senior Advisor to Mike Gillis in 2008, a position he still holds today. For over 30 years Smyl has been associated with the Vancouver Canucks, the longest of any former player or personnel. If the Ring of Honour was picked on years alone, Smyl would be a lock. <img src="http://www.canuckscentral.com/images/hneilson.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">While Roger Neilson's stint as head coach of the Canucks lasted only two seasons, the impact he had on Vancouver fans and hockey in general remains profound. After taking over then bench after head coach Harry Neale was suspended after an altercation with a fan, the Canucks went undefeated for 7 games. Despite finishing the season with a mediocre record, Nielson nevertheless managed to guide the team to a finals appearance against the vaunted New York Islanders which became the league's first ever coast-to-coast finals match-up. But Neilson's most memorable moment during his tenure as the Canucks' bench boss was against the Chicago Blackhawks in 1982. Disgusted by the refereeing in the third period, and began to wave it as a sign of surrender. Many of the Canucks players on the bench followed suit and all were ejected from the game. At the next home game, Vancouver fans began to wave white towels in support of their team. "Towel Power" remains a Vancouver tradition that has been emulated numerous times in other hockey rinks. <img src="http://vancouverisawesome.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/quin.jpg"class="imageFloatRightFramed">As synonymous as the 1994 playoff run was to Linden, McLean, Bure, Adams, and Courtnall, so was Pat Quinn. A hard-hitting defenseman who famously drew the ire of Don Cherry and Bruins fans for his hit on Bobby Orr that left the Hall of Famer unconscious, Quinn was acquired by the Canucks in the 1970 Expansion Draft and played for two years. After retiring in 1977 from an ankle injury, Quinn joined the Flyers coaching staff where he won his first Jack Adams Award before moving to Los Angeles and then Vancouver as their general manager in 1987. As a builder, Quinn had a vision and brought in Kirk McLean and Greg Adams in a trade in 1987, drafted Linden in 1988, and then Bure in 1989, all four who would play vital roles in the summer of 1994. Despite having a falling out with a new ownership group and fired in 1997, Quinn's impact in Vancouver remains profound. <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_EiMRSOg2PkM/R98-bxCeYZI/AAAAAAAABlY/6LoxWRiFlY4/s400/robson_j2.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">While the Canucks have certainly had a number of players, coaches, and general managers that have been a part of its rich history, Jim Robson has played as big a role as anyone else. After Vancouver was awarded a franchise in 1970, Robson became the Canucks' first public voice, broadcasting for 29 years along with Tom Larscheid. It was Robson who broadcasted the first ever Canucks game in 1970. To many he remains the voice of the Canucks, covering the franchise's best moments. For the Canucks and Robson, they will forever be linked by four words: The second inductee into the Ring of Honour will be revealed on November 24. Who do you think will be inducted?
The Canucks are on a high after picking up seven out of a possible eight points (3-0-1) but Number Crunching is going to take a page from Flo Rida's book and tell you about the "low, low, low, low, low, low" from this past week of Canucks hockey. But one thing that's definitely not low is the recipient of this week's Number Crunching Player of the Week Award, who will be revealed if you read on. THE BIG O <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar1410_bieksa_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault suggested on Sunday that, after playing their eighth game in 13 days, his team ran out of gas towards the end of game against the Flames and no statistic proves that better than the big goose egg sitting in the third period shot column. According the Canucks Media Guide, it is the fifth time in team history that the Canucks have failed to register at least a single shot in an entire regulation period. The last time that happened was over two years ago on October 21, 2007 in the second period of a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canucks did go on to win that game versus Columbus by a final score of 4-1 despite being out-shot 36-19 overall that evening. Oddly enough, in the same Sunday game against the Flames, the Canucks also had one of their best periods as far as shots-on-goal are concerned. Their 20 shots in the first period were just shy of their season-high of 22 in a single period set back on October 30, 2009 against the Anaheim Ducks when they notched the feat in the third period of a 7-2 loss. OPEN SEASON ON RAZOR <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/02/feb0410_sens25_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">On Thursday in Phoenix, the Canucks saw goaltender Andrew Raycroft turn in one of his best performances of the season despite a shootout loss - even more impressive considering the lack of support they gave him in the form of blocked shots. Statisticians at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale credited the Canucks with just three blocked shots in that contest, marking a season-low for Vancouver in that category. The previous season-low was five blocked shots, which the Canucks had recorded three previous times this season (Dec 10 vs ATL; Dec 14 vs LAK; Jan 7 vs PHX). The Canucks have failed to record double digits in blocked shots just 17 times this season through 69 games played posting a record of 9-7-1 in those games. Through 69 games this season, the Canucks have blocked a total of 841 shots - an average of 12.2 per game. You didn't really think this whole blog could make it through without looking at some of the highs from this week, did you? KES MAKES IT FIVE <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/van6_031410.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Ryan Kesler certainly provided a big high this week when he became the fifth Canuck to tally his 20th goal of the season joining Alex Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson, Henrik Sedin, and Mason Raymond. The five 20-plus goal scorers matches last year's total when the Canucks saw both Sedin brothers, Kesler, Burrows, and Demitra all reach the 20-goal plateau. With Daniel Sedin sitting at 19 goals this season, it is a matter of when and not if they will have at least six 20-goal scorers this season which would mark the most 20-goal scorers that Canucks have had in a single season since 1995.96. In 1995.96, the Canucks had seven 20-goal scorers in Alex Mogilny, Trevor Linden, Martin Gelinas, Russ Courtnall, Cliff Ronning, Markus Naslund and Jesse Belanger. Naslund and Belanger, however, joined the Canucks part-way through the season and scored the majority of their respective goals with their previous team. The last time the Canucks had six-or-more players score 20-plus goals all for the Canucks was in 1992.93 when they got 20-plus goals from seven players: Pavel Bure, Petr Nedved, Trevor Linden, Geoff Courtnall, Cliff Ronning, Greg Adams and Dixon Ward. They also had an eighth 20-goal scorer on the roster in Murray Craven although all of his 25 goals that season came with the Hartford Whalers before he was dealt to Vancouver. The most 20-goal scorers the Canucks have had in a single season is eight: 1980.81 and 1984.85. (Canucks goals only). TOP OF THE HEAP <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar1410_hank_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Congratulations this week goes out to Henrik Sedin who recorded career assist no. 416, all with the Canucks, and in the process became the franchise's most prolific assists man surpassing the record held since 2008 by Trevor Linden. What is even more impressive is Henrik's rapid pace at scaling the assists mountain. His 416th assist came in his 715th game with the Canucks. Trevor Linden recorded his final assist as a Canuck in his 1,138th game with the team on April 1, 2008. For trivia fans, Linden's final assist as a Canuck came on a goal by Willie Mitchell against the Colorado Avalanche. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/02/feb0410_sens19_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Mikael Samuelsson: Six goals and 10 points in four games played. If you close your eyes and listen real carefully, you can still hear the faint sound of sobbing coming from Swedish Olympic hockey coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson. Samuelsson, who was snubbed by the Swedish Olympic team apparently because Mattias Weinhandl was going to be a better fit playing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, finally got his chance to play on a regular basis with the twins this week and he definitely delivered the goods. Samuelsson opened the week with his first career hat-trick against the Avalanche on March 9 and by the end of the week had new career-high marks in goals (30) and points (53). The worst thing to happen to Samuelsson this week is he saw his career-high six-game goal streak come to an end on Sunday against the Flames although he continued his point streak with an assist in that contest giving him points in seven straight games to end the week. The seven-game point streak not only matched a season-high previously set from December 27, 2009 to January 9, 2010 but gives him another shot at going for a career-high eight game point streak when he faces the Islanders on Tuesday. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/031010_VAN_PHX_bench205.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Mason Raymond: 0 points and a minus-four rating in four games played. He had a rough start to the week in Colorado on March 9 when Coach V decided to bench him after he made terrible giveaway in his own zone resulting in a goal against in the game against the Avalanche (he had a season-low 8:06 of ice-time that night) and the week did not get much better for the third-year pro after that. A healthy Demitra and a red hot Samuelsson meant no room for Raymond among the top-six forwards and, consequently, the 24-year-old was dropped down to the third line playing alongside Kyle Wellwood and Jannik Hansen. His four-game point drought this week marks the third time he has gone four-or-more games without a point. His season-long point slump is five games set from November 29, 2009 to December 8, 2009.
<a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2109_linden_b.jpg" border="0"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2109_linden_t.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed"></a>Well, Ladies and Gents...This is my first AfghaniBlog and it is starting on a very positive note. This week for me hasn't really been very easy, on the 19th of December I was in the Role 3 hospital having surgery on my lower back to remove a growth, I know, not at all rough compared to the other troops I was sharing the Ward with. I am having to miss duty for the next 8 days due to not being able to sit down or move around properly, so not being with my crew or at work really bummed me out, not until I received something today I will cherish for the rest of my life. My mom had written a very nice letter to Trevor Linden sometime in October, sharing my story and referring him to my upcoming article in the November 29th issue of 'Canuck Nation' in the Vancouver Province Newspaper (I just found out about said letter earlier in the evening). My Sgt came into my room tonight and handed me a 'FEDEX' parcel stamped with the Vancouver Canucks address, I had no idea what to expect. To my amazement I pulled out a blue Vancouver Canucks jersey with the big '16' and 'LINDEN' on the back with a big signature running north to south along the '6' I instantly recognized the penmanship of the one and only, Trevor Linden, as I have an autographed picture of him I received as a young boy when I used to write to all the Canucks players. I sat there for a few minutes in utter shock, turning the jersey over and running my fingers over the stitching, It is like a dream come true. I wanted to write this blog reminding everybody that Mr. Vancouver Canuck, The heart and soul of the franchise, The man who we all got misty eye'd over when they raised his number into the rafters is still a total class act. Trevor, it's people like you who are not only heroes and role models to many people out there, from young hockey players, to just regular joe's such as myself who had the thrill of watching you play for our favorite team, that make my job really easy and gives me a solid reminder of why I would serve my country at the drop of a hat. Thanks again, Trevor and to the management/front office staff who made this possible for me. I will be in the seats on January 25th cheering until i lose my voice as the Canucks host the Sabres. GO CANUCKS GO!