Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Sainthood Awaits

Apparently, Trevor Linden is on the Pope's shortlist for sainthood.

Getting his #16 retired is a great honor for a wonderful human being especially for someone whose career was basically that of Wendel Clark West with the
added bonus of not choking in Conference Finals. Of course, in this town to suggest Trevor was anything but average will probably bring the Spanish Inquisition around to my door.

Beam me up, Captains Kirk and Trev!

I'll just let the stats speak for themselves then:
Trevor Linden (drafted #2 overall by the Vancouver Canucks)
regular season: 1382 GP, 375 G, 867 pts, -64
playoffs: 134 GP, 34 G, 99 pts, +7
Canada/World Cups + Olympics: 14 GP, 1G, 3 pts
All-Star Games: 2
Team honors: Stanley Cup Finals (1994)
Int'l team honors: World Cup Final (1996)

The "other" 1st rd stars of the draft class of 1988
Mike Modano (drafted #1 overall by the Minnesota North Stars)
regular season: 1343 GP, 537 G, 1300 pts, +136
playoffs: 174 GP, 58 G, 145 pts, -1
Canada/World Cups + Olympics: 36 GP, 7 G, 21 pts
All-Star Games: 6
All-Star Teams: 99/00 2nd team
Team honors: Stanley Cup (1999), Finals (1991 + 2000)
Int'l team honors: World Cup winner (1996), Olympic silver medal (2002)

Jeremy Roenick (drafted #8 overall by the Chicago Blackhawks)
regular season: 1345 GP, 510 G, 1349 pts, +156
playoffs: 148 GP, 53 G, 121 pts, +22
Canada/World Cups + Olympics: 18 GP, 5 G, 12 pts
All-Star Games: 9
Team honors: Stanley Cup Finals (1992)
Int'l team honors: Olympic silver medal (2002)

Rod Brind'Amour (drafted #9 overall by the St. Louis Blues)
regular season: 1349 GP, 434 G, 1128 pts, -4
playoffs: 141 GP, 50 G, 107 pts, +12
Canada/World Cups + Olympics: 13 GP, 2 G, 6 pts
All-Star Games: 1
Team honors: Stanley Cup (2006) + Finals (1997)
Int'l team honors: World Cup Final (1996)

Teemu Selanne
(drafted #10 overall by the Winnipeg Jets)
regular season: 1092 GP, 565 G, 1181 pts, +87
playoffs: 92 GP, 31 G, 66 pts, -10
Canada/World Cups + Olympics: 41 GP, 25 G, 46 pts
All-Star Games: 10
All-Star Teams: 92/3 + 96/7 1st team, 97/8 + 98/9 2nd team
Top NHL goal scorer: 76 G (92/3), 52 G (97/8), 47 (98/9)
NHL scoring: 109 pts (96/7 runner-up)
Team honors: Stanley Cup (2007)
Int'l team honors: Olympic silver medal (2006) + bronze medal (1998), World Cup Final (2004)

Hopefully, the day will come when the greatest Canuck player will get the same honor but I feel that once spurned, there is little love for the most exhilarating player to ever lace 'em up here. Then again Pavel Bure is not a "humanitarian" who fell in love with the city or its people. In his defence, Vancouver isn't Moscow no matter how many times the term "world-class" is mentioned and let's just say the Trevor and the Pavel are coming from oposite ends of the spectrum. Not everyone can fall in love with Vancouver, right, Don Cherry?

So I'm betting the next number you will see hanging from the rafters will be Roberto Luongo's #1 which will hopefully mean the Canucks do indeed win a Cup in his (and any of our) lifetime(s). Otherwise, if Luongo's #1 gets retired here and there's no Cup to show for that, I feel extremely sorry for this "world-class" athlete not to have achieved the ultimate crown such goaltending luminaries as Cam Ward, Mike Vernon, Chris Osgood and the Michelin Man of Anaheim have in their trophy cases.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Breath Of Fresh Canuck Air

The Canucks had a rough road trip going 2-6 and Cory Schneider has shown so far he's really not quite ready for primetime yet. That and Roberto Luongo's setback in practice meant it was all doom and gloom. Then came last night's strong second period comeback vs. one of the NHL's hottest goalies, Craig Anderson, and a 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers.

This coming three days before Trevor Linden Night on Wed., Dec. 17, vs. Edmonton means the team is in a good state heading into this "event" of the winter for the cult followers of our Trev.

Yet here comes Darcy Hordichuk letting slip that maybe this year's team is a bit more of a team. Certainly you do notice the youngsters are stepping up without the old guard (Linden, Naslund and Morrison) around but Hordichuk's comments are quite refreshing. Here's the quote (thank you, Vancouver Sun):
"We need energy and we're having fun out there. Everybody gets everybody going by having a little bit of a celebration. I think when Trevor Linden was here not too many guys were celebrating or were allowed to. It's all about fun and when we're winning we're having fun."

Read into that what you will, but isn't it great to actually hear at least one person not drinking the Linden Kool-Aid.

Drink up, Trev fans!

So, Darcy Hordichuk, just to let you know, there are fans out here who are definitely in your corner. We love seeing emotion and passion which is why Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burows also rank up there in our books. So celebrate those big goals as Alexander Ovechkin-like as you like.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sticks And Stones May Get You A Few Games But Words...

So, apparently, I support a sport where players have the freedom to say whatever they like on the ice (or from the bench to be more exact), but come up with a brilliant/stupid way to insult both your ex-girlfriend and your opponent (apparently Dion Phaneuf's mini-Bill Cowher appendage meets Heath Ledger look with his ode to Depeche Mode were off-limits) in a sound bite and you sit for six games.

This is sloppy seconds?

Let's review the 2008/09 NHL standard:

6-game suspension + anger management sessions
Sean Avery (Dallas)
Flapping his gums on TV

5-game suspension
Oct. 11
Michael "Don't Call Me Mike" Peca (Columbus)
Abuse of officials

2-game suspension + 3-game suspension
Oct. 6 + Oct. 15
Ryan Hollweg (Toronto)
The 2-gamer from an Oct. 6 incident where he got his third career game misconduct for checking from behind proved to be just the lesson he needed. Maybe just nine days later he picks up another game misconduct for the same thing and is suspended again. Yet strangely no suspension for a bad impersonation of a third-rate John Belushi clone.

3-game suspensions
Oct. 8
Ben Eager (Chicago)
Swinging his stick at Avery (Eager's girlfriend was also sloppy seconds?)

Nov. 10
Tom Kostopoulos (Montreal)
Boarding Mike Van Ryn (and to appease NHL announcers who get him confused with Chris Kotsopoulus) who's out until mid-December because of said hit

Nov. 24
John Zeiler (Los Angeles)
Boarding an Av of note (this just in: Adam Foote is still alive and has not joined the poker tour just yet) which Zeiler blames on his unlucky #13 jersey and for his name sounding too much like a certain ex-NHL president

2-game suspensions
Oct. 17
Daniel Carcillo (Phoenix)
Gets into it with Eager in an homage to Rob Ray minus the fan
(probably just angry that Eager whiffed on his attempt to knock Avery's noggin over the fence)

Nov. 12
Jarkko Ruutu (Ottawa)
Upset that Elisha Cuthbert was not on the cover of a current issue of his fave magazine, he elbows the Habs' Maxim Lapierre

Nov. 22
Mike Mottau (New Jersey)
Elbowing Islander Frans Nielsen (knocking him out for weeks) for not getting him his Danish compatriot's phone number

1-game suspension
Oct. 31
Jared Boll (CBJ)
Instigator penalty in last five minutes of a period plus for being named after the Subway sandwich guy

Now that we're clear that words hurt more than physical violence, the only question I still have is: Does Sean Avery's comment mean Hollywood is a cesspool of born-again virgins?

Road Trip Update: 0-3 And Woe are We!

The longest road trip of the season is seriously driving the season towards a cliff. Of course, it's too early to panic but three losses in the first three games of a brutal seven-game trip is worse than the reviews for the latest Vince Vaughn train wreck.

The strange thing is the special teams have been solid. The PK unit is killing penalties at an 84.2% clip and the PP is cashing in 30% of the time. The problem is the Canucks can't seem to draw enough penalties (10 PP chances thru 3 games) and take too many (19 PP chances for the opposition) so the advantage is a wash (3 PP GF, 3 PK GA). Each game the Nux have given up at least one PP goal which could be construed as the difference in the past two one-goal losses.

The reality is a combination of that and poor defensive play. Given Roberto Luongo is out, the D needed to step up to give both Curtis Sanford and Son a chance. The Nux have been outshot 98-75 through the three games.

Mitchell now forced to play w/o the A and the logo

This is not out of the norm for the Nux as the team does get outshot on the road on average by about four shots a game (26.9 shots for per 60 mins vs. 31.3 shots against). The problem is our captain is not in net to save our back bacon. The D, especially Willie "-4 on this trip and counting" Mitchell, need to step it up.

With no rest after a tough loss to the Wings and having to play Minny tonight, followed two days later by a game at altitude in Denver, it doesn't get any easier. Is there any chance the Nux could use that Mats Sundin cap space and steal another player from Florida in Jay Bouwmeester?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rookie Debuts But Nux Can't Get Off The Schneid

Finally, Canuck fans got to see hotshot 2004 1st round draft pick Cory Schneider play for the big club. Making his NHL debut Saturday night in Calgary, Schneider was solid stopping 28 of 31 shots thrown at him.

You're not in the A anymore--close that five hole, Cory

Sadly, the Canucks in front of him had another poor offensive effort firing just 18 shots at Miikka Kiprusoff (who has struggled this and last season, especially vs. Vancouver) and scoring just once in a 3-1 loss to the Flames.

With the Manitoba Moose, Schneider's .945 save percentage and a 10-1 won-loss record placed him among the top '08/09 AHL goaltenders, his time has come even if it has taken a Roberto Luongo injury to get him his start in the NHL.

But be forewarned, success in the AHL more often than not does not equal success on the NHL stage. Of course, the arrival of Carey Price to the #1 spot in Montreal has focused more attention on how young goalies are doing in the A. The trouble is for every Carey Price who takes a team down there to the Calder Cup championship, there are tens of goalies more like Dany Sabourin.

Ex-Canuck and current Pen Sabourin led the AHL in save pct back in 2005/06. He remains little more than a career NHL backup now three seasons later. The list of top AHL goalies from that season reveals no Johnny Bower gem among the lot:

  • David LeNeveau is 25 years old and is currently backing up Jonas Hiller on the Ducks while their #1 goalie J.S. Giguere attends to some family matters in Montreal.
  • Adam Hauser is 28 and now playing in Germany.
  • Wade Flaherty, 40 and another ex-Manitoba Moose goalie, has spent the last seven seasons in the AHL. His last NHL game was a single appearance in '02/03 with Nashville.
  • Josh Harding, 24, is the youngest among the group and is firmly established as the #2 in Minnesota behind Nicklas Backstrom.
Of course, gone are the Original Six days where Hall of Fame goalies remained buried in the AHL for years before getting their full-time (Bower did sneak in a season or so with the New York Rangers in the midst of his lengthy AHL career) NHL shot like Bower did at the age of 34. To be perfectly blunt, most goalies worth their weight in salt, or any other commodity, spend anywhere from a cup of coffee to a light lunch down in the AHL before being called up for good to the NHL.

Luongo played all of 29 regular season GP in the minors. Martin Brodeur had a paltry 32 GP stint. Patrick Roy played a grand total of 1 AHL regular season game.

Carey Price managed a paltry 12 regular season games to go along with his great AHL playoff run in '06/07. Even Conn Smythe Award winner Cam Ward barely noticed Lowell (52 GP) was the birthplace of Jack Kerouac before he was on the road to the Stanley Cup.

So here's hoping Cory is more a Carey (as in Price) than these two versions of his own namesake.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Canucks Wing It In Overtime

The Canucks have sold out the Garage for six zillion straight games...or have they? So far this season there have been single seat sales for all but two games (the first Detroit visit Nov. 2 and, of course, the Make Beliefs' visit Nov. 15). Mainly this Coca-Cola half-price single seat policy that started, I believe, three years ago and would show up maybe six times a year has been expanded for '08/09.

Some kid rockin' a Wings tee

This, of course, meant Johnny Canucklehead and Franz Klammer (part-time ski hero and transplanted hockey fan) could snag a couple of ducats to see the Stanley Cup champions take on the Curtis Sanford. All of this for the price of $59.75 (including ticketmonster and Mats Sundin escrow account fees) is decent...not something I'd pay to watch Columbus or Minnesota but for the Cup champs, I'm there! So here's the view from the last row of the upper bowl right on the blueline (in case the NHL need me to do booth reviews on offside calls).

Starting off, there sure were a lot of GM employees at the game. I thought the company was in dire straits or maybe all the Steve Yzermans, Brendan Shanahans and Nick Libetts took advantage of the half-price sale to show up in their Wings jerseys. The Nux have finally dropped the dated U2 intro music but now opt for what sounds suspiciously like Vangelis's Chariots of Fire theme. Oh well guess we'll be hearing music from 2008 in all probability by 2038.

All of the trees and electricity that have been wasted on what a good game this was, don't believe the hype. Yes, this Canuck team looks like more of a "team" and kudos to Ryan Kesler and Kyle Wellwood for driving the net and creating chances but Pavol Demitra hit the net, please, and Willie Mitchell get rid of that stupid Martin St. Louis long stick you use.

The Wings looked so smooth and in control especially breaking out of their own end. So how did they lose? One intrepid reporter (Tony Gallagher) pointed out they missed Tomas Holmstrom sticking his big butt in the opposing goalie's face. That's probably it as Johan Franzen is more Holmstrom Lite. Given the Wings outshot Vancouver 34-16 through 60 minutes, a good screen or two and it'd have been game over.

Luckily, Daniel Sedin got a bit of a flukey bad hop goal over third base late and the locals woke up. The Nux owned the OT outshooting the Wings 8-0 and Sami Salo scored a beauty on a powerplay to win it. End of story.

Now I'm not sure if the fans razzing Detroit goalie Chris Osgood throughout the game helped but it can't have hurt. Even so, last I looked, Osgood was the starter on two Cup teams so . . . until Roberto Luongo brings the silver chalice home, I'll say Ozzie is not as bad as those long drifters from the past he's let in.

Finally, let's get to my fave timeworn topic--the fans. I thought moving up two price ranges I'd escape the yahoos but let's review. The wannabe gangsta (of course, a white boy with a cheesy Wendy Clark attempt at a 'stache) in front of me started the game off telling us in the row behind him to "get up." Then he attempted to start a "Let's Go Canucks" chant which as the game wore on became a "Let's Go Detroit" chant. I figure the two Detroit babes (and I use that term loosely) next to him convinced Mr. "One Beer And I'm Jello" to switch sides mid-game. Either that or he fell in love with Henrik Zetterberg's sweet Viking beard thinking he'd have a shot at a honey like Henrik's wife, Emma Andersson.

The older couple in Luongo jerseys in my row said nary a peep all game mistaking the Garage for the old days of the Pacific Mausoleum. Glad you could join us.

Then the piece de resistance, an in-game interview with former Nux captain (and recipient of a broken jaw in the '70s courtesy Keith Magnuson) Chris Oddleifson was interviewed on the big screen. This prompted the neighborly stock broker (see, the economic crisis is real if he is sitting in the last row of the upper bowl) next to me to pipe up and say that Chrissy Boy was his fave Canuck. I guess Bryan McSheffrey was taken. He also thought Oddleifson was #6. Dennis Kearns to that, says #14!

Those, my friends, are your Canuck fans. Unless the scoreboard tells them to "Make Some Noise," many of them do become confused by my yelling and screaming at the Sedins to shoot the freakin' puck and enough with the Tour de France. Then again here's comes the Wave--woooo!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Junior Hockey's Millionaires

The Vancouver Giants keep topping themselves. Not only are they mindboggling hot from the start of yet another WHL season, they came out in sartorial splendour wearing 1915 Stanley Cup champion Vancouver Millionaires (next thing you'll tell me is that Cyclone Taylor's is not just another sporting goods store?) uniforms Friday vs. the Kamloops Blazers. The pic to the left does not do the jerseys justice as the deep maroon is a standout, and it's surprising no NHL team has tried this in the modern era. Maybe we can get fashion insider Sean Avery to work on that.

The Vancouver Millionaires Night was another of Giants' owner Ron Toigo's brilliant promotional ideas to honor our city's hockey past. The pre-game cermony saw five ex-NHLers all of whom had won Stanley Cups trotted out accompanied by the G-women cheerleaders with young kids traling the hockey greats carrying replica mini-Stanley Cups. Dave "the Hammer" Schultz in his classic #8 Flyers pumpkin orange jersey walked out first. He was followed by Gerry Cheevers, Johnny Bower and Steve Shutt. So, Shutt with five kids carrying five Stanley Cups was impressive but then out strolls Yvan "the Roadrunner" Cournoyer and ten kids. You do the math but plenty of the uneduacted in the 12,000+ crowd could be heard to gasp. Yep, young 'uns, back in the day before the Interwebs, the Habs won Cup after Cup after Cup.

The game itself was terrific as the G-men overcame a sluggish first period where they fell behind 3-1 to trump the Blazers 6-4. All this without the WHL's leading scorer, Evander Kane, who missed his second game in a row due to injury.

Oh, yeah, the six-goal barrier was hit so everyone exiting the Pacific Coliseum got a coupon for a free appetizer at White Spot. They weren't giving those out in 1915 at the old Denman Arena, I tell you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How To Get Things Almost Right

The Canucks revealed their new third jersey this week to be worn fashionably early (4:oo p.m. local start time) tonight as the Make Belief fans invade the Garage for the lone visit of the Leafs this season. So, our beloved Johnny Canuck finally makes it onto the jersey but just as a shoulder patch. This J-Canuck logo has been around a bit and already has shown up on some Canuck souvenirs prior to this season.

The stick-in-rink logo has been revived ever since the Vintage third jersey made an appearance...but the logo has been "rebranded" (translation: it's now features a Kyle Wellwood length stick done at a Cubist angle). There has never really been any love affair with any of the NHL Canucks various logos (except for this crazy Canuck) and although now the stick-in-rink logo has some retro cool cachet, why are the Canucks still so reluctant to go whole hog and bring back the full Johnny Canuck logo? Guess we should not be so surprised as the current "regular" jersey was a lame attempt to ape the WHL era "Canucks" look across the chest.
Mr. Bathgate lookin' good

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Brian Boucher, I'm Coming After You!

Roberto Luongo's third shutout in a row (and the Leos taking down the Green Riders in Regina)...look out, Brian Boucher, your record is in jeopardy. Brian Boucher? Not Patrick Roy? Not Terry Sawchuk? Not Georges Hainsworth? That's right, fans, the NHL record for consecutive shutouts at five is held by a backup goalie who played for the Phoenix Greztkys at the time.

No, that one did not get by you, Bobby Luuuuu!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let's Play The Feud

This whole Alexander Ovechkin vs. Evgeny Malkin feud is getting very juicy. If you did not catch the game, here's the YouTube clip of the on-ice confrontation Oct. 16 --Ovechkin vs. Malkin: Round 1.

The missed tactical nuclear hit by Ovy may just be the start of what one hopes is the beginning of a great on- and off-ice rivalry between two young teams. After all, the NHL's best recent rivalry betwen the Wings and Avs seems dead in the water now. The strange thing is these two Russian superstars roomed together previously when playing for Russia at the 2006 Olympics. Maybe Malkin snored a lot and Ovcechkin hogged the remote back then.

The feud, if you can read Russian and trust the rumors, is over Ovechkin clocking Malkin's agent at a nightclub in Russia about a year and a half ago. Apparently, said agent made a crack about some model who dated both stars or Ovy's mother (depending on the rumor you believe).

Throw in Alexander Semin's comments on how Sydney Crosby can't hold a candle to Patrick Kane and let's start the feud!

Anyhoo, circle Jan. 14 on your NHL calendar as the teams meet up again for the Russian Rumble: Round Two.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Early 2010 Olympic Fever Fueled by Koreans

No longer just home to the Giants of hockey

This first test of any of the 2010 Winter Olympic facilities occurred over the past weekend (Oct. 24-26/08) at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum with a World Cup short track speed skating event.
All I can say is: Ship over as many Koreans as you can if you want to spice (or I should say "kimchi") up any event. Sure Samsung sponsoring the event, as well as having plenty of world-class Korean skaters there, helped but as the World Cup soccer in 2002 showed, Koreans know how to make an event come alive.

The ubiquitous thunderstix were everywhere and baseball's Anaheim Angels of Orange County fans take note, the Koreans are not wedded to these noisemakers. The screams and cheers Korean skaters received from start to finish were just as loud, and it didn't stop there. Koreans were going nuts anytime a Canadian made a move on the track. This was no sympathy "well done, good effort, oh so close usual Canadian 4th-place non-medal finish" cheering as over the weekend Canada's men and women skaters finished second in the medal totals to Korea. Canada bagged eight medals to the sport's powerhouse nation's 11.

To those of you who thought Chicago Stadium was loud, the Koreans given the numbers can match that. This was a crowd of 7,000 without any "Make Some Noise, Lemmings" scoreboard messages orchestrating the noise while the fake decibel metre showed what great fans apparently every NHL arena has now.

As far as the sport of short track speed skating itself, people here are going to be in for a treat. Watching it on TV does not do it justice at all. The spills are spectacular. The passing moves thrilling. The race strategy is infinitely fascinating and quite easy to pick up. Plus we now know why Apolo Anton Ohno is not just a dance star. His 1000m semifinal heat was a thing of beauty. Unluckily he slipped in the Final and missed the medal podium, but he was well worth the $20 admission alone for the buzz he creates anytime he slips, or literally does slip, on those blades.

No signs of Skinny Minnie Miller

After the individual 500m and 1000m men's and women's events wrapped up we got the 3000m and 5000m relays. Now prior to these events, I was anticipating this to be Skinny Minnie Miller roller derby on ice but sadly, especially the 5000m race, they are far far too long. Lap after lap of NASCAR-like redundancy with virtually no jostling for position (basically similar to your average NHL regular season game). Nothing really much happens until the last five laps (so similar to the last five minutes of every NBA game). So even the intense Korean fans were heading for the exits early and not sticking around for the relays to be done.

The relays do have some strong points despite no baton handoffs as the skaters next in line build up speed in the inner oval. They then cut in like experienced drivers (Vancouverite road warriors take note), zip onto the track and are pushed forward by their teammate. Yes, hands on butt and a firm shove is the "handoff" method from skater to skater for the relays.

Speaking of derrieres, those of you who are fans of the big cabooses, you are definitely in for quite the view on some of these physical specimens in their tight body-fitting lycra. Add to that the skaters' Devo meets the Great Gazoo yellow helmets with numbering on them in the high hundreds (due obviously to the many retired numbers in short track speed skating) and it's a full-on futuristic fashion show as envisioned by Judy Jetson.

As far as the overall look of the event, it takes your eyes and mind some adjusting to see a hockey rink ice surface looking pure white with a powder blue center. Then in the middle of the powder blue "infield" oval are three people on speed skates wearing suits! They looked like they fell from a surrealist painting by Rene Magritte and started channeling this famous reverend on skates. These "suits" are the track officials who watch for "impeding" infractions which means a disqualification and the long skate of shame to the exit.

Hall monitors keep a close watch on the skaters

There are also a couple of blue helmeted rink staff (possibly UN peacekeepers?) who skate around adjusting the small cones that mark the track's curved ends. They also pour buckets of water on the ice surface to resurface the ice between heats. Then there's the exterminators who debug the ice or spray for ice weevils...well, I'm not sure what they do and you'd think they'd be wearing helmets, but they prefer the Craig MacTavish look.

The exterminator also shows up to spray for ice bugs

It's all very hands-on low-tech which was gave the whole thing a feeling of a cozy local track meet more than some big bucks World Cup sporting event.

The Zamboni (also pure white with no advertising at all on it) comes out between quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals to do a more thorough ice resurfacing job. That makes for a nice break for fans to catch their breath and grab some drinks and snacks (cash only!).

Don't get the wrong impression on the advertising. It's there as the padded boards (why doesn't hockey do this as you'd still get great collisions especially the bouncing off the boards without the injuries) are covered in ads and run the gamut from Samsung to Cheerios (the "Mad Men" of today are geniuses--"Oval-shaped tracks are THE place to sell your oval-shaped cereal!").

Between sessions there is some serious DJing going on with no BTO, no '70s rock and no country music for old men (OK, one "Cotton-Eyed Joe" tune made it in but that's more novelty hit than real country). That's right--tunes from today! The DJ even managed a tremendous melding of Oasis and Green Day on one mix that truly made the night. Very disconcerting (in a good way) to go to sporting event and not have my ears bleeding from outdated stadium rock (Canucks management take note...U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" was a hit in 1987...I'll repeat that for those who missed that...19 and 87.)

The entrances and exits of the skaters are also very disconcerting. All skaters enter at one end of the rink and after their race exit at the other end. They also never take their skate guards off until stepping onto the ice. Vice versa going off. (That was just for those of you scoring at home.)

The race start though is the most, shall I say, creepy, but in a funny way. The starter gets on the mic and says, "Go to the start" in some vague Eastern European accent that sounds like Dracula as done by SCTV's Count Floyd that you half expect a trapdoor to open up in the ice if the skaters did not obey this order. I also guarantee you will be mimicking his catchphrase before every race and annoying your friends for the next week with your best impersonation of same.

Go to the's scary, kids!

Having said that, here are a few things VANOC needs to work on:
1. Have all concession stands accept credit cards. Come on, it's 2008!
2. Get better food. The whole hot dog and peanuts thing is fine at a Vancouver Giants hockey game and White Spot is decent, but the sport is dominated by Koreans! Let's get some Korean BBQ stands set up and show Canadians how meat really tastes when it's sliced thin and cooked properly. Who doesn't love the smell of kimchi in the morning? Smells like victory!
3. Use the scoreboard better. Put the skaters names, numbers, info and times up.
4. Sitting between an Austrian and a Korean at this event I got the question from both sides: "What is up with the French?" As the race goes along you get the play-by-play over the PA mainly in the language of Guy Lafleur. Not sure how many French speakers were in the crowd, but there were a few French-Canadian skaters. Plus Guy threw in some brief token English in his manic play-by-play, but it was pretty much French front and centre ice. The signage and posters for the event were advertised locally all in English, just in case you were wondering. But to answer my international friends' query in my best franglais--"Je ne sais pas mais c'est possible que Vancouver est un "world-class" ville. French is classy ergo the francais-a-go-go, n'est-ce que pas?"

Whatever the hiccups, VANOC just make sure you do one thing: It's all about the buzz at the venues so fill the stands at every event with Koreans. Trust me. That's the key to hosting a successful Olympics.

Friday, October 24, 2008

If the D stays healthy...

...Oh, well, so much for that. With first Kevin Bieksa going down and now Sami Salo's annual injury woes starting, this vaunted Canuck D is looking pretty the same as 2007/08.
Now before we all run around after the 2-4 road trip screaming the sky is falling, let's see what Gillis can do with the $10 million in Sundin money he has to shore up the D.

It's not like the team did not see this coming as Salo averages 63 GP per season over the past three seasons and at 34 he's on the downside.

Bieksa's knee is a bigger concern as last year's injury was just a flukey deep cut to his calf. That can happen with sharp skates about, but knee problems never go away. He came back pretty quick but wouldn't most fans prefer the Nux err on the side of caution? Did they really did Bieksa in there to lose that last game of the road trip vs. the Hawks? Plus they played the guy 32:01 in his first game back. Sorry, but Nicklas Lidstrom he is most definitely not.

A bigger concern on the horizon could be Matthias Ohlund. Coming off knee surgery from last season, can he hold up at 32 years of age. He should be able to but he's been a minus player the past three season. Nothing mindboggling as his low was -6 but pre-lockout he was +16 and +14 in the two seasons he was healthy and played over 80 games.

Lastly, if no one knew then, we all should know now, Pavol Demitra is a godo player but he's also fragile. Averaging 66 GP per season over the last four he's going to give the Nux 60 pts. Anything over that is a bonus. He's a better Brendan Morrison given Mo barely scraped 60 in a full season post-West Coast Express on form.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Undefeated Season Still Alive!

Now that the Canucks are on an 164-pt pace with El Capitan Roberto Luongo set to shatter George Hainsworth's 22 shutouts in a season record, let's see what else the opener tells us.

Don Shula might have some tips on undefeated seasons

Who to Boo vs. When to Luuuuu
Finally, the boos start to rain down on Toadtuzzi. The guy, as any sane fan knows, should have been banned for life for that attack on Steve Moore yet somehow he still gets paid well to float around the ice in the NHL. The hockey gods curse every team he lands on--the Canucks post-Moore hit, Team Canada 200, Florida and Anaheim were and now Calgary is doomed, as some fans have figured out.
Then what is with the "Luuuu" cheers that erupt after every routine Luongo save? Could we please stop that? Save it for the great saves. The guy gets paid to stop the puck. Are we going to scream "Ohhh" after every single Mattias Ohlund hit, too?

Not Just Team Speed but Intelligent Puck Play
Not only was it impressive to see the team actually skate well but also jump on loose pucks then make actual intelligent plays. Even fourth liners Ryan Johnson with a brilliant intercept and feed to Alexandre Burrows' on his second goal and Rick Rypien-ing through the D to score the best goal of the night show the Canucks might have finally figured it out. Speed kills!

Rule #1: Do Not Hit Jarome Iginla
For the most part they followed this simple game plan and did not wake up the Canuck killer. Ohlund's hit when it was 3-0 nearly blew it, though, even if it did get Iginla riled up enough to take a dumb penalty.

Hunchbacks Need to Work on Their Skills
I love hunchbacks. Pittsburgh do not win a Cup without Ron Francis and Ulf Samulesson being good luck hunchbacks. But Taylor Pyatt is going to have to work on his skating and shooting or he will not be long for this NHL. It's obvious Pavol Demitra and Mason Raymond are clicking and having a Steve Bernier-like big guy in Pyatt playing with them makes sense, but Taylor, you have to bury those chances.

Hockey Night in Bananada
Mike Milbury is highly entertaining and Marc Crawford won a Stanely Cup (thank you, Patrick Roy), but am I supposed to take anything they say seriously considering how incompetent they were at coaching and managing hockey teams?
Just click here for a grand look at Mad Mike's record on Long Island.
Oh, yeah, and Mark Lee it's not Gee-or-dano (like the frozen pizza) on the Lames' defense, it's "Jor-dano" as in "Jor-gio" Chinaglia or that HK clothing store "Jor-dano."

Is Kipper Done?
The difference in the hockey game really was goaltending. Luongo held the fort when the Canucks took too many penalties in the first and Miikka Kiprusoff did not make the crucial saves. Two-on-ones aside, when you give up six goals on 23 shots, you don't win many hockey games.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Apocalypse Is Not Nigh...It's Here!

I'm not talking about the latest Wall Street crash as anyone with half a brain who is not retiring tomorrow knows this is the best time to buy in. The apocalypse is here because now we have Canucks' pre-season games being televised.

Let alone the fact all 82 mostly meaningless regular season games are not on TV, be it network, cable or pay, but what fan with the other half of that same brain would watch this dreck. Basically, we are living in a great era of sports information but you're telling me that in the midst of the last week of terrific MLB playoff races, Sportsnet Pacific decides pre-season hockey is a better ratings bonanza.

P.S. If you thought Dan Russell was hopeless at play-by-play, anyone who caught even five seconds of Don Taylor doing one of those games will know it isn't a job just any Joe Sports Journalist can do.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Prattlin' On About Nothing Again

Ah, summer distractions... luckily Dave Pratt (on the TEAM 1040) is there to wake me out of my slumber. Today (Sept. 4) after the announcement that Trevor Linden's number 16 will be retired, they lost it.

First of all, during the "leadership" discussion, there was a mention that when Mark Messier was here he insisted on being on the penalty kill and the Canucks PK stunk. Well, it was below the league average all three seasons Mess was here, but it was also below the season prior and after.

Check it out:
96/7 80.81% (league average: 83.73%) the season prior to Moose's arrival
97/8 82.18% (league average: 84.92%)
98/9 82.89% (league average: 84.19%)
99/00 80.43% (league average: 83.85%)
00/01 80.88% (league average: 83.36%)

So not only did the Nux improve their PK unit during Messier's first two seasons here but % wise they got closer to the league average. Not that it's a big deal nor a mindblowing stat and Messier was a lot of things, but to blame the PK problems on him when it wasn't all that good before he came is just plain vindictive. Knocking the Mooster, doesn't make Linden look better.

OK, before you all nod off, let's get to this "Linden will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder" jag that the Prattster went on about a bit. This has got to based on what "may happen" in his hockey future in management.

So, all this blether must mean that training camp has not yet started, and there is nothing much to talk about. Pretty much sums up my summer absence from blogging.

All I can say is talking about hockey even as dopey as the tangent was today sure beats last week's morning show on the TEAM where one day the poll question was whether anyone would want to see Michael Jackson live. Seriously? This what the coveted sports talk radio 18-to-25 male demographic is interested in? Weren't they more into the hair or metal bands back then? weren't they? No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones rang so true . . . let alone no Clash, Buzzcocks or the Jam.

With that dated New Wave reference, I must bid all adieu until hopefully the Gillisian One pulls of the Sedins for Kovalchuk deal I want...or until some actual hockey "news" happens.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vancouver and the MLS: Multiple Lawsuits Soon?

Now that Vancouver soccer fans (oops, "supporters") are all tingly about Canadian NBA god Steve Nash's involvement in the Whitecaps' bid for a Major League Soccer franchise comes news that Canucks' owner Francesco Aquilini may submit a competing bid.

Never mind the fact that the Whitecaps currently don't even play in Vancouver and at best draw 5,000 to bland Swanguard Stadium in Burnaby, now the USL (Useless Soccer League) team known as the Whitecaps FC (FC = we want to openly ape all things "British" even though we are in North America and play in a "soccer" league) has competition in their attempt to join the big league of soccer here in North America known as the MLS (does Major League Soccer have to pay a fee to the real estate venture, Multiple Listings Service, it shares its acronym with?) .

The Burnaby mayor Derek "Hizzoner Bling Daddy" Corrigan obviously sees the Whitecaps as a decent revenue stream for the city and wants to keep them in Burn-A-Bee. Then again this "Vancouver" team really never embraced the whole "Burnaby" concept despite also having two team training grounds in the city given the Whitecaps' head office remained in Vancouver's Gastown throughout.

Aquilini sees the success of the MLS's Toronto FC and also sees dollar signs, too. He has suggested he'd expand Swanguard to a capacity of 20,000 to accommodate an MLS team. Given Caps' now co-owner Greg Kerfoot's troubles in getting a downtown Vancouver waterfront soccer stadium built, this is now definitely going to get interesting, if the stadium becomes THE issue.

The Whitecaps are set to move into BC Place Stadium in 2011 once the retractable roof is put in. Obviously, a 60,000-seat capacity stadium is way too large for any MLS franchise today but the Caps, like the Canadian Football League's B.C. Lions who currently use the facility, will "hide" seats in the upper deck behind a magic curtain to create a more intimate (and sexy?) soccer atmosphere.

It's curtains for the upper deck

Now it may not be ideal but it sure beats Swanguard, especially for location. Yes, the upper deck will be empty and much of the lower bowl, too, on most nights even with MLS soccer being an upgrade. Yet, you have to wonder if soccer fans (the hardcore 3,000 to 5,000 that have hung on after the glory days of the NASL and the original Vancouver Whitecaps) aren't in for a harrowing few years. Also, part of getting an MLS expansion team absolutely depends on building a soccer-specific stadium, as clearly stated in the past by MLS commissioner Don Garber, so BC Place can only be seen as a temporary home.

Remember, Vancouver may have the NASL history, the current strong ownership group and a the grassroots' support but this city is no lock for an expansion franchise given the MLS rocky expansion plans just four years ago where Cleveland seemed set to join the MLS with Chivas USA (the LA-based Hispanic/Mexican franchise). Cleveland is still on the outside and is not even being considered for this round of expansion.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Road Warriors . . . or Road Kill?

Amid the euphoria of one less Minnesota Mild visit in '07/08 comes a grim reality. The NHL may have returned sanity to the schedule (translation: every team plays every team at least once), but they sure did not do the Canucks any favours.

A quick look at the 2008/09 schedule sees at least four brutal road trips.
After opening the season Oct. 9 at home vs. Calgary, the team is off on a tasty six-game road trip in which they fly to Calgary (Oct. 11), then east to Washington (Oct. 13), Detroit (Oct. 16), Buffalo (Oct. 17)...over to the Central Time Zone to Chicago (Oct. 19)...then back east to Columbus (Oct. 21). In fact, eight of the first 11 games are on the road. The season could be over in month #1.

It gets worse, though. There's a four-game road trip in November with a crazy trip first to New York to play the Isles (Nov. 17) and Rangers (Nov. 19) and then they head across a time zone with no day off to play Minnesota (Nov. 20)...and, you guessed it, back east to play Pittsburgh (Nov. 22) and, as an added bonus, it's a 1 pm start at the Igloo.

A week later they embark on a seven-game trip. Again it starts off in Calgary (Nov. 29) after playing the Lames at home two nights previous. Then it's ping-ponging across time zones as the Nux hit Columbus (Dec. 1), Detroit (Dec. 4), Minnesota again with no day of rest (Dec. 5), Colorado (Dec. 7), Nashville (Dec. 9) and Edmonton (Dec. 13).

In more "Back to the '70s" type road trips continue as February sees a stretch of seven of eight on the road--St. Louis (Feb. 10), Phoenix (Feb. 12), Dallas (Feb. 13) then back home to play what will be virtually a road game given all the Habnot fans who come out of the closet as Montreal is in town (Feb. 15) for the first time since, I think, Rick Chartraw laced 'em up. Then off again to do the Canadian tour of Calgary (Feb. 17), Ottawa (Feb. 19), Toronto (Feb. 21) and Montreal (Feb. 24).

It's not over yet. March brings a six-game set: Phoenix (Mar. 21), Dallas (Mar. 24), St. Louis (Mar. 26), Colorado (Mar. 27), Chicago (Mar. 29) and Minnesota (Mar. 31).

The longest road trip in the previous three seasons was four games. Last season saw a four-gamer in October, a seven-out-of-eight trip bracketed around that Penguins' visit in December and the eight of ten in March trip that did in the Canucks' season. Those three trips ended up in a 7-10-3 record. Given the Nux missed the playoffs by three whole points, you can see where 2008/09 may be a long season given these wicked road trips the benevolent NHL has given the league's westernmost team.

Then again 2006/07 saw the Canucks manage a 12-7-2 record over four "longish" road trips (another four-gamer in October, nine of 11 in November, six of seven in December and also in February).

So enjoy those Make Belief, Hab, Flyer and Lightning visits this season all you who whined about the schedule. The tradeoff seems to be that the Canucks are this season's fodder for some retro experiment in NHL scheduling. (FYI, the number of road trips five games or longer for Calgary and Edmonton--one seven-game trip each!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Around and around the players go, what will happen next season? Nobody knows. So for an extra $1.25 million the Canucks basically replaced Brendan Morrison with Pavol Demitra (so the whole Naslund-Demitra Summit in June at a local watering hole was about Pavol taking over Markus's house for a couple of seasons?).

Obviously, Demitra finds it hard to stay healthy averaging 66 GP over the past three seasons but at least when he's in the lineup he averages close to a point per game. How much of that is playing with Marian Gaborik, we'll soon find out here, but he'll get his powerplay chances for sure being a right-handed shot.

Keeping Morrison was never on the cards even if he was cheaper. There is a reason he's a bargain. He did not produce the goods offensively (basically he's a 56-point guy over 82 GP) as in his West Coast Express prime. Add to that his nagging injuries finally caught up with him and he only got into 39 games in '97/08 after two straight 82 GP seasons.

The strange thing in all this is the Burkster is proving a perfect fit for the make Beliefs and really the soap opera in T.O. needs the Artist Formerly Known as Lardass and now known as simple "The Moron" (and I am quoting Kevin Lowe). The genius in his own mind somehow has parlayed Andy McDonald into Doug Weight and now Brendan Morrison just to save a few bucks. Given McDonald is only two years younger than Morrison and had 163 pts in his last two seasons with the Ducks, what's a few million more for McDonald?

Sure, it was all done to re-sign Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne, but was it really worth re-signing Selanne without keeping the center he had great chemistry with?

On that note, all the best, Brendan...except vs. the Pavolian one.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Markus Flavius of New York

So much for that "Mats Sundin can be on a line with Markus Naslund" idea. Unless, of course, the Make Belief who fiddles while Gillis burns is actually headed to Manhattan, also. Hey, who wouldn't want to live in New York, let alone get paid to do so?

Just a quick look at how other recent big-name centers did at Mats's age, 37, for the start of this season:
Joe Sakic
82 GP 100 pts
Wayne Gretzky
70 GP 62 pts
Mike Modano
82 GP 57 pts
Steve Yzerman
16 GP 8 pts

So more Sakic than Yzerman one hopes for Mats in '08/09. Then again, all four had those Stanley Cup rings already so you gotta ask yourself, Mats, do ya feel lucky...and what team is it gonna be?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Does Gillis Have Too Many Enemies Out There?

To those who may not have read the Mike Gillis excerpt from Bruce Dowbiggin's book on the world of NHL player agents, it's a great inside look into Gillis's life before the Canuck job.

A few things do stand out:
--Gillis apparently orchestrated Pavel Bure's departure from Vancouver to Florida.
--He's obviously made a few enemies of GMs who are still working in the NHL, but
I guess that goes with the agent's territory.
--Although he orchestrated monster deals for many of his clients, he is a frugal guy
for better or worse.

Take all these together and draw your own conclusions. All I know is offering $10
million per year to any player this side of 35, let alone turning 38 in early '09, is
clearly a huge risk. Even so, we all know Mats Sundin is not coming here to improve
his Cup chances unless you believe all you need is a New Jersey West system to beat
the Red Wings or the Ducks for the Western crown.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Centre of The Universe Whines Again

An open letter to the noted hockey expert Theo Caldwell:

Dear Theo Caldwell,

I have no idea why some investment advisor gets to write an op-ed piece in a national newspaper about the merits of some Make Belief player for the HHOF (Doug Gilmour's exclusion from the 2008 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees), but good on ya.

Yes, Adam Oates who helped Cam Neely and Brett Hull to their greatest successes deserves a place in the HHOF even if he's not really all that "famous."

Dino Ciccarelli (by the logic of putting the faceless 600 goal scorer Mike Gartner in) probably deserves a place even though the Red Wings dumped him because he didn't get it done in the playoffs (bar maybe his rookie year with Minny and that 4-goal game he had for the Caps).

Glenn Anderson is deserving but number of Cups is an illogical reason to put him in. Cups or not, he scored enough in both the regular season, playoffs and internationally plus had a signature style as a kamikaze. Cups are a nice bonus but don't tell me Anderson was a better player than Marcel Dionne given his six Cups to none. By that logic, put Rick Chartraw in the HHOF.

Your point that Igor Larionov potted less than half the points of Gilmour and Oates is statistics without context. Larionov was not allowed into your precious NHL until the age of 28 or do I need to enlighten you on the Cold War? Now, if Larionov could have joined the NHL at age 20 like Pavel Bure, then maybe he'd be up there with Oates and Gilmour NHL points-wise. Given the mileage and wear and tear on a 28 y/o who spent years stuck in the militaristic Soviet system, he did pretty good in the NHL, I'd say. We just never got to see him here in his prime other than in Canada Cups.

Considering Larionov was the center on arguably one of the best hockey lines in history (the KLM Line with Sergei Makarov and Vladimir "pre-Canuck Donuts R Me days" Krutov) that destroyed the NHL's best in the 1981 Canada Cup by the score of 8-1 and was also on that fine 1987 team that pushed Canada to the limit, I'd say he's pretty deserving for that alone.

He also is arguably more "famous" worldwide than Doogie has ever been. He was THE player willing to stand up to the Soviet system and fight for players' rights. Add to this his being a pioneer as one of the first "star" Russians to come over, he should be in the Hall and ahead of Gilmour and his ilk for sure.

Hate to say this, too, but prior to Doogie joining the Laffs, I'd say Ed Chynoweth in hockey circles was more well known and Ray Scapinello, too (plus you have to love a guy who despite a life spent of skates still loves road hockey). The average NHL fan probably had little clue but it is the "Hockey" HOF not the "NHL players" HOF after all despite the various marginal NHL talents in there.

When you say in 93/94 that Doogie was touted as the best hockey player in the world, most of that nonsense came out of the Centre of the Universe media. Well, that "best" player choked in the Western Conference Final vs. the Canucks (the Doogie era Leafs were shut out twice in a five-game series so good work, Doogie, setting up that Wendy Clark there in that series).

The most ridiculous "best player in the world" type press was the suggestion that he was getting consideration for the Conn Smythe back in 1993 when his team had been eliminated in the Conference Final. I guess that's why playoff top scorer Peter Forsberg whose Avs were also eliminated in the Conference Final was considered for the Conn Smythe in the 2002 playoffs...NOT!

I would argue there was a time when Larionov would have been touted as the best player in the world but I guess only the T.O. press counts so I'll leave that at that.

Doogie being captain of two Original Six teams is an important selling point? Both teams he was capatin of have not won a Cup since the 1960s so, yeah, that makes about as much sense as the NHL's salary cap.

Yeah, Doogie has an impressive resume but so does Bobby Smith along those lines--a Stanley Cup, a Calder Trophy, a leader (maybe not captain) on both the Habs and North Stars (OK, Expansion Six), went to the Finals four times (each time scoring at least 15 pts per playoff year).

Once upon a time, yes, 400 goals meant something in an era when Rocket Richard got 544 for his regular season career. I think the 500-goal mark is the one that is celebrated from Jean Beliveau's days onwards so Doogie scoring 450 is very good but not NHL great.

Doogie you claim was a playmaking "great" but you have to look at the stats in context. I think the 92/3 and 93/4 seasons where the Leafs finally had a decent team are attributable in large part to the myth that is Doogie. The godlike one had strong competition league-wide in 92/3--Mario Lemieux, Pat Lafontaine and Oates all had over 90 assist that season and all had more goals that Douglas.

In 93/4 he certainly was number two to Gretzky in assists but Sergei Fedorov and Oates outscored Doug and in fewer games, too. Doug was sensational in the playoffs again but bombed out vs. the Canucks, as I said. (Sorry, couldn't help bringing that up again.)

The man also DID NOT "score" a pt/g for 20 seasons unless my division is wrong as 1414 pts into 1474 GP is not a pt/g. In fact in just half of his 20 seasons did he average a pt./g in the regular season.

Compare that to his contemporaries (I'll leave out #99 and #66 for obvious unfair comparison reasons):
Adam Oates 11 regular seasons over a pt/g
Dale Hawerchuk 13
Steve Yzerman 13
Joe Sakic 16
Bernie Federko 11

Onto Clark Gillies. He is not in the HHOF because of his point total, by the way. The guy was the premier power forward on a Cup dynasty. He also was a two-time first team All-Star and last I looked good ole Doogie was not the best center or even second-best center in the NHL even in his glorious Make Belief years or he'd have made the end-of-season NHL all-star teams.

Yes, it is possible to construct an all-star team from guys not in the HHOF. Considering Gilmour, the depised Claude Lemieux (who never even made an All-Star Game!) and Brian Burke's doppleganger Kevin Lowe never made an end-of-season all-star team, I'll stack my non-HHOF (and should be in) all-stars in their prime vs. yours:
G Tom Barrasso (despite not being able to stop a beachball in his lousy seasons--hello, David Volek in Game 7)
D Mark Howe (at forward too as in the WHA he was fantastic w/ dad and his bro')
D Doug Wilson (for cannonading shots on goal or off the glass)
F Ulf Nilsson (for the true "air hockey" innovators w/ Hedberg)
F Anders Hedberg
F Aleksandr Yakushev (even before HOFer Valeri Kharlamov!)

By the way, last I looked the name of what you call this "national" institution is the "Hockey" Hall of Fame not the "NHL" Hall of Fame nor the "Canadian" Hockey Hall of Fame.

I mean we could go on and on about who should be in there--J.C. Tremblay, Pat Stapleton, Bill White, Dave Taylor, Danny Gare, Rick Middleton, John Tonelli, Marian Stastny, Mats Naslund, Bobby Smith, Luc Robitaille, Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny, Vladimir Krutov, Sergei Makarov, Aleksandr Maltsev, Milan Novy, etc. We could even go back to the old pro WHL and AHL days when the Original Six was a closed shop and guys were buried in the minors and never given a fair shot. We're not even counting guys who will soon be eligible like Dominik Hasek, Theoren Fleury, John LeClair, Brian Leetch, etc.

I will agree with you about the lameness of so-called Canadian culture esp. the Mr. Dressup CBC so give yourself a point for that.

As far as sending Don Cherry in, the guy may be shocking the fashion world, but listen to his rant about Detroit Red Wings fans not selling out the Joe during the early rounds of the 2008 playoffs saying they prefer Joey Kocur and Bob Probert type hockey...uh, nice 1980s reference there, Don, but "it's the economy, stupid." They sold out when it counted in the Conference Final and Cup Final. Plus if you had Don picking guys for the HHOF forget Gilmour, we'd have Kirk Muller and any other fine broth of a lad born within a stone's throw of Kingston up for consideration. That might be worse than having all these marginal Make Beliefs from the '60s getting in.

Anyway, Theo Not Fleury, you've convinced me never to invest my wealth with Coldwell Asset Management, Inc., if that is the way you research and frame an argument.

Doogie does deserves to be in and he will get in as if average workmanlike Make Beliefs stiffs like Dick Duff, Bob Pulford and Harry Watson can get in, you know the Centre of the Universe will get Doogie in no sweat.

I would like to see more outrage about far more deserving players like Mark Howe and the Swedish Jets who need to be reunited with the Golden Jet in the HHOF.

Highly entertaining article at least, if a bit, as per usual, too Tarrana-centric.

All the best to you in your Doogie "Quest for the Hall"...and a hearty "1967" to you as well!


Johnny Canucklehead

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Retro Canuck Fighting Saints

Ah, the '70s! Here's a blast from the past and the early days of Harry Whaler's broadcasting career (check out the jacket--snazzy, daddy-o!) and look who his first guest is--Cheech Garrett! Hey, a mention of Gilles Villemure--the original Mr. Smiley Face maskman and also a former Canuck (WHL era) and even one of Gary "Suitcase" Smith.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Goooooals Galore!

Wouldn't you watch more soccer if it ended up 9-4? Read about the Steve Nash-a-rama in New York.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is Mo Gone?

So, with the Nux picking up Kyle Wellwood off the Make Beliefs on waivers, you have to figure there will be zero attempts to re-sign 32-year-old UFA Brendan Morrison now? Can you see Mo taking Linden's slot as the fourth line center? It's not going to be Wellwood as why bring in a 25-year-old with little defensive or faceoff skills to be a fourth line center?

You know Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler are locks at center for '08/09. Wellwood is just 25, scored a bunch in junior and in the AHL so give him more than the 12+ minutes he was getting in T.O. and let's see what he can do.

Given he seems fast and has shown signs of being a bit of a Steve Sullivan with the puck, well worth the waiver claim put in. Anyway, Luongo and the Nux D can make most any forward look a better defensively. So goalsuck away, Kyle!

Now if the Canucks snag Darcy Tucker then who knows? Tapping into that Laff talent pool and snagging Jerry Butler and Tiger Williams did not hurt the '82 squad, although Rick Vaive did go on to pot a ton o' goals with the sadsack Laffs of the '80s.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Canuck Draft 2008: Back to the '80s!

Obviously the "payoff" of any draft is further down the line but at least we now have an idea of what sort of team Mike Gillis is trying to build. One Trevor Linden clone, a big slow offensively-challenged defensemen, a skillful Scandinavian, a skillful Lower Mainland marketing dreamboat and a Canuck employee's son--so, yeah, basically your typical Canucks team of the '80s.

The first rounder is Cody Hodgson. He's described as a Trevor Linden clone (i.e., future hunky dreamboat captain material who will lose his scoring touch by his mid-20s?) and, hopefully, is not in any way related to another ex-Canuck Dan Hodgson. Cody can definitely score, but in the words of TSN's Bob McKenzie "the only thing that separates him (Hodgson) from (#1 overall pick) Stamkos is a lack of explosive speed." So, in other words, Mike Modano he's not. Then I guess he is Trevor Linden Version 2.0.

Associate (would someone explain to me how assistant coaches became "associate" coaches, by the way) Rick Bowness's son works as the (wait for it) marketing and communications manager of the St. John Sea Dogs (QMJHL). So, voila, Ocean Canines' D-man Yann Sauve is ours in round two. He says he patterns his game after Dion Phanuef.

Let's see how good a judge of his talent Sauve is:
17-year-old Phaneuf 30 pts in 71 GP, +28 w/ Red Deer (WHL)
17-year-old Sauve 21 pts in 69 GP, +1 w/ St. John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

Well, not quite at Phaneuf levels yet. Maybe he meant he patterns his hunky physique more like Phaneuf's in hopes of catching Elisha Cuthbert's eye. Sauve might want to crank it up a bit as by 18, Phaneuf was a serious stud (statistically, that is) and by 19 was averaging over a point per game in the Dub.

Now given Nonehead boneheaded up by trading all of the 2008 draft picks for the Eric Weinrichs and Keith Carneys of the NHL world, Gillis was left with nothing to do for rounds three and four but watch other teams stock up.

Round five and away we go!
The Nux picked up Prab Rai (for all confused world music fans, that's not a new form of Algerian pop music). Described as a Mason Raymond type (so we can look forward to him not making the NHL until age 22?) albeit via Surrey. The Rai on ice has way better stats than Raymond ever had. Last season, the Prabster had 65 pts in 71 GP for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) and was +31. The marketing potential, too, is Robin Bawa-tastic here locally so here's hoping he blazes his way onto Canuck ice sooner rather than later.

Round six
An Espen Knutsen of a pick in Mats Forsberg...I mean Froshaug. A Norwegian playing in the Swedish junior league, he bagged 36 pts in 35 GP--"hyggelig!" As nice as that is in Norwegian, the fact as a 19-year-old he played in the World Championships held in Canada this past spring is promising news. Then again we're talking a nation of cross-country skiers and ski jumpers. I'm sure the talent level and depth in Fjordland are not exactly up to its Scandinavian neighbors' depth charts.

Round seven
Once again it's time to tap that wide Canuck scouting network. Morgan Clark, son of Nux goaltending consultant Ian Clark, is now Canuck property. He is described as a sound technical goalie. Given his save percentage last season with Red Deer (WHL) was .884, I think he needs to look into being more Gumby Hasek-like unless they meant the way he talks "sounds" technical.

There you have it: No Tanguay, Umberger, Jokinen or anyone else half decent traded for the Sedins on draft day. Meaning another season of Tour de Sweden cycling until maybe one or more of the 2008 crew come onboard the good ship Canuck.