Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Number

I've only ever had two numbered jerseys in my life. Bure and Ohlund. The greatest forward in Canucks history (sorry Nazzy) and the greatest defenseman in Canucks history.

My Bure jersey was a gift from a girlfriend. I had asked her for an authentic away (black) Bure, tie down and all, for Christmas and she woke me up wearing that beautiful #96 and nothing else. It was a good day. I had opted for the 96 because Bure had just changed from his classic 10 to a flashy number that would be the wave of the future, signifying a new era. It was a new era alright. That number was cursed. It was the harbinger of death for the golden era of Canucks hockey. Soon after Pavel took to the ice in his new uni he sustained a catastrophic knee injury that wiped out his season. The following season was marred with injury as well and although "not superstitious" Pavel switched back to his number 10 for his final year as a Canuck.

I don't count the Messier 11. It was given to me by a well meaning family member and was signed by every Canuck player and coach. Every player that is except Mess himself. He told my family member "The rights to my signature are owned by a marketing company so I can't sign that". I keep it as a reminder of the dark days.

I had many inclinations towards other players. I had been burned badly on the Pavel jersey and wouldn't let that happen again. It was easy to love Mogilny's enigmatic skill. Trev, although lovable, was over represented. Jyrki Lumme was so bizarre I became fascinated with his vulcanesque demeanor. he was my favorite Dman until Ohlie came along and when he did I was sold.

The very fibre of the team was slipping through our fingers as we watched in agony, but there was one shining light. One bastion of consistency. He was young, huge, and skilled. Mattias Ohlund could lead the rush, hit like few others, and score timely goals. I ran out and got my away birthing whale 2 juuuust before Ohlies near career ending eye injury. Eventually things turned out okay, but for a while there, I was rethinking my jersey luck.

Which brings us to today. Although I proudly sport my blue and green #2 to games (my old black, blue and silver long since signed and retired) it seems I need to start searching for a candidate for number #3. This is not a task I embark upon lightly. I feel one has to have enough confidence in the name on the back to be able to shout "not as good as your momma!" back at anyone that tells you your namesake sucks. If I was to throw on, say, a Bieksa jersey just to stay current, I might have to agree with the drunken hecklers at the garage. And no good can come of that.

Candidates then:

Kesler - I spent too long shouting "Nice F*^cking play 1.9!!!!" to ever go back.

Burrows - Feel good story of last year. I'm not sure if you knew this but he made it from the ECHL aaaaaall the way to Vancouver's top line. True story. Pass.

Edler - During a preseason game a friend's wife asked me who this Edler fellow was. Having never heard of him I told her he was just one of many plumbers who show up in preseason never to be heard from again. She said "I like him and I hope he scores a goal." To which I responded "I will eat the plate your nachos were served on if Edler scores". He didn't. He did however ring one off the post, make the team and score quite a few that season, entrenching himself on the Canuck blue line. I still get texts every time he scores. No.

Leading me to my current front runner....

Christian Ehrhoff - I'm not sure how long his play will remain at this level, but he is impressing in ways I didn't imagine when he was traded for Patrick White. He may be too old and too German to warrant a jersey but he is definitely tops of my list as it stands. The toughest part would be wearing #5

Monday, November 23, 2009

Shifting Winds

During the dark years in the 90's Canucks fans had to have a back up team for the playoffs. Mine was the Red Wings. Stevie Y, Nick Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov... what's not to love? They played with a skill and confidence that made them so easy to watch. Not to mention the annual veteran free agent parade that passed through the Joe. In the 90's, if you wanted cash you went to the Rangers or leafs, if you wanted a cup you went to the Wings or Avalanche.

Although the Canucks situation has vastly improved since those days, the wings have always held a place in my heart. But this is starting to change. The mighty Wings lustre is starting to tarnish. Gone is Stevie Y, time is starting to catch up with Lidstrom and their ability to attract the high profile vet at a reasonable price has come in to question. They still draft well but will they be able to hold on to those players?
All this leads to the burning question of our time? If not the wings... who gets my sloppy seconds?

The criteria are simple. No divisional foes, no Canadian teams and not the Rangers. That leaves 20 teams. time for a cull.
California teams? EAD. 17.
Florida teams? same, EAD. 15.
Mattias Ohlund. 16.
Teams having great up and coming Canadian superstars? That only proves you have been terrible too recently, sorry Thrashers, Islanders and Lightning. 13.
Mattias Ohlund. 14.
Teams that are flat out shit. Bye bye Hurricanes, Coyotes and Predators. 11.
Hitchcock. 10.
Turco. 9.
Just not interested. That means you Sabres, Devils and Blues. 6.

That leaves The Caps, Flyers, Bruins, Lightning, Hawks and Penguins. Both Philly and Boston have impressive, exciting teams with great goal tending stories...buuuuut their fans are douche bags so... 4.

Although I love Matty and both Hedman and Stamkos point toward a bright future, we are talking about playoff longevity here. 3.

Crosby... meh. Is it just me? 2.

On one hand I have been immensely impressed by the Hawks. Keith and Seabrook are absolute studs. Kane is a goal-sucking little bitch but man is he fun to watch. Toews, although not particularly flashy has a Stevie Y/Ron Francis air about him. Campbell is just a crazy bastard. Quenneville is a stellar coach and they roll line after line of skilled, tough, fast players with good sense at both ends of the ice.
On the other hand is Ovechkin. It's a toss up.

I'll stick with 2 for now.

Ohlund. 3.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Work has taken over life for the last little while so hockey has taken a back seat. During the last few weeks I haven't been able to break down the minutiae of the Canuck's play but here's the few observations I have made:

Hordichuck. redundant. He doesn't have the foot speed or sense to be an effective forechecker/grinder. His hesitance to stand up for his teammates or intimidate the opposition has taken over his play. Rypien has more than made up for Hordichuk's disappearance and Tanner Glass adds the size element if not the pugilistic prowess. Hordichuck = Expendable

Bernier. Stevie, Stevie, Stevie.... So hard to peg. He has some size but he's not hulking. He's not slow. His hands come and go. Is he an underachieving 2nd liner or a serviceable third liner? I think he will remain a third liner and I choose to be pleasantly surprised when he scores. As long as his contract remains manageable Burner represents the depth a winning squad needs. Any higher expectations will only lead to frustration.

Burrows. I have a theory on Alex's productivity. Burr is most effective when he plays with the highest of determination. When on his game his hustle, grit and beaking give opposition players fits. His rise from the depths of the minors to Vancouver's first line was fueled by playoff level intensity. His ability to play a desperate style in mid January while everyone else is skating in quicksand has allowed him to push past those with more raw talent.
Two problems. One. Maintaining that level of intensity over an 82 game schedule is hard. Maintaining it over multiple seasons seems impossible. Two. The "playoff gear" that Burrows has been able to find in the regular season leaves him with nowhere to go. When the playoffs roll around and everyone else steps up, Burrows has nowhere to go. His hustle is matched by the opposition and his lack of natural ability is exposed.
It's only theory, but I hope his recent lack of production is explained by a hidden injury and not complacency creeping into his game.

More ranting to come...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mitchell vs Ohlund

What happened?

Where did the love go for our boy Mattias Ohlund? The local media is in full flight towing the Canuck line on Mattias. "he was too expensive" "He's too old" "it was time for him to move on".

Have we, as Canuck fans, no regard for our legacy players? Mattias has been erased from our collective memories yet an explanation has never been given why.

I would propose that Willie Mitchell is no better than Ohlund. Mitchell is the same age, as mobile and equally defensive minded as Ohlund.

The differences?
-Mitchell is a BC boy. This is huge. locals have a way of playing large for the home team, not to mention they get huge love from the fans. See Brendan Morrison's Canuck tenure for proof.

-Mitchell is cheaper. Big willie style's cap hit is $250k less than Matty's. Does 10 years service and 2 under valued contracts deserve a lousy $250k? I would say yes.

-Mitchell is good in the room. This is anecdotal but possible. Ohlund was of another era but was he so bad for this team that we should discard the backbone of the defense?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


A post over at Hit the Post got me thinking about the Canuck monoculture.

When the Canucks made GM Place their home, they were bad. Although there was a ton of optimism surrounding the team, the potential never came to fruition. The team store had to sell something and no one was going to buy a Lonny Bohonos jersey. Throughout the late 90's one could find obscure replica and authentic jerseys from every team in he NHL.

As the team slogged toward respectability and Trev returned, the store started carrying more and more name and number Canucks sweaters. A fan could saunter in and pick up a Cassels or Baron jersey without waiting 4-6 weeks. Still, the store held the biggest names on the biggest sellers. A Sundin blueleaf or Bondra screaming eagle were still readily available. The orca still ruled though and there were no other Canucks incarnations allowed in corporate sellout place.

Then came the knit, away (blue) retro stick in rink.Killer jersey. I bought one for my buddy for Christmas and was jealous every time he wore it. This retro opened the door for discussion on the Canuck colours (again) and test marketed the eventual change. With the league trying a retro look in some markets (Calgary opted for the 'burning horse head') and Nike's marketing guru Chris Zimmerman coming on board the Canucks threw their marketing juggernaught into full gear. Within a couple of seasons of the lockout and an RBK jersey takeover later, gone was the burgundy and silver.In it's place was a sea of blue and green dotted with islands of "flying V's" and "plates of spagetti". There are few, if any teams in the NHL that have made as many wholesale colour scheme changes as the Canucks. Finally though, they were using this to their advantage, selling the popular blue scheme (including the ever popular stick in rink 3rd) while marketing the others as kitchy, retro alternatives.

All of this seems great for the Canucks. They have a steady revenue stream and successful marketing scheme that is raking it in. Herein lies the problem. Gone are any traces of the rest of the league. Even team Canada is banished from the racks. God forbid you are an out of town (enemy) fan and want to pick up a Cal Clutterbuck or Mark Giordano jersey. No chance. Not only are the Canucks losing out on a valuable source of revenue but the fans are losing out on seeing all those beautiful jerseys (no, not yours cowtown). It creates an insular fanbase that knows nothing of the league, only the Canult (TM).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Leafs

The going concern of Canadian hockey is and always will be...the maple leafs. Toronto controls our media and money so it should come as no surprise. I am not here to rehash these facts. I simply ask the question "Why are their fans such dickwads?"

I recently went to my first leaf game. Don't get me wrong, I have seen the leafs play more times than I would care to remember. After all, one has only to turn to channel 3 on any Saturday from October to March to be assaulted by their particular brand of mediocrity. No, this was my first LIVE leaf game and to say it was a leaf game is a bit of a misnomer. It was in fact a Canuck game versus the worst team in the NHL. The leafs.

The leafs have been near the bottom of the pack for 4 seasons now. Missing the playoffs, but never being low enough in the standings to acquire a blue chip prospect. They have cleaned house in both management and coaching. They have professed a commitment to rebuilding while trading away top draft picks for unproven talent, finally opening the door for true failure. Even the faithful CBC has revisited its unwavering support due to the unwatchable embarrassment on the ice.

So what's with the attitude? I can respect fans sticking with their team through the lean times. Hell I'm a Canuck fan. That's what we do. But these guys (and gals) are just loudmouth pricks! Is it just a case of over-compensation? Are leaf fans the short guy in the Ford F450 with the huge mudders and truck-nuts? Are they the fat girl with the sarcastic jibes that wears all black, attacking so they don't get hurt? Or are they just too stupid to know anything different?

I attended the game with my wife and 6 month old girl and I must admit it gave me a very different perspective on the afternoon's events. Had I not had my family in tow, I would have fully engaged in verbal jousting with the idiotic eastern throng, but having your daughter strapped to your chest has a way of calming you. I smiled in disbelief at the number of ignorant but vocal leaf fans amongst the Canuck faithful. It wasn't until an altercation in the beer lineup that my blood truly began to boil.

Being a fully attended game (sell out means nothing anymore) the concourse was packed between periods. Most everyone was courteous and respectful of the baby strapped to my chest but it was several leaf fans that bumped into me, shouted in my daughters face and scared her into bawling her eyes out. Some fat bitch actually asked me if I wanted to fight her after I told her to "watch the baby" as she steamrolled through the lines. Rude, obnoxious, self righteous, loud mouth pricks.

I, as a hockey fan and Canadian, refuse to discuss the leafs anymore. They are irrelevant. They do not deserve our love or hate. They deserve only disdain and indifference and their fans deserve even less.

Self Loathing

After hearing some valid anti Canuck fan sentiments I had a moment of clarity in my otherwise Canuckcentric brain.

Ya this one is from Hit the Post too.

"I agree that Canucks fans are some of the worst fans in professional sports but this douchebaggery is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Canucks fans were a cautious, jaded, and wary animal that had been given scant reason for hope. Why would we be boastful? Our team played in East Van, wore Halloween costumes for jerseys and trotted out line after line of has-beens and ne'erwill-be's.

Where the new breed of Cocknuck came from is anyone's guess. The team certainly didn't get that much better. I believe it was a combination of the new building downtown, an influx of easterners, the corporate takeover of the stands, and the overwhelming media barrage spewing propaganda.

Whatever the cause, the effect has been a contingent of overbearing, fickle fans with an unbelievable sense of entitlement."

Mind yer own Biznass!

As Originally posted on Hit the Post (Yes I'm just going to steal my responses to other blogs as I'm too lazy to write new ones) in response to flames fans bashing the Canucks.

"Why are you bothering to discuss a Canuck/Blackhawk game? What do you care?

I understand you're all knowledgeable hockey fans that love to discuss the minutiae of our beloved game, but the Canucks posts seem strangely out of context. And yes, I'm paying attention.

What's the fascination? Are we your Toronto? Why do you bother?

I guess my point is, if the roles were reversed. If the Canucks were a Stanley Cup Champion and the Flames were a long standing pathetic under-achiever, I can't imagine Canucks fans giving two squirts what the flamers did on a nightly basis.

On The Canucks tip (sorry, I'm watchin' Snoop dog on the Strombo show) I'm on the fence. As you may or may not know I'm a psychotic Ohlund fan so this season starts out dissapointing in my book. It's hard not to point to his absence after every goal.

Our goaltender is running hot and cold and I hate to say it but I would accept consistency over flashes of brilliance at this point.

The D is undermanned at the moment but that was inevitable if not predictable. Soft and slow anyone?

The moneyball approach personifies the Johnny forwards. Projects are the name of the game, bringing mixed results. Samuelsson seems like the real deal, Kessler continues his rise to second line center status and Rypien... don't lie, you wish he was a bic.


Bernier, Raymond, Wellwood, Hordichuck, Grabner and Johnson? Would you want them on your team?

There could be an upside to these boys. Who knows, they could come together in an historic run, defying the odds, culminating in Vancouver's first Stanley Cup victory in 85 years. Buuuut probably not.

Take the high road flamin' C. It'll look good on you."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Canucks VS Blackhawks Round 2 Game 2

The collapse.

The Canucks were downright disinterested. Losing Sami Salo was significant but should not have been catastrophic. Pundits have used the excuse that the defense were confused having to play with different partners and having to switch sides for the remainder of the game. Most of the defense have played together for at least 3 seasons. Last I checked only O'Brian is new to the blue line corps. These guys are pros and should have been able to compensate better.

The Hawks on the other hand had a singular focus. This Hawk team is damn good. They are too young to know when they are done and too skilled to go away quietly.

If Luongo does not play better, all will be lost.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Canucks VS Blackhawks Round 2 Game 1

The following was originally posted on Hit The Post

As I sat in my row 20 seat contemplating the plight of the tapout-clad scalper, I could not help but beam with overwhelming glee that my boys had been tested to the extent that they had.

As game 1 of round 2 started it's third period 3-0 in favour of the home town Canucks, I could not help but feel that this was all too easy. My nuckleheads had endured a lackluster attack on the part of the Hawks, showing little or no interest and were ahead 3-0.

Much to my surprise and bemusement the Hawks came back and tied the game, only to be trounced on an incredibly bad line change and an empty netter.

If the Hawks had lost the game 3-0 I would have had serious doubts about my 'Nucks. They played an uninspired, unemotional 2 periods and lead by 3. By the Hawks tying the game I feel my boys became re-focused, asserting their dominance. If this is the best the Hawks have to offer I say "what's the big deal?"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Playing Catch up

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Shot Blogger.

Why bother with a blog? Well a friend of mine suggested I start my own so here goes.

Vancouver Canucks playoff run 09

Canucks VS Blues

Heading into the series pundits extolled the virtues of the young, speedy, well coached Blues squad backstopped by a streaky goalie in the midst of the streak of his career.

What the talking heads failed to take into account was the decimated St. Louis blueline. The Blues popgun offence and suddenly mediocre netminding were definitely contributors to their struggles but it was the sluggish and/or undersized rearguards that made the Canucks forwards seem like the '91 Penguins.

It's no coincidence that the Canucks saved players as the series wound down. Although they would never admit it, the 'Nucks brass knew they had the Blues well in hand after game 2. Looking to make a long playoff run the Canucks brain-trust took a cautious approach and sat both Sundin and Salo. These injuries may have been serious enough to warrant sitting out but none the less the confidence to allow the players to attempt to heal was rooted in the knowledge that the Blues posed no threat to the Canucks playoff hopes.