Canucks and Beyond
I’m not someone who thinks sports figures should hesitate to share their personal opinions. Say what you want, I figure, as long as you’re willing to own it. But Florida Panthers draft choice Rocco Grimaldi might be stepping a little outside his expertise in telling girls how to dress, no?
Stringing together a few of Grimaldi’s Tweets yesterday, for example:
Ladies, you can help us guys out big time. Put your boobs away and everything else that is hanging out. Guys have a hard enough time with… that temptation without u helping it along. When did being a beautiful girl become dressing with the least amount of clothes on? When did… what u wear become a competition? Before you dress ask, “Does this outfit honor God, does it honor my body, does it help serve/love my… brothers? If it’s a no to any of those questions, then u shouldn’t wear that outfit #ThinkBeforeYouDress
To be fair, he has a few words for how men treat women, too. (i.e. “Guys, when did sleeping with every girl u can make u a man? Anyone can lay with a woman…”) Umm. Okay.
To some, it seems like Alain Vigneault’s Canucks are going through the pre-season for no purpose other than to put in time, rather than to actually identify the season’s best lineup. No doubt, there’s a method to the madness, but it’s sometimes easy to believe the final roster has been long-decided, and that tryouts and rookies are simply participating in a well-publicized NHL-Ice exercise program.
Tony Gallagher referenced this in terms related to Cody Hodgson last week, but this week expands his concerns, seemingly embracing the idea that the entire Vancouver preseason is more of a shell-game intended to get the team off to a faster start than in the past, without much hope for any newbies to the club.
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is notoriously well-known across Canada—and since extensive international coverage during the Olympics, probably far beyond our borders too. The area has long been deeply affected by crime and drug dependency, and as such, frequently makes for compelling video footage on the evening news.
One program that was established by the Vancouver Police Department’s “Odd Squad,” in association with the Western Hockey League, is unique in that it seeks to make a difference that goes far beyond the borders of the neighbourhood.
For more than a decade, this program has brought WHL players to the area for a personal tour, introduces them to the reality of the area without pulling any punches, then asks those players to take their observations, photos and stories back to other young people in their home WHL communities. [photo credit at bottom]
This series has been taking a look back at #1 draft picks since the draft’s inception in 1963, their careers on the ice and after they hung up their skates. Links to the previous decades are at the bottom of this post, but for now, let’s tackle the 1980s.
First off, 1980 was the year the NHL Amateur Draft actually became the NHL Entry Draft we refer to today. It’s also the first year the event was open to the public, and in 1984 was televised for the first time. In short, the NHL draft went from being a purely utilitarian exercise intended only for teams to select players, to becoming an actual ‘event.’
The draft process itself had changed at roughly the start of each decade, and 1980 was no different. Here’s some background from Wikipedia:
Beginning in 1980, any player who is between the ages of 18 and 20 is eligible to be drafted. In addition, any non-North American player over the age of 20 can be selected. From 1987 through 1991, 18 and 19-year-old players could only be drafted in the first three rounds unless they met another criterion of experience which required them to have played in major junior, U.S. college and high school, or European hockey.
1. This may seem strange coming from someone like me, but after nearly a decade of experience in this medium, here is what I believe to be an absolute fact: while blogs and other social media have been a huge boon to hockey coverage, they are also one of the worst things that ever happened to hockey journalism.
This is likewise true of news coverage in general, but unlike the news where there’s some concern about trying to maintain standards, in sports journalism—a field considered less important to some because of the nature of the topic—sports journalists don’t seem to lament the loss of quality to the same degree. And I think we’re all the poorer for it.
In my ideal world, the trained journalists of the world would worry less about ‘competing’ with the lowest common denominators of the web, and worry more about setting a standard of writing—and ethics—for us all to aspire to. At the very least, the quality of the discourse would improve.*
Last week I ran down the 1960s history of #1 draft picks, Today, I’m following that up with a look at the top picks from 1970 to 1979. All in all, a very impressive and successful crew of NHLers. In fact, from 1968 all the way until 2005, every #1 draft pick went on to play a minimum of 299 games in the NHL.
In 1969, the league made a change to their Amateur Draft which resulted in more players than ever being included, “as every junior of qualifying age (20-years) was available for selection.” 84 players were selected that year, making it, by far, the largest draft ever.
Here are the #1 picks of the 1970s and a brief look at their career paths, both in hockey and after leaving the ice.
From Derek Coburn at Washington Business Journal, a story about Ted Leonsis:
Last year while on his home treadmill, Ted happened upon a replay of the 1969 Jets-Colts Superbowl game on ESPN Classic. Growing up he had gone to Jets games with his father every Sunday (tickets were $7 then). That year, when he was just 12, they watched the Superbowl together on TV. Seeing the game again stirred up a host of memories not just of the game, but the entire experience: Sharing the moment with his father and calling all of their relatives afterward. Missing school to attend the ticker tape parade with his dad and 500,000 other New Yorkers. Ted became emotional and started to cry. Unfortunately for him, his wife came into the room to find him weeping on the treadmill and asked if everything was okay. His reply? “Joe Namath.” Then he told us, “This is the business I’m in. Making grown men cry, and creating memories that last 50 years.”
I don’t know what this says about the Caps, exactly (though perhaps some rival fans could have some fun with it!). But the idea of sporting teams making grown men cry? I totally get it. And women, too—the Vancouver Canucks make me cry all the time.
Levity aside, though, I think there’s a lot of truth to Leonsis’s words. The lasting gift of sports isn’t found in the details of every play, or the statistical analysis of every hiccup, but in the broader strokes. Those moments you remember for a lifetime, whether they were great successes or failures for your team or favourite players.
This year’s NHL trading season seems to feature a lot of odd dramas.
There’s the madness of Jagr-Watch (Is he in New York? At Wimbledon? Getting a mullet-blowout in Russia? Hiding under a coffee table somewhere?). And there’s Christian Ehrhoff and his negotiating rights banging all over North America for the price of 4th round draft picks, which apparently every team in the east has stockpiled for this purpose. (And I’d love to play the game “What City Will Ehrhoff Search the Real Estate Listings for Next?!” but I suspect/fear the Sabres will be the ones to lock him down. Buffalo real estate is cheaper than cheese.)
And then there’s the Ryan-Smyth-to-Edmonton (no, Calgary… no, Edmonton…) And it’s that deal between the Kings and Oilers that’s getting a new shot of drama today. From Helene Elliott, a series of Tweets about an “angry” Kings organization:
Sportsnet.ca profiles the past of Winnipeg Jets and the future of NHL hockey in the city. Video:
Hockey in Winnipeg is near and dear to the residents of that city, many of whom passionately believe they can support a new NHL team. Whether it happens or not, however, is a total mystery, given the astonishing amount of misinformation and seemingly worthless “sources” informing the likes of TSN and some of the Winnipeg media. And it’s been going on for years now.
All of this makes me think of fans in Atlanta, though. [insert joke here]. But seriously, they do exist, and the Canadian media’s focus having shifted from Arizona to Georgia has them wondering what’s happening next in their own market.
When I was a kid, the schools I attended in Canada always displayed a portrait of the Queen somewhere in the building. Usually just outside the Principal’s office, as I recall. There were a variety of different paintings, but usually some official portrait from the 50s (looking forever 20-something years old no matter her real age) and brandishing that big bejeweled stick of hers. An image meant to intimidate as you awaited your punishment, sitting outside the office, I was convinced.
In St. John’s NL, however, they’re done with the Queen and onto a far cooler option: It’s Dan Cleary.
The government is providing every school with a framed limited-edition reproduction of a print of the local hockey hero, who has won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. [...] Schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 are being asked to display the Cleary print in a prominent place.
Here’s the painting:
About Canucks and Beyond
Alanah McGinley has been blogging hockey since 2003 (with a notable gap in time through 2010, kicking it with new baby Lucy while living knee-deep in chaos while reading "parenting for complete idiots" during every spare minute) sharing opinions, rants and not-so-deep thoughts with anyone who will listen.
In addition to writing Canucks & Beyond and helping manage Kukla's Korner, Alanah was one of the founders and co-hosts of The Crazy Canucks Podcast. She has contributed pieces to FoxSports.com and the New York Times Slapshot blog, as well as other stray destinations in cyberspace.
So that's me. Who the hell are you?
Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]