Canucks and Beyond
Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have signed right wing Byron Bitz.
Bitz, 27, has recorded 18 points (9-9-18) and 51 penalty minutes in 87 career NHL games with the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins. In five playoff games with the Bruins, the 6’5”, 215 lbs. right winger collected two points (1-1-2) and two penalty minutes.
The Saskatoon, SK, native was originally selected 107th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
Welcome to the Canucks, Byron.
Given both of his past NHL affiliations—and Vancouver’s rather awkward recent history along those lines—I think we can assume the Canucks have already fully vetted (and sanitized) the poor guy’s Twitter account for the month of June…
Not being particularly knowledgeable about the NHL’s Entry Draft and its history, I thought I’d educate myself on the process while also sharing some bits and pieces with readers. I’ll also be running down all those players who were picked at #1 in the NHL draft, from 1963 till the present day, to see where their careers (and lives in general, when information is available) ended up.
For now, let’s look at the very first days of the NHL Draft: the 1960s.
Prior to 1963, players were signed to teams in what was basically a ‘first-come, first served’ basis, which gave a substantial advantage to some teams over others. In particular, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple leafs, according to Jamie Fitzpatrick at About.com:
Did you ever stop to wonder that with so many draft picks every year, whatever happened to the majority who don’t make it to the NHL or AHL, and seem to disappear into obscurity? One such story caught my attention today.
Back in 2005, forward Daniel Ryder was drafted in the third round by the Calgary Flames, and in 2006, won the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award for being the most valuable player in that year’s OHL playoffs. His future was bright, as Hockey’s Future analyzed his talent here:
Daniel, like his older brother Michael, is a goal scorer, pure and simple. He has a knack for finding open ice as well as finding the open man. He fights for loose pucks, battles hard in the corners and does a lot of the other intangibles that are crucial come playoff time.
But sometime over the next year or so, everything went very wrong for Daniel Ryder.
From Derek Jory at Canucks.com:
The Sedins were informed they were one of six nominees for the Victoria Stipendium, an annual award given to the Swedish athlete of the year by Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden.
Every year since Crown Princess Victoria was born in 1979 the honor has been presented to an athlete or athletes as part of the princess’ birthday celebration, beginning with Ingemar Stenmark, the greatest slalom and giant slalom alpine skier of all time.
The Sedins won the award together; as a duo, they were honoured as the singular athlete of year, which seems a bit odd. But apparently the whole thing is quite a big deal in Sweden, and the twins were only the 3rd and 4th hockey players to ever win it (Stefan Persson and Peter Forsberg preceded them).
During the awards, the royal attendees apparently mistook the garbage bags on their seats (keeping the seats dry from the rain) as rain gear. “Next thing you know King Carl XVI Gustaf is punching holes for his arms and head into a garbage bag.” Seriously.
Afterwards, they presented Crown Princess Victoria with a Canucks jersey. Poor woman—and the rest of her family—are probably still confused by the whole thing.
Mike Duco has obviously been in a crappy situation this week, admittedly of his own making, resulting from the anti-Vancouver trash-talk he was throwing around Twitter during the Canucks Stanley Cup run. His words have been neatly thrown back in his face as a result of his rights having been traded to Vancouver, and it’s not a pleasant experience, I’m sure.
I won’t bother regurgitating his original comments, but here are his words today, as pulled from this Sports Network piece (via the LA Times):
“To the players, fans, and organization, I would like to apologize and I hope that you can forgive me. I had no reason to say anything bad about them.”
“As a player, I should never publicly say anything negative about another player. To say it on the ice is one thing, but online is something completely different, and I realize this now.”
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.
So, I take a weekend completely off the clock and away from hockey, and what happens while I’m gone? Puck Daddy and A2Y managed to end up in some kind of Commodore 64 War.
First off, from an outsider’s point of view, it kind of looks like The Chief has acquired a stalker. I mean, getting called “the piece of garbage that runs the worst hockey blog on the internet” sorta crosses the line from ‘dislike’, storms past ‘creepy’ and closes in on Fatal Attraction territory, no? Glenn Close, a pair of scissors and a bunny, all rolled into what looks like a bit of a hockey blogger meltdown.
Ryan Lambert’s comment in full:
Not that I’m going to plug them, but the piece of garbage that runs the worst hockey blog on the internet is trying to organize a campaign AGAINST the Commodore 64 thing. Because, he says, he doesn’t want Commodore — A RED WING!!!! — to be a “gimmick.” (Ignoring the fact that throwing an octopus and singing along to a Journey song are absolutely gimmicks, because why allow logic to enter into any such debate?) And also, presumably, because he hates charity.
Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have signed defenceman Alexander Sulzer.
Sulzer, 27, split the 2010.11 season between the Nashville Predators, recording four points (1-3-4) in 31 games, and the Florida Panthers, collecting one point (0-1-1) in nine games.
The Kaufbeuren, Germany, native has appeared in 62 career NHL games, recording seven points (1-6-7) and 18 penalty minutes over the span of three seasons with the Predators and Panthers.
Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have signed goaltender Matt Climie.
From Jim Jamieson at The Province:
Ex-Canucks winger Jeff Tambellini has signed a three-year deal to play for Zurich of the Swiss League, where he’ll be playing for former NHL head coach Bob Hartley.
Tambellini, a free agent signing by the Canucks a year ago, had 9-8-17 in 62 games and was a plus-10 for Vancouver, largely in a fourth-line role. He played six games in the playoffs with no points and was a minus-3.
Update 12:04pm PT: From Ian Walker of the Vancouver Sun, via Twitter—
Jeff Tambellini a prime example of a tweener. Too good 4 AHL, yet can’t stick in the bigs. Wish him all the best in Switzerland.
Probably not an unfair assessment. But a very solid player, really, and a 3 year deal (quite the commitment there) in the Swiss League will be a great opportunity and experience for him.
As for the fact he’ll be playing for Bob Hartley… well, I’ll just be generous and reserve comment on that point. (Just hearing that name gives me slightly irrational Avalanche: They Be Evil flashbacks…)
The news in Canada is full of Royalty this week, as Prince William and his wife Kate visit the country. Admittedly, not exactly riveting news to post on a hockey site, but here’s a photo of William that adds a bit of relevance:
“Prince William takes a shot with a hockey stick as Kate Middleton watches during a visit to the Somba K’e Civic Plaza in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.”
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]