Canucks and Beyond

The Odds on Vancouver Goaltending

10/27/2011 at 6:00pm EDT

Given all the fuss about goaltending around these parts, Bodog is glad to make some money off the argument. Here are their odds on what has apparently become the Annual October Debate in this province:

Who will start more games in the month of November 2011?
Roberto Luongo (VAN) -500
Cory Schneider (VAN) +300

Who will have more wins during the 2011-12 regular season?
Roberto Luongo (VAN) -18½
Cory Schneider (VAN) +18½

Luongo's New Mask

10/20/2011 at 6:25pm EDT

image

“It’s a couple weeks late, just like my game.”

—Roberto Luongo, on receiving his new mask (via Canucks.com which adds: “Criticizing Luongo has apparently become so popular that the man himself is taking shots at the man himself.”)

*photo is property of Ben Kuzma

Canucks Tribute Video to Rick Rypien

10/19/2011 at 5:31pm EDT

From last night’s pre-game ceremonies—

On a related topic, ESPN’s Roy S. Johnson has a piece out today on the issue of depression among many throughout professional sports.

The Redemption of Johnny Canuck

10/18/2011 at 6:54pm EDT

Last year’s Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins featured a very clever video by Canucks’ fan Adam MacKay-Smith—you can see it here. One of my favourite fan videos of all time.

This season, Adam returns with his new outlook in The Heartbreak of Johnny Canuck... and his search for redemption. (Thanks to Kent Basky for the link.)

Video:

Canucks Remember Rypien

10/18/2011 at 4:30pm EDT

While the focus of tonight’s match-up between the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Rangers is primarily the game itself, there are other—and more important—matters at hand tonight in Vancouver. While the Canucks celebrate the return on Ryan Kesler and NYR hope to get their team on track, the game itself will be set against a more poignant backdrop.

Tonight, the Canucks will be ceremonially remembering Rick Rypien during pre-game events, starting at 7:04pm PT, delaying puck-drop to 7:15.

Among other things, Rick’s family will be on hand for an announcement on behalf of the Canucks For Kids Fund. In honour of Rick’s memory, the CFKF is contributing $50,000 to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation to develop a website dedicated to helping youth and young adults with mental health issues.

Ryan Kesler Back

10/17/2011 at 5:20pm EDT

After a long stretch of rehab from the torn labrum suffered during last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs, Ryan Kesler is apparently ready to return. From Iain MacIntyre at the Vancouver Sun:

Ryan Kesler’s path back to the Vancouver Canucks’ lineup has been cleared with the reassignment of sophomore defenceman Chris Tanev to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, opening a spot on the National Hockey League team’s 23-man roster.

In the final stages of recovering from off-season hip surgery, Kesler practised this morning on the Canucks’ second line between wingers Chris Higgins and Cody Hodgson. He also worked with Vancouver’s first-unit power play.

Canucks-Related Misery

10/13/2011 at 7:29pm EDT

Last night’s Philly/Van game. Listening to “Jagr has the puck…” calls was surreal enough, but much of the rest of the game was outright painful. Hopefully the pre-season ends soon for these guys? (On the other side of the equation, hearing the words “goalie controversy” five minutes into the season sort of makes some of us want to smack around the entire Canucks fanbase.)

Today’s Canucks/Wings game. It appears that some Canucks fans (i.e. me) aren’t able to watch the Vancouver/Detroit game tonight. Apparently MLB (and its spry little scurrying squirrel... wth?) is dominating our regular Sportsnet SD and HD channels.

This has forced tonight’s hockey matchup between the Red Wings and Canucks up onto some stratospheric backup channel on the TV dial (well, they used to be called dials… back when I had 80’s hair), and one that apparently I can’t get. This is despite the fact I pay more for my cable each month than I do for health insurance. For my entire family.

iPhone Adventures in Hockey

10/12/2011 at 7:10pm EDT

So, I’m distressed to say that I missed the Canucks second game of the season, against Columbus on Monday.

Not because I was busy with work (it was Canadian Thanksgiving); not because my kid was screaming for attention (she was buried in family affection all weekend and really didn’t want anything to do with any of us after a certain point); not because I was cooking some big feast (after three straight days of Thanksgiving dinners, I may never look at food again, much less turkey); and not because I was too drunk to program the PVR (like I said, Thanksgiving, family, screaming kids, etc).

None of these things.

No, the reason I missed Monday’s game against Columbus is because I downloaded the Canucks iPhone app.

Turning the Page in Vancouver

10/05/2011 at 7:23pm EDT

Most of the stories about the Vancouver Canucks this past summer had one theme: they lost. Kaboom. The Stanley Cup Finals was a great ride… until it wasn’t.

But with a new season finally upon us, the page seems to be turning as the analysis switches towards the new topic of “so now what?” With the puck drop countdown now in its final hours, perhaps it’s finally safe to to start being optimistic about a new season.

_______________

—Is the latest version of the NHL—Brendan Shanahan’s NHL, that is— built for the Canucks? You could make the argument that it is. In today’s Province, Ed Willes argues his thesis about the Red Wings Way:

From the Naked City...

10/05/2011 at 4:30pm EDT

The Canucks superstar is among nine male sports stars posing au naturel, including basketball player Blake Griffin, footballer Steven Jackson and UFC fighter Jon Jones. Kesler is the only NHL player to appear this year.
CTV British Columbia

image

The complete ESPN feature available here.

Yay. Fashion Advice From NHL Draft Picks

09/29/2011 at 6:27pm EDT

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.

Canucks & NHL Odds & Ends

09/28/2011 at 7:50pm EDT

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.

Ron MacLean Rockin' It

09/26/2011 at 6:09pm EDT

Photoshop or not? Regardless, life is too short not to post this. From Deadspin:

There’s a photo of Hockey Night In Canada host Ron MacLean making the rounds on Twitter and HFBoards, and the hockey community is split on its legitimacy. (The awesomeness community is unanimous on its awesomeness.)

image

The Odd Squad & the WHL

09/26/2011 at 5:51pm EDT

imageVancouver’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]

Mason Raymond Improving

09/22/2011 at 6:39pm EDT

“At the end of the day, it could have been worse. I’m lucky to be standing here today with arms and legs moving. I’m still having some discomfort with some soft tissue, but it’s coming along well and I’m happy with the process.

“Whenever you have something in that [spinal] area, you have a serous risk of having additional problems. So, yeah, I feel lucky.”

—Mason Raymond, Vancouver Sun, September 22

But Sun columnist Ian MacIntyre notes that there’s still no certainty Raymond will ever play again, having broken a vertebrae in his back after a check from Johnny Boychuk in Game 6 against Boston in the SCF.

Antropov Gets Frisky

09/22/2011 at 5:36pm EDT

From Chris Dart at The Score:

Users have already found a glitch in EA’s new NHL ‘12, and it’s kind of amazing.

Apparently, if the game’s version of Nik Antropov falls on top of another player, he’ll spend about 15 seconds impersonating either Josh Koscheck or my friend’s pug, Rambo, and vigorously dry-hump the man underneath him.

The video below has been around for a couple weeks apparently, but this is the first that I’ve run across it.

Modano: Retire or Become a Canuck?

09/21/2011 at 7:54pm EDT

From Larry Lage via the Vancouver Sun:

“It’s just time,” he said in a phone interview from Dallas, taking a break between playing 36 holes of golf. “I didn’t get any calls after July 1 and I figured that was it.”

Only it wasn’t. Modano said Vancouver assistant general manager Lorne Henning offered him a chance last week to continue his career with the Canucks.

“I told him I had to pass because I hadn’t touched a weight or unzipped my bag since we lost in San Jose,” he said.

Sigh. As a Canucks fan, all I hear is that phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me!” Like a guy trying to gently turn discourage a plain girl’s advances.

Is Cody Hodgson Getting Shafted?

09/21/2011 at 6:38pm EDT

The Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher takes issue with Canucks coach Alain Vigneault today, with an aggressive column questioning AV’s decision to ship Hodgson to Calgary yesterday for the opening pre-season set.

In a year when second-line centre Ryan Kesler is hurt and there is finally an opportunity to get the gifted prospect a bona fide look in a top six spot in his right position, the first signal the player gets from his coach is yet another shot across the bow.

After eating all that humble pie by publicly stating that he wasn’t going to worry about how he was used and that he was going to concentrate on making sure he had the right attitude and worry about his own game, the first thing his coach does is send him to Calgary on the day of the game and start him with a couple of stiffs in Victor Oreskovich and Mike Duco.

What can possibly be achieved by this other than annoy Hodgson?

CBC Knows Which Side Its Bread is Buttered On

09/21/2011 at 5:04pm EDT

The provincial elections in Ontario are set to happen on October 6th. The problem is, the Toronto Maple Leafs season opener with the Montreal Canadians (plus a Vancouver Canucks/Pittsburgh Penguins matchup) are going off on the same night.

CBC has historically cancelled most regular programming on election nights, to keep viewers informed as the results come in. But knocking out the season-opening game for the Leafs? In TV-ratings land, that’s seriously bad politics.

And so…

Toronto.com reports on election night Oct. 6, the CBC will broadcast the season-opener between the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, followed by the Vancouver Canucks-Pittsburgh Penguins matchup.

Precipitating this decision was the Toronto Star’s online poll, to find out what viewers wanted. Hockey won, with 65% support.

Canucks Training Camp and Other Adventures

09/20/2011 at 5:15pm EDT

The Canucks are gradually reducing their roster, and players who have been released thus far read like a who’s who of the hockey world… gone so far are defencemen Sawyer Hannay and Marc Anthony Zanetti, and goalie David Honzik. Shocking stuff.

So, who remains?

Flames facing a Canucks team with Steve Begin, Anders Eriksson, Todd Fedoruk and Manny Legace. Is it 2001?

—Randy Sportak, Calgary Sun, via Twitter

Definitely peculiar when you put it like that. Though in a world where the likes of Russ Courtnall, Brad May, Boyd Devereaux and others are going to be competitive ice dancing in the coming weeks, is it really that odd?

Dreams of Playing in the NHL

09/16/2011 at 5:24pm EDT

These days, getting a tryout with a NHL team is nearly as exclusive a process as signing a contract itself. And if there are any modest surprises on the roster, they’re usually the result of formal tryout contracts, like those which Owen Nolan and Todd Fedoruk signed with the Canucks this year.

The process is highly systematic to achieve the best results, both in conditioning the players with guaranteed roster spots and possibly promoting other players for the team, depending on their performance in training camp. As Stan Smyl explained in the Vancouver Sun today, it’s all about development, and we can assume it’s probably a more efficient and effective means of readying the roster, as compared to the past.

But this story he tells about a training camp incident some years back is the kind of thing I’d like to imagine happened more often:

Getting Back in the Canucks Saddle

09/14/2011 at 4:56pm EDT

Roberto Luongo has taken a lot of punches in the last few months, but it’s a new year now so he’s decided to block out all the bad memories and move on. From Brad Ziemer in the Vancouver Sun:

Luongo would not say how long it took him to put the devastating seven-game loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final behind him, but insisted it is now in the rear-view mirror and will remain there.

“It’s hockey, you know what I mean,” he said of the Canucks coughing up a 2-0 series lead to the Bruins. “That’s all I can say. Things happen. You want to keep things under your control as much as you can, but sometimes things happen.

“Unfortunately, we let it slip away, especially in the Boston games, and we never really recovered from that. At the end of the day I think we can all be proud of what we did last year from the beginning of the season all the way to the final. We did a lot as individuals and as a team and that is why we are so happy to be back and give it another try.”

Luongo isn’t the only one looking to forget the past and move on, although for different reasons.

More Tryout Contracts in Vancouver

09/07/2011 at 4:39pm EDT

Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have signed Manny Legace and Steve Begin to professional tryout contracts.

Legace, 38, has played 365 career NHL games (187-125-18) and has a .912 career save percentage and a goals against average of 2.41. The 5’10”, 200-pound goaltender has played for four NHL teams and spent the 2010.11 season with the Iserlohn Roosters in the German League where he compiled a record of 17-22. A native of Toronto, Ontario, he was originally selected by the Hartford Whalers 188th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.

Begin, 33, has played 488 NHL games, recording 100 career points (52-48-100) and 539 penalty minutes. The 6’0”, 190-pound left winger has played for five NHL teams and split the 2010.11 season between the Nashville Predators, collecting four penalty minutes in two games, and the Richmond Admirals in the AHL, recording six points (3-3-6) and 30 penalty minutes in 36 games played. A native of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Begin was selected by the Calgary Flames 40th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.

—Canucks media release

Remembering Some Familiar Names

09/07/2011 at 4:27pm EDT

With the KHL tragedy at the forefront of everbody’s minds today, numerous NHLers are sharing their thoughts on Twitter. And here are some of the more detailed tributes and remembrances appearing online. (Post will be updated as more comes in.)

Brad McCrimmon— “I know he wanted to try being a head coach, wanted to see what it was like being a head coach in Russia,” said Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “We all wished him well.” More at NHL.com.

Pavol Demitra—“People were drawn to Demo. He was a great friend and great teammate.” More at NHL.com

Josef Vasicek— “Vasicek, who died in the plane crash Wednesday that claimed his entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team only five days short of his 31st birthday, was unfailingly cheerful, a good guy by the standards of the game of hockey and the game of life.” More at the News Observer.

Kesler Pushing for Fast Recovery

08/22/2011 at 4:26pm EDT

“It’s going good; small victories here and there,” Kesler told Canucks TV from his hometown of Livonia, Mich. “I just got off my crutches and I’ll start strengthening so everything is back to normal. I’ll start skating here in the next couple of weeks and hopefully be back by that first game.”

Kesler’s history with hip labrum surgery suggests he might just make the opening night lineup. He had a similar surgery in January 2007 and returned 10 weeks later—in time for the start of the playoffs. He was initially told he would be out anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks.

“I know what it takes. I know the rehab,” Kesler said. “It might even make me braver to try things I probably shouldn’t be trying, but it’s going to make me come back quicker and hopefully I can play in that first game.”

—Ryan Kesler, via Dan Rosen at NHL.com

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