Canucks and Beyond

Catching Up With the Canucks

08/11/2007 at 1:16pm EDT

Despite the lack of hockey action in Canucks land (and from me lately) there still seems to be a lot of buzz going on around this team. Nothing all that serious, but each requiring a short rant or a few smart (or not so smart) remarks.

As usual, I claim no responsibility for accuracy while discussing today’s topics.

1. John McCaw in handcuffs. (not really)
2. Brian Burke still entertains. (me, if no one else)
3. We don’t care what the new team logo is anymore. (just SHOW us and be done with it)

FIRST: McCaw in Court

I don’t know about anyone else, but the notion of John McCaw sitting in a courtroom defending himself against charges of illegal business practices doesn’t really break my heart. My patience with a few of the league’s owners—particularly McCaw—runs pretty thin at the best of times. (note: unrelated to this topic, though related to my general irritation with the NHL’s billionaires, read Tom Benjamin’s excellent summation on the valuation of NHL franchises).

On the other hand, the prospect of the Canucks current ownership - Francesco Aquilini - being taken apart in court also isn’t likely to do us any favors as fans of the team, so I’m hopeful this case can be resolved soon. Still, when gems like this happen with McCaw in court this week, I can’t help but be mildly entertained:

McCaw recalled having a conversation with Ryan Beedie after The Sun article was published on Nov. 19, 2004, in which Beedie accused the Canucks owner of “double-dealing behind our backs, working on something with Francesco [Aquilini].”

He recalled Beedie threatened litigation during the phone call. “I said, ‘If you sue us, I’ll sue you,’” McCaw testified in Vancouver before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Wedge.

Sweet geezus… anyone else get the idea McCaw stuck his tongue out at the phone at that moment? These freakin’ people kill me.

After testifying, McCaw departed the Vancouver Law Courts by some complex subterfuge involving decoy limousines while his “handlers” ultimately rushed him away in a black Ford Expedition.

No confirmation if Jack Bauer was driving the Expedition.

SECOND: Brian Burke
A couple reason that the Ducks’ GM is featuring highly on Vancouver’s (and my own personal) radar lately. First off, he’s been hanging in the city, spending time with his wife while she follows the rhythms of her own career on Vancouver television. In that light, Burke did a luncheon address to the BC Chamber of Commerce this week, which was well-received.

Burke has had his critics in Vancouver, especially after signing fellow ex-Canuck Todd Bertuzzi this summer in a reported two-year, $8-million deal.
“I know there’s some skepticism about us signing him,” Burke admitted. “There’s none on my part. I think he’s going to be an important part of our team.”

As a fan of both Bertuzzi’s and Burke’s, I hope he’s right. But dollar-wise, I agree with most who seem to feel it wasn’t the smartest deal.

Anyway, the other thing that’s been discussed ad nauseum lately (and in far too many places to link to - just check the Oilers blogosphere and keep on clicking) is Burke’s response to the Dustin Penner offer sheet.

I realize I’m a day (or 10?) late to the party, but I’ve been meaning to say this: for all the people whining about Burke’s whining, I think their grasp of the obvious is sorely lacking. And the obvious - from my perspective - is that nothing Brian Burke says or does is without a reason. Tom Benjamin pointed out a few days ago that Burke’s rant accomplished two important things - it took the focus off Burke’s own mistake in handling the Penner deal; and it gave Kevin Lowe local hero status as writers and fans rushed to defend his move. The best possible spin on a bad situation.

(For extra reading: Spector provided an excellent summation of the mistakes Burke made back when the offer was first made.)

I’d also add to that point that Burke’s rant might have done something else that he may hope will pay dividends in the long run: by taking on Kevin Lowe’s offer sheet for Penner, Burke said what a hell of a lot of other hockey GM’s and owner’s were probably thinking. I figure Burke made a lot of silent new friends with his rant; but putting himself in the line of fire, it may well benefit him in future trade negotiations and other ways that are hard to measure.

Yes, I’m sort of talking out of my ass here, but honestly, my first thoughts upon listening to Burke’s rants that night were: (1) Burke’s gonna get crucified for this; and (2) a lot of non-Edmonton hockey people are likely to be enjoying this a LOT.

Lowe did what he had to do, I’d have to agree with the majority of Oilers’ writers. But he will pay a price for it in some ways, I suspect. Business is about backroom deals as much as it’s about capitalism. Lowe has been left adrift in deals for a while now, and people have been willing to blame the city of Edmonton as a poor destination for players. That’s always just struck me as crap. Edmonton isn’t a place I personally would ever want to live again, but it certainly lays claim to some profound hockey history. I don’t recall ever hearing a word about Edmonton being a crap destination before the Ryan Smyth fiasco. I’m pretty sure Edmonton’s trials and tribulations of recent have a lot more to do with Kevin Lowe than they do with bad Edmonton winters.

But if Penner is a superstar, Lowe will remain the local hero. If Penner is mediocre, the GM will still probably do fine. But if Penner is a total disaster for $21.25 million, then Burke was right: the Oilers GM will again be fighting to keep his job.

Not that you didn’t know this before.

THIRD: The Logo

Godalmighty, I couldn’t be more sick of talking, thinking, dreaming or writing about the potential Canucks logos. I’ve done so at various times this season, most recently here. (And here is where that poll is where readers have picked their favorite of the offered choices: the classic stick-in-rink by a landslide of 221 votes out of 315 - 70%).

But there appears to be NO end of fascination with the Canucks logo, and now I see that this graphic design blog has listed the Vancouver franchise’s future symbol as one of the top-5 stories on their radar:

“Our number five most new-worthy logo of the week is a Canadian contribution. The Vancouver Canucks have plans in the works to unveil a new logo for the upcoming season. The British Columbia based ice hockey club has been known to make questionable logo choices in the past. Perhaps you might even consider their yellow and black “skate” logo, the ugliest logo in the history of sport. There is much speculation, whether this logo will be much different, or that it has secretly already been released. Whatever the case may be, let’s cross our fingers and hope the graphic designer behind this one is on his game.”

(Don’t count on it. Check the aforementioned poll…)

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