Canucks and Beyond

Goodbye to Rick

08/20/2011 at 5:29pm EDT

NHL toughguy Rick Rypien returned to the arena where he played his minor hockey in Saturday just days after his sudden death in his southern Alberta home.

Close to 1,000 people turned out on a bright sunny day at Albert Stella Arena in this Crowsnest Pass community for the funeral for Rypien, 27, who was found in his home in nearby Coleman earlier this week.

- Winnipeg Free Press

There’s not much more I can say about Rick Rypien that I haven’t already said. But I do think a lot of people have been affected by his death, more than they might have expected, so perhaps something good can come out of this. Not to say there’s anything ‘good’ about this horrible situation in itself, but maybe we’ll all be a little more aware, in our own lives, when we see people we know are struggling.

Of course, none of us can ‘save’ people, but maybe there’s a lesson in knowing that it doesn’t matter how privileged someone else’s life looks like from the outside, they can still use our help and understanding. It’s certainly a lesson that’s resonated with me… and I didn’t even know the man. But his uncle did, and he had this to say:

Beyond Hockey: Remembering Rick Rypien

08/16/2011 at 12:00pm EDT

I always liked Rick Rypien, and it wasn’t particularly because of his game or even because of his oft-celebrated fists. It was because of his struggles as a man, as an ordinary person facing very painful—and painfully ordinary—struggles, that he always held my attention during his tenure with Vancouver and Manitoba.

In a business that demands so much perfection, and where one is likely to endure so much condemnation for not achieving it, Rypien always struck me as a very courageous individual.

Part 3: NHL Draft Flashback—1980s

08/11/2011 at 5:11pm EDT

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.

Goodbye, Windy City

08/09/2011 at 6:38pm EDT

Here in Vancouver Canucks land, we have a stalker and it’s starting to get out of hand.

It didn’t used to be so bad. After all, she was smoking hot for a couple years, and the Canucks—truth be told—had a hard time keeping up with her game.

But then a few months ago the Canucks finally had enough and roundly dumped her.

But ever since, the girl—let’s call her Chi-Chi—just cannot seem to get over it.

PSA: Please Avoid the Clap

08/08/2011 at 6:43pm EDT

Anatomy of a press release.

First, we have the “look who’s using our product!” video. Just to bring you all up to speed, here’s a news broadcast demonstrating this thing (the HTH Clapper), showing footage from Sioux Falls Stampede Hockey:

But it’s the press release that’s following this video clip around that has got to be the most unintentionally-tragic thing I’ve read in ages:

Dan Carcillo: A Confused Powerhouse

08/08/2011 at 5:46pm EDT

“I’m actually pretty excited to play them because there are a few guys there that I think played a little bit outside of their shoes.”

“I think I can keep most of those guys in check when we play them this year.”

—Dan Carcillo, on the Vancouver Canucks (via Vancouver Sun)

Carcillo, newly signed by the Chicago Blackhawks, is prepared to single-handedly keep the Canucks in check this season.

On the other hand, given that Tanner Glass and Raffi Torres are apparently near the top of his hit list (in his comments today), Carcillo might not be entirely aware of who actually plays for the Canucks these days…

Friday Thoughts: Hockey Media, Stalkers, Sean Avery and Doping

08/05/2011 at 6:12pm EDT

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.*

A New Goaltending Strategy in Colorado

08/05/2011 at 2:47pm EDT

From the Colorado Avalanche, via their Twitter. Seriously.


Jose Theodore is probably looking pretty good about now, hey Denver? ;)

*h/t to Brian Stubits at CBS Sports Eye on Hockey

Canucks Sign Owen Nolan and Todd Fedoruk to Tryout Contracts

08/04/2011 at 3:09pm EDT

Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have signed Owen Nolan and Todd Fedoruk to professional tryout contracts.

Nolan, 39, has played 1,200 career NHL games and recorded 885 points (422-463-885) and 1,793 penalty minutes. The 6’1”, 205-pound right winger has played for seven NHL teams and spent the 2010-11 season with Zurich of the Swiss League where he recorded 26 points (7-19-26) in 24 games. A native of Belfast, Ireland, Nolan was originally selected by the Quebec Nordiques first overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.

Fedoruk, 32, has played 545 NHL games and recorded 97 career points (32-65-97) and 1,050 penalty minutes. The 6’2”, 235-pound left winger has played for seven NHL teams. A native of Redwater, Alberta, Fedoruk was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers 164th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Update 5:15pm ET: More on this tryout contract:

Canucks Rumour du Jour

08/03/2011 at 4:27pm EDT

News 1130 Sports post this via their Twitter a few minutes ago:

Vancouver Canucks up for sale?

Of course. Makes perfect sense. After all, when you own a magical little money printing press like the Canucks, of course you’ll get bored of all that profiteering eventually and want to hand them over to someone else. Oy.

The Canucks latest public valuation (via Forbes in November, 2010) was $192 million, while bringing in $80 million in annual revenues. And that was calculated before the profits piled up from this year’s long Stanley Cup Playoff run.

Given how hard the Aquilinis fought to get the Canucks only a few short years ago, I’d be dead shocked if they let them go anytime soon.

Update: Several people on Twitter tell me that News1130’s account was hacked. Which is a good thing, I guess… better than believing they would deliberately post such idiocy. (Leaving the post up, though. Now that it’s in the air, someone else is bound to run with this rumour again this week…!)

Canucks' Kesler Undergoes Successful Hip Surgery

08/02/2011 at 6:53pm EDT

From the Vancouver Canucks:

Vancouver Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that centre Ryan Kesler had successful hip labral surgery.

“After consultation with our team physicians following the playoffs, it was deemed that Ryan would require a procedure on his hip,” said President and General Manager, Mike Gillis. “We expect a full recovery and determined this procedure would best serve both Ryan and the team’s long term goals.”

Full recovery is expected to take 10-12 weeks.

Update 2:30pm PT Jason Botchford states the surgery was last Monday, and Kesler is expected to be able to return near the start of the season.

Lightning to Feature Lightning in Arena's Lighting

07/29/2011 at 5:15pm EDT

There’s some techno-wizardry going on in Tampa Bay’s arena upgrades. From Gunaxin (found via Frozen Notes):

As cool as it is that they are bringing a real pipe organ into the building, something which does greatly enhance and authenticate your hockey experience, the most notable improvement to the building for those of us not living in Tampa Bay is the fact real lightning will be used during games.

Tesla coils will be added on each side of the scoreboard which will be capable of shooting actual lightning some 25 feet. As the Lightning’s CEO assessed, “How can you be named the Lightning and not have a signature effect in the building?”

Gunaxin also has a video of the type of coils being installed, demonstrating the lightning effects. A pretty cool way for the home team to celebrate a goal, I have to admit.

If only my Canucks could get something this slick going on… but somehow I doubt anyone really wants to see a 6,000 lb whale launched from an air cannon and fired through the roof every time Daniel Sedin scores a goal.

(But then again…)

Part 2: NHL Draft Flashback -- 1970s

07/28/2011 at 6:52pm EDT

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.

Jannik Hansen Signs 3 Years with Canucks

07/28/2011 at 5:49pm EDT

Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have signed right wing Jannik Hansen to a three-year contract.

Hansen, 25, recorded 29 points (9-20-29) and 32 penalty minutes in 82 games played in 2010.11, setting career season highs in games played (82), assists (20), points (29) and plus/minus (+13). The Herlev, Denmark, native also led the team in hits (149) and won the Fred J. Hume Award as the team’s “Unsung Hero.” In 25 playoff games, he collected nine points (3-6-9) and 18 penalty minutes.

Update 2:21pm PT:CapGeek notes the contract is for $1.35 million per year.

Jumping the Shark

07/26/2011 at 5:44pm EDT

imageThe expression may be ‘jumping the shark’ but since its origins with Fonzie, it’s not too often that it’s an actual (well, actual-fake) shark who’s jumping the shark. (Whew—say that three times fast.) And in this case, it is, in fact, a shark. Who’s jumping. From a Hyatt Regency hotel. The SJ Sharks explain:

SAN JOSE – S.J. Sharkie is directing his knack for exciting death-defying stunts towards a good cause.

On Friday, Aug. 26, the San Jose Sharks mascot is participating in The Breathe Extreme Challenge, a fundraiser to fight asthma, lung cancer, emphysema, COPD and other forms of lung disease. He is going to rappel 15 stories down the face of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara.

I’d beg some reader out there to photoshop this for a laugh, but I suspect the reality of actually witnessing a giant shark-stuffed-with-a-man rappelling down the side of a hotel will exceed any and all of the truly great photoshop efforts you might come up with.

Canucks Sign Byron Bitz

07/25/2011 at 8:35pm EDT

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… ;)

Part 1: NHL Draft Flashback -- 1960s

07/22/2011 at 6:15pm EDT

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

Whatever Happened to...?

07/20/2011 at 5:47pm EDT

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.

Royal Sedins

07/18/2011 at 10:20pm EDT

From Derek Jory at

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.

Cut Mike Duco a Break

07/14/2011 at 5:13pm EDT

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.”

The Business of Making Grown Men Cry

07/13/2011 at 6:59pm EDT

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.

The Commodore 64 War

07/11/2011 at 7:33pm EDT

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.

Canucks Sign Defenceman & Goalie

07/07/2011 at 4:09pm EDT

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.

Jeff Tambellini to Zurich

07/06/2011 at 4:40pm EDT

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…)

Prince of Hockey

07/05/2011 at 9:04pm EDT

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.”
—source TooFab

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