The play of Canucks rookie Brock Boeser inspired this year’s pumpkin carving. Since it’s October and Boeser is having a great start to his rookie season, #Brocktober only seems natural!
Bo Horvat started this season as the 3rd line centre behind Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter. Despite ranking 5th in TOI/GP for forwards this season, and with very little time on the power play, Horvat is leading the team this season in goals and points. He has been a professional through everything this season – good or bad. Horvat represented the Canucks at the NHL All-Star Game, and he did not look out of place, showing off his speed against Patrik Laine, and scoring 2 goals in the 3-on-3 tournament.
Nikita Tryamkin started this season in the press box. He refused a demotion to Utica, instead choosing to stay in Vancouver. Due to all the injuries on the blue line, Tryamkin finally drew into the lineup on November 3. He hasn’t relinquished his spot in the lineup since, ranking 4th on the team in plus/minus, and leads the team in penalty minutes. At 6’7″ and 265 lbs, Tryamkin’s size got him to the NHL, but he has shown surprising mobility for a big defenceman.
Everyone loves an underdog, and Richmond’s Troy Stecher fits the bill perfectly. Undrafted and undersized for a defenseman, Stecher had a great pre-season, but was sent down to Utica to start the year. Since he got the call to return to the Canucks, he has excited the fanbase with his play. He can rush the puck with his speed and leads all Canucks defensemen in shots on goal and points.
In 2014-15, Luca Sbisa was everyone’s favourite scapegoat. In 2015-16, injuries kept him out of the lineup for half of the season. Finally this year, Sbisa is getting a chance to consistently show why the Canucks signed him to an extension through 2017-18. He looks far more comfortable on defense, making solid contact to gain possession of the puck and make a good first pass out of the zone. He has stayed healthy, and leads the team in plus/minus and hits. Solid.
Markus Granlund came to Vancouver via a trade with Calgary for Hunter Shinkaruk. There were a lot of armchair GM’s out there that called for Jim Benning’s head, but at this point in time, the Canucks are the clear winner of that deal. On Brandon Sutter’s left wing, Granlund has provided the Canucks with some much needed secondary scoring, playing in every game and potting 12 goals so far. Shinkaruk on the other hand has spent most of his season in the AHL. He has played 7 games for the Flames and has 1 assist.
A coworker asked me today if this will be a good year for the Canucks. I didn’t have a simple answer for him.
Predicting this year’s Canucks is akin to predicting the behavior of children. As a parent, sometimes you’re shocked at your kid’s actions. Sometimes, you swell with pride. And other times you are moved to tears. But most of the time you’re just hanging on for dear life as it is a hundred mile-an-hour whirlwind of all the emotions.
With the infusion of youth on the Canucks roster, we’re going to bear witness to some horrible mistakes, and some brilliant displays of hockey. There will be nights where you will be soul searching, questioning your fan status, and there will be nights that make you glad you didn’t jump off the bandwagon.
There have been a number of rookies that have come and gone in the Canucks short history. There have been only a few Canucks campaigns that have had memorable rookie seasons, and even fewer that featured more than one or two rookies at a time. This season’s version of the team features sniper Jared McCann, speedy defenceman Ben Hutton, and local talent Jake Virtanen, all of whom are entering their first NHL season. Add sophomore Bo Horvat. Young prospect Sven Baertchi. Add recent call-up Brendan Gaunce. Even Luca Sbisa was born in 1990 (yes, younger than Chris Tanev).
|Jake Virtanen||RW||August 17, 1996||19|
|Jared McCann||C||May 31, 1996||19|
|Bo Horvat||C||April 5, 1995||20|
|Brendan Gaunce||C||March 25, 1994||21|
|Ben Hutton||D||April 20, 1993||22|
|Sven Baertschi||LW||October 5, 1992||23|
|Luca Sbisa||D||January 30, 1990||25|
All of a sudden that tired old Canucks team is full of young players and a couple actual teenagers, complete with erratic behavior that will give the most die-hard fan a few more grey hairs.
If you can be patient, sometimes that youthful exuberance will surprise you and make you glad you were there to see it. First seasons. First goals. First home ice wins.
First cup? There’s a first time for everything.
Much has been said about the Canucks bandwagon, and the legions of fans that have broken ankles jumping off and on. Let’s not forget the debacle that was last season. Remember that prior to this season, the Canucks main objective was to make it back to the playoffs. Many Canucks fans jumped off the bandwagon throughout last year. Many of us that stayed on the wagon felt that the playoffs were unlikely.
In that regard, the Canucks season was a success. They put up 101 points this season finishing 2nd in the Pacific Division, and while expectations were raised, they were not realistic.
I’ll leave the heavy duty analysis to the hockey experts that have played the game and analyzed the game at a high level.
I am merely a fan.
My love affair with this team goes back for decades. What I’ve always loved about this team through the 80s and 90s was that they always worked hard.
Linden set the standard for hard work with one shift, and I think of that shift as a mission statement for this club:
With respect to the love affair, the Canucks are like that grade school crush. That girl (or boy) that was so cute in September when you first laid eyes on her. Every day you saw her in class, and your feelings grew. You sat next to her, talked to her, and as the school year went on, your feelings grew stronger. Then, all of a sudden late in the spring, class dismissed, and your heart was broken.
As summer came and went, you went about to other things – summer camps, baseball, and days at the beach.
Then, there she was next September, and the love affair begins again.
On January 8, 2015 the Vancouver Canucks hosted a Social Suite Night for 30 local bloggers, twitterati, social media personalities, and fans. At Canucks Corner, we ran a contest on Twitter, and drew Michelle Chopin (@michellechopin) as our guest for the Social Suite Night. Congratulations Michelle!
The Canucks lost to Roberto Luongo and his new/old team last Thursday. As predicted, there was a lot of love for the Canucks #1 goalie for 8 years, and a video tribute was followed by a lengthy standing ovation. Luongo looked emotional as he saluted the crowd; he then went on to shut the door on the Canucks, who ended up losing the game 3-1. The Luus turned to boos, as the Canucks were barely able to muster more than a couple shots during nearly 4 1/2 minutes of consecutive power play time.
Despite the result of the game, good times were had. The suite had a visit from Fin, and Canucks Ring of Honour inductee Kirk McLean. The Vancouver Canucks social media team is second to none in the NHL, perhaps in all of pro sports.
On behalf of Canucks Corner, I’d like to thank the Vancouver Canucks, and their partner for the night the Save On Foods Fan Zone for putting on such a great event! If you get a chance, sign up for the Fan Zone for chances to win some amazing Canucks Experiences and merchandise.
Will fans boo? Or will they Luuu? January 8, 2015 marks the return of Roberto Luongo to Rogers Arena, his first game back as an opponent after 8 seasons as the usual starting goaltender in a Canucks uniform.
Usual starting goaltender.
The exceptions being when he was demoted to backup behind Cory Schneider, and when he was demoted to backup behind Eddie Lack. When you look back, it sounds ridiculous.
Luongo is now enjoying life in Florida as a member of the Panthers, as far away from the harsh and glaring spotlight of the Vancouver hockey market as you can be. He looked relaxed in the presser earlier this week, and why not? The Panthers have a good mix of youth and veteran presence, and have been winning hockey games, back stopped by Luongo who has played well statistically with a .924 save percentage and 2.28 goals against average, good enough for top 10 in both categories.
It is not without a touch of irony that Luongo is statistically better than Cory Schneider, Eddie Lack and even Ryan Miller at this point in the season.
Expectations have been lowered for this team – gone is the talk of the Stanley Cup Finals, instead replaced with the hope of just getting into the post-season.
The saying goes that familiarity breeds comtempt, and that held true for Vancouver’s love affair with Luongo – after many seasons of high expectations, Stanley Cup aspirations, and playoff disappointments, coaches and management fell out of love with Luongo, and in turn Luongo fell out of love with Vancouver.
Another adage says that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes when you see that old love, having fun in another place with other people, it makes you think of what could have been. If only we had tried harder, maybe we could have made things work.
The Canucks are off to one of their best starts in recent memory. After last season’s spectacular decline, this version of the team is a refreshing surprise. President Trevor Linden and General Manager Jim Benning have helped to create a team culture in their own hard working image. Head Coach Willie Desjardins has provided a calm sense of confidence, and each of the players seems to have bought in to an uptempo puck posession style that is fun to watch.
Having recently won in Colorado and in San Jose, the Canucks have surprised a few teams already with their resilience, clawing back from a 2-0 deficit against the Avalanche, and being down by a goal twice to the Sharks.
Is it over? Is the goaltending controversy really over?
Any initial reservations I had regarding Ryan Miller’s ability have been forgotten. It seems that the days of goaltending controversy are over in Vancouver, as even after Miller was lit up against Dallas, he returned to his regular self the very next game, backstopping the Canucks to a 4-1 victory in St. Louis. He has provided the team with some huge saves already this season, and preserved a number of wins, quietly and confidently. As much as this writer loved Roberto Luongo, the month of October was usually rocky. Miller has been the opposite – very consistent from game to game so far, and far fewer of those seeing-eye, hard luck, how-did-that-go-in goals.
In Edler’s Defense… Look at Sbisa
Was Alex Edler ever as bad as he looked for the last 2 seasons? Was he ever as good as he was 4 seasons ago? While the answer is probably somewhere in between, he doesn’t have to worry about being That Guy on defence any longer. Sure, Edler still breaks his stick on half of his slapshots, but Vancouver’s new scapegoat on defence is Luca Sbisa. Just like Kevin Bieksa, Keith Ballard and Edler before him, Sbisa is the guy with the black cloud over him so far this season. To be fair, he has had both good and bad moments. However, coming here in the Ryan Kesler trade, most people expected more of the big defenceman.
Goals this season have come from everywhere in the lineup. Aside from Bo Horvat and Tom Sestito, who have only played 2 games each, every single Canucks forward has scored at least one goal. When Kesler was traded to Anaheim, there were questions about who would step up into the 2C spot. Nick Bonino (who also came to Vancouver in the Kesler deal) has filled in admirably, leading the Canucks in scoring so far with 7 goals. Bonino has found great chemistry with new linemates Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins.
Last season under John Tortorella, the 4th line would be lucky to get 4 or 5 minutes TOI, and the Sedins would play well north of 24 hard minutes on many nights, reaching 25 or 26 minutes a number of times. Desjardins has been trusting in his team and rolling 4 lines every night, with guys like Derek Dorsett playing 10 minutes on average. The Sedins are rejuvenated, playing with a bona fide shooter in Radim Vrbata, while taking less ice time each night. This has the benefit of the Sedins being sharper now, and having more in the tank for later in the season.
Yes, it’s still early in the season, but in Vancouver it seems that again hope springs eternal. Let’s hope the Canucks are still playing this well in the spring.
The time between Christmas and the New Year is usually a time of reflection and remembrance. We think back on the events of this year, and of years past.
In the summer of 2011, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak all died. All 3 were enforcers in the NHL. Known more for their skills with their fists than for their goal scoring prowess, all 3 suffered from depression and related substance abuse problems.
The fourth NHL player pictured above is Bill Masterton.
Although most NHL fans know of the Bill Masterton trophy, not many fans know much about his playing career. He was one of the few hockey players to complete a U.S. college degree and play in NHL. Although he was highly educated as an engineer, his skill and love of the game led him to play in the NHL. Masterton was the first player to sign with the expansion Minnesota North Stars, and actually scored the first goal in North Stars franchise history.
Masterton also holds the distinction of being the only NHL player to have died directly as a result of injuries suffered in an NHL game. On January 13th, 1968, Bill took a hard hit. His head hit the ice, and the subsequent head injuries caused bleeding from his nose, ears and mouth. He never regained consciousness and died 30 hours later.
Masterton was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision, which was common for most players in that era. 11 years later players entering the NHL in the 1979-80 season were mandated to wear helmets. 18 years after that (nearly 30 years after Masterton’s death), Craig MacTavish retired, the last player to have played in the NHL without a helmet.
The Code is Dead.
After Boogaard’s death in 2011, it was revealed that he suffered from numerous brain injuries, presumably sustained in concussions throughout the many fights in his career.
Concussions in the NHL due to fights and other hits to the head have been happening for decades. The hits, clean or dirty, have robbed us fans of some of the best players in the game: Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, Paul Kariya, Pat Lafontaine, Adam Deadmarsh, to name a few. Only within the last few years has the NHL truly been serious about getting rid of blindside hits and direct headshots in the game. Time will tell if the suspensions for headshots will make a difference in the play of the game.
Yet repeated headshots and related concussions are doled out nearly every game in fights, which are largely useless and serve no purpose.
I have no idea why fighting is still allowed in the NHL. There it is, I said it. Many players and fans believe that fighting is an integral part of the game. Yes, there was a time when fighting was somehow more useful as a deterrent to dirty hits. That time is over. If fighting still had a legitimate place in the game, how are so many of the players still being lost to injury, headshots or otherwise?
If you want to watch a fight, the UFC has plenty of blood for you. Knock yourself out. I’m sure that the pro-fight fans will have something to say about this. To save you all some time, no, I didn’t play in the NHL. I haven’t played at a high level. I merely enjoy watching and playing the game.
If it took the NHL nearly 30 years to get all their players wearing helmets, which we can all agree is a good idea, how long will it take before the NHL seriously looks at all aspects of head trauma, including fights?
Happy New Year, hockey fans.
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
Roberto Luongo does not play well in October.
To the faithful Luongo lovers and shameless Luongo apologists like myself, this should not come as a surprise. Luongo is perhaps the most polarizing figure in Vancouver sports. Fans all over the league either love him or hate him, and the same is true in the city of Vancouver. And yet every October at the beginning of every season, people are surprised when Luongo gets off to a slow start. Here are Luongo’s stats from October of the last 5 years, not including the lockout shortened session of last season.
The October statistics aren’t exactly first team all-star material, but of course they don’t tell the entire story of how these seasons went. Love him or hate him, he happens to be the best goaltender ever to pull on a Canucks jersey. Here are Luongo’s stats for the last 5 full seasons of play.
@strombone1: Happy October everyone!!! Or as I like to call it: How did that go in?
Even Luongo knows that October is generally not a strong month for him. At least he can have some fun with it. If the Canucks can get through October with an even record, it should shape up to be a great season.
This was a wasted year for the Canucks. It has taken me awhile to get to this blog post, and it’s likely because I have largely been indifferent about the team performances this season. If playoff ticket demand is any indication, many fans feel the same way as I do. As a fan that is difficult to say. I always like to have a positive spin on situations – hey, Luongo almost had that – but this year was too much like last year: Shorter than expected.
There are positives for the Canucks in the last couple years: more wins than losses, amazing goaltending, some wonderful performances, and 2 more Northwest Division titles.
There are also negatives: poor player management choices from the draft on up, horrible defensive blunders despite being a defensive minded team, consecutive 1st round exists from the playoffs, and oh yeah: The Northwest Division is one of the weakest in the NHL. There’s a false sense of security in winning the Northwest Division title. It’s a guaranteed top 3 seed in the playoffs, but it allows the Canucks to play mediocre hockey and believe that they are playing better than they are. In the two President’s Trophy winning seasons, the Canucks were the only team to make the playoffs from the Northwest Division. This year, the Minnesota Wild were the 8th seed.
The jury is decidedly out on Mike Gillis’ tenure so far.
There are many hits – Gillis does seem to have a talent for getting players to re-sign for the so-called “Hometown Discount” – Sedins, Bieksa, and others. However, some other free agent signings have been regrettable – Sundin and Demitra (R.I.P. – no disrespect) among them.
The drafting has been mediocre, and the trading worse. Granted, you don’t always get a roster player out of a draft pick, and the Canucks have had late picks due to their regular season success, but the Canucks have traded away numerous picks and prospects for not much in return. Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier and a 1st round draft pick were traded for Keith Ballard. Kevin Connauton and a 2nd round pick were traded at the deadline for Derek Roy, who looks to be a pure rental. Since the Canucks were swept in the first round, that rental was short lived. Cody Hodgson was traded away for Zack Kassian. Hodgson is now a nearly a point-a-game player with the Sabres, while Zack was occasionally scratched for his inconsistent effort.
And finally, the goaltending
debacle controversy was “solved” by trading Cory Schneider at the draft for New Jersey’s 9th overall pick. This might prove to be the worst trade the Canucks have ever made, this side of Cam Neely for Barry Pederson. The Canucks traded away their #1 goaltender for a draft pick (Bo Horvat – a fine young player from the London Knights) and no roster players that might be able to help out the Canucks right now. Schneider stands to inherit the goaltending throne of Martin Brodeur in New Jersey, and will no doubt flourish behind New Jersey’s defensive style of play. It’s not fair to Horvat, who will be compared to Schneider for years to come, or to Luongo, who will once again resume the #1 role under the microscope of the Vancouver media and fans.