Today [January 28, 2014] is #BellLetsTalk day, a day in which an entire country tries to help raise awareness and erase the stigma that comes when discussing mental health. Mental health should not be something that we are afraid to discuss. Too many lives have been taken and NOT enough awareness has been made.
Suffering from mental illness does not make you weak, it merely means that you are struggling in way that people do not yet understand. Mental health describes a level of psychological well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. Mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Mental health can also be defined as an expression of emotions, and as signifying a successful adaptation to a range of demands.
Sometimes the answers seem lost or we are afraid for whatever reason that no one understands. Everyone’s journey is different & while we might not be the same…EVERYONE deserves to feel like they belong. Sometimes the best gift YOU can give is to simply LISTEN because sometimes all they need to is be HEARD. Turning our backs on mental health is NEVER an option, we NEED to stop the stigma that surrounds it. EVERY person has they own scars that are invisible on the outside and we ALL need to know that IS OKAY to ask for help. TOO many lives have been lost from the fear to speak up, let’s BE FEARLESS…SPEAK UP and SAVE lives.
Please, if you are suffering or or know someone that is suffering from mental illness DO NOT be afraid to ask for help. There is NO shame in admitting weakness or a need for help BUT in our darkest moments we CAN find strength. Asking for help is not a weakness, it IS a strength.
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change”. -Eckhart Tolle
Today I am taking a mental health day AND taking the #MINDCHECK pledge, how about you?
I am Sarah and I am the friend of someone who was depressed.
I know it isn’t a choice. It’s not a weakness, self-inflicted, or a result of not trying. Sometimes you can’t just get over it, it won’t just go away. Pretending it isn’t happening doesn’t help. Talking about it does. Getting support early can make the difference.
Helping someone you care about is not a burden.
I pledge to learn the signs. I will not judge. I will have compassion. I will reach out, listen, talk, help, and find help.
My name is Sarah Laug and I will NOT stay silent. Will you?
Here’s to a BEGINNING for Mental Health awareness that will hopefully go beyond today and erase the stigmas that take away the focus.
Asking for help may be the most difficult thing you do today or tomorrow BUT I promise you it will be the most rewarding…this LIFE is worth living & YOU are important.
Somewhere in North America there was a hockey game last night. Anthems were sung relatively in tune. The whistle blew. The puck was dropped. The players raced down the ice from end to end. The game was tied and overtime was forced. The clock was winding down and with one last rush down the ice the home team scored a goal to end the game. The crowd went wild.
Hockey is more than just a game, it is a way of life to those who play the game. Hockey is an unbreakable bond between players, their parents, coaches and the ice rink which is a second home. The players on one team form a bond that will never be broken save for when they play on opposite sides of the ice. Some play at the professional level and others play just for fun.
To be successful in this sport EVERY player on the roster needs to put their best game on the ice every game. “Hockey is a unique sport in the sense that you need each and every guy helping each other and pulling in the same direction to be successful.” -Wayne Gretzky
Hockey brings fans from all over the world together. We may not always cheer for the same team and be from different cities BUT we are all enraptured by the game that is hockey. Sometimes there are incidents that will cause fans and media alike to be divided once more. Some nights the game will appear more like fight night or so it seemed when my Vancouver Canucks faced off against the Calgary Flames on January 18th.
The Flames head coach started his 4th line heavy weights and Torts countered with his 4th line. TWO seconds into the game [yes, you read that correct, TWO seconds] 5 fights broke out at centre ice as the teams had amassed 142 minutes and 8 players ejected from the game. Was it a premeditated incident or a spontaneous reaction just after puck drop? There was the animated less than thrilled reaction from Torts on the bench as all the majors were announced, Burrows got hit from behind by the Flames captain Giordano, at one point it looked like there would be no players left on either bench and then there was the first intermission when Torts attempted to enter the Flames locker room to confront the Flames coach Hartley. Torts is NOT the only one with blame in this game, as Hartley knew what he was doing in putting enforcer Kevin Westgarth as his opening center. Was it the best idea to storm to the opponent’s dressing room? Definitely not BUT Torts wanting to stand up for his players is something that the team will hold on to LONG after this game.
As result of said events Torts had a hearing in New York. Hartley did not have a hearing BUT was fined $25,000 for his actions. A 15 day, 6-game suspension with NO team contact was assessed to Torts. Long story short, in the next 6 games the team will have to play their best for their coach who stood up for them as he is forced to watch from the sidelines away from the team. One thing is absolutely certain, press conferences will NOT be the same while Torts is suspended. Torts will be eligible to return to his spot behind the bench February 3rd when his team is in Detroit.
Somewhere where in North America a hockey game was played. One team won and one team lost. One game over and another is on the horizon as the journey is not yet over as more games remain. Some players will reach new heights, some will disappoint, some will take us all by surprise and SOME are still dreaming of what playing the NHL will look like:
For some the dream will come true and this crazy thing called hockey will become so much more than a game. No one game is ever exactly the same and within one game the momentum can swing ever so swiftly. Opinions will vary for fans of every team in regards to every game that is played but on ONE thing do we all agree: we love the game that is HOCKEY and all that comes with it.
Referees are always at the root of MANY sports debates, and that is ever true in the game of hockey that is the NHL. Every call made on the ice will be questioned and analyzed by the fans. The refs are the guys on the ice everyone loves to hate…especially when it comes to the controversial calls. Be honest some nights, you want to scream (or maybe you do!) at the TV due to a call that was made or a call that should have been made.
It is true that special teams are vital to a team’s success and penalties set the tone for the game and help to settle both sides into the rhythm. Sometimes in setting that tone, the penalties take a one sided nature & I’m not saying that as bias, I watch games for all 30 teams and I have seen this play out against all of them in one game or another.
Some calls are obvious and easy to make and some fall in a grey area. Some calls that should made are completely missed. Some calls that should not be made are made and end up costing the game. Sometimes it is the right call and sometimes it is blatantly not the right call BUT more often than not it is not up for review. Some calls seem like they wouldn’t have a big impact, but the truth is even an offside call or an icing call causes a stoppage in the play that halts the momentum for the game. Some calls lead to supplemental discipline and some that should lead to supplemental discipline go completely unnoticed.
The game is fast and constantly in motion [save for when the whistle blows!], and the certainty that we expect from the rules is thrown out the window when the refs arm goes up or does not go up. Some in-game decisions make us all shake our heads in disbelief..like this one from the 2013 playoff series featuring the Red Wings & the Blackhawks:
^That gaffe by the refs nearly cost Chicago the series. The hawks of course came back in OT and went on the win the Stanley Cup…but it could have been different had they not been able to get the OT goal thanks to the above call that was made by the refs.
There is of course also the calls or non-calls that involve players colliding and result in injuries. The most flabbergasting of all the calls and non-calls in recent history is the incredible amount of inconsistency within ONE game or from one game to the next. The same play will happen in two different games: both result in an injury but only results in a penalty and supplemental discipline. The questions begin: would the penalty have made any difference? Is the injury long-term? Was there an intent to injure the other player? Does the player in question have a disciplinary history? [Quick, stop me…I’m starting to sound like Brendan Shanahan!].
The question I have is will we ever see a level of consistency in the calls that involve a player being injured? If it’s called in one game it should be called in every game. If it results in supplemental discipline in one game, it should result in supplemental discipline every time.
No matter what the scoreboard says every single call will up for debate after every game. Some calls fans will happy with, some calls or calls that were missed will have fans livid. At the end of the day, 99% of the time the call on the ice stands regardless of fairness. There will be good calls made, calls that are missed, and the endlessly debated controversial game changing calls in all the games still to be played this year and in the years that will follow.
Like Torts, I am a terrible loser and like Torts, I support this team through thick and thin. Losing streaks come and go but when they come, they ALWAYS brings the doom and gloom from social media.
Sure the team has let some leads slip away, missed a few empty nets and perhaps lost points they should have had during their recent losing streak BUT when a team struggles, it is just that a TEAM struggle. Teams win as a team and lose as a team [seems obvious, yes?]. Teams when struggling often meet a team that is at the top of their game and bring with them a win streak. Leading up to the game in question, the struggling team has no business winning the game.
Enter the St.Louis Blues who are one of the top teams in the NHL this season. The Canucks were that struggling team January 10th and had no business winning against a team that brought with them a 7-game win streak. Does this sound familiar?
The Blues had played the night before and should have been tired…BUT they did not look overly road weary in the first 20 minutes and while the Canucks did not look their best, LACK stood tall making 12 stops. Trouble seemed inevitable if the Canucks could not change their playing style moving into the final 40 minutes.
Would Torts call a timeout to get the team into this game or would his intermission pep talk say everything they needed to turn the tide? Who was a difference maker in this game aside from Eddie Lack? Why, it was the unusual suspect of Zac Dalpe with the Sedins [yes, you read that right…Zac Dalpe played with the Sedins in a game in which nearly all the lines were re-worked!]
One goal leads (& two goal leads) are almost never safe…especially against the firepower of a team like the St.Louis Blues. The Blues tied the game with a laser shot that evaded Eddie Lack as he was screened with traffic in front. The Canucks needed a hero to step up for the go-ahead goal. They have spent TOO many games relying on their goalies…and needed to reward Lack with at least some offense.
Mike Santorelli to the rescue with the go ahead goal!
The Canucks found a way to get the lead in the third period and the only question that remained was could they close this game out in a way that they hadn’t been able to do the previous 5 games? Could they hold the lead? The clock was winding down when the Blues pulled their goalie for an extra attacker which has been the Canucks kryptonite as of late and it became fire drill front of Lack as the Blues threw everything they could at him. Full credit to the Blues in this game as they never stopped pushing back. The Canucks were hemmed in their zone unable to clear the puck to the empty net BUT Lack stood tall preserving the victory to end the skid.
It was game Vancouver had no business winning BUT they did just that as the Canucks snapped their 5-game losing streak and stopped the Blues from winning 8 straight. Has the team solved all of their issues? No, but they’ve taking a stepping stone into the right direction and can build upon this game as they prepare for a 3-game Pacific road trip stopping in LA, Anaheim & Phoenix. A regulation win in LA on Monday [Jan.13th] would tie the Canucks with the Kings for third spot in the Pacific division and be a HUGE confidence booster.
This week we will see the return of Roberto Luongo and by weeks end the return of Alex Burrows to the line up [and it is also possible that Alex Edler could return to the blue-line]! The Canucks have a long way to go yet, it’s true but with the return of Luongo, Burrows and Edler can only help to serve their line up down the stretch before the Olympic break. It all starts when the puck drops in LA on Monday night and the Canucks take on a talented Kings team. The Kings have had the Canucks number as of late which is something the Canucks will look to change as they desire to gain 2 points in regulation.
It is not an easy path to the playoffs, but a few wins against division rivals will go a long way to helping secure a playoff berth. Every point in the standings[yes even the loser points in the SO/OT] makes a difference between finishing 3rd or earning a potential wildcard spot. It will be a tough trip BUT it is a great opportunity for the Canucks to pick up some very important divisional points.
The Olympics are drawing ever closer every day as athletes are announced for their respective teams and sports…BUT none cause the endless debates like that of the hockey rosters.
Will they or won’t they announce the players who SHOULD be locks or who we deem has earned a spot? Will the rosters reflect the best players in the NHL given that the players were officially given permission to partake in the games if they were called upon by their countries? Will there be standout players from other leagues? Will some players that “should have been” named to the Olympic rosters be left off?
In answer to all of the above questions: YES, YES, YES and YES. The NHL is full of talent from all around the globe AND every roster has been debated ad nauseum from the moment the 2014 Olympics were on the horizon, and will continued to be debated until the final buzzer of the gold medal game [and probably beyond as the 2018 games sneak up on us and everyone will have opinion how to improve the rosters that were named for the impending games in February].
The Canucks will be sending 7 regulars from their lineup to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games in February. For these 7 Canucks [& many other players league wide], the Olympic dream is becoming a reality when they put their country pride on the line.
Roberto Luongo being named to Team Canada should come as no surprise to anyone, he has international experience AND he was after all a BIG part of 2010 GOLD MEDAL team. For all the critics out there, let’s take a closer look at Roberto’s resume in the last four years.
Going back to the start of the 2010-2011 season Roberto Luongo has posted a very respectable 94-45-24 overall record and 14 shutouts in 163 games played.
2013-2014: 16-10-6. *3 shutouts. *0.922 SV% *2.22 GAA. ***We’ve only just passed the 1/2 mark & Luongo could still catch his career best numbers in SV% & GAA that he posted in the 2010-2011 season!
It’s hard to believe that despite all the drama that Luongo has endured, his consistency has hardly wavered in his on ice play. People didn’t think that he’d be a game changer in the 2010 games but I remind you of his SAVE on Demitra in the last minute of the Slovakia game that secured Canada’s place in the GOLD medal game…that my friends was a game changer…that stop was the difference between bronze and gold qualification. Playing in the Olympics will only serve to raise Luongo’s game to another level.
Dan Hamhuis will be representing Canada and perhaps that surprise a lot of people yes? True Hamhuis struggled to start the season and it wasn’t always pretty to watch BUT in the last 6 weeks with the injuries piling up on the back end, Hamhuis has been called upon to help solidify the blueline [he leads the team in the +/- category with +12! That’s impressive considering that Edler who has only played 27 games mind you, is at -12].
Most people tend to forget that he represented Canada in the 2013 World Championship and played impeccably well defensively on the same BIG ice that will be required in the SOCHI games. His experience on the big ice will only serve to help Hamhuis thrive on the Olympic stage. The Olympics are going to be a great experience for Hamhuis to learn from moving forward.
Ryan Kesler has had an interesting 4 years since his 2010 silver medal performance to say the least! He started on a high posting career highs and winning the 2011 Selke trophy before being dogged by injuries 2 years in a row before finally being able to play 100% healthy as this current season began. In the last 4 years, Kesler has accumulated 164 points [84 goals, 86 assists] in 221 games played.
He seems to have rediscovered his determination that he lost when he was overcome with the injury bug.Torts has a lot to do with Kesler finding his game again. When Ryan Kesler in 100% healthy he is almost always a game changer on your roster. He will be an asset to team USA.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin will be representing Sweden at the Olympics for the 3rd time when they go Sochi. They come to the team with an incredible amount of experience both in the NHL and on the international stage. In the spring of 2013 they won the GOLD medal at the World Championship. In the last 4 years the Sedins have combined for 508 points [149 goals, 359 assists], back to back Art Ross Trophies, 1 Ted Lindsay award, 1 Hart trophy and mesmerizing the league with their ridiculous chemistry that Canucks fans are lucky to watch every night. The Sedins will be able to utilize their sedinery ways with the assistance of the likes of Zetterberg and Kronwall!
Alexander Edler will also be representing Sweden as he makes his Olympic debut [Edler was also a part of the 2013 GOLD medal World Championship team]. Edler when 100% healthy which he will be prior to the Olympics, is an asset to the blueline from his shot blocking, big hits, defensive play and timely scoring [& oh yes he can score in the shootout!].
All three of these players will be an asset to team Sweden in Sochi as they look to find the formula that made the team successful in Turin.
Yannick Weber perhaps does not have the most NHL experience BUT he will be representing Switzerland for the SECOND time as he debuted with his home country in the 2010 Olympics. Weber has been very solid for the Canucks since being recalled from the farm team [due to the injury bug that hit the defense!]. His shot from the point can be lethal when unleashed.
Olympic dreaming…will soon be reality for Roberto Luongo, Dan Hamhuis, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Alexander Edler and Yannick Weber. The 2014 Sochi Winter Games are drawing near and will draw the attention of the world as we all hold our collective breath waiting for the puck to drop. Every country will be vying for gold BUT only ONE can walk away with coveted prize of hockey gold.
While we will all be keeping our eyes on the 2014 Winter Classic and the announcement of the USA Olympic hockey roster[Congratulations Ryan Kesler!], I will be taking a closer look at the December that was for the Canucks. Spoiler alert: it was fantastic!
November was NOT a good month for the Canucks as they could not solve the riddle of how to win back to back games no matter how good they played. November was the month they survived and December was the month they thrived.
In December the team posted an impressive 10-1-2 record picking up 22/26 points.December wasn’t exactly easy either as the team lost Burrows, Sestito, Edler, Stanton, Luongo and Alberts to various injuries throughout the month. Sestito is the only one to return to the line up so far.
Coming into December the Canucks had not posted back to back wins since October…which sounds pretty unbelievable YET it is very true. They knew they had to be better from top to bottom and it would require everyone to step up. Points are vital to divisional standings and the wildcard spots…and while they have not yet caught the leading Anaheim Ducks, they have closed the gap between themselves and LA and San Jose as they have stacked up some points.
Step up indeed they did. They opened December with 7 straight, yes you read that right…7 straight WINS including 5 straight at home and points in 8 straight over all.
During that 7-game win streak there were some stand out performances from a few players in particular. The line of Higgins-Kesler-Santorelli showcased some fantastic chemistry while the goal-tenders each posted shutouts.
The month opened with Ryan Kesler leading the charge with back to back 2-goal game performances against Carolina and Nashville.
The Canucks saw their 2-goal lead disappear very quickly when Carolina scored twice in 10 seconds early in the middle frame to tie the game. The team could have easily buckled in that moment BUT instead Ryan Kesler was quick to take back the lead for the Canucks.
Kesler put on a show in the third period against Nashville and made absolutely certain the team took two points home.
Phoenix came calling and the Canucks were trying to catch them in the division standings as the gap between the two was closing.
Now this game would end up going to overtime before the Canucks eventually won BUT this goal from Henrik is just ridiculous:
After Phoenix came the young Colorado Avalanche who have been aptly coached by the ever colorful Patrick Roy. The Canucks were in complete control of this game from the puck drop however as the Higgins-Kesler-Santorelli line took care of the offense while Luongo stood on his head to lead the team to a 3-1 victory.
The stand out in this game aside from Luongo’s stellar goal-tending was Mike Santorelli who has quickly become a fan favourite as he has been easily one of the most consistent players all season long.
Did I mention the BIG wins against Boston and Chicago? The atmosphere in Rogers Arena during the Boston game was electric, as loud as a playoff game. It was the first time the Bruins have played in Vancouver since June 15, 2011 and the while the stakes were not high, both teams wanted this victory. Both the Canucks and the fans were ready for this game…and the fans made sure to be heard all game long. Did I mention the unconventional time out called by Torts early in the 2nd period that turned the tide back to the Canucks and they never looked back.
Canucks went into the madhouse following a disappointing game in Dallas [their ONLY regulation loss in the month] and did not have the start they hoped for as the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead. Cue the comeback kids…Daniel Sedin tied the game midway through the third period forcing this game to go to extra time. Over time did not solve the game although Santorelli came awfully close to tying the game with the clock winding down. Eddie Lack took part in his first NHL shootout…an 8 round shoot out in the mad house…and came out on the winning side stopping the likes of Kane, Toews & Hossa!
Have I mentioned the injury bug that bit the team in the very first game by taking away Burrows with a broken jaw. Alex Edler and Ryan Stanton were soon to follow…and left our defense seriously drained. Luongo’s injury came in late in the month against Winnipeg and was determined to be day-to-day and left Eddie Lack with the reigns to manage until such time that Luongo returns to the lineup. Lack has been more than capable in helping this team close out the month 2-0-1 picking up 5/6 points including posting his 2nd NHL shutout in his career and in the month. The latest injury came as the month drew to a close to Andrew Alberts, who suffered a concussion after taking a hit from Brian McGrattan early in the game against Calgary.
The injury bug hits every team (just look at Pittsburgh!) and if they want to have success they have to find ways to win despite missing key pieces. Injuries while frustrating, allow an opportunity for other players to step into a bigger role and bigger minutes as they help the team move forward. December is a month in which not every win was pretty but the team has had to redefine the ways in which they have won while different role players have stepped up as hero.
Torts has made it clear since day one that shot blocking and special teams would be vital to his team’s success. Special teams will be key as they always are moving forward and the Canucks will look to keep improving their power play and penalty kill teams. Shot blocking is expected of each and every player in every situation [5-on-5, 5-on-4 or 5-on-3]. If I have mentioned their power play once, I’ve mentioned it 100 times…it is no secret they struggled with the man advantage early but it has most definitely improved as of late [6 power play goals in their first 20 games, 13 PPG in their last 21 games]. Special teams may not win you every game BUT success long term is much easier attained when your special teams are successful. The Canucks have relied heavily on their strong penalty kill and slowly their power play is catching up as December closed and the season progresses. **Did I mention they have the league’s number ONE ranked penalty kill?
It truly was a December to remember,
As 2014 begins, January will see the return of Luongo, Burrows and potentially Edler. There is no sense in rushing Luongo with Lack’s steady play, but the belief is that Luongo will be back in the lineup by the weekend road trip in California. Alex Burrows will be a spark plug as he always is when he is in the lineup when he makes his comeback. Burrows does more than just score goals, he does all the little things and is a huge asset to our penalty kill unit. Alex Edler will be a welcome addition back to the backend as the defense has taken a few hits thanks to various injuries. Lucky for the Canucks, they have been able to rely on Hamhuis and some unexpected depth but they will gladly welcome back some regulars as the season moves forward. A healthy line up will be key to having success down the stretch and into the playoffs.
41 games in, we are officially at the halfway point in the season, can you believe it? 41 more games remain during which we will see an Olympic break as the Sochi games take the world captive. 41 more games before the playoff madness of a new playoff format will unfold and the wildcards are determined. 41 games before the real work begins for all the playoff contenders.
The Canucks closed 2013 with an impeccable 10-1-2 December and an overall 23-11-7 record in the first half of the season. Here’s to a great 2014 for the Canucks and all the teams in the NHL. It’s going to be a wild ride to the finish and we are lucky to be able to watch as it unfolds.
Here’s December 2013 at glance! December to remember indeed as the Vancouver Canucks posted a 10-1-2 record. (Eerily similar to their December 2010 when they posted a 11-1-2 record)
October was the month that the Canucks surprised a lot people as they adjusted to Torts’ style. November was the month that the Canucks survived. December was the month that the Canucks thrived and will be looking to build upon that success as they open 2014 with a New Year’s Day game against Tampa Bay [yes I know, not quite as big as the Winter Classic BUT the 2 points that come with it are vital with the ever tight in the Pacific Division].
***The Team Canada Men’s hockey team Olympic roster will be announced January 7, 2014. [& I expect one or two Canucks to be named to that roster..see what I did there?].