Raise-A-Reader 2015 Edition

IMG_1395The tradition continues! September 23rd marked one of my favourite days leading up to the Vancouver Canucks regular season: Raise-A-Reader. The event takes place downtown in Vancouver and various places across BC sees local athletes, mascots, and television personalities selling special copies of the Vancouver Sun to raise funds for literacy programs. The event’s purpose can be properly summed up on the Raise-A-Reader website as the following: “The Postmedia Raise-a-Reader campaign exists to empower today’s children and families with tools to improve their reading skills. These skills are the foundation for lifelong learning that significantly affects the quality of life and the health and social economic well-being of individuals, families and communities. 100% of all funds raised will go to the literacy community.”

The campaign as usual, went from 7:00AM-9:00AM. There were representatives from the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Giants, Vancouver Stealth, Global News, the Vancouver Sun and many more volunteers. There’s no pressure or negativity or critics, just some incredible people from all different backgrounds coming together for a common cause. A morning where you simply make a donation to help grow the love of reading AND you get to talk one-on-one about hockey with some of your favourite hockey players, is perfection.

Here are some of mine and my sisters’ snapshots from the day:

We had a SVENtastic time meeting Sven Baertschi to start off our Raise-A-Reader day! We all agreed that the Canucks and Vancouver are both equally awesome.

IMG_1381Welcome officially to the Vancouver Canucks, Jacob Markstrom! Thank-you for the great hockey discussion and helping to make our morning epic.

IMG_1379 IMG_1387 IMG_1396Quite a few Canucks alumni were out and about volunteering for the day:

First up: Stan Smyl and Jyrki Lumme. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to talk about hockey and a shared love of literacy for all with these two gentlemen.

IMG_1397 IMG_1389 IMG_1382Darcy Rota was out volunteering and taking time with every fan that crossed his path.

IMG_1390 IMG_1383Captain Kirk was a class act as always.

IMG_1391 IMG_1384Another familiar face was out volunteering and being swarmed by the fans who were anxious to discuss hockey and relive some memorable “Captain Canuck” moments. Yes, that’s right, Trevor Linden was also out volunteering and meeting the masses.

IMG_1393IMG_1386And of course, no Canucks outing is complete WITHOUT a visit with Fin.

IMG_1392 IMG_1376And I could not leave the other mascots out of all the fun:

The Whitecaps very own Spike stole FIN’s move…not too sure how my favourite Orca would feel about this…

IMG_1377Vancouver Stealth’s, Bomber the FOX

IMG_1385and the Vancouver Giants, JACK the Giant was on location:

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Raise-A-Reader 2015 was a success as funds were raised to help literacy programs, smiles were endless and all in all, another priceless experience.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

True Blue 2015 (Part THREE)

True Blue continues! Just like last year, it is time for the spot light to be on my favourite part of hockey: the fans and their stories! Hockey is so much more than a game in a rink, it is a passion that unites fans across the globe. There is still time to have your story featured, – if you are interested in finding out more details, simply send an e-mail to nucksaid@gmail.com with the subject line: TRUE BLUE 2015. **Anyone who has already signed up or signs up BY SEPTEMBER 25 is entered to win a 2015-16 #Pharmasave Canucks For Kids Calendar. The winner will be announced on September 23rd. Even if your story is featured after the 26th, as long as you are signed up by the 22nd, you will be eligible to win the calendar.**

Today, allow me to re-introduce you to someone you all met during last year’s True Blue series: Justin Lai. This is his True Blue story continued in his own words:

Justin04“A long time ago there was a young boy. Growing up he always loved sports but his favourite memory was watching a game played on ice that would forever change his future going forward. Every week, he would sit by the TV watching fascinated at this game in which players zoomed along the ice with sticks to direct a puck into opposing goals. As he grew up he fell in love with the game of hockey and the rest was history.

Growing up, he watched a team known as our Vancouver Canucks and absolutely adored them. As a child, I always played ball hockey in my basement, and dreamed of growing up to be a hockey player for the Canucks and scoring the game winning goal in overtime to win the Canucks their first Stanley Cup. Yes, I know it is unlikely now, BUT it was a childhood dream and even though I might never be an NHL player, I still love my Canucks and the game of hockey. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember.

Fast forward to today, where my love for the Canucks have grown to more of a diehard fanatic stage and sometimes an obsession. For as long as I can remember the game of hockey has been ingrained in my heart from a young age and no matter what my team is always the Canucks first. My second favourite team is Pittsburgh and before anyone accuses me of being a bandwagoner or how could I have two favourite teams, let me explain. Pittsburgh is my second favourite team because they have had such amazing players who played for them. From the likes of Jagr, Lemeiux, Straka and now Crosby, Malkin and Letang. There’s that reason but the MAIN reason why Pittsburgh is my second favourite team is the Canucks connection of course. I’m talking about the Markus Naslund trade from Pittsburgh to Vancouver that helped Naslund become one of the most beloved Canucks in history today.

Anyways for those who haven’t gotten to know me, my name is Justin. I am a diehard Canucks fanatic and although I might never dress up and play for the Canucks, I do have the privilege of currently working for them now in their hospitality division. My dream job would be to work in the Marketing Department for the Canucks, combining my love of social media, marketing and Canucks into one amazing job. I’m known to my fans as the most diehard fan they know, owning lots of Canucks merchandise, jerseys and always talking about the Canucks. I’m always in some sort of Canucks gear, so it’s easy to pick me out from a crowd.

As for my thoughts on the team and the upcoming season, I know that win or lose, I’m going to be rooting for my Canucks ALL year long. Everyone says they are in a rebuild and yes its a youth movement direction that we’re going in BUT it doesn’t mean that it won’t be successful. Anything can happen in this crazy game of hockey and it’s just as much about bounces and hard work as it is about skill. My friends always ask why I cheer for the Canucks, year after year when they only disappoint and break my heart. I tell them that it is what the love of my team and the game is all about, being a real fan through the good, bad and ugly times. I know that one day when they persevere to win it all, the journey of being a true fan who always stuck with them will make that cup win sweeter and not just because of one year when they are doing well.

There’s lots of favourite memories of mine and every season brings new ones BUT personally my fave so far is winning the Canucks 25th Million Fan twitter contest. I won tickets to the game, got to be interviewed on the scoreboard, had Kevin Bieksa pick my entry and WON Daniel Sedin’s game worn autographed jersey on the ice after the game. It was a dream come true.

Justin01I know we have a relatively new leadership team in place with Linden, Benning and Desjardins BUT I think they can do an exceptional job with their vision shaping this team to be successful on AND off the ice which is probably why I love this team so much. It’s not really about the wins and losses on the ice but that this team is winners off the ice in the community, always giving back and that is something I truly value and admire about the Canucks. They inspire me to always be a better person when the opportunity arises and even when it doesn’t because it makes the world a better place.

I am going to head into this season with no expectations other than for the Canucks to keep doing what they always do. Play hard but win or lose, always represent the front of the jersey with pride on and off the ice. I’ll be rooting all year even if they finish dead last in the league or if they surprise all the naysayers wrong AGAIN and go on a playoff run. They sure surprised people last year. No one expected them to compete for a playoff spot but they finished with a successful regular season: 2nd in the tough Pacific Division and this was with a rookie and new players on the team with a new leadership team as well. This year anything can happen but no matter what I’m always going to be a loud and proud Canucks fan.

My favourite all-time players would have to be Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure because of the the leadership and skill that they played with. Other players I admire include the Sedins for their skill and involvement in the community, Markus Naslund and Alex Burrows because his story of hard work and perseverance to make it to the NHL despite being undrafted always inspires me to never give up on my dreams either. I’m most excited about Bo Horvat as I see him as the future captain after Henrik Sedin calls it a career.

Justin02For those who want to connext with this crazy Canucks fan on social media, find me on Facebook and twitter (@justinlai01) and follow my NEW personal Canucks blog I am starting this year on twitter and Facebook (@TheCanucksBuzz).

Go Canucks Go!!!!

-Justin Lai.”

First, thank-you for sharing your story with all of us! Second, I am totally envious of you meeting Daniel Sedin. I’m 100% with you about supporting the team through the good, the bad and everything in between every year and that the impact the team has goes far beyond the game on the ice. I look forward to hearing more about your upcoming blog and encourage others to also follow along! Welcome to the Canucks blogging community!

Go Canucks Go!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E. L.

Edging Closer…

IsItOctoberYetIs it October yet? No, not just yet but the echoes around the bend are getting ever louder as we edge closer to the season’s opening puck drop.

What does the 2015-2016 season hold for the Vancouver Canucks?

According to the stats experts, the future looks grim and playoff hopes are very dim. According to the experts, there is little reason to cheer for a team that should be shifting their focus to rebuilding. According to the experts this team should expect to be at the bottom of the standings for a while. According to the experts, the Sedins are way past their prime and should opt to play elsewhere. According to the experts the entire Canucks roster is too old and not balanced with enough youth. According to the experts the Vancouver Canucks have absolutely no business even thinking about the 2016 playoff picture. According to the experts, Canucks should prepare themselves for a disastrous season.

What exactly defines a “disastrous” season? A year under Torts? Or the “Messier” experiment that orchestrated the Linden trade? Canucks fans know all about disastrous seasons, we’ve been there a few times and then some. A disastrous season is hardly a new concept for most teams, they’ve all seen their share of disappointments, such is the nature of a game that can only have one champion at year’s end. Yes, disasters will come and go but no matter their nature, disastrous or successful season, I will be supporting my team from start to finish of the 82-game plus journey that is the NHL season.

I’m in no way an expert, nor will I ever claim to be, BUT I will say that while the stats are helpful, they do not always tell the whole story. Perhaps on paper, this team may not look like a “championship” roster or a “typical contender” and perhaps that is okay. Perhaps the so-called expectations from the fans and the experts should be tossed out the window this year. Perhaps having a lack of expectations will be exactly what makes the Canucks a team to watch as the season progresses. Perhaps their veteran core supported by the younger players will be exactly what they’ve promised all along, a team that deserves respect. Perhaps they will be exactly what the “experts” predicted OR they just may surprise all the naysayers.

The truth is no matter what the stats and critics say or what the team looks like on paper, all that matters is what happens on the ice when the season begins. How the team plays, regardless of who is on the roster, is up to them. Will the Sedins have year to remember or will they finally show their age? Will Ryan Miller have a rebound season? Will Bo Horvat have a solid followup to his rookie season? Will any rookies step for a breakout season? Will Brandon Prust win fans over with his experience? The questions are endless and time will tell what this season holds for the Vancouver Canucks.

Is it October yet? No, not just yet but I can hear the echoes of what’s to come just around the bend.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.