Vancouver Canucks: Goalie Conundrum

Ah yes, the goalie conundrum, one of the oldest stories in the book. Great teams and the not so great teams are often defined in part by their goal-tending. And as the story goes, fans and the media are at times toughest on a team’s goalies. And as the story goes, Vancouver is often at the top of the list when it comes to critiquing goalies; even being labeled a “goalie graveyard” over the years.

Yes, it’s true that it’s their job to stop the puck, to keep games close and to close out games. Wins, and wins in tight games or games when the goalie absolutely steals the game are always met with praise. It is also true that when those close games swing in the other team’s favour or a game gets out of hand with a lop-sided score that the goalie is often the first one that is blamed for those losses.

And then there are the cautionary tales, those that become the ever dreaded “goalie controversy”. How well a goalie plays throughout the year, particularly down the stretch will define a team’s season as good, bad, great or terrible. And sometimes when your starter struggles or gets sidelined by an injury, that opens the door for a back up goalie to take the starter’s job. Let’s take a closer look at some of the goal-tenders from the Canucks most recent history:

Dan Cloutier. No, he didn’t win it all but he played a massive part in turning the team’s culture. Suddenly this team became one to watch with stand out seasons not just from Cloutier but players like Naslund, Bertuzzi, Morrison, and yes those ever humble Sedins. Yes, he didn’t do it on his own, he shared his successes with the team and when things did go wrong, it was often his faults that were highlighted and critics came out in droves.

Roberto Luongo. When he was winning, he could do no wrong and the city loved him; when he lost, everyone turned on him. It seems like everything was amplified when it came to Luongo, whether he was playing well or struggling. It still blows my mind how quickly an entire city will turn on one player. A player that took them to GAME 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals one day and the next was a scapegoat for all the mistakes made in that series and the following few seasons before his eventual trade. Never once did he place the blame on others, he was always the first one to take the blame even when it was not solely on him. How quickly it was forgotten all of the good things he did for the team and instead the focus became the loss of that one game and all the mistakes along the way. After game 7, the remainder of his time in Vancouver, he was almost never given the benefit of the doubt again and instead given a short leash with no room for mistakes. That shortened leash seemed to predict Schneider would be the next goalie in the line, BUT it was not so, and for a brief moment Luongo was back in the spotlight as the starter. The leash was once again cut short, leading coach to not start the “franchise goalie” in the outdoor game which became more of a spectacle than the actual game that took place that day. Cue to the deal that was impossible that suddenly happened in an instant, Luongo was headed back to Florida.

Cory Schneider. The one that got away or so some have thought since he was eventually traded to the New Jersey Devils. Initially many fans were angry that it was Schneider who was traded first and especially about getting a draft pick that became Bo Horvat(who had now become a fan favourite). It’s no secret that I was never Cory’s biggest fan but I’ve never denied his skill. He’s always had undeniable skill and he did make an impact in Vancouver. My only real frustration was the credit he was often given by the fans and media before it was ever earned. If Luongo ever faltered, it was almost always assumed that Schneider must be the answer, but if Schneider made a similar mistake, he was given the benefit of the doubt more often then critiqued.

Eddie Lack. Eddie was from the beginning a hit with the fans and the media. No, he didn’t always win but he ALWAYS had a sense of humour through it all. He always made time for the media and the fans. He can’t be blamed for the debacle that was the “Heritage Classic” when he was given the start over Luongo, that one is on Torts. It became again, a situation where no matter what Luongo had done, it was never enough and once again the back up was thrust into the spotlight by the coach and the fans.

Ryan Miller. Losing both of Schneider & Luongo to trades meant the Canucks needed to add another veteran goal-tender moving forward to help close the gaps. With Ryan Miller, he provided a stability in the crease that often went unappreciated during his tenure with the team. Yes, he had some tough nights as all goalies are prone to, but he also had some great moments that so often he was not credited for when they were happening. No matter the game, or the situation he always gave his best and always stood by his teammates. I’ll never forget him stepping up for Troy Stecher when havoc broke out. It wasn’t until his contract was over and he had signed with Anaheim, that many fans seemed to realize just how much Millsy did for the team.

Jacob Markstrom the goalie that could be, the one the Canucks received in the deal that sent Luongo back to Florida. It was a tough situation to come into, but he never complained, was simply grateful for the opportunity. With Lack and Miller set to be the duo in Vancouver, Markstrom spent his first full season with the Canucks in Utica having a season to remember. He led the Comets to AHL Calder Cup finals. The last two seasons, he has spent backing up/splitting games with Miller and being a pillar with the community. This upcoming season he will share the crease with Anders Nilsson as both get a chance to become bonafide NHL starters. The duo will also provide depth that allows Thatcher Demko another year further developing his game.

Thatcher Demko. A beacon of hope for the future. An impeccable college record, a solid first season in the pros with the Canucks affiliate team: the Utica Comets.

As the story goes, time always tells how each will prevail over their individual careers. As the story goes, the fans will love their goalies when things go well and be quick with honesty when things go south. Ah yes, the goalie conundrum, one of the oldest stories in the book.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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True Blue 2017 (Part Four)

It’s summer or more accurately the NHL’s off-season and you know what that means at NUCKSAID! It’s time once again, for True Blue and to put the spot light on you, Canucks fans. This year, it’ll be a little different than my past summer series. No questionnaire, but a more free form in which you can share whatever you’d like about your hockey/Canucks fandom, or focus on just one moment in particular in the team’s history(recent or from the past) that really shaped how you view this game or an experience with other fans that influence your view of the game now or really it’s up to you what you’d like to say. If you’d like to be featured/share the story of your hockey fandom or the moment that’s shaped how you view the game, send me an e-mail to: nucksaid@gmail.com & we will set it up!

Without further ado, this is Justin and HIS True Blue story:

“Chronicles of a Diehard Canucks Fanatic. Written by Justin Lai.

What makes me different from any other Canadian? Honestly not much, I love my Tim Hortons and I live and breathe hockey. My two favourite teams are my hometown Vancouver Canucks and the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m far from a bandwagon fan though as I know my hockey pretty fluently. I like Pittsburgh as my secondary team because one of my favourite Vancouver Canucks players of all time was a Penguin before, that being Markus Naslund. That and I also like the legends who played for them including Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux and now more recently Sidney Crosby but this story isn’t about them. This story is about my love for the Vancouver Canucks and how an average guy like me is living the dream working for the Canucks and my love for the game.

I don’t think there’s one particular moment in the Canucks history that I can pinpoint as my favourite because I enjoy every season cheering them on whether they have losing seasons or whether they make a run to within one win of a Stanley Cup Championship. For me, there’s no in between for my love for the Canucks. I own countless Canucks memorabilia and jerseys, and every year I’m rooting for them regardless of what others believe of my team. The Canucks are my team and I’m proud of that. I love them more than the number of wins they can put up on the ice in a season but my love for them extends to what they do in the community as well. They represent values I believe in which include giving back and the make that a living value day in and day out. 

Of course my fondest memory was the 1994 playoff run with heroes like Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure but also living through the 2011 magical season that came one win short of their first franchise championship. It was amazing how they captivated a city and brought people of all nations and cultures together during that run. Yes, there was the ugly aftermath in our beautiful city when they lost and that act made me absolutely disgusted and angry as a resident of our beautiful city, but to see the response of those who took part in to help bring those responsible to justice and clean up the damage restored my faith in my city and the true fans of the Vancouver Canucks. 

My excitement for the upcoming wave of future Canucks comes with mixed emotions. I’m excited to usher in the new wave of future Canucks to hopefully lead this team to success on the ice but to also maintain their commitment to the city and community off the ice. Being a Canuck means more than just an NHL player, it means having pride in being good people on and off the ice, role models to those who cheer you on and aspire to be like you, who look up to you. On the other hand of this excitement, to see our future young stars in the making, it’s also humbling and bit sad to potentially see the end of veteran players who have paved the way for these young guns, none more so than the Sedin twins. Daniel and Henrik Sedin are consummate professionals and excellent players but also world class leaders on and off the ice who I admire as people.

I’m living a dream working for the Canucks, heading into my 4th season because I get to be in the same environment, breathing in the excitement of hockey on game days and being a part of a team of outstanding co-workers and friends who make working for the team a dream come true. They preach and practices the Canuck values which I can put into practice not only on the job but also everyday which makes this organization one of my dream companies to work for. They also make it so fun to work there. 

Anyways my love for the team will never be diminished and whether we finish seasons as the the best team in the league or whether we finish last in the league, I’m always going to be team #TrueBlue and rooting for my Canucks because they’re so much more than just a hockey team to me. They represent the fabric of my beautiful city and living the Canucks values day in, day out is exactly worth being a Diehard fan for. Feel free to connect and talk hockey with my on my Twitter account: (@justinlai01)!

Go Canucks Go! – Justin.”

Special thank-you to Justin to sharing a piece of his True Blue story! I can relate on so many points! To me, the Canucks represent so much more than just hockey.

**If you’d also like to be featured/share the story of your hockey fandom or the moment that’s shaped how you view the game, send me an e-mail to: nucksaid@gmail.com & we will set it up!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

True Blue 2017 (Part Three)

It’s summer or more accurately the NHL’s off-season and you know what that means at NUCKSAID! It’s time once again, for True Blue and to put the spot light on you, Canucks fans. This year, it’ll be a little different than my past summer series. No questionnaire, but a more free form in which you can share whatever you’d like about your hockey/Canucks fandom, or focus on just one moment in particular in the team’s history(recent or from the past) that really shaped how you view this game or an experience with other fans that influence your view of the game now or really it’s up to you what you’d like to say. If you’d like to be featured/share the story of your hockey fandom or the moment that’s shaped how you view the game, send me an e-mail to: nucksaid@gmail.com & we will set it up!

Today introduces you to, not one but two, Canucks fans.

Without further ado, this is Abi and HER True Blue story:

“Today, I’ll share a more recent memory. As a die hard Vancouver Canucks fan, my favourite memory from this off season was getting to attend the prospects game. It felt like a real game experience and there was such an energetic/positive vibe. It was so refreshing to sit wherever we wanted to and best of all, no rude fans. Watching the next generation of Canucks players was very exciting and I look forward to seeing these guys make it on the team in the near future. This felt like Christmas came in July for THIS Canucks fan.

Seeing Pettersson get two goals was amazing and thrilling to get a glimpse of what’s to come. Our future goalies made some great stops despite the high scoring nature of the game. I was quite pleased when a bonus team shoot out was announced. One of the few times that I will ever be excited to watch a shoot out. Each player was granted a chance and tried some interesting and comical moves in the added bonus overtime. I was so thankful that Rogers Arena introduced some new menu items in addition to free food and beverages for the evening.

Another added bonus for me was attending a behind the scenes tour at Rogers Arena. It was a wonderful experience to walk around my favourite place of all time. I really enjoyed seeing the wall of history featuring many of the Canucks legendary players, Trevor Linden’s locker stall with his old lucky sneakers, the Olympic victory mural, seeing the Great One’s signature on the elevator. Our tour guide was very informative and enthusiastic and equally heartbroken about the outcome of 2011. It was cool seeing the club 500 section and the view of the rink from those seats.

 

Is it Hocktober yet? I am counting down the days until hockey returns and looking forward in particular to two things: Daniel Sedin’s 1000th point milestone and seeing Brock Boeser play in a full season capacity.

Go Canucks Go! –Abi. “

Also, please meet Jeff, this is HIS True Blue story in his own words in video format:

*Note: Rock Tune by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Artist: http://audionautix.com/

-Jeff.”

Special thanks to both Abi & Jeff for sharing their True Blue stories! Once a part of Canucks nation, you’re always one of us! Here’s to hearing, seeing, sharing and learning a few more before the season begins in October!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.