True Blue 2019 (Vol.1)

It’s that time of year again at NUCK SAID. Now that it’s officially the Vancouver Canucks off-season: True Blue 2019 is here. As has become an annual tradition that began in summer 2014, it’s time to put the spot light on YOU the fans and YOUR hockey stories! This is open to ALL Vancouver Canucks AND Utica Comets fans!

What does that mean? It means featuring YOU, the fans on the blog ALL summer long.  As we count down to the new season around the corner, it is time to share your Canucks/hockey stories and how you became a fan of this team, the game and what keeps drawing you in with no looking back.

I’m calling out to ALL Vancouver Canucks AND Utica Comets fans to share their stories. Whether you’ve been fan your whole life, or only a little while, whether you grew up in British Columbia or across the country or in the USA or across the globe, I would love to feature YOU and YOUR story as a part of this year’s series. We all have a different story as to how this game and the team captured us, but through it all we are all connected. Fan stories and experiences are some of my favourite hockey stories to share with you and since I’m asking for your stories, I will also share a part of my story.

Without further ado, here’s the FIRST edition of True Blue 2019 featuring two fans and their True Blue stories in their own words.

MICHAEL COLEMAN: “I grew up in the 70s/80s and street hockey is what we did every day after school. Sticks thrown into the middle of the street, tossed randomly into two piles to divvy up the teams. “Second Captain, First Pick!” was another way to select teams and to this day, I still haven’t found value in being the FIRST Captain with the second pick. Next was to select who you were going to be. I was always the pride of Powell River, #7, Gary Lupul! Gary was 5’7″ and I was chasing my gigantic peak of 5’6″ and always found his play inspiring. Coincidentally, another favourite player later in life was #7 Cliff Ronning. Cliffy checks in right between Lup and myself. I recently played one of the 7 dwarfs on a show for ABC called ‘Once Upon a Time’ and was #33 on the call sheet. It always felt like an homage to my first favourite player (Lupul) and my most recent favourite player (H. Sedin).

We’d play as soon as we got home and tossed the school bags in the front door, would break for intermission to eat dinner and go back out and play again until it was time for bed. We didn’t have the internet, most games weren’t televised, we had to use our imagination and we connected to these heroes differently.

As I grew older and found myself in a position of pseudo-popularity due to the various character roles that I’ve played on television and cartoons; I was able to give back more to my community and get involved with some really cool people. One such gentleman is Robin Wyss who looks after the Canucks Alumni. We were able to raise some money for the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and I was able to skate with some of my childhood heroes. It also provided me with the unique opportunity to meet Bob Lenarduzzi and Carl Valentine and we were able to create an annual charity event with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Hollywood North.

The honourable, mindful, and involved professional athletes that the city of Vancouver has been able to attract is mind blowing. We have been gifted with incredible talents with a strong sense of community and charity. They also have been very respectful, kind and interactive with their fan base.

I love the athletes that we’ve been able to attract to this city and I am grateful for the efforts that they put in to be a part of this community. This extends to the staff and executives and everyone involved. The culture of a professional sports franchise in Vancouver is something admirable.

The Canucks and Whitecaps have become somewhat of a religious experience for me. I am proud to be connected to these teams, these sports, these fan bases. They give me a sense of hope, a sense of community, and a sense of honour.

Becoming a season ticket holder a few years back has been a proud commitment to “my church” and I love the community that it creates. I am looking forward to this next chapter of the team.

#WeAreAllCanucks

Sincerely, Michael Coleman.”

ERIC BAILEY: “My Canucks journey is a long one. I moved to Victoria in 1977. I played street hockey and ice hockey. Skating was such fun that when it came time to choose between school activities(skating or swimming), I would choose to take the skating lessons. I loved to skate and playing hockey. At the same time, with the milk delivery came these larger hockey cards of Canucks players. I didn’t collect them like collectors do but I did collect them, I remember them being in my toy box.

Then in 1982, came the cup run. I didn’t know too many people on the team (despite having the cards) but I knew the name King Richard. From then on, the Canucks were my team. In high school, I played hockey for my high school team. My practice jersey was the Flying V in black. I always wanted the yellow one.

I graduated from high school in 1988. That same year is the first year that I was at all aware of who the Canucks drafted. Trevor Linden was drafted and he wore my number. I discovered his birthday is only a few days before mine. I followed the Canucks more closely at this point. I also discovered and played a statistics based hockey game. I got a Pavel Bure poster. Petr Nedved being drafted was also exciting as I had heard of his story before he joined the Canucks.

1994 was different. The Canucks were a big fast, exciting physical team. My wife and I got married the previous Christmas. As the playoffs started, we both supported the Canucks. Her team was in a different conference so there was very little chance of us having our teams face each other. We cheered against the Flames, believing in the Canucks. I don’t remember the Dallas series. I remember the Maple Leafs though. We had many of their fans around us. My wife and I argued that the Canucks were bigger, and this would ultimately give them the series. We were right. Then, the impossible happened. My team face my wife’s team. My hero versus her hero. While my team lost, it was SO close. Our marriage survived this event but we don’t talk about THAT Ranger team.

When Messier joined the team, I bought my wife(a Messier fan), a Messier doll in a Canucks uniform. While we united on the team, we did not feel the same way about Messier after this time.

I followed the Canucks passionately until the Bertuzzi event happened. I found myself being very negative and getting angry about things not going the Canucks way in playoff games. I found the same thoughts creeping into my mind that promoted the thinking(the code) like that during the Bertuzzi-Moore incident. I did not like thinking that way. I withdrew from following closely(a strike also happened during this time). 

2009-10 and 2010-11, I was following more closely again but I tried to find ways of not being as upset when they lost (because of bad reffing?). The hype at the beginning of the 2010-11 season captured me again. We got an elliptical machine and I ran on it during the playoffs. While the Canucks were dominant during the regular season, round one with the hawks was tense. The Nashville series seemed to reawaken the way the Canucks dominated in the regular season. The Sharks series was short and sweet, leaving 4 wins to become the champions as was predicted. My son and I flew halfway across the country to take in game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. My wife, who is awesome and amazing (added after her proofreading for me) bought me those tickets. Is that penance for the whole Messier debacle? 

After that season, the magic was gone. Injuries, another shortened season and I found myself disconnected from the games again. However the last few seasons, I’ve gotten back into watching games. I’m enjoying interacting with other fans. Reading about the team and rediscovering hope.I like hockey best when the team plays well and I remain positive. #GLCPC 

Eric.”

—-Thank-you, to both Michael & Eric for sharing YOUR True Blue stories with all of us! If you’re not already following them on twitter, what are you waiting for: @1MichaelColeman & @EBailey16.

Stay tuned as there are some more great stories lined up to be shared this year but there’s always room for more of you! If you’d like more details on how YOU can be featured in True Blue 2019, simply send me a message on twitter (@nucksaid) OR send me an e-mail to: nucksaid@gmail.com with the subject line: TRUE BLUE 2019.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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2019 NHL Draft Rewind

The 2019 NHL Draft has come and gone, and boy was it memorable! Can you believe it’s already come and gone?! I’m still re-living the magic of it all.

I’m not sure what I expected from the NHL Draft, but to say it was a whirlwind is putting it lightly. This is the first year I’ve had to privilege of attending the draft in person as the Canucks were hosts to the event. Prior to this year, I’ve only ever watched it unfold on TV or following along on social media, and I’ve got to say that seeing it all happen LIVE was something incredible to witness.

I remember the moment the NHL announced that the Canucks would be the host for the 2019 NHL Draft, and immediately I knew I had to attend. In fact, I texted my friend, Brieann and my sister and told them in uncertain terms that WE were going. Not that we should think about it, but that we HAD to go. It was non-negotiable. Their reactions were to say that absolutely we WILL go! And so this post will be purely seen from the fan perspective behind the scenes of the magic that was the NHL Draft.

Attending the draft, was a plan in the back of my mind for the entirety of the 2018-19 NHL season as we waited to hear the details of the draft and the availability of tickets. It felt like an eternity before any ticket information was available and once released, we made sure to secure our seats.

When I told people I wanted to go the Draft (& then that I was going), they told me it would be all kinds of boring. The Draft has always fascinated me and to have the opportunity to see it up close was something I had to do.

 

Hello Rogers Arena, the NHL Draft looks good on you.

DAY 1: Round ONE.

Walking into the arena and seeing the tables and stage set up. you could feel the electricity of what was about to happen. There was a buzz in the air. We found our seats and I was ready to take all the notes as we waited to witness history.

Shall we start with the part when John Shorthouse came out and announced that: “Hello folks, we have a trade to announce…” which brought immediate intrigue from the crowd for a brief moment before we all realized he was of course kidding. And then he gave us one of the worst kept secrets: ALEX BURROWS will be inducted into the Ring of Honour during the Canucks upcoming season. I cannot think of a more deserving candidate, especially in a season that will feature the Canucks retiring the Sedins’ jerseys.

And then came Gary Bettman and the overwhelming boos. It’s no secret that many fans, and a legion of Vancouver fans have a great dislike of Gary Bettman and they let it be known very LOUDLY, to the point of which we couldn’t hear a word he said during his introduction or when he walked away telling us that he’d be right back. Legit, because we couldn’t hear what he said due to the thunderous boos, we weren’t sure if he was even coming back to the mic or not. And then, it happened, he returned as did the boos, UNTIL we all realized that with him came the Sedins. Full credit to Bettman for taking all the boos in stride, and going with it. In fact, until I saw this video from the Canucks, it was impossible to know any part of what Bettman had actually said because of how loud it was from the booing and then the cheering for the Sedins:

SEDIN WEEK IS HAPPENING. Consider me officially booked for FEBRUARY! All the feels will be happening when #22 & #33 go up to the rafters. The Sedins may have hung up their skates, but they’ve left a permanent mark on the franchise and the fan base.

Onto the pomp and circumstance that is the opening round of the NHL Draft. Some will probably tell you that this was a very boring first round as there was very little drama with only one trade that merely involved a swap of picks. BUT, more about that later, let’s get straight to the beginning from walking into the arena and seeing the official Draft floor set to be the stage for many prospects have their dream become a reality.

It’s quite something to see each team go up as a group, call out the name of the player they’re drafting and to see the immediate of reaction of joy and relief come over that player and their family as everything they’ve worked for has become a reality. To no one’s surprise, it was Jack Hughes drafted first overall, followed by Kaapo Kaako.

And then came the Canucks with their selection. Not going to lie, I was anxious not about who they were going to select but because ALL day leading up to the draft they had been rumoured to be trading their pick both up/down. Instead of a Canucks trade, we watched the first 9 selections be made and then Stan Smyl announced the 10th overall pick: Vasily Podzolkin. There was a mix of uncertainty and excitement that met the selection, mostly because most people hadn’t had him on their list. I didn’t think he’d still be there at 10th but when you hear many commentators saying that the Canucks got a steal with this pick,  you know it’s one to be excited about.

A few other highlights from the first round included: Martin Brodeur announcing New Jersey’s pick and Shea Weber announcing Montreal’s pick. Then there was the absolute surprise and perfect reaction from Moritz Seider when Detroit announced him as their pick. Oh and can we mention how Wayne Gretzky was on hand with the Oilers when they announced their pick but that fact went unannounced. Each time Bettman spoke, he was met with loud “boos” with the exception of when he made the ONE trade announcement of the evening between Arizona and Philadelphia: “Oh, now you like me.” (Credit to Bettman for handling the heavy dislike with humour).

It’s always fun at events like these to connect with fellow Canucks fans and meet a few new ones:

DAY 2: ALL THE THINGS.

If people were unhappy with a quiet trade front on Day 1, they weren’t disappointed on a very active Day 2 with many trades including 3 pretty significant ones!

Changes from Day 1 is that instead of Gary Bettman making the announcements, it was Bill Daly(*Deputy Commissioner).

My sister Abi joined us for Day 2:

For those of us in the building and in our seats early before the draft began again, we were witness to all the madness that was buzzing on the draft floor with most GMs in constant rotation from table to table. Not going to lie, I felt a little on edge with nerves watching the action between all the tables on the draft floor. In fact before rounds 2-7 began, we got to our seats early and looked to the left of our seats to see Mike Babcock on what looked to be a pretty intense phone call. Moments later, we saw Bob McKenzie and his fellow reporters break on twitter that the Leafs had traded Marleau.

Around the same time that the Marleau trade broke, so did the news about PK Subban being moved. A lot of us at the draft were very surprised as he had seemed like a great fit in Nashville.

And of course, then there was the home town team trade: JT Miller from Tampa Bay. I know the Canucks took a lot of heat for this trade due to giving up a first round pick in the deal BUT I’m actually pretty stoked to see Miller join the team and give stability to either a line with Boeser/Petey or play on Bo’s wing. Time will tell how this deal works out, but I’m optimistic about seeing it play out.

All three trades while not officially announced until the Draft was once more underway, had broken on social media and spread very quickly. Aside from these three player trades, the rest of the trades were picks being swapped, but I lost track of how many trades made as I got caught up in the moment of the draft.

In fact, I didn’t even realize there were cameras scanning the crowd as I was so focused on the event itself and making sure that I didn’t miss anything important as I took ALL the notes: yes, I got caught taking all the notes. You know you love hockey when…

The Canucks went on to make 8(yes, EIGHT) selections on DAY 2: Nils Hoglander(#40), Ethan Keppen(#122), Carson Focht(#133), Artus Silovs(#156), Karel Plasek(#175), Jack Malone(#180), Aide Mcdonough(#195) and Arvid Costmas(#215).

A notable moment on Day 2 was one that happened in the 6th round. Nashville ran out the clock and used their FULL timeout before making their selection. It drew the ire of the crowd but hey, they got their player!

AND not to be forgotten, we got to meet Quinn Hughes!

Hughes was a class act. The line up was INSANE and yet he took a moment with EVERY single fan in that line.

Some may say it was a boring first day and a maybe a trade they wish the Canucks hadn’t paid the price on, BUT for me it was a weekend I’ll always remember. It was a weekend where I got to witness history, spend time with great company, make new friends, get caught taking hockey too seriously and had the time of my life!

Thank-you to Brieann and Abi for coming along with me and enduring all my note-taking. Thank-you, Canucks for hosting, I’ll never forget the magic that was the Draft weekend!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.