Vancouver Canucks: Thank-You, Sedins.

The day has finally come, a word I never thought I’d hear either Henrik or Daniel say out loud. Or perhaps, it’s one that I hoped would never be said. At the conclusion of the 2017-2018 regular season, the Sedins will be officially retiring from the NHL.

There are NO words that I can put together that will possibly ever come close to enough to express my thanks, but here we go:

Henrik & Daniel,

Now that it’s officially, official; how do we as a city, as a fan base begin to thank-you for everything you’ve done? Is it even possible for us? For the last 18 seasons, the two of you have defined this team and mesmerized the NHL with your twin-tuition on the ice.

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for 18 years of absolute magic, defying the odds, the ever persistent pursuit of your dream that became a reality and for inspiring SO many players and fans to also never give up. I wish that you could really know just big an impact you’ve made on the team, the franchise, on the city, the province and on the fans around the world. You made the coaches, your teammates, this city and every single Canucks fan beyond proud.

How many brothers that have been blessed to play in the NHL, can say that they have played their entire careers side by side for the same franchise? How many can say that they won back to back Art Ross trophies as the league leaders in points? How many can say that they BOTH put up 1000+ points?

We will savour these final three games. this final hurrah in your storied careers that are destined to be forever immortalized in the hockey hall of fame. Three more games for us to savour every last moment of Sedinery yet to come.

Over the last 18 years. you’ve given everything you had and more to this team, this franchise, this city and the fans. Your dedication was never in question, you persevered through the good and the bad and always led by example. Leaders on and off of the ice. You defined what it meant to play with heart. And please know that going into this final stretch of your careers, that you NEVER once let this city down.

And to THIS fan, to all Canucks fans, no matter what happens next on your journey or where your path takes you when this season comes to an end, you will always and forever be Canucks.

It’s near impossible to pin point ONE favourite moment of Sedinery magic when you’ve given us 18 years on unbelievable moments. Among those most treasured for me are witnessing Henrik notch his 1000th point, Daniel scoring many of his 41 goals during the 2010-11 season BUT my most favourite was just days ago when my sister and I finally had the opportunity to meet you both:

Little did we know, that just two days later you would make an announcement that would both break our hearts and make them soar with pride that we’ve been lucky enough to witness your entire careers. There’s not been one game that I’ve attended at GM Place/Rogers Arena that both of you didn’t play. Picturing a Canucks team that doesn’t feature you at it’s heart, will take some time to adjust to.

And while I’m excited for the team’s exciting potential down the road, I’ll never forget the two legends that paved the way for this new core. You’ve left an indelible mark that will forever be felt in the franchise and looked upon to remember that even when things get tough, all that needs to be done is to think back of how you both always kept pushing forward despite the odds and we will be reminded that when you tune out the negative, ANYTHING is possible.

Thank-you doesn’t seem even close to enough but it’s what I have to offer. Henrik, and Daniel, THANK-YOU, for everything.

And to all of YOU Canucks fans, let’s make Rogers Arena thunderously LOUD these final two home games of the season. Let’s show Henrik and Daniel just how much they’ve made a difference for all of us Canucks fans.

Sarah E.L.

 

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Vancouver Canucks: For Brock

Sometimes, this game that can take your breath away in the best possible way, can be heartbreaking in the cruelest of ways. That happened last night as all of Canucks nation held their collective breath after seeing Brock Boeser sustain an injury late in their game versus the New York Islanders. Today, the Vancouver Canucks announced that Brock Boeser is likely out for the remainder of the season (4-6 weeks). And it’s no secret that prior to the injury, Brock Boeser was having a Canucks rookie season to remember with 29 goals, 26 assists (55 points) in 62 games.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see a player that’s been having a memorable season be forced to the sidelines due to injury. And while the season may not end in a Calder trophy for the rookie phenom, there are more important things than a trophy. As tough as this news is, it could be worse, and it’s absolutely the right decision that Boeser takes this time to recover fully so that he can come back to the game he loves for years to come The good news is that he will make a full recovery.

This post is for Brock.

Brock,

I can still remember the anticipation that followed when the Vancouver Canucks drafted you and excitement that stemmed when the team announced you made this season’s roster. This is not the ending that your rookie season was supposed to have. You were well on your way to setting a new Vancouver Canucks rookie season record. Today, having this news shared with the rest of the world must be one of the most difficult things you’ve been faced with early in your career, but taking this time to heal properly was the right decision. Some things are bigger than the game.

I hate that we were robbed of your 30th goal (some will point out you should proably be credited with 1 or 2 more in recent weeks!) and that we don’t a get a chance to see you surpass Pavel Bure’s rookie record. I hate that this season, we will not get to see any more of your signature snipes or impossible angle goals that often took opponents by surprise with their accuracy. I hate that we will not get to see you find that chemistry with no matter who you played with until next season. I hate that this is how the season most likely ends for you this season. I hate the unfairness of this outcome. I hate that after all the work you put in and that the rookie season that you were on pace for, that this is the ending. I hate that many on the outside don’t always see the value that you bring to the Canucks every single game.

As much as I hate this end to your incredible rookie season, I understand that this decision was about more than the game. Life is about much more than hockey and you put your health first. Not an easy decision, but absolutely the correct one. You are taking the time to heal properly and not risk further injury and allowing yourself a long-term future in the game. It may have only been your first full time season in the NHL and with the Vancouver Canucks, but you’ve already left an indelible mark on the franchise.

The ending to the season may have come much earlier than you desired but you DID IT. You’re living a dream come true in the NHL that while only one year in, is full of highlight reel moments: back to back rookie of the month honours, first career hat trick, goals that made many opponents ask “HOW?”, a possible Calder trophy candidate, NHL All-Star, All-Star MVP, Canucks All-Star. Those are some awesome early career moments. You are the type of player that fans hope their team drafts and love to see succeed when they make the big league.

It’s not the ending that your rookie season deserved. You gave this team, the fans and the league everything you had every single time you were on the ice. Never doubt for a second what you’ve accomplished this season. You gave it your all every single shift, playing with whoever coach put with you in the lineup. You always found a way to keep your game consistent. You may be one of the youngest players on the team, but I promise that you inspired your teammates, the fans and even opponents around the league. Your heart, determination, dedication and perseverance every game are something to be admired. Your tenacity will be missed by the team, opponents, and fans league wide down this final stretch.

Thank-you for one heck of a memorable rookie season with the team. You’ve brought an excitement to the team and united Canucks fans far and wide while we all rooted for the next FLOW highlight! Your season may have come to an abrupt end, but I hope you know that NO ONE and I mean NO ONE is disappointed in you. You’ve done nothing but make Canucks fans proud every single time you hit the ice. I hope that while you recover, you stay close to the team, you may not realize it yet what an inspiration your season has been to them. And maybe today, that seems impossible to comprehend, but it’s 100% true. Canucks nation is sending you all the best as you focus on your recovery! Take all the time you need, your health is the #1 priority.

Your season might have come to an early end but you took the pressure of an entire city and ignited a spark of hope for the season and the future as we all witnessed the initiation of the Brock star. One thing is certain, your teammates, fans, even your opponents are all rooting for you as you recover and look forward to your eventual return when you a ready. You have accomplished a lot in a short time this season. Remember this moment, a rookie season to remember that stole the hearts of Canucks fans far and wide, this is only the beginning and the best is still yet to come.

-Sarah E.L.

 

Hockey is for everyone, or IS IT?

Here we go again. It’s 2017 and yet here I am re-living a nightmare from last season and no I don’t mean the Vancouver Canucks. No, I mean being a hockey fan who happens to be a girl. This whole being a hockey fan that also happens to be a girl is not always a fun journey.

Let’s be honest, there’s often a whole different set of rules and beliefs when it comes to girls who love hockey. If you are a guy and say you love hockey, you are in the club. If you are a girl, you have to constantly prove your fandom and knowledge of the game. If we know the game, then we must have heard it somewhere else, we couldn’t possibly have learned it on our own. If we don’t know something it’s because it’s yet another reason of why girls can’t know this game properly or love it. Or there’s the notion that we merely watch the game to check out the players or love the jersey colours/designs.

OR there’s reality that is often overlooked in which we women can actually LOVE the game itself just as much as any man. It’s no secret that I love the game and everything about it from the good to the bad and everything in between. Heck, I write a blog about hockey. I don’t claim to be an expert on all facets of the game and I love learning NEW things about this crazy game all the time.

This season, my sister and I were ecstatic to be able to up our support from quarter season members to half-season members for this season. Twice as many times to support our team? To say we were excited is an understatement. We also moved from the lower bowl to the upper bowl which up until our most recent game had been an impeccable experience. I love the experience of being in the arena from the quiet preparation before the chaos, to the warmups, to the anthems, to puck drop and the end to end plays on the ice to the final buzzer.

Yes, we are girls, and yes we love hockey but that does NOT mean that we deserve to be treated as though we can’t possibly understand the game or be talked down to or attacked for our jersey of choice to support our team. And many thanks for the ever subtle reminders that we were at a hockey game but I think our jerseys & being decked out from head to toe in our team’s colours made it abundantly clear we were in the right place. And yet while in that right place, my most favourite place, there was pit in my stomach acknowledging that we were not welcome on this night. At final buzzer, my disappointment was not from the scoreboard but from the sheer shock of how some fans turned a place that is a safe place into one that was unwelcoming.

And once again, that was beyond unsettling. We were made to feel as though we could not cheer for our team and also were judged for every ounce of support that we did show or vocalize. I’m all for opposition fans supporting their own team BUT I draw the line at attacking the integrity of franchise players, and then turning those insults towards fans of the home team. I can fully accept that we may root for different teams and I respect that. I may not agree with their view all the time, but I respect it and would never spend the duration of the game berating the fans of another team.

For the most part, I love talking about the game with Canucks fans and fans of any team, man or woman, any time. What I do not enjoy, is being talked down to and belittled. And yes, it is unfortunately still true that sometimes when I admit how much I love this game that I get given looks of derision that I cannot possibly comprehend what it is I am talking about. When it is confirmed that I do know the sport, these individuals then treat me as though they still don’t trust me even if what I am saying is true and attack my loyalty to my team or why I love this game. Truthfully these experiences leave me feeling as though perhaps I do not deserve to enjoy this incredible sport and then I remember that these individuals who make female fans feel this unwelcome DO NOT represent the entirety of the hockey community.

So, while you belittled us and attacked our love of the game, you did not destroy it. You tried and while yes it took me aback, nothing that was said to us or directed to us will take away my love for this team or this game. We should all be allowed to enjoy the game we love without having to feel as though we are being judged or to feel bad when we do. Hockey is more than just a game, it is a community that most of the time is very welcoming and hopefully one day, no one will be made to feel like an outsider.  I’ve said a lot in the last year but, it’s 2017 and I sincerely wish that the sentiment that “hockey is for everyone” was actually true. One day, maybe.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Vancouver Canucks: FAN Favourite Moments.

When it comes to the Vancouver Canucks there’s a lot of negative headlines out there about the team and their current season BUT today, we are stepping away from that to take a look back at some all-time great Canucks moments. As a fan, there are moments or milestones over the years that stand the test of time and some moments that define when we became fans of the game. Some moments that we can remember down the very last detail from the players on the ice to every word of the play by play call. Some are moments that go way back and others are more recent.

I asked you to share YOUR all-time favourite Vancouver Canucks moments over the last few days and you delivered sending me an impeccable list of moments from over the years. This post is for all of you, so without further ado, here we go:

The very first game, marking the beginning of the franchise: October 9, 1970. It also marked the very first goal in franchise history from Barry Wilkins.

1980s and a signature goal celebration were defined by Tiger Williams.

Pavel Bure. Russian Rocket. 1994. Game 7. Double OT. Need I say more?:

Or this other incredible 1994 playoff moment: “Babych, long shot. Potvin has trouble with it. Adams shoots, SCORES! Greg Adams! The Vancouver Canucks are going to the Stanley Cup Final!”:

Penalty Shot. Gino Odjick. GOAL. GINO, GINO, GINO!

Jim Robson’s call in game 6 vs. NYR in 1994: “Linden chopped down…he’ll play, you know he’ll play…and he’ll play at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night..”

Trevor Linden’s career synonymous with the 1994 run as well as THIS memorable hit:

2004. Game 7. Down by 1. Matt Cooke. 5.7 seconds left. TIED GAME. Pandemonium.

The early 2000’s are significant in many Canucks fans memories due to the rise of the West Coast Express (Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison & Todd Bertuzzi)

Goals like these fueled why so many Canucks fans had high expectations of former Canuck, Cody Hodgson:

Just as there are moments of triumph there will inevitably be moments of loss and heartbreak. Loss and heartbreak will either break a team a part or pull them together bringing out the best in them. It still breaks my heart to know that we will never see Luc Bourdon or Rick Rypien play hockey again. Yet seeing how the team came together both times for the families, each other, the fans and the community was something incredible to witness.

We still miss you, Luc.

And sometimes that unbearable loss brings to light issues that once went unseen and inspires raising much needed awareness all year round. The loss of Rick Rypien illuminated to the importance of raising mental health awareness and inspired the creation of Mindcheck. Wish you could see the awareness and bravery that you have inspired, Ryp.

Heartbreak hit Canuck nation once again when the news broke that former Canuck, Gino Odjick was suffering from a rare heart disease. The team came together again to support him but it was seeing the community come together to rally for Gino one more time when he was in the hospital that was absolutely incredible. GINO, GINO, GINO!

Alex Burrows. The underdog, the one who was never supposed to make it to the NHL, let alone carve out a career as a franchise player over 12 years.

OT series winning goal in St.Louis in 2009 celebrated with a tribute to Luc.

Or perhaps his even bigger OT series winning goal vs. Chicago. Game 7. A cheer heard province wide and the beginning of an epic playoff run. It was a moment 3 years in the making and one that will long be remembered by Canucks fans.

And as was a habit of his, he loved breaking streaks. Whether that was breaking Detroit’s 23-game home ice winning streak:

OR if it was ending the Canucks lengthly regular season skid with a timely short-handed goal vs. Carolina in February that changed the course of the 2008/2009 Canucks season:

So you see, Burrows, we will not forget you. You defied the odds and left an indelible mark on the Vancouver Canucks.

OT forced with 15 seconds left on the clock in regulation in game 5. Kevin Bieksa will always be synonymous with this moment in the 2011 Conference Finals. Double overtime. OFF THE STANCHIONS TO KEVIN BIEKSA to the back of the net! “We’re going to the CUP!!!”. A goal that was 17 years in the making.

The goal was simply, BIEKSALLENT. That goal will long live on in Vancouver Canucks history but more important than any goal, assist or fight on the ice was the one Bieksa helped fight off the ice: helping to raise awareness on the importance of mental health and spear heading the creation of Mind Check and leading the way during the league wide hockey talks initiatives.

SEDINERY never gets old and it is hard to comprehend that one day these two players will retire but it is not that day yet! From rookies developing their game to now seasoned veterans, the Sedins have led the way for the Canucks defining what it means to be a Canuck on and off of the ice.

Early Sedinery. 1 Game. 4 goals from Daniel Sedin.

Game 7. 2007. Home ice. Quadruple overtime. HENRIK SEDIN WINS IT!

From playing their entire careers together to back to back Art Ross trophies. Twintuition indeed with Henrik winning the Art Ross in 2010 and Daniel in 2011.  Despite each having career years, it was not a guarantee that either would win it with players like Crosby and Ovechkin keeping the race close both years.

A ridiculous goal from Daniel set up by Hank that helped to secure the Art Ross for Henrik in 2010:

Many people have questioned the Sedins longevity over the years but it is Henrik Sedin that holds the 7th longest iron man streak of 679 consecutive NHL games played.

Or a more recent favourite memory. #HENR1K. Oh captain, my captain. It seems only fitting that his 1000th point came on home ice on a goal assisted by his brother. HENRIK! HENRIK! HENRIK!

I remember every single thing about witnessing that moment in the arena and always will. From the atmosphere in the arena, to the goal itself to the team celebrating with Hank on the ice. Where will you be when Daniel hits the milestone?

The list is long and I know that there are a lot more that did not make it onto this list and there are even more still to come as the years go on. Sometimes it’s nice to look back at the moments that remind you of why and when this game and team completely captured you.

If there’s an all-time favourite of yours that didn’t make the post, leave it in the comments below or tweet me (@nucksaid). Those “extra” moments just may inspire another post ;)!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

CLINCHED! PLAYOFFS, BABY!

2015CLINCHEDPlayoff fever, is that YOU calling my name? YES, it is! The Vancouver Canucks have officially punched their 2015 playoff ticket! There were many who said after the torpedo that was last season, that were beyond skeptical that the Canucks could return to the post-season THIS year. What a difference, a year can make!

Last year when Trevor Linden said that THIS team was going to make it to the playoffs, there were A LOT of doubters. How could anyone blame them after what was the Torts era? Many “experts” were certain that the Canucks would not be playoff bound THIS season and would stuck in rebuild mode for some time. Linden never said it was going to be easy for them to get there, but he did say they would try to make the team remember why they love the game and get a little tenacity back in their game. He has done just that.

Was the season perfect from start to finish? No, not at all but it sure was refreshing to watch this team come together rather than fall apart at the seams. This year was supposed to be about rebuilding rather than exceeding expectations. This year, the Sedins were supposed to be washed up, secondary scoring was a pipe dream and goal-tending was a question mark at best. This year the Canucks were supposed to be part of the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. This year in the hands of a newly minted team president, newly minted GM and newly minted head coach was a gamble. Well long story short, the Canucks took that gamble on that newly minted trio and they surprised a lot of people around the league with their success.

Now for the LONG story:

Trevor Linden wanted to bring back excitement to the Canucks on ice product and he has done just that and more this season. He brought in a scouting and development expert in GM Jim Benning and a coach who brings out the best in his players in Willie Desjardins. All three of them have been invested from the start in not only working with the current roster but also with their players on their AHL roster in Utica and their younger prospects still playing junior. From top to bottom of this organization, this management group has been involved to turn things around and continue building for the future.

The players came in knowing that last year was disastrous and determined to prove everyone wrong who said they were going to be bottom feeders and more than that they could still be competitive with the league’s top teams. More than that, the dynamic in the room had changed not only with new management but also with new players on the roster. Change was needed not just internally but also in the game that they played as a team EACH game. Consistency and cohesiveness was needed. Time would tell just serious this team was about moving forward from last season’s tornado.

The Sedins may not be on a point-per-game pace this season, but they are back to playing the way that proves they are still exciting to watch making dazzling plays on a nightly basis. They have both surpassed their point totals of last season and lately have been absolutely clutch when called upon (ahem, that TYING goal vs. LA anyone?). Henrik and Daniel have flourished under Desjardins in a way that did not happen with Torts. Last year between Torts and injuries, they seemed to lose their confidence, whereas this year they seem to have found that spark again. It never ceases to amaze me, the way those two work together with seamless no look passes and impossible angle goals.

It’s no secret that Alex Burrows struggled under Torts and was also low in the confidence department. This year, he made it clear that he did not care which line he played on as long he as he got to play, he would do whatever coach asked of him. Desjardins has played Burrows on nearly every line and in every situation (5-on-5, 5-on-4, 4-on-4 and 5-on-3) and he has been reliable adapting to each situation. He may not be breaking any records, but he is finding a way to contribute no matter which line or situation he’s asked to play. It sure is amazing what a little belief and confidence from the coach can make in the way a player plays from start to finish in a season.

Radim Vrbata easily became one of the best 2014 off-season signings! He is everything that Jim Benning expected and more! His 31 goals and counting is a team high and he is money in the bank when it comes to the not-so-dreaded shootout. It does not matter which line he plays on, he adds an offensive spark nearly every game. His consistency on the scoreboard has helped to take the pressure off of the Sedins and provide much needed secondary scoring.

And yes goal-tending was a fiasco after the Luongo and Schneider trades leaving people to wonder if Lack could carry the load or if a veteran would need to come in to solidify the crease. The truth is BOTH of those things happened. In the summer Linden and Benning signed veteran goalie, Ryan Miller to solidify the crease and be a mentor to Eddie Lack. Miller has been everything as advertised, having a stellar season posting six shutouts while maintaining a Canucks playoff position prior to his injury. Miller’s injury forced Eddie Lack into the reigns down the stretch and he stood up to the challenge helping to keep the Canucks in their season-long playoff position. Together these two have done exactly what they were asked to do from the start despite the doubts that outsiders projected at them.  For the playoffs, no matter which one is in the crease, they BOTH deserve credit for helping get the Canucks this far.

It was NO easy task for Trevor Linden to come in and turn this team around in a year since taking over as President of Hockey operations. He did what seemed to many impossible: made the Vancouver Canucks believe that they were competitive and translated that to them BEING competitive more nights than not. He found the right GM and the right coach to help the team forward and change the mindset from last season’s disaster to this year’s success. Trevor Linden said that change was coming and that the team would be playoff bound come April. Change came and the team IS playoff bound. Linden and company delivered on their promises and never wavered from their desire to see the team succeed. Eighty games down, two remain with an opportunity to clinch home ice in the opening round of the 2015 NHL playoffs.

Are you ready, Vancouver? That noise you hear is PLAYOFF FEVER calling your name! Get those jerseys, white towels, flags and playoff gear ready for April 15th! The best part of the NHL season is nearly upon us!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Here We Go Again…(October 2014)

IMG_0080In less than 24 hours, all across North America, the madness known as the 2014-2015 NHL season will begin again as pucks drop, goals are scored and saves are made. One side will be celebrating the sweet taste of victory to start their season and the other side will already deciding how they can improve moving forward. Fans hopes will be higher than ever before as every team has a clean slate and an opportunity to be better than they were last year.

Inevitably every team faces endless questions heading into the new year…here are just a few facing EACH team this season:

Questions Facing the WESTERN CONFERENCE – ?

PACIFIC DIVISION: aka a very intensely competitive division with very LITTLE room for error.

Vancouver Canucks: Can the team find a way to recover from a year when nearly EVERYTHING went wrong? Will this be the year that Zack Kassian has a break out season? Will someone step up to the opportunity that is the gap left behind by Ryan Kesler? Will the Sedins return to the elite level that everyone has come to expect from them? With new players, a new GM, a new coach and new President, will the team find a way to be playoff bound come April?

Edmonton Oilers: Will the Hall and company find a way to channel all of their youth into experience and success? Will the Oilers end their playoff drought and make Oil Country a city of Champions once more?

Calgary Flames: Are the Flames in full-on rebuild with a youth movement OR ready to contend in a very heavily loaded division? Will Giordano lead this team back to the post-season?

Arizona Coyotes: Will their name change help the Coyotes to find success in the desert? Will Shane Doan help the Coyotes re-discover the success that they had in 2012?

San Jose Sharks: What will the team do to address their collapse against the Kings in the 2014 post-season? Will Joe Thornton find a way to rediscover the part of his game that has always made him successful? Will Marleau, Pavelski and Couture find a way to find their way back to the contending team that everyone knows they can be?

LA Kings: How will LA rebound from their second Stanley Cup victory in three years? Will they be the first repeat champions since the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998)? Will a short summer have an impact on their upcoming season or will it propel them even further in NHL history?

Anaheim Ducks: Will the Ryan Kesler trade translate into instant success for both #17 and the Ducks? Will Anaheim once again dominate the Pacific Division? Will Anderson and Gibson work in tandem stopping pucks OR will one of them have a stand out year?

CENTRAL DIVISION:

Chicago Blackhawks: What more can Toews, Kane and company do for the Blackhawks? Will they go deep into the playoffs yet again or will some unknown factor get in their way?

St. Louis Blues: Following a very successful season, how will the Blues respond when the puck drops this month? Will they continue their climb to the top or will they stumble to the finish line?

Colorado Avalanche: Will Patrick Roy find a way to duplicate the success he had in his rookie season as an NHL head coach? Will Duchene and Co. find success playing with new Avalanche player, Iglina?

Minnesota Wild: Will the Wild settle on a number one goalie or will injuries once again keep them rotating a goal-tending carousel? Will they find a way to duplicate their 2014 playoff success?

Dallas Stars: Will they continue forward with the chemistry that developed under Coach Ruff and the leadership of Captain Jamie Benn? Will Rich Peverley be able to play hockey again? Will Seguin continue to grow into the player that the Bruins always thought he could be?

Nashville Predators: Can things really be as bad as they were last season? Will Shea Weber and new coach Laviolette be able to right the ship back to playoff contention?

Winnipeg Jets: Will THIS be the year that the Jets skate their way to the playoffs? Will Evander Kane still be a Jet by season’s end? Will they finally solidify their goal-tending scenario?

Questions Facing the EASTERN CONFERENCE – ?

ATLANTIC DIVISION:

Boston Bruins: Two Stanley Cup appearances in four years, will the Bruins go for a third appearance this season? Will Tuuka Rask continue his rise in the crease? Will Chara find himself in Norris contention?

Tampa Bay Lightning: Now that Steven Stamkos is 100% healthy (after breaking his leg last season), will he find a way to lead the Bolts deep into June? How will the team respond in the first FULL season without Martin St.Louis? Will Ben Bishop build upon the success he had last season?

Montreal Canadiens: It’s no secret that Carey Price had a year to remember in 2014, will he be able to duplicate his success? Will PK Subban continue to frustrate the opposition and have another Norris year? Will they go all the way to bring Stanley Cup number 25 to Montreal?

Detroit Red Wings: Will the Red Wings find a way YET again to prove that age does NOT matter? With Pavel Datsyuk sidelined indefinitely, who will step up to provide some much needed clutch goals? Will Jimmy Howard prove himself yet again that he can be an elite goal-tender?

Ottawa Senators: Will Erik Karlsson as captain win the hearts of the city and rise to occasion or will he be run out of town? Newly signed Bobby Ryan has a lot to prove, can he find the game that made him successful in Anaheim and help Ottawa go deep?

Toronto Maple Leafs: Following a disappointing season in more ways than one, will THIS be the year that the Leafs FIND their x-factor? Will Dion Phaneuf find a way to lead his team back to playoff contention? Will Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul be able to re-capture their chemistry and stay HEALTHY all year?

Florida Panthers: With LOTS of moves in the off-season, including the signing of newly minted Captain Willie Mitchell, Florida is determined to become a contender. Will all of their moves help them to the playoffs OR backfire? Can Florida find that ingredient that they helped them get into the 2012 playoffs?

Buffalo Sabres: Will Buffalo become a contender once more after struggling in nearly every area the last few seasons? Will Cody Hodgson and Co. be able to turn the tables back to success? Will it be a veteran or a young gun that steps up surprising everyone?

METROPOLITAN DIVISION:

Pittsburgh Penguins: Can Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin find that magic ingredient once more pushing them all the way to June? Will a new coach and GM make a lasting impression on the roster? How will they fill the James Neal hole? 

New York Rangers: After an extensive playoff run all the way to the Finals, will the Rangers find their way back in contention this season? Will Rick Nash be a difference maker? Will Henrik Lundqvist be in Vezina finalist form?

Philadelphia Flyers: Will the Flyers struggle out of the gate like they did last year? Will they make a playoff push or be contenders all year long? Will Claude Giroux be a standout? Will Chris Pronger ever officially announce his retirement or is there still a flicker of hope to be held onto?

Columbus Blue Jackets: Can Bobrovsky continue to play as hard as he did last year? Will Scott Hartnell steal the hearts of fans and irritate the opposition like he did in Philly? Will there be back to back playoff appearances?

Washington Capitals: Can Ovechkin recapture the success he’s become accustomed to in this league AND help the Captials back into playoff contention?

New Jersey Devils: No Martin Brodeur and all the pressure in Jersey is now on the shoulders of Cory Schneider, will he rise to the occasion? Will the Devils find themselves being a contender? Will Mike Cammalleri find his niche once more and help spark the Devils lineup?

Carolina Hurricanes: Bad news bears in the injury department following their pre-season, who will step up with Jordan Staal(broken leg) and Jeff Skinner(concussion)? Can Carolina find a way to end their playoff drought? Will Cam Ward have a rebound year? 

New York Islanders: After having his season halted to a leg injury and now 100% healthy, will John Tavares find his way to the top of the leader board? Will the additions of Boychuk and Leddy be enough to solidify the Islanders blue line? Will Okposo have a break out season? Can the Islanders be a playoff contender?

Endless questions with answers still to be determined as the a new season is just beyond the bend. Inevitably, there are many more question that could be on this list and some of these questions will change as the season progresses. Every team has a clean slate and whatever follows the puck drop is up to them. In less than 24 hours, all across North America, the journey begins as the puck drops, goals are scored and saves are made.

Happy Hockey Season’s Eve!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

2013-2014 Season Debrief

It has been a few weeks since my last post but I’m back with a glimpse of what this last year held for the Vancouver Canucks. The 2013-2014 season is now wrapped for the Canucks and it featured a little of bit of everything from the good

to the bad. It will be an off-season full of questions, answers, changes and preparations for the new season around the corner. Today, we will debrief by taking a closer look at the bad and the good that made up the Canucks 2013-2014 season.

First let’s look at the not so good and follow it up with all of the good that did happen despite the final outcome.

The BAD:

November saw inconsistency that was not solved until December only to be broken apart by January with an unnatural influx of injuries.

The Canucks iron man, Henrik Sedin was injured not once BUT twice which delayed his 1000th game from being played prior to the Olympics in early February to March 12th vs Winnipeg. Have I mentioned that out of the probable injuries….NO ONE expected Henrik to be on that miss extended time list once let alone twice.

Andrew Alberts suffered a concussion late December in a game vs. Calgary where he was hit from behind into the boards. He never returned to the lineup and as of the end of the season was still suffering concussion symptoms. The league NEVER reviewed the hit or awarded any discipline for the hit that sideline Alberts for the season and the foreseeable future.

Mike Santorelli suffered a season ending should injury that took him out of the line up in January ending his Cinderella heroics for the home team.

Daniel Sedin was sidelined due to injuries more than once this year which only added to the team’s scoring woes in the second half of the year.

Alex Burrows suffered from multiple injuries(a broken foot, broken jaw, the list goes on!) that were only added to the frustration of not scoring goals.

Torts stormed the Calgary Flames dressing room following a first period brawl between the two teams. While I loved his intent to defend his players, he should not have gone anywhere near the visitor’s dressing room. The result was Torts being suspended for 6 games.

Zack Kassian struggled early in the year which was not helped by an 8-game suspension.

The Canucks lost the Heritage Classic. As a result of the controversial choice to start Eddie Lack over the Canucks franchise leading goalie Roberto Luongo were forced to hear the fans chant WE WANT LU! for a good 2-3 solid minutes midway through the game.

Following yet another season where things started off well but evolved to Luongo being relegated to the role of back up….finally saw the Canucks make the deal that could never be made. March 4, 2014 Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers. Best of luck in Florida LU!

The panic that ensued on social media when a VANCOUVER reporter sent out a tweet that the Canucks had traded Ryan Kesler….(which thank goodness was shortly proven as false!)

Missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Following a disappointing year, Mike Gillis was relieved of both his General Manager and President duties. (Gillis worked with the Canucks since the end of the 2007-2008 season & NOT everything he did was terrible.)

In their final game of the season on home ice Daniel Sedin was hit from behind into the end boards by the Calgary Flames forward Paul Byron. Daniel Sedin collapsed, laid very still and was unable get up off the ice…cuing medical trainers and paramedics to bring a stretcher. Daniel was taken off the ice on a stretcher and straight to the hospital. Byron received a 5 minute penalty on the play which was deemed as ENOUGH discipline by the league. A very scary moment for Daniel, the team, and the fans and while it was later revealed that he would be okay…I’m sorry BUT ANY hit that SENDS A PLAYER off the ice on a stretcher and to the hospital SHOULD deem more than a quick review with NO supplemental discipline. Perhaps if it had been Crosby or Toews that had been taken off the ice on a stretcher, the league would have taken the incident more seriously. The NAME of a player and the LOGO of the team they play for SHOULD NOT matter when it comes to moments like that one…EVERY player should be held accountable. (*I apologize for the mild rant…but that HIT & its zero concern by the NHL really severely bothered me…)

The GOOD:

The Canucks had their best October in years including a 7-game road trip that saw them post a 5-1-1 record.

The announcement of the the Sedins re-signing with the Canucks for 4 more years. SO GLAD that the Sedins will be back in blue and green for four more years! No one set of brothers has quite displayed their quiet yet commanding professionalism both on and off the ice.

Pavel Bure’s #10 was FINALLY lifted to the rafters as his jersey was officially retired by the Vancouver Canucks on November 2, 2013. The team also beat the Maple Leafs 4-0 on home ice on the banner night, making the evening a WIN-WIN.

BC born and raised Mike Santorelli became an unexpected hero for the home fans as he seemed to always find a way to make the play that made a difference. Santo showed versatility by being useful no matter where he played in the line up and scoring many a clutch goal. Santo was on a roll as the NHL’s best steal prior to his injury with his low cap hit & absolute limitless work ethic.

December was a month when the team could do almost no wrong. They picked up points in all but one game. My FAVOURITE moment during December was the game versus the Bruins…the team was absolutely determined and took over the game after a timely time out by Torts early in the game.

Daniel Sedin and Alex Edler brought home silver medals from the Sochi 2014 Olympic games. Dan Hamhuis and Roberto Luongo brought home gold medals from the Sochi 2014 Olympic games.

The Canucks participated in their very first outdoor game experience when they hosted the Ottawa Senators at BC Place as part of the Stadium Series in the 2014 Tim Horton’s Heritage Classic.

Henrik Sedin played in his 1000th game both of his career and in a Canuck uniform. (March 12, 2014)

The 2014 Canucks for Kids Fund Telethon held on March 19th, raised over $500,000 to help kids in BC!

Shawn Matthias was acquired in the Roberto Luongo deal with the Florida Panthers. He showed some amazing skill and potential in the final stretch. He will be one to watch if he stays with the team next season!

Alex Burrows may not have found the back of the net as much as he would have liked (he did eventually break through with a few beauties!) but his game still had a lot of positives…he was purposeful in most areas of the ice and a large part of the team’s first half amazing PK unit!

Ryan Kesler score 20+ goals for the 6th time in his career.

Ryan Kesler setting the record straight that he didn’t ask for a trade and that he hopes to stay with the Canucks for the entirety of this career.

Zack Kassian became a beast hitting his groove in final part of the season despite the final outcome. He will be fun to watch next season!

Following the news of Mike Gillis being let go, the rumor mills were spinning that Trevor Linden was returning to the Canucks. Rumor became FACT on April 9, 2014. Trevor Linden returned to the team that drafted him and where he played 16 of 19 seasons when the Canucks named him, the new President of Hockey Operations.

The Canucks are not partaking in the post season but hey there is a silver lining in getting a top 10 draft pick! The Canucks will draft 6th overall in the 2014 NHL draft in June.

In CONCLUSION: So ends the tale that was the 2013-2014 Vancouver Canucks season. Yes, it was not perfect in any way shape or form and yes the end was disappointing but there is plenty to be excited about for the team’s future despite what most of the local media might say. The Canucks prospect pool with the likes of Frankie Corrado, Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, Dane Fox, etc. is a very exciting group of players nearly ready to make their mark on the NHL.

The first half of the season expectations were very high and then came the injury brigade that took the team by storm. I cannot recall ANY season where a team was so overtaken by injuries throughout the year…it felt absolutely absurd at times. Sure nearly everything that could go wrong did and everyday felt like there was yet another injury or incident that affected the roster…but sometimes that is just how it goes. There will be bad seasons for every team just like every team will have great seasons, but not one season will ever be exactly the same.

Every season is an 82-game journey full of ups and downs, twists and bends…and sometimes if you’re lucky that journey extends into the post season but if it does not extend that does not change the thrill of the journey…it may be disappointing but it does not change my loyalty.

I would have loved to see my Canucks in the madness that is 2014 playoffs but I understand why that did not happen and I know that there is work to be done before the puck drops on the 2014-2015 season. Still even so I am optimistic for the off-season and upcoming season and mark my words they will make the post-season next year! (I know not everyone will agree that statement…but hey that’s okay, we don’t have to always agree. Let’s wait and see what happens come next April!)

OH and ONE LAST note before moving on…Eddie Lack never asked for the cards he was dealt. He never came in with the intent to steal Luongo’s spot and send him packing. Roberto Luongo was and is a player that Lack idolizes and was an incredible example of what being a professional both on and off the ice should look like. Goalies never get the credit or the respect they deserve in the NHL, particularly from the fans…especially when a season does not go according to plan. Vancouver fans have been very hard on their goalies…LOVING them when all goes well and absolutely tearing them down when things are wrong. Let me remind you, that while goalies will steal games for their teams…they do need a little help in the scoring department to win games as well. Lack had the weight of an entire city thrust upon his shoulders when Luongo was traded. It could not have been easy to see his mentor leave and suddenly all the pressure was on him. I remind that you LU advised us(the city) to take care of Eddie during his tenure! He deserves a chance to prove himself and wouldn’t it be something to see this city show their support for their goalie from the very beginning? Eddie Lack is a star in the making and will make his mark yet on this team…all we need to do moving forward is support him and allow him the chance.

Looking ahead there will be questions that will need addressing during the off-season and come October.

QUESTIONS:

Who will be the Canucks select with their 6th overall draft pick? Draisaitl? Ehlers? Nylander? Virtanen? Ritchie?

Will the team be able find a way to come together as a cohesive unit for the 2014-2015 season?

Will Torts return as coach for a second season or will he be let go as the team brings in a new voice? (Honestly I don’t quite think it fair to judge Torts one year where nearly everything that could go wrong did….I’d like to see him have a second chance to prove what he can do when he has a nearly 100% healthy roster!)

Will Trevor Linden be able to find a way to bring the team together with the right combination of current players, new players, coaching staff? Can he complete the puzzle?

Who will be named as the Canucks new General Manager? (Lots of names being thrown around from current assistant GM Gilman, to Benning to former players. Linden said there WILL be a GM in place prior to the draft at the end of June.)

What moves will be made in the 2014 off-season that will impact the team in the new season?

What will the final roster look like at the start of the 2014-2015 NHL season?

The above questions are merely just a few of MANY questions that I have seen and heard since the season came to a close. It will be a long off-season for the team, but it will also be an opportunity for them to comeback EVEN stronger and MORE determined come September. None of them were happy with the ending and all of them expressed a desire to come back and prove that sentiment when they return for the new season.

Are you ready for a wild ride Canuck nation? It is not going to be a quiet summer by any means as the team looks to find the missing piece(s) of the puzzle prior to the puck drop on the 2014-2015 season..

In the mean time are you all enjoying the madness that has been the 2014 NHL playoffs so far?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.