For the Love of the Game. (the female perspective) Vol.1

This post is dedicated to every single female hockey fan out there.

Here we are in 2018 and it still boggles my mind that when it comes to loving hockey(or any sport really), girls and women are told that either we cannot love the game OR we are dictated to on how to properly love the game. If we love it too much or too loudly, we are told that we are obsessed and to quiet down or if we don’t have every single stat memorized we are deemed clueless. Or then there’s the take that tells us that we only love the game for superficial reasons, because we must be attracted to the players or just love the uniforms. Or heaven forbid when we wear our favourite player’s jersey to be told that we either must not know whose jersey we are wearing OR that we are only wearing it because we are attracted to that player. And when those tactics don’t work to dissuade us from the game, we are put against one another.

If we were male, no one would raise an eyebrow or give us constant unwanted commentary as we take in the game.

It’s 2018, and we aren’t going away, there are simply more and more of us discovering our voice declaring our place in the hockey world. We’re here to stay.

At the start of May, I  had an idea to bring female hockey fans together and share our experiences as well as shed light on the game that brings us all together despite rooting for different teams at times. I put out a tweet, asking if any other female hockey fans would be interested in sharing their stories, sharing their voices and the response was overwhelming:

Special thank-you to each and every one of you who took time to be part of this piece! Anyone who missed out or didn’t have time to get their response in and would like to take part in a similar post down the road, let me know and we will set it up! And to those of you stumbling upon this post, please read all of the experiences below. Maybe you’ll relate to the experiences or maybe you’ll see part of your story in theirs or maybe you’ll see hockey in a whole new perspective through someone else’s experience.

Represented below are some incredible women from across the world, many who root for different teams across the league but all united for our love of the game. (And if you’re not following these incredible hockey fans yet, you can remedy that by reading and sharing this post and following all of them on twitter!)

These are some of our stories.

(@Pokeyloo) : “I’ve been an avid fan of the Canucks since I was in my early teens. I cut the team’s pictures out of the Province newspaper and had them on my locker in the early eighties. I grew up wanting Tom Larscheid’s job but didn’t think it was something a woman could do. I did some sports written reporting for TWU(my university) but that was as I got. I know the game well. I love being on twitter during games – it’s fun. My family and friends consider me an obsessive fan but I ask you -if I was a guy, would I have that label? I love hockey, not just the Canucks, love soccer and football also but to a lesser extent. Usually you’ll find me with the guys in the TV room if the game is on during a party. Also, I plan my schedule around games sometimes. I hope the Canucks can win a cup in my lifetime. My favourite players have been Stan Smyl, Tony Tanti, Trevor Linden and Alex Burrows. I’d like to also give a shout out to Jody Vance as one of the first female sports reporters in Vancouver, seeing her in that role always made me feel like it was going to be possible for so many more females yet to come in the Vancouver area.”

Tina Poole (@tpoole00): “I have noticed that times have changed. More and more females are actively blogging and commenting on threads. I am sometimes accused of not understanding the game but they mostly from ignorant males who are passionate about their team. I have always loved sports, especially hockey because I really believe in the values that the team encompasses on and off of the ice. The players inspire me to be the best that I can be everyday.”

Tiera Joy (@TieraBolt): Growing up, I was a figure skater and I was exposed to hockey and the players. However, it wasn’t until I became a mom of a little hockey player that I realized how special the hockey world is. It really is a big, encouraging family. Hockey is so much more than just a game, it’s a culture. That is what drew me in the most. The reason I love the game? It’s exhilarating and no matter the outcome, it has the ability to bring me joy even on the worst days.”

Alexa (@alexaa_speed): “Well, I was born in Russia, so hockey is a big part of my culture. I watched the games with my dad as a child and when I came to America, I was really thrilled to live in a town that was big on hockey (San Jose). I love the excitement and the rush that I feel when I watch. It’s a great way to forget about my problems for a while and just have fun and cheer for my team. Now, I’m Seattle and there’s no hockey team just yet, so I won’t be able to go to games for a while.”

Tanins Nygren(@TannisNygren): “I will admit that first off that perhaps all of those stereotypes that you mention did describe me when I first started to like and watch hockey. There were definitely certain players I became a fan of and even today I can honestly say that is still the case as there are players that I am still a huge fan of despite the fact that they no longer player for the Canucks but that doesn’t mean I am not just as big of a hockey fan as any of my male friends or that I don’t know just much about the sport and in many cases know more.

I grew up in a small city where there wasn’t a lot to do besides going to hockey games and started by being a fan of the WHL and then later the NHL. My love for the game may have started by following specific players and then eventually it become about the Canucks but the bigger fan of the Canucks that I became, the bigger fan of the game itself I became. I will admit that social media has definitely had an impact; whether it’s listening to others opinions, learning stats or the ability to follow the game when I am unable to watch it through tweets. Did I mention how much I HATE regional restrictions? Sometimes, I will say I probably know more stats  than the average fan would know; male or female and find myself repeating them to anyone that will listen.

I not only follow the NHL but having pursued my dream and worked for a sports team, I also am a fan of the WHL, AHL. I recently have been following the NCAA more than I ever have especially when it involves the ability to follow our great prospects. As much as I love the Canucks, it’s not only about one team but I love watching the game whether it means watching them live or on TV, even if it’s watching a game where I don’t like either team such as the first round with Boston and Toronto.

It’s not the easiest thing being a Canucks fan in another NHL city but it doesn’t take long for someone to get to know me before they realize the passionate fan that I am and will not cheer for a team just because that’s where I live. Sometimes it’s a bit more difficult to be a fan of a team when you don’t live in that market but I also think that is what makes me even more passionate and I feel a lot of people will respect that about me.

Twitter has definitely helped me feel connected to other fans and the team despite where I live but it also has allowed me to learn so much more about the game, rules and even the business side of hockey which I am becoming increasingly fascinated with. There will always be those fans that think they know everything and are very negative but what I love is hearing the different perspectives especially when other fans say exactly what I was thinking. Not everyone needs to agree but respect of others opinions and don’t assume that they don’t know what they are talking about. Yes, I am a female so sometimes my emotions do get the better of me, such as the amount of tears I shed during the last week of the season due to the Sedins career coming to an end and you don’t even want to know what I was like being at that final game, here in Edmonton knowing that was the last time watching them but I would like to think that emotion just shows the passionate fan I am.

If I wasn’t a fan of the game, I wouldn’t go to as many games as I do or spend the money and time to travel to see my team because I enjoy it as much as I do.”

Heather Morton (@flyersgrl28): “So, I guess the best place to start is to explain how I got into this sport we call hockey. For as long as I can remember, sports were always a part of my family. My dad played softball and hockey at some points in his life. Him and his friends split season tickets for the Flyers. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from them about meeting Flyers legends. There are pictures of me as an infant in Flyers gear. My dad is the one responsible for introducing me to hockey and starting this crazy obsession. For years, it was our father/daughter date once a year to go to a Flyers game. I saved every single ticket stub. I never saw a Flyers game at the Spectrum but I’ve seen too many games to count in the same building whether it was the Cores State Center, First Union Center, the Wachovia Center or Wells Fargo Center as it’s currently called. I looked forward to this one game every year. I don’t remember much other than the excitement. I grew up watching the Legion of Doom era and seeing Hextall wreaking havoc on players. I was 9 years old when the Flyers lost to Detroit in 4 games and I remember bawling my eyes out. Eric Lindros was my absolute favourite with John LeClair coming in a close second. I’m still enamoured with the both of them to this day. The one vivid memory I have is my dad waking me up when LeClair had scored his 50th goal of the season. That passion became my passion. As I got older and the ’04-’05 lockout happened, my dad stopped following as closely as he had when I was younger. Mostly because they were really bad in the first two seasons after the lockout. But that was the moment when my passion kicked itself into full gear. With the end of the lockout, came new rules and the end of the old ones. I taught myself the new game and watched all the games I could. It wasn’t until maybe the 2008-2009 season that I really started attending games on a semi-regular basis. And with the emergence on social media, I started connecting with other people who loved the Flyers just as much as I did. I actually met one of my absolute best friends at a Flyers game and in about 4 months I will be Maid of Honor in her wedding. Most of the people in my life, I have met through the Flyers somehow. Whether it’s meeting at a game, socializing on Twitter/Facebook or through mutual friends, hockey has united me with so many different and amazing people and I can’t think of my life without these people now. However, being a female hockey fan or just a female sports fan in general, is not without its difficulties. I’ve encountered men who are intimidated by my knowledge of not just my team but of the whole league. There are girls that like the sport solely on “looks” and how cure some player is. They exist, there’s no denying that. But girls like me and so many others, far outweigh those that only see this sport as skin deep. I follow and am friends with several strong female hockey fans…all fans of different teams. I’m fortunate enough that I know such knowledgeable women. We, as a group of knowledgeable people, have to stick together. I love to talk hockey. I don’t care what team you root for…unless my Flyers are playing them that night!”

Miranda M. (@lovelyminda): “I was introduced to hockey in 2003 when I was 12 years old by by attending a Nashville Predators game that my dad was gifted tickets to. It was a developmental time in my life, and as I started feeling burnt out playing softball for years, my interest in hockey grew exponentially. I really enjoyed just how fast paced the sport was, and quickly I spent the off-season reading hockey books and learning as much as I could about the Nashville Predators and hockey in general.

Of course, I found adversity with being a girl wanting to learn and talk hockey. Nashville in 2003-2004 wasn’t as big of a hockey town that it is now, so many people around me didn’t understand why I was so into it in the first place. I tried to talk to boys at my school who knew I played hockey, and immediately, they would say my points were invalid because I didn’t play (and due to softball injuries, I still don’t). “You just think the players are cute”, they’d say. Within due time, I was dealing with nicknames like “puck bunny”, that every female hockey fan dreads. In the online hockey community I was a part of, some of the women embraced the “puck bunny” insult and took it back–by learning and absolutely schooling the skeptics with thoughtful analysis. I wanted to do just that.

Personally, it was a lot harder growing up than it is now when dealing with the adversity and the belief that “women don’t know sports.” To be frank, I knew a heck of a lot more about the stats part of hockey back when I was trying to prove a point than I do now. In a time like 2006-2007, you could ask me the plus-minus of any Preds player and I could spat it out. Now? Not so much. But that’s because I’ve learned there’s nothing to prove to the skeptics. If they don’t believe that I know hockey, spatting off a few obscure stats won’t do much to change their minds. I’d rather discuss coaching systems, special teams tactics, or even more broader terms to discuss hockey.

Nowadays, I’m a blog contributor to Predneck Nation, a great sports radio show featuring analysis of all Preds games on Nashville Sports Radio. The Nashville media market has heavily embraced women, with many radio shows (like Predneck Nation and Penalty Box Radio) serving as an outlet for female fans and analysts. I don’t feel the adversity as much as I used to, especially now that I’m surrounded by a fantastic squad of female Preds fans who know the sport incredibly well. We frequently have twitter discussions and are quickly turning into a little hockey family with get togethers and “girls nights”.

Hockey is even a part of my job as a ride-share driver. I’ve decked my car out as the “PredsMobile,” where discussions with fans around town contributes to my Predneck Nation column. I talk with passengers all day about all realms of hockey, from Preds to visitors of Nashville. I’ve made sure to know info on at least some of each team so that I can have a fruitful conversation. With the city of Nashville embracing hockey so feverishly the last few years, culminating with the Stanley Cup run in 2017, there are a lot of new fans to the sport who don’t know everything, and I welcome their questions and discussions more than any other discussions. And I’ve definitely had (male) passengers try to correct or “mansplain” the sport to me as if I haven’t been watching for 15+ years. I believe the most egregious argument was so basic, it was insulting–the guy insisted the Preds had never been to the second round before 2017(they had three times). He still refused to believe me when I gave him dates, teams, and the series results by number of games.

The most frustrating part is when people are surprised that I know what I’m talking about. I think once that “surprise” is gone away from every sport, that last little bit of frustration will go away.”

Brandy S. (@BrandyVS0202): “One of the earliest memories I have of hockey is of Peter Bondra, Dale Hunter and Adam Oates leading the Capitals. The culmination of these men’s career with the Capitals was the Stanley Cup Finals, which unfortunately ended with the Red Wings sweeping the Capitals.

The main reason that I am drawn to watching the NHL, despite the Capitals’ playoff woes, is that there is always a chance that they might be able to get past the second round and win it all. It is also interesting watching the player development in the league and how they progress, or digress, each year. The Capitals seem to be able to develop goalies well, as seen with Kolzing, Holtby, Neuvirth, and also Varlamov. Of course, over the past twelve years it has also been fun to watch Ovechkin break records and win the Rocket Richard Trophy seven times in his career.

On the international level, it has been great to see as a US fan, the US women’s hockey team have their success. It is important to show that women can be as successful at hockey as men, and to even overshadow the men’s team as in the US.

On a personal note, the Capitals have been able to help me through some tough times. Being able to cheer them on and them winning the games right after my mom’s death in 2013 helped to distract me from what was going on a little bit. Also, my Capitals loving calico (yes, she watched hockey with me!) passed away right after the Capitals won their first game against the Blue Jackets in the first round. They went on to win the next three games, win the series, and are now headed to the STANLEY CUP FINAL. I have joked somewhat that maybe she is up there smacking them and meowing at them to win a few series.”

Cindy Lemoine (@Cindy Lemoine): “I’ve been a hockey fan for about 4 1/2 years now. I had a crush on a guy who was a fan of the Arizona Coyotes, so I started watching them. To my surprise, even though I’ve never been much of a sports fan, I found myself actually enjoying it. I have a very short attention span and bore easily, which is why I can’t tolerate sports. BUT hockey is so fast paced! I mean, these guys are chasing a 3-inch rubber disc going 40 mph on skates! In one of my favourite interviews with my favourite player, Zdeno Chara, he says it best: “I just love the speed of the game and the physicality.” In what other sport do you see such hard hits and fights? I read once that the effects of the hits in hockey are second only to boxing. Even during penalties, challenges, and reviews, I’m never bored. You have Doc Emrick or other announcers spitting out juicy tidbits about players or the team or the game. You have closeups of some of the players. And, if you’re lucky, you have Wes McCauley as one of the refs giving his legendary explanations.

So one day in the 2013-14 season, the Coyotes played the Bruins. I saw Zee, who reminded me of my friend, and asked him who that was. I was mesmerized by his sheer height and later by his power. Then, I saw the rest of the team. There’s just something about the Boston Bruins: their grit, their no-quit, their heart. I can’t quite put into words, but they wiggle into your heart and won’t leave. I like players on other teams, but I will always be first and foremost and forever a Boston Bruins fan. I love how passionate Boston fans are too. They do not fail to let players know when they are displeased!

We female fans do love the game for more than the players, but I do have to admit Zdeno Chara is the reason I fell in love with with the Bruins and continue to be theirs and his biggest fan. The more I learned about the man, the more I admired him and what he’s done not only for hockey but for sports in general and for his community. If anyone would take the time to get to know him off the ice (and his stats on the ice are impressive enough–this beast will be in the Hall of Fame and his number retired for sure), they would see that every conception that had about hockey and players is probably wrong! Sure the game has changed, even since I’ve been watching, but hockey players are, in my opinion, the toughest athletes out there. And there is something different about them. Maybe it’s because they are mostly Canadian and European, but they seem to be some of the most humble, down-to-earth, approachable, friendly, generous and even smartest athletes ever. They don’t seem to get too embroiled in scandals, nor act like overpaid prima donnas. As Zee often says, they are just “regular guys”. Guys who happen to be able to fist fight on ice skates. Long live hockey!”

Shannon (@Pens_Lynn): “Being a hockey fan and being a woman has it’s ups and downs. For one, men don’t take you seriously and think for the most part that you’re watching because you think the players are “hot!”. Not the case, I have a ton of female hockey fans who know the game better than most men. My husband never even watched hockey with me until recently and it’s been fun to explain the game to him. He is one who takes me seriously because I’m so passionate about the game. Most men on twitter do not take a female seriously when it comes to hockey. I’ve had countless “men” tell me to get back in the kitchen because it’s just assumed that women know nothing. It’s sad, really. I’ve also been told that I watch because I think the players are hot! Funny because I’m 41 years old and in the NHL that’s old! I don’t look at the players like that! I look at the players because they can play and definitely have my favourites but it has nothing to do with them being attractive! I love the game for the game!

My female hockey fans know hockey. They know the game inside and out. It is a great group to be a part of. Female hockey fans are by far the most passionate fans of the game. We analyze the game more. We try to figure out what went wrong, what went right and lean on each other when we’re being told it’s a man’s sport. Yes, there are other female fans from opposing teams who tell you that you don’t know anything and that you just started watching hockey because your team is winning. That crap gets old too! In today’s world where women should be empowering other women, that doesn’t happen in the hockey world; especially when you cheer for opposing teams. Some of it is friendly banter but other women can be down right pathetic about it.

It used to bother me when both men and other women would criticize your reasons for being a hockey fan. Not anymore. I grew some thick skin and now I just say my piece and move on. In reality though, we can all be hockey fans and be passionate about the sport we love without ridiculing others. Friendly “smack talk” on twitter is welcome and expected. Other times, it deserves the block button. In the end, hockey is a great sport. One of the greatest to be honest. Sure there needs to be more change in the head shots area but the game is fast and exciting. I’m proud to be a female hockey fan and have made some great friends who are also female hockey fans and there are men who do realize that women can watch hockey, be passionate about it and love the game just the same!”

Medina Menozzi (@MedinaMarie_PI): It all began with a mullet. Yes…I mean Jagr.

My dad is a huge sports fan, a December baby means that football and hockey were on almost all the time. I remember watching games but I had no idea what was going on. I’d stare at the screen at about 3-4 years old and just watch for something to do with dad. Then I saw him: “Mr. Fancy Hair”, as I called him. Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

My dad said the game went from being just something on TV, to me being fully engaged in the game and asking what everything was that was going on. Within a month, I was talking people’s ears off about everything hockey, sporting Penguins gear and running around going “Mew, Mew, Mew” every time Mario scored. But my favourite was Jagr and when he was on the ice, nothing else in the world mattered. The way he flew on the ice, and the sheer power he had to score goals was awe inspiring to me.

In the town I grew up in, hockey was a bad word. It’s a football town. Period. Maybe a handful of people watched hockey. I remember once playing deck hockey in gym class and being the only one who knew how to hold a stick properly (even though they weren’t regulation size). I was 10, and there I was asking the gym teacher if we were focusing on handling, one timers or passing plays that class. He stood there, befuddled.

It didn’t feel good to be made fun of for being good at something others didn’t really know much about, so after a while, after catching a lot of flack for being a hockey chick, I quit focusing on trying to play and acted like I was disinterested in the game entirely, all the while trying to keep up to date with games and news of the Penguins. That lasted all the way up until college. I wanted to go into sports broadcasting/journalism, but the effects of being bullied for being into sports had a lingering effect, and even my student adviser talked me out of it so I chose another major. I should have stuck with it but that is how it goes.

I even dated a guy back in 2005 who played league hockey over in central PA for a while and told him flat out “I hate hockey.” Clearly that was a lie but he didn’t know that. Boy was he surprised when, after watching a game, I piped up about how one of his buddies on his team had poor stick handling and how if he moved his feet as much as he moved his mouth, he just might be able to add some offensive support instead of constantly getting pinned in the defensive zone every time he touched the puck. They stood there with their jaws dropped, I just smiled.

Now, in 2018, I’m writing for a blog called, “Pens Initiative”, continually having to prove that while YES, I am a woman, I can be just as knowledgeable about hockey as men can. That my fandom for the game, or for a player, comes from the love of THE GAME and their playing ability, not because of their looks. Pavel Datsyuk is one ugly dude, but respect where its due: the man could/still can play (in the KHL). I got into hockey not just to bond with my dad, but because I loved to watch and talk about the game, and I still do to this day.”

Artisia Wong (@artisia_wong): “My name is Artisia. I am 31 years old and live in North Delta, Canada. This is my story about how I got into hockey.

I knew about hockey when I was in elementary school but got really into hockey during high school. I would attend games and watch hockey on TV. My cousin’s loved watching hockey so I would watch the games pretty much every weekend with them.

After high school, my cousins formed a hockey league and I can still say up to this day, I’m their biggest fan! They play every weekend and I try to attend as many games as possible. This season, I might have missed on game. But they won the cup this season!

I hope more ladies love hockey as much as me!”

Kelsey Sagvold (@SeamoreHockey): “Hockey came to me at a point in my life when I needed it most. I live with a rare nerve condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. This condition is a rare disease of the nervous system. There is no cure. There is no universal diagnosis of this disease. The FDA has not approved a single medication for this specific disease yet. It is debilitating, progressive, and causes unrelenting pain of the highest level on the MacGill Pain Scale. It leaves no area of our lives untouched. I can honestly say this was the thing that saved me. Learning the game has just grown my passion for it. Hockey is more than just a game to me. It’s what I turn to on bad days and good. I live for Friday and Saturday at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

I’ll never forget my first college game. It was an icy, cold North Dakota February evening of 2016, where I found myself standing in a line of thousands of other University of North Dakota students, waiting for a hockey game. Oliver, now my husband, and I stood in that line for what seemed like forever. As the doors opened to the Raplh Engelstad Arena, students pushed and shoved trying to get to the warmth faster. The UND Fighting Hawks were playing the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. Throughout three periods of play only two goals would be scored. In overtime, Austin Poganski would be awarded a penalty shot that would find its way into the back of the net. The crowd erupted in cheers, people giving high fives to people they had never met before. It was in those moments that all my pain slipped away, and I knew I needed to find a way to be as close to this feeling and environment as possible.

I kept attending games and watching the NHL on TV. Learning as much as I could. My mom says that hockey is too much of who I am. However, I don’t know where I’d be without it.”

Diana Shank Pitt (@dshank92): I first got interested in hockey back in 2008 when I was 16 and watched some of the regular season and most of the playoffs for the first time. I decided to give the sport a try to see if it would interest me. Growing up here in PIttsburgh was nice since I could watch all the Penguin games and to see the Crosby era with Fleury and co. develop into the team that they are now. I enjoy the constant action whether it be precise skating, posing, odd man rushes, good hits or elite goals and play making that can take place even in low scoring games.

Other sports seem slow by comparison. It’s a sport that is under appreciated and isn’t as popular as others but I feel offers more action and intrigue, especially in the playoffs when compared to basketball or baseball. I find that hockey games pull you in so much with the intensity it brings out in fans, especially in playoff times and how you see the entire town in which a team plays come together. I don’t see this in other sports. The hockey community seems more close knit.

Hockey is more unpredictable than other sports in terms of predicting who will win. Very rarely does the President’s trophy team win the title where as in other sports, it is much easier to predict who will be left standing.

It’s also not often that websites ask us ladies or non-traditional sports fans how they got into the sport. Hockey seems much more open and receptive to the previously non-traditional sports fans whether it be ladies or us lgbt folks. I’ve met a lot of wonderful female hockey fans on twitter.”

Laurel (@PitterTwaited): “Fan since 1992. I must have written a good 5 pages on what it’s like to be a hockey fan, why I’m a hockey fan, and what I love about hockey. I added a few things that ticked me off about being a hockey fan and then realized that almost everything I had written could be coming from both male and female hockey fans and I was supposed to focus on what it’s like to be a female hockey fan.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I talk a lot in real life and type just as much online. So, instead of the exhaustively long tome that I am fully capable of producing on this subject…I shall keep it short and to the point.

The Best Thing About Being A Female Hockey Fan: No waiting in long lines to use the lades room! Yeah! You won’t find that at a baseball game.

The Worst Thing About Being A Female Hockey Fan: The Puck Bunny that shows up to games with the hope of having sex with a player(s), knows nothing about the sport and wears her pink ‘shirsey’ way too tight.

I am a non-peepee dancing, team colours sweater wearing proud San Jose Sharks Female Fan For Life.”

Kayla Martz (@Kayluvsredwings): “Hockey has always been a huge part of my family…I was a late bloomer however. The two reasons I got into hockey were seeing Todd Bertuzzi and Chris Chelios playing. I just liked their attitude on the ice, they had that “extra something”, I guess you could say. After watching a couple games around 2007, I really became active in learning as much as I could. I started by going on a site known as Yahoo Answers Hockey section where I can honestly say I’ve made friends for life. Ten years later and I’ve loved nothing more than being so completely active on what is known as hockey twitter.

For myself, hockey was an outlet when I needed one during some hard years in my life. Being a female fan, I always imagined is nothing different than being a male fan. Until you start loudly voicing your opinions that is. On ‘hockey twitter’, there’s not one day that goes by where I don’t see a girl getting a million questions thrown her way to prove she knows so much about the one sport we all love. Which in my opinion is just unfair. I’m not saying all guys do this but unfortunately this is the reality we live in and will continue to live in. The way I see it is, it’s up to us how we respond to the way some people may look at us as fans. I’ve been very loud about what players I happen to find attractive (James Neal is a stunning example haha!). I just chose not to let it bug me anymore and in a way to make the names your own and wear them like a badge of honour. Being a female fan of any sport is amazing. But being called a ‘puck slut’ who can honestly say, knows more so than the average joe? It’s amazing :).”

Shelley (@MsSunshineplz): “Hockey has been a lot of things for me. It was a way for my older brother and I to bond after living away from each other for years. The Penguins organization in particular always seems to have an impact directly on me.  It started over 10 years ago. It was the first season after the 2nd deployment. My father-in-law had recently passed and we were up for the funeral. Just to get away from everything, we went to an open practice (at the old facility). I watched the good natured fun(they always seem to have) and after practice waited outside (in the 42 degree rain) and they stopped and did pictures and autographs. I remember Marc-Andre Fleury in particular, because he was my then 7-yr old’s favourite player. He not only threw a puck over the glass to her inside but signed it and her jersey in the parking lot. In that couple hours of time, the pain and loss was forgotten for a while. Later that year when we came home for Thanksgiving, we were lucky enough to be chosen for hometown heroes. Usually, they only give 2 tickets but they found 3 so our daughter could go. Being able to stand “behind the scenes” for half of the game and ride the zamboni will ALWAYS be an incredible memory.

I’ve encountered several players in the ‘real world’ and they are ALWAYS gracious and polite which further endears the sport to me. It’s hard to put into words exactly why I love the sport so much. The players, the speed, the action, and haha yes the fights. It’s just simply the best sport on the planet to me! The only dark side to it doesn’t even come from the actual sport or the players I’ve encountered. It comes from fellow ‘fans’ on social media that feel the need to ‘test’ my knowledge every chance they get. If I make an occasional emotional based comment, the hell I catch is sometimes endless.

I have everyone from housewives, hockey coaches, semi-pro players, retirees and KHL current players that follow me. Most have never said a bad thing and most tell me my analytic skills of picking a part the game for what is and isn’t working, is spot on. I don’t need validation although I appreciate when the pros tell me I’m right about something and I have stood my ground on many occasions where someone wanted to be a jerk or tell me to ‘get back in the kitchen and leave hockey to the men’. It doesn’t matter one way or another, I will continue to love the sport until I can’t watch it anymore!!”

(@khlee_28): “Why is it so impossible to believe that women can love any sport as much as a man can, or even more? Why is it especially impossible for that sport to be ice hockey? Is it because it’s so rough and since women are supposed to be dainty that they’re not “supposed” to enjoy it? Screw that.

When I moved to Vancouver for high school in 2009, we were on the brink of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Canada won gold. 2011, the Vancouver Canucks went to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Anyone that was there at that time would inevitably be a fan. It was worse for me, it was at a time where I was going through puberty and trying to figure myself out, I found a whole new world when I found Hockey. Through the sport, I made long lasting friendships, I’m thankful to have something so unifying, it’s unlike any community.

I’m proud to love hockey, I’m proud to love the Canucks. I love the sport. And I love my boys. The Vancouver Canucks will always be a big part of my life. You either accept it or you don’t, you don’t have to question or speculate as to why it’s that way, it just is. I wish it was just commonly accepted that women are big hockey fans too. I don’t want to compromise my integrity by exposing my Canucks tattoo on my side every time I want to justify that I am a major Canucks/hockey fan. I want to not have to prove my love for the game. We are all Canucks. Hockey runs through all our veins.”

Me(@nucksaid): “Growing up watching sports wasn’t really a focus in our house aside from playoffs and the Olympics. One of our neighbours LOVED hockey and the Vancouver Canucks, often invited us over to watch the games. It didn’t take long before the game and the team completely stole my heart.

Falling in love with the game happened slowly and all at once….it became everything. Before you knew it, I was learning as much as I could about the game itself, the team’s history and current roster; memorizing every stat and driving my family crazy with my nonstop hockey talk. It became a part of my every day vernacular and impossible for me to miss a game. And when it became realized that this wasn’t a passing phase, I was gifted my first Canucks jersey(the count now sits at 9 and counting!). It became clear that I needed a bigger outlet other than long detailed Facebook statuses, and conversation. Someone suggested that I try starting a blog, and as luck would have it, I learned that I really enjoyed having a space to write about the Canucks as well as hockey in general. Nucksaid became my space to write.

Prior to starting my blog, attending a minimum of 3-4 games each season at the arena became mandatory including one every year on my birthday to now having become a season ticket holder. Being at the rink with 18,000+ other fans, from the calm before the storm of the game to blades hitting the ice, anthems, puck drop, the roar of the crowd, to the final buzzer, is one of my most favourite places in the whole world. Whether at the rink or watching the games from home or out with friends, whether it’s a win or a loss or whether my team is playing; the game itself has a calming effect on me.

As much as I love the game, my love of it is more often than not put into question by my male counter parts. Either I’m looked down on with derision and forced into having the game ‘man-splained’ to me OR they simply do not believe me that it’s possible for a woman to love the game the way they do and I’m put to the test on every stat in the book. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been to a game and when in conversation about the game or the teams that are playing, every single thing I contribute is put through the google test before believing that I could be right. Or there’s the ones who ask if I know that I’m at a hockey game while decked out in hockey gear with 18,000 strong also dressed the same…but I’m the one confused about my location. Or they tell me that since they don’t like the jersey that I’m wearing representing my favourite player, that I should burn my jersey and the spiral of horrible commentary directed towards myself and other female fans hits the territory of words I cannot repeat.

It’s true that not all men are this way, some do welcome us to the hockey community without the constant testing of our knowledge or forcing us to prove our fandom. Some allow us to be a part of this world and share in the joy and the heartbreak that stems from the game itself and for that I’m grateful. They give me hope that this divide between us and them will not always be, that one day we can simply say we are all hockey fans regardless of who we are and that will be enough.”

I urge you all, if any of these experiences resonated with you or if you know someone who has felt the same, share the post and let’s all make it our aim so that in 2018 the sentiment of “hockey is for everyone”, actually becomes 100% true. We are all hockey fans.As, always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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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.

 

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.