Season’s End

If you are wondering where I have been the last few days the answer is simple: I took a break from all of my social media outlets. I was tired of all the negativity regarding the Canucks and needed a few days away from the negative commentary that I knew would follow the sweep. I am by no means in denial of the their first round ousting by San Jose, I fully accept that the Canucks season has come to an end. You will hear no complaints or excuses here. Are there things I could complain about or make an excuse about, YES but it would not change the result so it would be fruitless. It is what it is and that is all there is. We may not have got the ending we wanted BUT we are lucky that we got to watch our team play any hockey in May [14 teams were not so lucky!].

Today’s post looks that the season that was and it was full of plenty of excitement beyond the playoff disappointment. Let’s begin at the beginning shall we? You remember back in September when everyone’s favourite NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman threw down the lockout hammer? As soon as the deadline passed and the lockout was enacted, EVERYONE assumed that there would NO NHL season. The NHL and NHLPA had countless meetings and every time progress seemed to occur it was followed by stalling and growing animosity between the two sides. It seemed as though there would be no end to the lockout as both sides seemingly could not come to any sort agreement. The League did not cancel the season out right rather every two weeks saw Bettman announcing the cancellation of blocks of the season including the cancellation of the ever popular Winter Classic. Each new cancellation only added to the anger of the fans. It quickly became a case of Gary vs. Donald Fehr in a war of words and there seemed to be no end in sight. Cue the call for a negotiator to come in! With the aid of the negotiator the two sides were forced into putting some serious time and reflection into their cases and eventually forced to meet together. The lockout came into affect September 15th 2012 and did not come to an end until January 6th 2013. 510 games were lost from the season. It was initially thought that they could put together a 50 game schedule but later was reduced to 48 games.

After a delay of 3 1/2 months, the season finally began January 19th 2013. Teams around the league created initiatives to encourage their loyal fans to return to the rink. The season had many incredible moments league wide:

The Chicago Blackhawks set a new NHL record with their 21-0-3 undefeated in regulation streak which was eventually broken by the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks solidifed themselves as the best team of the regular season winning the President’s trophy for the 2013 season.

Sidney Crosby came back healthy for the first time in almost two years and played like he never lost a beat. Crosby would have won the Art Ross Trophy had it not been for an unfortunate incident in which he suffered a broken jaw and missed the remaining 12 games of the season. It should be noted that Crosby returned for the playoffs and picked up right where he left off before his injury! The Pittsburgh Penguins proved themselves to be the best team in the Eastern Conference when the went on a tear winning 15 games straight!

The Minnesota Wild overcame some early struggles as big name signings Zach Parise and Ryan Suter helped the teams clinch a playoff berth for the first time in a few years. The feel good story of the year perhaps was the incredible journey of goalie Josh Harding who overcame an early diagnosis of MS to play games in both the regular season and the playoffs.

The New York Islanders made the post-season for the first time in 6 years thanks to some incredible young talent and lots of heart from players like John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Frans Neilsen and veteran goalie Evgeni Nabakov. Tavares lead his team by scoring and setting the example that you never give up on a play or your team.

The Washington Capital overcame many growing pains [new coach and early season struggles] to dominate their second half of the season being led by an awakened Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin led his team scoring more than 30 goals to nab yet another Rocket Richard trophy. The Capitals despite early season woes won their division and earned home ice advantage in the first round.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had their share of drama this year, from the firing of Brian Burke to the ever constant goal-tending rumors. Despite the rumors the tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens helped this team earn their first playoff berth in 9 years! Welcome back to the post-season Toronto, enjoy your journey however long it lasts [I’m rooting for you!!].

The Columbus Blue Jackets earn the award for most improved team overall. This is a team that everyone expects to take advantage of and this year they proved to the league that they are competitive. They made every team they played earn every inch of the ice. They beat Detroit 4/5 times! They acquired Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline and he helped them make a Cinderella run in the final stretch. They only missed the post-season by a SINGLE point [had Minnesota lost their final game, it would have been Columbus that played Chicago!].

The Detroit Red Wings entered their first season without the veteran presence of former Captain Niklas Lidstrom. The void he left was a large one and at times you could see Detroit missing his presence on the ice. For the first time in many years their participation in the playoffs was put in question as they had many ups and downs through the year. Their playoff streak in jeopardy and their fate in their hands sent Detroit on a determination mission where they insured that they would be playoff bound. 22 straight years and still going strong!

The Boston Bruins continued to play their Bruin style of hockey despite the loss of Tim Thomas. Tuukka Rask proved that he was up to the task of being number one and helped to lead the team.

The Montreal Canadiens adjusted very nicely to the coaching change and proved that they can be a top contender. They finished their season as division leaders and 2nd overall in the Eastern Conference. Despite missing the early part of the season due to a contract dispute, P.K. Subban lead the Montreal defence and proved to the league that he is an offensive defenseman.

The Edmonton Oilers may not have had the success in the win column that they hoped for BUT they showed that they have a lot of young talent up front that is capable of making a lot of noise in the next few years. With the talents of Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, & Schultz, don’t be surprised if we see Edmonton return to the post-season next year!

The Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson picked up where he left off last year as the league’s top defenseman before having his season put on hold when he suffered a severed achilles tendon. Despite losing their best defensive asset, the Senators still found ways to win games and were able to put numerous rookies in their line up. Captain Afredsson lead his team on the way to the post-season. Erik Karlsson did return for the final game of the season despite reports that he would not be back until next year and did so in style scoring a goal! Karlsson’s return helped to spark the Senators in their first round victory, best of luck in the second round Ottawa!

The Vancouver Canucks may have had their post-season ended prematurely but they had some great moments. Captain Henrik Sedin became sole possessor of 1st on the all-points leader surpassing Markus Naslund’s 757 points in his 905th career game February 15th. Daniel Sedin became sole possessor of 2nd on the all-time points list behind his brother also passing Naslund’s previous record in his 905th career game April 22nd. Roberto Luongo proved what many fans already knew that he is more than qualified at helping a team WIN. Jannik Hansen scored some timely goals and played an unlikely hero in some games. The team finished third in the conference and won their 5th straight North West Division title. My favourite 2013 Canuck moment was probably on my birthday when Henrik scored that penalty shot goal against Nashville and the entire arena went absolutely nuts!

See? There were A LOT of good moments this season in a year when everyone told me that there would be no hockey. A LOT of people told me that it was pointless to keep suggesting that we would get a shortened season BUT we did get a shortened season! It may have been short but it was full of incredible moments all around the league.

I took a self-induced break from social media the last few days and it was necessary. The Canucks season is over and despite all the negativity that social media has been full of about them, this a team that I am now and always will be fan of my Canucks.  #heartofacanuck. Better luck next year boys!

The playoffs are still underway and many memories are yet to be made.16 teams qualify and by next week only 8 will remain. Prediction: Stanley Cup Final: The Chicago Blackhawks vs. The Pittsburgh Penguins

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

2012 ends with the NHL making one FINAL offer…

Let me start by saying I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Years! Adios 2012. Hello 2013.  The 2012-2013 NHL Lockout has now surpassed 100 days. As 2012 came to a close…the NHL has made yet ONE more FINAL offer to the Players. Funny how each time a new offer is made..Bettman calls it the FINAL offer. Following each proposal there is usually a counter proposal. The sides have been in constant contact since the new deal was suggested and are supposed to met together yesterday and today. The latest reports suggest that a new deal MUST absolutely BE in place by January 11th in order to get the minimum 48 game regular season in place + playoffs ending by the end of June. It was expected that NHLPA would respond to the NHL’s offer yesterday with a counter proposal of their own. They did. We shall have to wait and see how that turns out….all signs point to they BOTH need more time to review and discuss. Great…more waiting! Just what we all wanted! There are many who claim they could care less if hockey returns after this latest round of cat & mouse that the league and PA are currently trapped in. There are a few NHL analysts that still hold out a faint[very faint] hope that a deal will be struck by the 11th. One of those analysts is the ever colourful Don Cherry who has taken to twitter tweeting his belief that the NHL will be back ice mid-January. I admit [as always] that I would LOVE if that occurred but it really comes down how far Bettman is willing to lose just to make his point [in the end, it might be more costly to him than he can guess. Rumor has it that this could mark his last year as Commissioner].

Now that 2012 has come to a close and the lockout continues…here is a list of all the moments we have missed thanks to Bettman’s lockout:

– 2012-2013 pre-season [but that is the least important of any games!]

– 2012-2013 opening day of the NHL season and all the games prior to & on January 14th.

– 2012-2013 All-Star game & all the festivities that come with it.

– 2013 Winter Classic [It was supposed to be TODAY in Detroit!]

– All of the ups and downs that come with an NHL season for each player individually and each team separately. There are always streaks [good & bad] throughout the season that make it unique and draw comparisons to previous years of previous players.

In other news…have you been watching the World Juniors taking place in Russia? Have you seen Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stealing the show? He has so far led Team Canada through an undefeated preliminary round…sending them into the Semi-finals! Go Team Canada![p.s. the U.S. team is looking pretty good too!] World Junior hockey is a great outlet for those us who are missing hockey. It gives us those lovely moments to yell at the refs for making bogus calls, yelling at the players when they make a mistake or dissing the opponent and cheering like crazy each time your team scores a goal. Yes, World Junior hockey is great for any hockey fan, but it ends as quickly as it begins and each game leaves me wanting to watch the game I have been missing since September.

I don’t care how it happens, I just want to be able to watch hockey again. I want to see my Canucks hit the ice at Rogers arena just as many of you [though you might not admit it at this moment] want to watch your team hit the ice in their home arenas. I am tired of reading the local papers [Vancouver Sun/The Province] attempts at creating hockey story lines during this lockout…it drives me crazy[specifically those jabs at Luongo…!] Their constant negativity is what drove me away from buying their papers and keeps me from buying them now. Each article seems to push fans against the home team rather than support them. That is not a paper that I want to read. I would rather read a paper that supports the team WIN or LOSE. It can report the BAD and the GOOD….not just the bad.] Apologies for my rant…but I was reading the paper at work the other day and the story made my blood boil…that is all I will say.

Moving on, back to the lockout that has seen no end [YET]…we shall have to wait and see the results of this latest NHL  offer and PA counter as it unfolds. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

NHL & the PA go to Court + BP offers their solution

And as with many times before talks between both sides went cold. Just as progress seemed to be on the horizon meetings were met with a frigid tone as soon as Bettman and Fehr entered the players+owners only meetings. And just as before as each round has gone south, this latest sour note was met with MORE cancellations. All games prior to and on December 30th have been cancelled. The odd thing is that he only cancelled two weeks and left the very very TINY possibility of new year’s eve as a start date. The latest round of meetings in this CBA saga is set to begin this last week. Wednesday’s meetings are set to be met with mediators between the NHL and the PA. The time to go back and forth has passed…it is time to get down to the bones and put together a new CBA. Fans are growing more agitated as the lockout approaches the 90 day mark and the number games canceled is 526 regular season games….nearly half of the scheduled games have been lost. 90 days into this lockout has led to an intensified war of words and blame game…leading both sides to file court actions against one another. Mediators did not help to bring the sides closer together. [Interesting factoid…last year when the NBA lockout escalated and legal actions were filed…12 days later they announced the season was re-instated].

In other news the World Juniors team for Canada has been set and will feature a slew of young NHL talent as the lockout will still be in place. That young gun team will be led by the Oiler’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins! This squad will be Canada’s most talented Junior team since their 2005-2009 Gold medal teams streak. I guess I will have excuse to watch some hockey this Christmas after all.

How’s this for a solution to the CBA drama? Boston Pizza took it upon themselves to plea to the NHL and the PA for the 2012-2013 season to be salvaged sooner than later. Its not likely to result in a signed CBA deal…but it is an entertaining idea. It is definitely high time for them to get serious about matters….I for one would LOVE to see hockey in 2013. I do not care about who is right or wrong in this ridiculous saga…it is time to STOP blaming each other and actually come up with a solution that works for BOTH sides.

That is all for now. As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Guess who’s back? + Players & Owners meet + Behind the Green

Guess who’s back? Yes, its me. I’m sorry for disappearing! I’m still here! A crazy work schedule of multiple 6 day work weeks has kept me from having time to work on my blog! Even though I was absent from the world of blogging I have been quietly keeping up with the CBA meetings as they have continued. So without further ado, lets get right down to business.

Let’s review the last few weeks. Bettman and company[well mostly Bettman] wanted to take a long break from CBA talks but alas meetings were resumed a few short days later. Just as progress seemed to be around the corner, talks stopped abruptly and once again all progress was put on hold. Then came Black Friday. Black Friday, indeed as Bettman cancelled the All-Star game and all the activities that come with it, as well as all games prior to and on December 14th. So to recap…Bettman announced the lockout as official midnight of September 15th and has cancelled the 2012 pre-season, all regular season games between October 11th and December 14th, the 2013 Winter Classic and the 2013 All-Star Game. In response to each cancellation more and more players have gone overseas to seek playing opportunities as the season has slowly faded away. Along with more players leaving following each announcement, more and more players are speaking out in regards to the lockout. At first the players seemed cautious to speak their minds publicly, but as time wears on, more are willing to publicly voice their frustration. Teemu Selanne called out Bettman shortly after the lockout began, Bobby Ryan called out the players who have opted to play elsewhere[until he too decided to play overseas!], a healthy Sidney Crosby though frustrated at the longer the lockout keeps him off the ice has been a steadfast part of the ongoing negotiations, and the ever calm Canucks Captain Henrik Sedin has added his voice of frustration in the direction of the owners.

On December 1st, there was a new approach to the more than 80 day lockout problem. The NHL and the NHLPA agreed to an owners + players only meeting. The meeting involved 6 owners, 18 players, Bill Daly[Bettman’s right hand] and Steve Fehr[Donald’s brother]. Among those players is said to be captains, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. That meeting took place YESTERDAY and lasted for more than 8 hours with BOTH sides stating that the day was constructive…..only to resume again this morning following the Board of Governor’s meeting. It is also expected that following the meetings, Bettman will address the media [it was announced this evening that BOTH Bettman & Fehr would keep quiet on the outside as the two sides exchanged proposals]. It is being speculated that THIS round of meetings will massively impact the future potential of the season being re-instated. The speculation is that should these meetings and Bettman’s media address result in a new deal than there could be potentially 56-60 regular season games on the schedule. That is merely speculation at this point as the meetings are still in progress and we will not know one way or another until they address the media this afternoon. Perhaps this different approach will the key to solving the CBA problem, only time will tell but it is interesting to know that both sides have called these owners/players meeting constructive and having traction in the right direction. How does one solve the 2012 CBA conundrum? Perhaps yesterday and today’s meetings will hold part of the answer…but it is going to take movement on both sides to bridge that gap that has always remained.

Some fans have given up on the NHL and say that they will not return to the game should it return this season or not until next. All I know…all I want for Christmas is to see my Canucks and 29 other teams back on the ice. Regardless of when the NHL returns…I will be still be a fan of the game and my team.  #EndTheLockout #Hockey4ChristmasPLEASE #TimetoBringHockeyBack #56isthenew82

In other news Canucks fans….those pesky Green Men are at it again[come on you know you love them…okay so maybe some of you can’t stand them…but I think they are great fans!] They have released “Behind the Green” Part 1…and you just know that it will be hilarious. Don Taylor does the introduction. The book is released just in time for the holidays and will make a great gift for any Canucks fan your Christmas lists!…just follow the link below!

http://behind-the-green.myshopify.com/

In regards to the owner and players continued meeting, this afternoon’s media conference with Bettman will be more revealing in regards to the potential of hockey returning this season or not. Fingers crossed that this time REAL progress can made and not just a proposal.Is 56 the new 82? Can both sides meet in the middle and together create a CHRISTMAKKUH miracle…starting a season by Christmas? We shall see! As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

GB Going Negative as the 2012 Lockout Continues…

As if good old GB needed any more negative press than all the local media is giving him the last few days. Following my posting of the NHL and the NHLPA’s stream of consistent meetings….Bettman decided rather than come to an agreement that it would be best to wait for it because I know how much you all love to wait….take a break…a two week break. Ridiculous? Yes. It was a stupid idea. It led to all the local sports media and many players to call out Bettman for this ridiculous idea. Detroit Red Wings, Ian White called GB an idiot and Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul sarcastically called Bettman’s desired break from talks as a “great approach” moving forward. Despite GB’s desire for a lengthly break from CBA discussions, the two sides are scheduled to resume meetings Monday[November 19th].

In lieu of having the season re-instated, Canuck fans can take a small comfort in the fact that Daniel Sedin is completely symptom free following that crunching Keith elbow that sidelined him with a concussion back in March. [I know all of you, Canuck fans, remember the hit of which I mention….a hit that made us all cringe at once]. Despite the game being on hold, it is great news to hear that Daniel Sedin is symptom free!

Pavel Bure was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame recently which left many divided on whether the honour was deserved. It also sparked many to suggest that perhaps the Canucks should retire Pavel Bure’s jersey in the upcoming season whenever that should come to be. Is there a doubt that Bure was an amazing player? No…he was definitely a one of a kind player….he didn’t earn the nickname “Russian Rocket” for nothing. The guy won the Calder trophy, scored 60 + goals more than once and catapulted the Canucks on one of their most memorable playoff runs in their history [1994]. Bure’s quick reliable shot helped re-define Canucks hockey making plays that seemed impossible, so yes maybe they should retire #10. Maybe you think it should not be retired but rather that he is included in the “Ring of Honour” or that the Hockey Hall of Fame was good enough. Regardless of anyone’s opinion on Bure’s inclusion in the HHOF or the possibility of his jersey being retired, NO ONE can dispute his talent or contribution to the game. The Russian Rocket left Vancouver fans with some great memories.

Date to keep in mind: January 20th 1995. That is the date the shortened season began following the 1994-95 season lockout. Yes, the October and November have been taken away, and the Winter Classic being canceled certainly puts a damper on the chances of the season happening. Each day makes it seem as though, Bettman wants to take away more from the fans[especially as he wanted a break from meetings!..]. I know it seems more and more unlikely to everyone out there that a season is even possible at this point…but in 1994/95 …the season did not begin until January 20th….and I cannot help but hold a [albeit faint] sliver of hope. Perhaps my being optimistic will drive some people crazy or lead some to call me crazy..but that does not bother me. I simply miss the game, and the idea that it will not return is not something that I choose to entertain.

Each day as the lockout drags on, the league, owners and players alike lose more money. Each day fans, media and yes even all the bandwagon fans pick sides, and each individual thinks their opinion is the correct one. Each day both sides stand their ground, and each day the fans grow more disgruntled. Each day the lockout continues to drag on. Each day Bettman and Fehr speak on behalf of their side, but since Bettman’s desire for a break rather than continued discussion or a resolution has led many to call for his resignation as soon as a new CBA is reached.

CBA talks will resume tomorrow as will the usual drama that ensues when these two parties meet. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Why SO serious???

November 3rd, the NHL and the NHLPA met for the first time in over two weeks. Their meeting went past 1AM of November 4th. Talks were then set to resume November 6th in NYC at undisclosed [to the media] location. The two sides met for more than 7 hours. They met again November 7th, 8th, 9th for extended periods. The media eventually discovered their location amid whispers that perhaps talks were at stand still AGAIN. Just as quick as progress appeared, it seemed to disappear. Quietly without anyone really knowing what to think…both sides met again SATURDAY & again on SUNDAY making plans to resume talks again this week.

MONDAY[Nov.12th] the NHLPA’s Steve Fehr said that there are 3 issues that need to be solved before a new CBA can be reached. and when they are reached a deal can be reached rather quickly. Those 3 issues are as follows:

1.The split of money

2. Player contract rules

3. Who will pay for the damage of the lockout

and secret issue ***4[aka if they solve the first three issues]. How would a shortened season work[now that an 82 game season is not possible]?

Players and owners alike are both losing money as the lockout drags on. It is slightly encouraging that for over a week BOTH sides have been meeting on a regular basis. In comparison to previous CBA meetings, these latest meetings have resulted in extended discussions and additional meetings. Why so serious? Does the continued discussion mean that a new CBA can be reached sooner rather than later? All we can do, is wait.

Players want to get back on the ice. Owners want the monetary issues resolved. Gary Bettman keeps looking for a larger slice of the revenue pie. The fans are beyond frustrated as the lockout continues. After the last lockout, the NHL brought the shootout into in existence in order to entice the fans back to the game they stole….what will they create this time to bring back the fans? Time will tell.

The NHL and the NHLPA continue to debate the CBA conundrum. As Steve Fehr stated…there are some key issues to resolve before a new CBA becomes reality. This latest round of continuous meetings leaves more room for optimism than before when their meetings lasted less than 2 hours and maybe two days in a row. They have met and/or touched base nearly everyday since the November 3rd meeting. More meetings mean more discussions are happening. We will have to wait and see if more meetings means that they can resolve those 3 main issues.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

The 2012 CBA saga continues…

Like any sports fan, I hate lockouts. As an NHL fan…I really hate lockouts. This is the 3RD lockout in less than 20 years of Bettman’s reign. For the piece of ‘de resistance’ good old GB’s announced on Friday, that Winter Classic is indeed canceled. WOW. Canceling the Winter Classic is below the belt. Many fans had already purchased tickets, and the outdoor event was set to host more than 70,000 fans. I hate…no LOATHE the fact that this marquee event has been taken away from the fans. On the heels of this ridiculous announcement came the news that CBA talks were set to resume Saturday between Bill Daly and Steve Fehr. Their meeting was rumored to continue until 1:00 AM Sunday morning. More CBA meetings are set to be scheduled and reportedly may resume tomorrow in NYC between Bettman, his minions, and Donald Fehr and the PA. Is there reason to be excited? Perhaps not just yet, but there is as always room for optimism. Whether or not this latest round of CBA discussions brings the season back sooner or later, there is finally discussion happening. This is the first round of discussion between the two sides since October 18th[more than two weeks ago!]. Progress of any kind such as the extended discussion of the weekend is encouraging in the CBA saga that at times seems never ending.

Here are a few things that I am certain of:

1. Some people think the players are asking for too much money and some think that the owners are taking too much money. BOTH sides need to make compromises that they can BOTH live with.

2. The Owners are upset that the players want more money BUT if was the OWNERS that signed the players to those big lofty contracts. Contracts that have been SIGNED should be honored.

3. The lockout has hurt more than the players, owners, and fans…it has hurt those individuals who work in and around the game within each organization. The lockout has taken jobs from hundreds of people that did not deserve to lose their jobs…they should be allowed to go back to work.

4. The fans deserve better and just want to watch hockey again…but this lockout will push some away from the game they love. After the last lockout, the league introduced the shootout to entice fans to return….what will the league use this time to bring back the fans who turn away?
5. Gary Bettman, you, made the WRONG decision in the canceling of the Winter Classic. Every time it seems like there is progress…GB follows it with yet another announcement of a chunk of games canceled or a proposal deemed unacceptable.

6. I absolutely LOATHE the word ‘lockout’ and its three separate associations with the NHL (the 1994-1995 season, the 2004-2005 season, and now the 2012-2013 season). As I stated in the opening of this blog….I hate hate hate lockouts and I know I am not the only one.

Perhaps as sports writer Damien Cox suggests in the link below…that reason for the serious talks not beginning until November is that this whole lockout scheme seems scripted and was perhaps in the plans all along. Maybe it was…

http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/article/1282764–nhl-lockout-if-it-s-november-it-means-serious-negotiations-are-finally-under-way-cox

It is November…and I should not be writing about the continued lockout. November means the beginning of when teams begin to take shape and streaks begin. November should not mean continued discussion of the THIRD lockout in GB’s tenure. November should not be NO-hockey-VEMBER.  As Cox and others have suggested…it seems as though all along that the league planned to have the lockout continue through November…and maybe they did. No matter how this lockout came to be, whether you blame: Bettman, the league, the owners, Fehr, or the players; it is time to end it and to put the game back on the ice.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.