A Prelude to the 2013 season

Well faithful readers, we survived the lockout. The 2013 NHL season is officially begun. Training camp is underway. Game day is fast approaching. My Vancouver Canucks and the other 29 teams are all back on the ice!!! Each day brings new surprises for the fans and media alike as each team announces signings, trades and surprises for their home openers. Each day the whispers of anticipation of the first games grow louder. Fans and media are eager to prove their opinion is the one to listen to regarding the upcoming season.

As the first day of regular season games approaches, the hungrier the media becomes with finding the biggest headline. What are some of these interesting headlines making news? Let’s take a moment to ponder those, shall we?:

– Luongo, where will he play? You all know how I feel on this issue. I am disgusted by the media and certain fans who blame him for all things. I would be extremely disappointed to see him playing anywhere else, but wherever he plays [Vancouver included] I hope he has a fantastic season.

-Who will fill in the void left by Ryan Kesler? Kassian, Schroeder, Hansen or perhaps even Raymond? According to Mike Gillis, that spot will not be available for too long. Kesler is competitive and has never enjoyed being on the sidelines.

-Will Chris Higgins and David Booth be able to stay healthy for the majority of the season? If so, how many points will they put up? Will they eventually reunite with Kesler on the All-American Express line?

-Tim Thomas. Oh, the ever controversial Thomas. He has decided to continue his year of solitude in Colorado away from all things Bruins and hockey. His backup Tuukka Rask will assume the #1 starter position in the Bruins net for the 2013 season. Thomas has however told the team that he will be returning for the 2013-2014 season….really? It will be interesting to see how his team will respond if he does come back next season.

-Chris Pronger. Will or won’t he retire? This one is a difficult one for the Flyers to address. Pronger is their team captain, an impeccable leader on and off the ice.If he does retire, it means being forced to leave the game instead of on his own terms. The whispers are definitely getting louder on this issue as more and more reporters speculate Pronger retiring, and Philadelphia has yet to confirm one way or the other.

-The Maple Leafs. So many questions. Now that Burke has been fired, what will Nonis do differently? Will he be able to address their goal-tending issue before the end of the season? Will Kessel and Lupul be the dynamic duo they were last season again and if so, can they both stay healthy? Will the team make the playoffs in 2013?

-Scott Gomez has been officially let go. He was sent home by the Montreal Canadiens prior to the start of training camp. They will buy him out in the off-season. In other Montreal news, they have yet to secure P.K. Subban to a new contract. He cannot officially report to camp until he has signed on the dotted line.

-Will the Staal brothers now united in Carolina, be able to lead the Hurricanes to playoffs for the the first time since 2009?

-Can the LA Kings have the same success they had last year with Coach Sutter and goalie Quick?

-Will Ranger Nash be the missing puzzle that New York has been looking for?

-Will the young guns in Edmonton bring the city back to a ‘city of champions’ era?

-Just how good will a 100% healthy Sidney Crosby be? Will he be league MVP once more?

With all of these questions, time will tell. Many more issues will come to light in the coming days leading up to the opening game of the season. I look forward to all the story lines that are still come as the season begins. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

P.S. Bonus reading for the week: Below is a link to one of my favourite Canuck/hockey blogs. A post from today was quite enjoyable. It’s an interesting look at Luongo’s stats…and if you keep up with my posts, you all know how much I love the guy as a Canuck!

http://canucksarmy.com/2013/1/14/the-case-for-roberto-luongo-as-the-canucks-starter-in-2013

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GB says ‘ I am sorry’

It is officially time to drop the ceremonial puck now. The NHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to ratify the new CBA and the players are expected to officially ratify the new CBA by Saturday evening….and training camps are open on Sunday. Following the ratification of the NEW CBA, Gary Bettman addressed the media. What stellar media bite did he share with the public? An apology. Yes, an apology. This apology was geared towards all those who did not want a lockout to happen[which is pretty much everyone!].

“To the players who were very clear they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labour contracts, to our partners who support the league financially and personally, and most importantly to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I’m sorry,” said Bettman. “I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months but I owe you an apology nevertheless.”  How did that sound to you? To me, it sounded as if those words came from someone else…aka someone wrote the speech for him. Following his apology, he also spoke of his confidence that he will remain commissioner for many years to come. I suppose, we shall see.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been involved in many rumours circling the league, but the most shocking move they have made since the CBA came into reality…firing Brian Burke. Brian Burke was let go, following four years of zero playoff appearances. Most people have said they were stunned he was fired, but the owners claim it was not an overnight decision but months in the making. Just as Burke was fired, his protege Dave Nonis [yes that Dave Nonis] was named as the new General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is curious that both Burke & Nonis worked for the Canucks together a few years back…and when Burke was fired back then, it was Nonis who was named his replacement. Nonis says that his GM style is similar to that of Burke, but he is more patient.

The closer training camp gets, the louder Luongo trade  and Pronger retirement rumors all around the league become. The CBA will be ratified by tomorrow evening and as training camps open, teams will try to win back all their fans. Pittsburgh is having a few contests through their social media outlets as well as offering each fan attending the first 4home games: up to three free concession items  and 50% off all Pittsburgh merchandise. Nashville is offering fans 2 for 1 tickets for the first game. The question remains, what will the Canucks offer to win back fans? What will the league offer to win back the fans that they drove away[following the last lockout, they created the shootout]?

Teams are still waiting to find out who their first opponents will be as the regular season schedule won’t be released until this weekend. All I know is regardless of who the Canucks play, that this kid is looking forward to digging out the jersey and getting pumped for game day next Saturday [January 19th!!!]. 30 teams are getting themselves ready for #gameday as the time to drop the puck is nearly here!

Until next time, as always, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.