To Whom It May Concern…(Part Two)

To whom it may concern,

I never thought I would write one post about this, let alone two posts in three months. (Part One). 

It is still true that I am a female hockey fan. The fact that I am female and a hockey fan should not influence how I am treated about the game but lately that has been happening far too often. In all honesty, I had plans to write/share a different post until yet again while attending a Vancouver Canucks game with my sister, I was left frustrated and rattled as a female hockey fan.

This time, we were berated all game for our choice of jerseys, when and how we cheered and for simply being females at a hockey game. Yep, by wearing our Bo Horvat and Daniel Sedin jerseys, it meant we were delusional and should burn our jerseys. Burn my jersey? Sorry, but that is never going to happen. And didn’t we know that the Sedins are “sisters” and far too old for this game? What I do know, is that the Sedins are two of the classiest players in the NHL and both closing in on the 1000 NHL points milestone. And by being females at a hockey game meant that we deserved to be berated both to our faces and behind our backs throughout the entire game. Truthfully most of what was said is far too inappropriate for me to repeat.

If you want to teach people more about the game, do not talk down or belittle them. I love learning new facets of the game, and debating the ins and outs of the game. If you want to share what you love about the game, share it, everyone has a different story. I love hearing what others love about the game and why.

Once again it was as though we were being judged for the entire game regardless of whether we cheered or were silently engaged in the game taking place. And once again rather than being debated with or talk to, we were belittled. We tried to not let it rattle us during the game but underneath, of course it did. It made it us feel as though we are not allowed to be a part of the hockey community, as though perhaps we did not belong. And then I remembered once again that these individuals who act this way do not represent the entirety of hockey fans.

Let me make this as simple as possible: whether you are a female or male hockey fan, you are allowed to enjoy the game and in no way deserving of judgement for being a fan. Every hockey fan is allowed to cheer for their team, their favourite player and certainly allowed their own opinion of the game. And even if hockey fans have differing opinions, that does not make them any less of a fan than any another fan. Hockey is a community that most days feels like family, and one day I hope that we stop judging and attacking one another. Hockey is more than just a game.

Hopefully one day, we will not have to write posts like this, and all hockey fans regardless of gender will be allowed to simply love this game.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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Canucks’ 2015 Hock-tober

The kids are ALRIGHT! Last year it was Bo Horvat winning over the team and fans…this year it’s Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann.  It is officially official as the Vancouver Canucks have announced that BOTH Virtanen and McCann have made the team and will not being going back to junior.  Welcome to the NHL, boys!

VirtsMcCannMcCann we dig it, Canucks fans? Yes, yes we can.

October has come and gone and with it the Vancouver Canucks have eleven games in the book with seventy-one more to go. Let’s take a closer look at the October that was for first month of the team’s 2015-16 season.

The Canucks closed out October with a respectable 5-2-4 record and fourteen points. Through eleven games, we have seen a little bit of everything: from three rookies continuing to impress to a few third period collapses to beating the best team in the league on home ice to Miller playing with an edge and enduring just TWO regulation losses.

Infuse the lineup with youth they said. Let the kids play they said. Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann and Ben Hutton showed up to training camp with one aim in mind: make the Canucks roster out of camp and maintain that spot. All three have accomplished that goal. Jake Virtanen leads the team in hits and starting to find his offensive stride, Jared McCann leads the team in goals with five and Ben Hutton is dependable in just about every area of the ice. Sure there have been some growing pains through the games they have all played, but the positives have more than outweighed the negatives proving that there is so much more to come from these three rookies over time.

Ryan Miller is not good enough some said. Ryan Miller is too old and too expensive many others said. Ryan Miller would need to be better than last year, they all said. Through ten games, though yes he has let in a bad goal or two, most nights he has been one of the Canucks best players on the ice.  Miller is boasting some impressive numbers through ten games: a 2.16 goals against average, one shutout and a 0.923 save percentage. He’s been playing with a edge that gives the team a chance to win every game.

Perhaps the most frustrating stat of the season is the fact that it took 6 games on home ice before the Canucks got their first victory in Vancouver. Or the multiple third period leads that ended up as overtime losses. The overtime losses were not ideal BUT the team still picked up points in those games and every single point counts when the team’s aim is to be playoff bound. Impressively, the team has lost just twice in regulation. Perhaps their most impressive games have been against the California teams on the road AND that first victory at home when they took on the league’s top team, Montreal. Another impressive stat through eleven games? The team has a 90% penalty kill success rate and 20% powerplay success rate.

Are there things they can improve on in the remaining 71 games? Absolutely, no matter how well a team is or is not playing, there are always ways for them to keep improving. The Canucks have their work cut out for them if they want to be playoff bound come April, but they are off to a respectable start towards that goal. Next up the Canucks will battle the state of Pennsylvania as they face-off against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on home ice. Here’s to two strong games before the team is back on the road for 7 straight games!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Edging Closer…

IsItOctoberYetIs it October yet? No, not just yet but the echoes around the bend are getting ever louder as we edge closer to the season’s opening puck drop.

What does the 2015-2016 season hold for the Vancouver Canucks?

According to the stats experts, the future looks grim and playoff hopes are very dim. According to the experts, there is little reason to cheer for a team that should be shifting their focus to rebuilding. According to the experts this team should expect to be at the bottom of the standings for a while. According to the experts, the Sedins are way past their prime and should opt to play elsewhere. According to the experts the entire Canucks roster is too old and not balanced with enough youth. According to the experts the Vancouver Canucks have absolutely no business even thinking about the 2016 playoff picture. According to the experts, Canucks should prepare themselves for a disastrous season.

What exactly defines a “disastrous” season? A year under Torts? Or the “Messier” experiment that orchestrated the Linden trade? Canucks fans know all about disastrous seasons, we’ve been there a few times and then some. A disastrous season is hardly a new concept for most teams, they’ve all seen their share of disappointments, such is the nature of a game that can only have one champion at year’s end. Yes, disasters will come and go but no matter their nature, disastrous or successful season, I will be supporting my team from start to finish of the 82-game plus journey that is the NHL season.

I’m in no way an expert, nor will I ever claim to be, BUT I will say that while the stats are helpful, they do not always tell the whole story. Perhaps on paper, this team may not look like a “championship” roster or a “typical contender” and perhaps that is okay. Perhaps the so-called expectations from the fans and the experts should be tossed out the window this year. Perhaps having a lack of expectations will be exactly what makes the Canucks a team to watch as the season progresses. Perhaps their veteran core supported by the younger players will be exactly what they’ve promised all along, a team that deserves respect. Perhaps they will be exactly what the “experts” predicted OR they just may surprise all the naysayers.

The truth is no matter what the stats and critics say or what the team looks like on paper, all that matters is what happens on the ice when the season begins. How the team plays, regardless of who is on the roster, is up to them. Will the Sedins have year to remember or will they finally show their age? Will Ryan Miller have a rebound season? Will Bo Horvat have a solid followup to his rookie season? Will any rookies step for a breakout season? Will Brandon Prust win fans over with his experience? The questions are endless and time will tell what this season holds for the Vancouver Canucks.

Is it October yet? No, not just yet but I can hear the echoes of what’s to come just around the bend.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

True Blue 2015 (Part ONE)

It’s THAT time of year again, folks! TRUE BLUE is back this year! Just like last year, it’s time to put the spot light on my favourite part of hockey: the fans and their stories! Hockey is so much more than a game in a rink, it is a passion that unites fans across the globe. There is still time to have your story featured, – if you are interested in finding out more details, simply send an e-mail to nucksaid@gmail.com with the subject line: TRUE BLUE 2015.

Are you ready for True Blue 2015?

Without further ado, please let me introduce to you, our first participant:

Helen Franklin (She was unable to include a self-portrait, but the picture below features one of her favourite Canucks players, Daniel Sedin). This is her TRUE BLUE story in her own words:

IMG_0981“How did you become a Vancouver Canucks fan?

I am relatively new fan of the Canucks, having only watched the team play since the 2010 Olympics. One of the younger boys in my grade 4/5 class always talked about being a goalie with Roberto Luongo as his hero. So, I researched this “Luongo” person to find out WHY he was idolized by my student. The Olympics arrived and I watched the Men’s hockey games with Luongo on the roster. Watching that final GOLD medal game with Luongo in net, I could now understand why Ryan, my student was inspired to be like him. I was hooked and since then I have watched almost every single Canucks game. I try to attend at least one Canucks game a year. If I lived in Vancovuer or closer vicinity, I would probably be a season ticket holder. I do not profess to know ALL the rules as some fervent fans do, but I do acknowledge and enjoy watching a skilled player and/or team perform.

What is it about hockey and the Vancouver Canucks that keeps drawing you back?

Watching the Sedins do their magic on the ice. As well as some of the unsung heroes like Hamhuis and Tanev who play well but are not spot-lighted as much as the twins. Also Burrows for his sheer drive and determination.

Favourite Vancouver Canucks memory?

My favourite Canucks memory is when Kevin Bieksa scored the double overtime goal against the Sharks, sending Vancouver to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. The puck disappeared from the player’s sight momentarily after hitting the stanchion. All the players on the ice were looking around for the puck, except for Bieksa who nailed it right into the net. SCORES!!!

What a BIEKSALLENT goal!

After the absolute torpedo that was the 2013-14 regular season (aka the Torts era), how did you feel about the 2014-15 season (aka the start of the beginning of the WilLindEnning era)?

Honestly, I had trepidations about Tortorella being hired but did not vocalize my thoughts often, believing that the powers-that-be always knew better than the fans. With the newly hired trio, I breathed a big proverbial sigh of relief – THREE well-respected and knowledgeable people to look after the Canucks organization and team. YAY!

What was your favourite/standout moment of the 2014-15 season?

Nothing really stands out, just the difference in the team’s overall play. They seemed to play each game with more heart, more energy, more spirit, more cooperative and collective effort. I was just happy to see the team play as well as they did. Adding Radim Vrbata (a fellow countryman) to the team was a good sign. He fit into the roster extremely well.

How do you feel about rookie president, Linden (and coach Desjardins) moving forward after their first year at the helm?

There will be good things in store for all Canucks fans. These two are working well together and will bring the Canucks back to the forefront of the good NHL teams.

After seeing a return to the post-season in 2015, how do you feel about the upcoming 2015-16 season?

This will be an awesome year!

Who is your favourite player(s) for the team?

I respect and like all the members of the team. They each have their own special niche in my mind. The Sedins for their skilled plays – my jersey is #22 only because I had to pick one. Hamhuis because of his quiet personality and good defense. Tanev for his persistence and work effort. Vrbata for his great work ethic on ice and quiet celebration after a goal. Bieksa (yes I know he was traded) for his quirky on-camera comments and the leadership he displayed on the ice. Bo for his youth, energy and enthusiasm to do well. I could comment on each player but I will refrain. Generally, I like them all equally.

Which rookie/prosect has you most excited?

All of the rookies this year are going to be exciting. Bo Horvat has already shown what he can do and is progressing well. The others will prove themselves as well over time.

Which Canucks players (past or present) would you like to meet and talk with if you could?

I have never met any of the players but would like to talk to Dan Hamhuis. He seems to be very approachable to talk about life in general and because he is not often spot-lighted by the media. I would not mind meeting all of the players but would probably be too overwhelmed to even say anything. The behind-the-scene staff would also be very interesting to talk to and I would not hesitate to ask them questions.

What would you like to see change in the NHL?

I would like to see Gary Bettman step down as Commissioner, he has been there too long.

-Helen.”

First, thank-you, Helen for taking the time to participate and share your story with all of us! I love learning how fans discovered the game and what they love most about it. I must agree about game five vs. San Jose…THAT double overtime Kevin Bieksa goal is definitely one of my most favourite moments in Canucks history. Even more than any goal, I think my most favourite Bieksa memory, is the work he did with MindCheck helping to shine a light on the importance of mental health awareness. As for the Gary Bettman issue, it seems as though he is in for the long haul despite the outcry of many hockey fans. As for the upcoming season, I look forward to enjoying every moment of the 82-game journey…every moment good or bad, I am ready for October.

Is it October yet? No, not just yet but I can hear the echoes just around bend.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

It Never Gets Easier…

Do you remember the first time that hockey fully grabbed your attention and completely stole your heart for this game that is so much more than a game? Perhaps it was a past Stanley Cup final, the Winter Olympics, World Championship, an AHL affiliate game or perhaps even a local minor hockey team that simply captured you in a way that only hockey can and once it did, there was no looking back. I can remember the first that game I really watched from start to finish completely enraptured by this game and every sound from the cheers in the stands to the skates on the ice to the final buzzer. There is one thing that prior to really embracing a my Canucks that I never understood or was prepared for, the emotional component. Yes, it’s true that there is an emotional component to being a sports fan that goes beyond grief with the refs or players on the opponents’ team.

There are the emotions that come with every win and every loss in the regular season but also those in the post season. There is the anticipation and excitement that builds as a new season inches closer around the corner. There is anguish of seeing players sidelined indefinitely with an injury and cautious excitement when that same player returns for their first game back. There is exhilaration when your team scores that big goal that leads to the next round and absolute heartbreak when you are on the other side watching your team’s season come to an end. There is the anxiety that kicks in around second overtime when you witness two teams battle for every inch of the ice in the post season. There is a veteran retiring from the game and watching him skate one last loop around the rink for the fans to say good-bye. There are the unexpected moments off the ice that unite the players once on the ice and prove that hockey is much, much, much more than JUST a game.

There is the attachment that grows with watching players develop from a prospect to becoming a veteran franchise leader. There is the sorrow that comes when those franchise players get traded, leave to play elsewhere or retire. Trades and changes are an inevitable part of the game but that never gets easier to embrace no matter how often they happen over the course of a player’s career.

Today was not a BIEKSALLENT day for this hockey fan. Today, the Vancouver Canucks and franchise player, Kevin Bieksa parted ways via a trade. There was no bitterness or anger on either side, just appreciation and respect for ten dedicated years. I understand that moves like this one have to happen and that it’s a part of the game but it NEVER gets any easier to see players that have become cornerstones leave. Players like Bieksa are not easy to replace for more than just his on-ice leadership contributions…he was a class act off the ice with the fans and many of the Canucks charities over ten years. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements OFF of the ice was his work in helping to shine a light on the importance of Mental Health Awarenss (Mindcheck) in honour of his friend, Rick Rypien.

Juice, Vancouver will never forget everything you did over ten incredible years, and thank-you, just does not seem even close to enough but it is what we have to offer…THANK-YOU. You gave this city incredible moments from the beginning to the end while fully embracing what it meant to have the heart of a Canuck on and off the ice. From getting under the skin of the opponents to interview gold to that beyond amazing stanchion goal to your work with CFKF, Canuck Place and Mindcheck…you gave this team and this city more than we deserved. It truly was an honour seeing you play for the Canucks all this time and while I may never root for Anaheim, I do wish you the best over there, KB!

IMG_0927#ThankYouJuice for this picture and the many Canucks memories!

More than ten years into being a hockey fan and it still never gets any easier. Nope, it never gets any easier to see franchise players leave the team that developed them from prospect to veteran. The emotional component makes it hard to be a fan sometimes but it is also what makes being a fan so great. Hockey is so much more than JUST a game. On and off the ice, there are highs and lows that go hand in hand with being a hockey fan and it’s pretty incredible to be on the sidelines to see every step of each 82-game journey no matter the outcome.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

 

TRUE BLUE 2015

cropped-canucksbanner.jpgCalling all Canucks fans, it’s that time again…time for a summer of True Blue stories!

In the Summer of 2014, I began a series on Nucksaid called “True Blue” that featured THE best part of Vancouver Canucks hockey, YOU the fans and YOUR stories. This year I would love to do the very same and invite any and ALL of you who would like to share your Canucks AND/OR your Utica Comets stories to take part in True Blue 2015!  Whether you took part in the series LAST year or are participating for the first time, I would love to hear your stories and be able to share them with others. Whether you are from BC, across Canada or from across the globe, your stories are unique and make you a part of Canucks nation or Comets Army or BOTH.  Those who participated last year made this an incredible series to be a part of and proved that this game that binds us all together is so much more than a game.

If you ARE interested in taking part in the True Blue 2015 series send me an email to nucksaid@gmail.com with the subject line:TRUE BLUE 2015 for more details on how to take part in the summer series. Let’s make this another summer all about YOU and YOUR hockey/Canucks/Comets stories as we count down to the new season in the fall! Here’s making this another summer to remember!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Thank-You.

Dear Vancouver Canucks,

I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK-YOU for the season that was the 2014-15 season. I am sad to see the season end BUT I am in NO way disappointed with the team or what you gave THIS city. You gave us an incredible season from start to finish. You allowed us to move on from the shadows of last season and build hope for the future of this franchise. You showed this city and the entire league that you could compete with the elite teams despite what the odds said. You allowed this city to dream of what could be and what one day WILL be.

This season had many ups, downs and twists along the way that led the team to a bounce back season. You brought back Captain Canuck when you named, Trevor Linden as the new president of hockey operations. The Sedins proved all the naysayers wrong YET again as they always do. Your off-season signings of Radim Vrbata and Ryan Miller proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered despite what the critics presumed prior to the season’s start. Perhaps neither of those signings seemed too massive to the outsiders looking in, but each player found a way to make their indelible mark on the team in their first season as Canucks.

You found a coach that believed not only in each individual player but in the team as a whole when you named, Willie Desjardins as coach. Players that struggled last year rediscovered what they lost last season…confidence that made the game fun. You showed this city that a little belief from the coach and in each other can go a long way towards having success.

You may not have had a perfect season but you gave this city many incredible memories from Daniel’s 1000th game, to Henrik’s 900th point to Millsy’s back to back shutouts on the road, to a massively improved shootout record to the farm team becoming an integral part of the franchise…there are ENDLESS things to be proud of from this season.

Perhaps though my most favourite memories from this season are my own personal memories. From meeting Trevor Linden, Kevin Bieksa, Kirk McLean to being invited to taking part in the Canucks #SocialSuite night or that time I punched Johnny Canuck to attending a MASSIVE birthday win versus the Maple Leafs to getting be one of the lucky fans that got to have even for one round a post-season dream.

2014-15SeasonSo do I wish that the Canucks were still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup? Absolutely, but as I previously stated, I am in NO way disappointed in the season they gave this city. There is only an incredibly grateful heart over here for the season that was. I loved every up, every down and every twist in between this season. It may not have been a perfect season from start to finish but no season ever is completely perfect.I will take a perfectly imperfect season because in each imperfection grows even stronger the dream of what one day WILL be.

Yes, this year the dream fell short but it did not dimmer the hope for the future. So thank-you for this season in which you re-engaged this city and re-ignited the dream. Your future still burns bright and I look forward whatever that holds moving forward.

I was yesterday, am now and always will be a Vancouver Canucks fan.

Sincerely,

Sarah Laug (a canucklehead for life)