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.

 

 

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Raise-A-Reader 2014 Edition

RaiseAReader2013Every year the Vancouver Canucks participate in Postmedia’s Raise-A-Reader campaign that takes place across Canada. This year was no exception and they were out bright and early, and with Vancouver Canucks players downtown, it is a HUGE draw for fans of the team. It has become a start of the season tradition for my sisters and I to attend every year!

The main reason for this event can be summed up perfectly from the Raise-A-Reader website as the following: “The Postmedia Raise-a-Reader campaign exists to empower today’s children and families with tools to improve their reading skills. These skills are the foundation for lifelong learning that significantly affects the quality of life and the health and social economic well-being of individuals, families and communities. 100% of all funds raised will go to the literacy community.”

The campaign went from 7:00AM-9:00AM. There were representatives from the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Giants, B.C. Lions, Global News, and of course the Vancouver Sun. You can guess who, I went downtown to see, right? Is it even a question?!

First, we met some of the Vancouver Giants players braving the early rainfall:

IMG_0928Next, bring on the nostalgia and Vancouver Canucks!

After missing out on the opportunity to have our picture taken during the 2014 Canucks Telethon, I finally had my chance to fix that when Captain Kirk was also at Raise-A-Reader:

IMG_0926We also got to meet Mr.President himself, Trevor Linden. Thanks for talking hockey with me this morning, and giving me an incredible memory!

Trevor & me:

IMG_0925Abs & Linden:

AbsLindenLast, but certainly not least, Kevin Bieksa who is just as comical and KIND in real life as he is in post-game interviews.

Kevin & me:

IMG_0927Abs & Kevin:

AbsBieksaThat’s how we spent our Wednesday morning…meeting some of our favourite players, talking hockey and supporting an incredible cause to bring back the importance of literacy! Hockey and reading are two of my most favourite things, so it was fantastic to be able to combine those today! While it was incredible to meet some amazing people today, it is important to remember the importance of the day was not about the pomp and circumstance of meeting the celebrities, but rather about the children and helping to ensure that they will know the magic of imagination that comes to life through reading. If you can, please join the campaign to raise awareness of the importance of literacy!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Player Profile: #3 Kevin Bieksa

Today's Profile: Kevin Bieksa

Today’s Profile: Kevin Bieksa

Kevin Bieksa[aka JUICE] has something that many NHL players do not, a completed University degree [in Finance] giving him the option to do something completely different when he retires from the sport.

Bieksa’s NHL career began when he was drafted 151st overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2001 NHL draft. Bieksa delayed his NHL debut by choosing to complete his university degree. Before joining the Canucks, he played some big minutes with the Manitoba Moose during the same tenure as Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows[they have now played together for 8 years!]

In 461 NHL games, Bieksa has amassed a total of 203 points [48 goals, 155 assists]. He is never afraid to drop the gloves with the opponents. He plays defense with an offensive edge, jumping up on a rush when the opportunity provides itself.

Kevin Bieksa has had his share of being bit by the injury bug…having torn his Achilles tendon NOT once, but TWICE. Heading into this latest season, the key for Bieksa [like many of his teammates] will be to stay healthy throughout the majority of the 82 game schedule. IF he can stay healthy he could surpass a few milestones this season, such as the 500 games played mark, and more than 50 goals scored.

The keys for Bieksa heading into this season will be to stay healthy and be CONSISTENT night in, night out. I look forward to seeing #3 return in October with a vengeance shutting down the opponents top lines and putting up some offensive numbers. It will interesting to see if Bieksa will be paired once again with Hamhuis or if Torts switches up the defensive pairings this season.

Here are a few #bieksallent moments for you to relive in order to get you ready for the return of #3 to the lineup this year:

Bieksa makes a diving SAVE & SCORES to tie the game late in the third period!

Bieksa for the WIN with less than 30 seconds left!

Double OT…need I say more, this goal speaks for itself…it is simply #bieksallent:

There is just over two weeks until training camp opens and before we know it the preseason will be upon us. Hopefully when October 3rd comes around we will not have to wait too long to see Kevin Bieksa score a highlight reel goal or drop the gloves.

Here’s to Bieksa having a great season! #bieskallent #juice #KB3 #isitoctoberyet #36moredays

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

7-3-2 =The Canucks in February

Why hello there readers. The Canucks are one game away from finishing February. Despite that despicable loss in Detroit, February has been a fairly decent month for the Canucks. Eleven games in [excluding tonight’s results] the Canucks are 7-3-2 [and 10-5-4 overall since January 19th]. Yes, that game in Detroit was a debacle and the Canucks barely stumbled out of the Joe with their horrendous play [particularly in the 2nd and 3rd periods and all those penalties did not help!], but all it accounts for is ONE game. Yes, it was definitely their worst effort of the season. Let’s take a moment to relax, 19 games in and the Canucks are still in the top three.

There are still 29 games to be played .All in all, the Canucks are not looking bad. February has seen the Canucks get some important wins and a few bad moments[yes that loss to the Stars and the one to the Red Wings]. Great moments include Henrik reaching new heights in the Canucks record books as the all-time franchise points leader and the return of #Sedinery with the twins rediscovering their scoring touch[Hank has 17 points & Danny has 20 so far]. The good news is that one game does not decide everything[unless you are stuck in downward spiral….see Calgary and Columbus]. There is still a lot of time left in this shortened season for teams to surprise us and new streaks to begin. Besides I think perhaps that absolute stomping by the Red Wings might have been a wake up call. Does anyone remember two short years ago that team from the #WindyCity stomped the Canucks 7-1[at home…ouch]…but after that game the Canucks became absolute dominators? The Canucks suffered one loss after that 7-1 stomping[it was 3-2 to Phoenix, coincidentally…much like tonight] but followed up that 2 game losing streak with an absolute dominant run. The Canucks will have that chance to get back on a roll Saturday[March 2nd] when they face the LA Kings.

#3 Kevin Bieksa making sure everyone knows his secret. Juice[KB] is out of the line-up with what the team is calling a day-to-day groin strain. Let's hope that Mr.Bieksa is back in the line-up sooner rather than later as he was enjoying a rather nice goal streak before he got injured.

#3 Kevin Bieksa making sure everyone knows his secret. Juice[KB] is out of the line-up with what the team is calling a day-to-day groin strain. Let’s hope that Mr.Bieksa is back in the line-up sooner rather than later as he was enjoying a rather nice goal streak before he got injured. #comebacksoonBIEKSA Seriously…Andrew Alberts is not an acceptable replacement.

Regardless of tonight’s outcome, as February ends, March is looming around the corner and I look forward to seeing what the team and the hockey world has in store for us hockey fans. The conclusion to this season is still to be decided.  Until next time, as always,  nuck said.

Sarah E.L.