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.

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It’s a REF Life in the Hockey World

Referees are always at the root of MANY sports debates, and that is ever true in the game of hockey that is the NHL. Every call made on the ice will be questioned and analyzed by the fans. The refs are the guys on the ice everyone loves to hate…especially when it comes to the controversial calls. Be honest some nights, you want to scream (or maybe you do!) at the TV due to a call that was made or a call that should have been made.

It is true that special teams are vital to a team’s success and penalties set the tone for the game and help to settle both sides into the rhythm. Sometimes in setting that tone, the penalties take a one sided nature & I’m not saying that as bias, I watch games for all 30 teams and I have seen this play out against all of them in one game or another.

The calls seem simple enough yes?

The calls seem simple enough yes? It is never as simple as it seems.

Some calls are obvious and easy to make and some fall in a grey area. Some calls that should made are completely missed. Some calls that should not be made are made and end up costing the game. Sometimes it is the right call and sometimes it is blatantly not the right call BUT more often than not it is not up for review.  Some calls seem like they wouldn’t have a big impact, but the truth is even an offside call or an icing call causes a stoppage in the play that halts the momentum for the game. Some calls lead to supplemental discipline and some that should lead to supplemental discipline go completely unnoticed.

The game is fast and constantly in motion [save for when the whistle blows!], and the certainty that we expect from the rules is thrown out the window when the refs arm goes up or does not go up. Some in-game decisions make us all shake our heads in disbelief..like this one from the 2013 playoff series featuring the Red Wings & the Blackhawks:

^That gaffe by the refs nearly cost Chicago the series. The hawks of course came back in OT and went on the win the Stanley Cup…but it could have been different had they not been able to get the OT goal thanks to the above call that was made by the refs.

There is of course also the calls or non-calls that involve players colliding and result in injuries. The most flabbergasting of all the calls and non-calls in recent history is the incredible amount of inconsistency within ONE game or from one game to the next. The same play will happen in two different games: both result in an injury but only results in a penalty and supplemental discipline. The questions begin: would the penalty have made any difference? Is the injury long-term? Was there an intent to injure the other player? Does the player in question have a disciplinary history? [Quick, stop me…I’m starting to sound like Brendan Shanahan!].

The question I have is will we ever see a level of consistency in the calls that involve a player being injured? If it’s called in one game it should be called in every game. If it results in supplemental discipline in one game, it should result in supplemental discipline every time.

No matter what the scoreboard says every single call will up for debate after every game. Some calls fans will happy with, some calls or calls that were missed will have fans livid. At the end of the day, 99% of the time the call on the ice stands regardless of fairness. There will be good calls made, calls that are missed, and the endlessly debated controversial game changing calls in all the games still to be played this year and in the years that will follow.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Gary & Don, you’ve still got work to do!

This is not the blog I wanted to write today. I wanted the words to jump off the page in excitement due to the lockout being called off….but it was not. The lockout is still ongoing as the NHL and NHLPA still do not see eye to eye. Once again…it comes down to a war of words. According to Bettman..the NHL and the NHLPA are still not speaking the same language and he is very disappointed. Wow…big shock…just two days after proposing a deal that on the surface changed GB from scape goat or the hope of the season, he once again has doubts in regards to the upcoming season. Once again…Bettman is full of words that only bring disappointment. Once again it seems as though rather than hearing out the proposals presented by the NHL all he did was shut them down soundly. Was his supposed 50/50 split proposal just a cruel hope for the fans? In comparison, according to Fehr, the NHL’s offer was a great starting point or in other words finally a real negotiation. Fehr and the players believe that there is still work to be done. The PA made THREE counter-offers…none of which were deemed acceptable by Bettman and his minions. The PA seems ready to negotiate…but have not been given proper time to make their presentations as meetings were adjourned after ONE hour. Fehr stated that TODAY was supposed to be a good day BUT in the end it was NOT as both sides are still at an impasse. In a glimmer of hope…Fehr has confirmed that the PA is available to continue negotiating and that the PA WILL go to 50/50 IF the NHL OWNERS promise to honour contracts that have already been signed [which honestly….if the OWNERS signed the players to said contracts…it makes SENSE to honour the contracts THEY initiated!].

Regardless of today’s disappointment on both sides #thefansdeservebetter from both sides. We, the fans DO NOT CARE ABOUT HRR or who gets more of it…WE JUST WANT HOCKEY BACK. In short…Gary & Don…you’ve still got work left to do to get me hockey back by November 2….get’er done! That is all, nuck said. #endthelockout

#wemisshockey #hockeyinNovemberPLEASE

Sarah E.L.

And now we wait…

Fans around the globe are holding their colllective breath as all eyes on are the NHLPA as they are expected to respond to the NHL’s 50/50 offer in today’s Toronto meeting. Today marks possibly the most significant stage of CBA negotiations. Today either the NHLPA will accept the new deal [with a tweak or two to insure that 50/50 really means 50/50!] or the debate continues. Rumor has it that BOTH sides are bringing in the big guns..for the players that group will consist of 18 players, including: Crosby, Toews, Doan, Iginla & Eric Staal. The meeting is now expected to take place at 11:30AM Pacific time[2:30PM Eastern time]. I hope that whatever the discussion that occurs between the two sides…that they come to an agreement that BOTH can live with and gets the players back on the ice November 2nd! #endthelockout

Perhaps one hopeful fan[Barry Murphy] has captured it best with his desperate attempt to get an audience with Fehr & Bettman. Perhaps this sign he brought will capture their attention or perhaps his twitter handle @hockeyfansunite will rattle them? good luck Barry!!

Desperate times make for desperate measures…one hockey hungry fan was camped out early at the NHLPA offices in Toronto this morning with this sign…calling Gary Bettman & Donald Fehr…can you hear us???

Here’s hoping that the meeting today actually produces a new deal with 82 games having been cancelled already…a season starting on November 2nd would secure an 82 game schedule for EACH team! #endthelockout #wewanthockeyback

Until this afternoon’s meeting wraps…hockey fans everywhere will all be anxiously waiting to hear the result. Will we get a full hockey season beginning November 2? Lets get this deal signed, sealed and delivered ….and now we wait. Back to you, Gary and Donald. #fingerscrossed

Until next time which is hopefully later today and we get that long awaited announecment of #hockeyreturning, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

P.S. Congratulations to Zack Kassian & company in leading the Chicago Wolves to their 3rd WIN of the season! Those pesky #wolves are now 3-0 on the year…good luck in Abbotsford this weekend…#GoWolvesGo

Dear GB, NHL execs, Don Fehr, and Players

Dear Gary Bettman, NHL execs, Don Fehr, and Players,

This letter is dedicated to all of you out there who will determine the future of the pending season and the game that captivates us all.

This is a letter to remind you of a simple fact that you keep overlooking…the fans. The fans do not care about the numbers and percentages or which side gets more money. The fans do not care how each side chooses their words extremely carefully in addressing the media following each round of meetings.The fans simply put, care about the game that has been cancelled temporarily[at least for now…]. The fans just want the game they love to return.

Do you really think this game of tug of war over the numbers waiting to see who blinks first, is worth the risk of losing the fans? Some fans have vowed to not return back to the game after yes the third lockout of your career, GB. Seems absurd that a few words could cause such an uproar…but the words “lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement” and “lockout” go hand in hand when neither side is willing to see beyond the numbers. The longer this war of words over who gets the bigger slice of the pie continues, the bigger the risk.

Are numbers important to hockey? YES. Take 82 for example. 82 is the number of total league-wide regular season games that YOU have cancelled. 82 is also the number of regular season games EACH team plays in one season [unless shortened by a lockout such as 1994-1995…and now 2012-2013]. Effectively you have already taken away a season’s worth or games from ONE team already….how far are you willing to go to make a point?

Some players have begun to flee abroad just to keep themselves viable should you finally come to a new agreement. Ovie, Datsyuk, Malkin and Gonchar are just a few of the notable players making their presence felt in the KHL. Each day brings more news of more players signing to play elsewhere during this “work stoppage”. It is concerning that the best players in the league are playing elsewhere when they should all be participating in what should have been the first week of the regular season. What is more concerning…that Sidney Crosby is READY to freaking play symptom-free for the first time in more than a YEAR! The face of the NHL in recent years and he is still holding out hope unlike many other players that a deal can be reached. Has he considered running abroad…probably…but instead he is waiting to see what you can accomplish. It concerns me that should Crosby finally cave and go abroad….the hope for the season will grow dimmer. Does it not concern you all that each day brings news of your best players signing to play else where….and that any day now, Crosby and more just might join those already overseas?

Thursday marks what was supposed to be the beginning of the 2012-2013 regular season..but thanks to all you and your money squabbles, it will simply be a plain old Thursday. You keep saying that the fans of the NHL are the best fans….yet you are not listening to US. Somewhere along the way of these negotiations, you all lost sight of not only the fans, but the game that once came before the numbers. The game that you are dreamed to be a part of back when you were a kid. The game that captured you all when you saw a great player such as Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, or Mario Lemieux bring the game to new heights with a play that you could never have imagined possible. The game that gives every player or the team the opportunity to rise above their expectations. The game that you all claim to play or work around because you love it and it defines you. How can it define you or be something that you love if none of you are a part of it right now? The game that you all claim is what you all want back…..is the one that none of you seem to be fighting very hard to bring back. It is time to stop merely discussing secondary issues at these scheduled CBA meetings and get down to the heart of the matter. Start talking those numbers that you all are fighting over and lets get all those NHL super stars back in North America [ahem…such as Malkin who once again is playing ridiculously good…just at the moment it is not for the NHL…time to change that!].

The fans just want the season back. Will we accept a shortened season?…that’s the only option you have left us after canceling the first 82 games, GB! Do you really want to make the financial colossal mistake or canceling the Winter Classic? I must say that really truly would be an all-new low for the league. All people will remember of the Bettman legacy at this point is the 3 lockouts endured during your tenure as commissioner. The fans do have a voice. The question is will you hear us? Does the NHL have the best fans? Yes…but how long will you, GB, NHL execs, DF, and players make us endure this ever loathed state of a lockout? The fans do not have a choice in the matter…but it is the common opinion that we all despise the lockout. That is all, nucksaid.

Sincerely, a fan who just wants to watch hockey again!

Sarah E.L.

We [the FANS] miss the game even more as October nears…

It is nearly October. My jersey is itching to come off the hanger as the calendars nears what is supposed to be the 1st game of the year. I do still have hope [yes you may think I’m naive but I choose to be optimistic despite all the naysayers!] that the season can be salvaged. It has only been 11 days since the lockout was officially enacted…but each day that passes as more players sign abroad and as players that are exceeding abroad is only making me miss the game even more. Yes there are other leagues…but none have quite the hold on me that the NHL or my Canucks do. There is a flickering of hope [yes hope…don’t call me naive, I’m only choosing to be optimistic rather than pessimistic!] as CBA talks are set to resume Friday between the NHL and the PA. It is time to just simply get a deal done. Will everyone be happy with the results when that day comes? Probably not…but someone is eventually going to have to cave before any progress can made.

The word lockout is not a welcome one in my vocabulary. Yet it has forced its way into it…and refuses to leave as long as this war of words continues between the NHL and the PA. The puck is not going to slap itself…let’s get a deal done so WE can ALL watch the game WE ALL love!!

Check out the link below for an awesome video montage that perfectly captures the game we all love:). All credit goes to ‘allisonwearsorange’ for creating this collection of great hockey moments:). The players may be locked out, but we the fans simply miss the game and moments we love like the ones in this video. Plus who doesn’t love the Springsteen vocals backing the video? Warning…this video may make you miss the game even more!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGDwr_TNqeQ

The players may be locked out but that doesn’t mean we stop being fans of the game and all the great moments that it has brought. The players may be locked out but that does not stop me loving the game. I may not be a fan of the politics that are responsible for delaying the game, but I am a fan of the game. When the game returns I will still be a fan. I look forward to all the moments that a new season brings….moments that some may predict and others that will completely take us by surprise. I look forward to the season that still yet to come [albeit a shortened one] and all the moments that will make us gasp and say “Did that just happen?” or make an entire arena stand on their feet in a state of absolute joy as their team has just scored the winning goal in sudden death overtime! Does it really matter who is right any more in this war of words between the two sides? [maybe that Detroit exec is regretting his comparison of the players to cattle after his $250,000 fine? Seriously? the players are cattle and the owners are ranch owners? That was definitely an unnecessary low blow.] Stop throwing insults at one another and realize that the fans simply miss the game not your money squabbles. Just because we are stuck in lockout mode, does not mean that fans have forgotten just how awesome hockey is….just click to link above for a reminder! The season from the moment it begins is unpredictable, each team will have its own ups and downs, each will have a stretch drive to the playoffs, and 16 teams will fight tooth and nail to make it to the final before ONE team wins it all. Do not rob the fans who have ALWAYS been loyal to the game. Get a deal done so we can all once again race to the arenas or race to watch the games with friends and family. Once again we can all go crazy together as we always do when the game is on and our team or favourite players are scoring goals and winning games. Bring back the game. Bring back the unpredictability. Bring back the ups and downs. Bring back the season. Bring back the simplicity that was the game. Bring back a deal that will unite the owners and the players. Bring back the 2012-2013 season so we can ALL celebrate a great season into June.

October is around the corner and usually that means the city is taken over by blue and green everywhere you look. Game days bring out everyone in their game day attire and all the transit buses sport ‘Go Canucks Go’ alternating with their route number. With no games yet to be officially announced or canceled, my jersey is itching to come off the hanger and be worn. I’m ready for my October traditions to come into full force. Like any hockey fan, I just want to watch hockey again [not espn or tsn classics but new games]. I am not going to join those who have jumped onto the NFL wagon, each game is brutal with their replacement refs [their usual refs are in their own CBA turmoil] determining questionable plays that determine the outcomes of games. Just let me watch hockey again, please. I remain hopeful that a deal can be reached to salvage the season. The way I see it…a new deal must be reached before the Winter Classic[but hopefully sooner] in order for there to still be a season this year.

#11daysandcounting #thelockoutcontinues

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

P.S. Did you watch that video yet?!! seriously check it out..it captures many great hockey moments!!