Talk Hockey to Me…

HockeyISI love everything about this game called hockey with the exception of maybe the shoot out…and most of all I love talking hockey with other fans. Every day, my path crosses with hockey fans of all kinds and while it is no secret the the Canucks are my favourite team, I have a deep respect for every team in the league and will gladly discuss all the teams across the board. I may not know every stat about each team like I do with Vancouver, but I like to be informed and keep tabs on how each of the other 29 teams in the league are doing.

I love talking hockey, just ask my family, who I know, that I can drive crazy at times with all my hockey talk every day. I have crossed paths with amazing fans from ALL 30 NHL teams in real life and on social media. Yes, it is true there are AMAZING fans for EVERY team and I will not take that statement back. No matter where a team is currently in the NHL standings or where they will finish after game 82, all 30 teams have some incredible fanbases and I love discussing anything and everything hockey with all of you.

I love how passionate fans are for their teams and I respect that EACH fan of EVERY team has their own opinions and we may not always agree on everything. I accept that we may not be on the same side for every game. I accept that our differences are what make hockey rivalries some of the best in sports. I accept that each and every fan is determined to believe that their team is capable of being the best. I accept that fans unite on the same side sometimes if it means a victory is plausible against a common rival. I accept that there will be highs and lows that align with the highs and lows of how your team is doing as the season progresses.

I do not accept being treated as less than someone else. I do not accept being told that my team is not a real team. I do not accept that some fans are better than other fans. I do not accept that being a Canucks fan makes me a less informed hockey fan. I do accept fans insulting fans of other teams. I do not accept being treated with disrespect by other fans.

What is the point of this post? Let me tell you a story that occurred just the other day when I was at work.

It was a conversation that was struck up all because I was wearing a Canucks shirt as I do on most game days. The individual noted that they felt sorry for me because I was a lowly Vancouver Canucks fan and how tragic that fate was. This individual then followed up his sympathy with the suggestion that I ought to jump ship and become a fan of a REAL team like the Boston Bruins. He was a Boston Bruins fan and that is perfectly acceptable.

My response to my tragic fate was this:

I have absolutely no qualms if you support the Boston Bruins or any team of your choosing. I have the utmost respect for the Boston Bruins and while it broke my heart when they won the cup in 2011, I know that they earned their victory. I have met some incredible Bruins fans and would never lump them in the same category as this person that crossed my path the other day. Yes, the Bruins are a great team when healthy and yes they were victorious over my Canucks in 2011, I respect that truth. Yes, the Bruins are a real team but guess what? My Canucks are a real team too and I accept that they are not everyone’s cup of tea. The Boston Bruins are not my cup of tea but I respect them as a team, their talent and their fans. I applaud any and all fans passion for their respective team.

As dedicated as this person was to his Bruins, I am just as dedicated to my Vancouver Canucks and there is no changing my ways. No matter the result this season or the next, I will be there to support them from start to finish every year. I accept that fans will not always agree, but I do not accept fans telling other fans HOW to be a proper hockey fan. Hockey fans come in all shapes and sizes and of all kinds. You do not have to be fans of the same team to have a great hockey discussion or appreciate this incredible game. You do not have to have all the answers and you can ask as many questions as you want…I love talking hockey. Most of all, I love talking hockey to fans of ALL teams while bonding over our love of this game that is so much more than just a game.

I will not judge you or the team that you choose to support. I will not belittle you or the team or its roster because of where it is in the standings or if it is struggling. I will not insult your team. I will simply show you the same respect you show me. I will not ask you to jump ship or switch sides. It does not matter to me which team you support or which player is your favourite, I would love to hear about ALL of it! As I said in the start of this post, I love talking hockey with the best fans in sports, so…talk hockey to me!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Roberto Luongo Deserves Better (Part TWO)

In the summer of 2012 I was forced to confront the idea that my favourite Canuck, Roberto Luongo would be traded as all of the drama with Schneider had evolved and it led to this writing this post that August:

Today I am forced to confront the reality that Roberto Luongo has indeed been traded and being led to write yet another post about the respect that he deserved and still deserves.

The writing has been on the wall but that does not mean I am not sad about the outcome. My heart slightly broke when the news was revealed but I am glad for Luongo that he gets a fresh start. Vancouver did not appreciate what they had in Luongo or respect him particularly well in the last three years. From many of the fans to the local media, it somehow became lost just how much Luongo has done for the Canucks franchise and somewhere along the way this city decided that they no longer supported LU.

How could everyone forget what Luongo did for this team? Shall I remind you? 6 division championships(6 playoff berths), 2 President trophies, 1 Western Conference Championship, 1 Stanley Cup Final appearance (all the way to game 7!), oh and did I mention his 2 Olympic GOLD medals?! In 439 regular season games with the Canucks Luongo posted a 252-137-50 record while posting 38 shut outs. He is the franchise leading goal-tender in wins and shutouts and will go down in history as one of the BEST Canucks players of all time.

No matter what the media would write or dictate the fans to think, Roberto always found a way to put his best game on the ice. When he was winning this city loved him and erupted in endless LUUUUUU cheers…but if he lost or let in a bad goal the love turned to taunting and saying things like he was not dependable. His ability to win big games came into question until the 2010 Olympics came calling in his very own Canuck rink. Think back to overtime in the gold medal game…LU makes a big save, Sid scores the BIGGEST goal of the tournament and the LU and Crosby cheers that erupted in the arena were deafening.

The season that followed the gold medal season…the 2010-2011 season was magical and nearly perfection with the exception of the final game of the Stanley Cup final. It was the most thrilling ride that any Canucks team has taken the city on since the spring of 1994 and Roberto Luongo was at the center of it all. It was incredible to watch as it happened…but in the aftermath of game 7,  all eyes of the media placed the blame not so much on the team as a whole but on one individual…Luongo took it all. Hate to break to everyone but as much as you need saves from your goalie which they did get…you also need goals from the team in front of you which they did not get in that last game.

It was not the perfect storybook ending that we had all hoped for…but it was an incredible run. The following season Luongo and the team repeated as President Trophy winners BUT instead of an incredible run were met with an upset from the LA Kings in the first round. It was the end of that series when the team chose to start Cory Schneider for the final three games that the writing seemed to be on the wall that the end was not only near but was here for Luongo. The hints had started to come earlier than the playoffs when the crowd jeered Luongo more than once at home in favour of Schneider.

The summer began with Luongo being willing to waive his no-trade-clause and Schneider being re-signed to a 3-year contract. It seemed very clear the direction that was going to be taken…and then the 2012 lockout happened putting everything on hold. No one knew if there would even be a season. The powers that be between the NHL and the NHLPA finally came to an agreement that saw a shortened 48-game regular season begin in late January 2013. The season started with the rotation of Schneider and Luongo and AV’s infamous coin…but eventually it became the Schneider team and Luongo seemed once again to be on his way out. The trade deadline came and went…the season once again ended with an early exit and no change had come.

Luongo expected that he would not be returning to the Canucks and a trade seemed inevitable with Scheider in prime position again. The draft came and a trade finally happened…but it was not Luongo that was traded…Schneider was sent to the New Jersey Devils. The end of the saga seemed to have arrived. Fast forward to this season…Lack signed on to backup Luongo. Both goalies had some great moments…and all seemed fine…until Luongo was injured not once but twice and Lack was put in the spotlight. That spotlight around Lack started to get bigger (not of his own choosing) and Luongo unbeknownst to himself was slowly being forced back into the corner he previously shared with Schneider.

That corner became ever more evident when it was revealed that Lack would be starting in the Heritage Classic game over the franchise goalie Luongo. Fans while they support Lack, were disappointed in the mistreatment of Luongo who more than deserved to play in that game. I love Eddie Lack and his playing style and he has been the absolute epitome of support and class to the team, fans and Luongo. He did not ask for the game…all he did was play when told and was forced to face the fans first dislike of him in the net…during the Heritage Classic as the entire arena chanted WE WANT LU. That was the end of the line. Fast forward to two days later and the trade that everyone had expected for nearly three years finally happened. Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for goalie Jacob Markstrom & forward Shawn Matthias.

Yes it was a trade that we all expected to happen at some point but that does not mean it does not make me sad. It is the end of an era. Luongo did a lot  of good for this franchise but was never properly appreciated by this city or the fans. Luongo deserved better and I hope that in Florida, he gets the respect that he has always deserved. All the good things he did, seemed to have been forgotten by many in all the drama that unfolded in the last few years. Roberto Luongo deserved better in Vancouver and he definitely still deserves better from this city. He has more than earned the respect of his peers and fans for everything he did for the Canucks franchise. All I can say is thank-you, to Roberto Luongo for an incredible 8 seasons and being the epitome of class through the good times and the bad. Thank-you also for helping me love this crazy game called hockey even more than I already did. I will still cheer LUUUUUUUU every single time Florida plays and #1 is between the pipes. You will be missed in Vancouver, but you deserve a fresh start. All the best to #1 as he begins a new chapter with the Panthers.

Here’s a few tributes to my favourite former Canuck:

I will also miss Lu’s hilarious sense of humour:

One last note. In his leave, Luongo advised to Vancouver to take care of Eddie Lack and I hope that this city actually listens. Lack like Luongo, deserves respect. Lack had the utmost respect for Luongo. It has not been an easy few days for Eddie as he never expected this moment and it must have been one heck of a shock to see his mentor sent to Florida. The weight of an entire city is now on Lack’s shoulders…that is an insane amount of pressure in his rookie season. I suggest, that we take Luongo’s advice from the very beginning of Eddie’s tenure by supporting our goalie in way that this city never has before. It sounds like a refreshing approach no?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Roberto deserves better from you Vancouver & you should give him the respect he’s earned.

**I apologize, this post is a little long but there was so much to address.

Roberto Luongo deserves better from you, VANCOUVER. There is one thing that all of Vancouver fans owe to one Roberto Luongo and that is RESPECT. If there is one thing he has earned, it is at least respect. The guy could never do anything right in the eyes of some whether the team was winning or losing. Did he let some bad goals at times? Yes…but so has every other good goalie. He took on the burdens the city and media laid upon him, .and in the media placing the blame or glory on him, the city followed suit. One day everyone would love him and the next people wanted him gone and so the pattern would go. Oh how soon most of you all forget the good things that he has done for  this team and city.

Let me tell you a story, picture it: it was April 2006 and the Canucks were without a bonafide #1 goalie with Dan Cloutier injured and Alex Auld flailing to fill the void(he was supposed to be the back up BUT had to play as starter when Cloutier went down) and there would be no playoffs. The playoff miss brought with it change, not just in coaching but on the roster too. Marc Crawford[had been coach for 8 years!] was fired and Alain Vigneault was named head coach. In a bold move, June 30, 2006 the Canucks traded Todd Bertuzzi & Auld to Florida in exchange for Roberto Luongo and Lucas Krajcek. He brought with himself high expectations to win and the certainty that the Canucks would return to the playoffs.The following season was one filled with many expectations and it lived up to it…although it was a slow beginning…the play down the stretch was something special. Luongo led the team to become the 2007 NW Division champion & playoffs with 47 WINS(P.S. the team had 49 W’s total that year…!) and was nominated for the HART & the VEZINA trophies. Round 1 of the 2007 playoffs brought the Dallas Stars…7 games….it became a goalie showdown…it was incredible to watch…4 OT periods that first game before Hank scored…but game 7 LOU was amazing…and Linden sealed that one. It was his 1st ever playoff series experience and victory. The 2nd round was not our forte….but there were some great moments despite the loss and the blame cannot all be placed on ONE player so do NOT go there. The following season [2007-2008] brought some more great moments for our city….Loungo’s 1st 3 game + shutout streak in November…Linden’s last game but there were no playoffs this time, only the promise that the team would be better next season. The[ 2008-2009] season opened with the Canucks beating the Flames 6-0….that was certainly an amazing opening act. November brought Loungo’s 2nd 3 game+ shutout streak(I was at the 2nd game of that streak…it was incredible to watch!) in which he beat his record from the year before! Things were going well until Luongo was injured and there began an 11 game losing streak in January brought all the questions from the year before….what about playoffs? blame being placed everywhere….and then a game in early February….at home vs. Carolina…tied 3-3 with less than 5 minutes to play…the Canucks short-handed seemed destined to lose yet again…but a BIG save & even bigger goal by BURR snapped the streak. That win got the Canucks back on track and they played unbelievable down the stretch to win their 2nd NW Division title in 3 years and just like that the city became crazed in playoff dreams. The first round brought the St.Louis Blues and 2-0 series lead gained at home…including a shutout in game 2. ***let me just say that going to a playoff game is even more incredible than during the regular season…! The Canucks would go on to gain a 3-0 series lead with a chance to sweep..something they had never done before EVER and of course it came down to less than 20 seconds of OT[looking certain to go into a 2nd overtime] but who else but BURR gets to goal for the SWEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great goal-tending & an excellent PK won the series hands down….the next round brought out the Chicago Blackhawks….and well it started out great….1-0 series lead….2-1 series lead….a back & forth game 6 that looked briefly as thought the Canucks would win….but of course we all know what happened…they didn’t and this was the 1st heart-ache the Blackhawks caused me and also ignited a deep loathing of all things Chicago Blackhawk related. The [2009-2010 season] brought out special circumstances with the Winter Olympics being smack dab in the middle of February and requiring the NHL to pause their season for 2 1/2 weeks while many players represented their countries in the event. Luongo was supposed to back up Brodeur…and was given game 1 to play with the understanding that these would be Brodeur’s games. However when Brodeur faltered against the USA, Luongo was handed the reigns and never gave them back. Yes it was CROSBY that scored the GOLDEN GOAL but it was LUONGO that made that ridiculous save against Slovakia to insure that team Canada was able to play in the gold medal game.

Upon returning to the regular season Luongo led to team to their 3rd NW Division title in 4 years and HANK won the Art Ross. Luongo had 40 W’s. The 2010 playoffs brought more excitement to the city still high off the winning gold on home ice at the Olympics. Round one went back and forth with the Kings[some great glove saves on both sides..particularly that one LOU had on Smyth!]…but it was the lack of penalty kills and WAY too many penalties being taken that nearly cost this series…..I remember thinking just kill ONE penalty and stop taking more….and finally they killed one and then another and then a few big saves…and a game 4 won to tie the series..and suddenly they were in control of game 5…and game 6 WON! Round 2 once more brought the Blackhawks from the windy city…and once more it started out great…1-0 series lead….but then down 3-1…….and then game 5 WON…..and hope once more….but we all know what happened in game 6… wasn’t pretty. 2 years in a row….twice in 6 games the Canucks were eliminated by Chicago…twice they were the better team. It ignited an even greater dislike of all things Chicago Blackhawk related.
The [2010-2011 season] was special in many ways. Luongo set the bar even higher….becoming to most winning Canuck goalie….reaching his personal 300th career W….helping lead the Canucks to their BEST franchise record EVER…[54-19-9…earning 117 points to earn the Presidents trophy securing home ice for the entire playoffs] in which they led in all the important categories : #1 powerplay #1 penalty kill(*3rd by playoffs, still amazing), #1 in goals scored and #1in least goals allowed. They won the NW Division title for the 4th time in 5 years and won the entire regular season in the West & the East….the next best team had 109 points. This time it was DANNY that won the Art Ross. The Canucks opened the playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks…yes I know..3 years in a row…how is that even possible?! The Blackhawks were lucky to make the playoffs in 2011…but still they had a talented team. The Canucks knowing that if they were to go a long way MUST beat the previous Stanley Cup champion team. It was a fantastic 1st 3 games…the Canucks led the series 3-0!!..yes I know amazing…but then the Blackhawks started playing the way they always do…and got themselves back into the series…tying it 3-3….leading to the inevitable game 7…do or die. There were so many implications going into that game….and then it started…LOU opened with some great saves and then KES to BURROWS…SCORES!!!!!!!!! and the score remained 1-0 for nearly the entire game…a missed penalty shot….then there was a last minute powerplay which ended up with the Blackhawks tying it shorthanded rather than 2-0 it became 1-1. Overtime for all the marbles….Canucks take a bad penalty….SHARP goes for the goal…but STOPPED BY LUONGO….and suddenly the penalty is over. Campoli misses the clearing attempt BURROWS steals and SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the dragon has been slayed…or as Jim Hughson said it: “it’s a great day for an exorcisim, Vancouver!”.

The games that followed were an amazing run….and one of these days the Canucks will win the cup[every team will have their day]. This season we just had…maybe it wasn’t as amazing as the 2010/2011 season…but it was still a great one…that ended in a 2nd President’s trophy. BURR scoring & LOU standing tall to end the streak in Detroit….these two teams always play great against one another. And maybe there was no magical playoff run this time…but DO NOT place all the blame on #1….was it his fault that the Canucks couldn’t beat Quick? No. What is supposed to make saves and score too? That is illogical. It breaks my heart a little to think of how quick when things go wrong that the local media(The Province & The Vancouver Sun in particular) followed by the fans are to solely blame Luongo…even if the team in front of him struggled greatly…but all anyone ever mentions is the bad goal let in…or if he just stopped that one…..but what about if the defense had just blocked that shot? or if the forwards had just got that one goal? or if the powerplay clicked? I’m sick of it. In comes Cory Schneider…yes he’s a great athlete…yes he’s played 60 NHL games(peanuts compared to Lou) but he is not a bonafide starter and he could STILL benefit greatly from having LOU in tandem with him this coming season. Luongo holds most of the Canuck goalie records…or don’t you remember? I enjoy watching these two play and they make each other play better…it is not a coincidence that suddenly Schneider was playing amazing this year, but he has not yet earned the respect that everyone is so quick to give him. Yes he has earned the right at playing more and getting a chance…but he has NOT earned the respect of Lou’s experience. Luongo has given this team an amazing 6 years…5 playoff appearances….solidifying himself in the Canucks record books…5 Division titles…1 Western Conference Championship…2 Presidents Trophies…not to mention his work with Canuck Place, Canucks For Kids Fund, & his other charities…so do not start telling me to give Cory that same respect because he has not earned that just yet. Maybe he will, but he isn’t there yet. To me Luongo will always be a Canuck and I secretly(or not so secretly since I’m sharing it with all of you] hope that he stays in Vancouver this season and should Cory falter that LOU takes those reigns and does not relinquish them until the Canucks win their 1st Stanley Cup. What is so wrong with having potentially one of the greatest goalie-tandems in the league..I will answer you, nothing…it would be amazing. I have nothing but the greatest respect Luongo and always have…I will always LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU no matter where he plays but like I said I hope that he stays in my city with my team. #foreveraCanuck in my eyes!

So the next time you think about following the media’s standpoint on criticizing a player..just think back to what they have done for the team, the city, and the fans…do not just adopt their attitude present in their article because it is not always true.The fans should not be taken in by the media’s tirade on the team or their players…as a fan you should always root for your team and the players that make up your team.I would hope that the local media would report the accurate facts but also when things aren’t going well for the team instead of attacking the players and coaches and placing the blame that they would encourage the fans and the city to still cheer loud because positivity can go a long way.  I will never understand the local media when things go bad can never find one decent thing to say about the team…but only the negatives…and if that is all the fans are reading…suddenly those become the thoughts they are thinking when a similar spiral begins and they too start sharing the same negative blame placing attitude. It is unacceptable and hopefully in the coming season things will change. How would you feel if every time you opened the paper there was a new article about how everything that is going wrong is yet again somehow YOUR fault….it would be ridiculous. The local media has become so absurd that I stopped by the local papers following this last season because it each day the excuses implied by them was that the blame all fall on one individual…and as we all know hockey is a TEAM sport…a TEAM game…and like any TEAM game…TEAMS win or lose TOGETHER.

That is all.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.