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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Change IS Coming…Change IS Here

Change IS coming. Change IS here. Trevor Linden and Jim Benning said from the outset that some change would have to come in order to move forward. Change indeed has already begun in a BIG way.

Ryan Kesler has been weighed down by trade rumors since the 2014 trade deadline and today you can STOP the rumor mill. Rumor became fact with the announcement of a trade between the Vancouver Canucks and the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Kesler is no longer a Vancouver Canuck, he is now an Anaheim Duck. (Do you have ANY idea how hard those words were for this kid to type?)

TO ANAHEIM: Ryan Kesler, 2015 3rd round draft pick

TO VANCOUVER: Nick Bonino, Lucas Sbisa, 2014 1st round draft pick & 2014 3rd round draft pick.

Words of caution before you throw Linden and Benning under the bus for making this trade: REMEMBER, Kesler wanted to go and with his NTC ONLY gave a 2 TEAM list of teams he’d be willing to go to IF a deal could be made. Considering the limited pools of possibilities, I’d say that Linden and Benning did quite well to get optimal value back for Kesler. As for Bonino and Sbisa, I’m going to say that these two will surprise a lot of fans come October.

Nick Bonino, from the times that I have seen him play over the last few years has had a knack for scoring some insanely clutch goals…a habit that will be welcomed when he joins the Canucks. Lucas Sbisa will have an opportunity to develop into a top-4 defense-man on the blue line. There is lots of potential with these two roster ready players and they could very well thrive.

Welcome to Canucks Nation…Bonino & SBISA!

(Bright side? Kesler is NOT a Blackhawk….sorry hawks fans but THAT would have been TOO much for this kid to handle.)

CONFESSION time: In my heart of hearts, I never thought I’d see the day where Ryan Kesler was NOT a Vancouver Canuck. I truly thought at the end of the day that he was going to be a career Canuck. Kesler has always been a heart and soul player…every time he’s on the ice, he gives his 100% and the Anaheim Ducks are incredibly lucky to have him on their side. Best of luck Ryan, I’m going to miss cheering for you as a Canuck, you’ll always be a Canuck to me EVEN though you’ll be wearing the WRONG colours next season! I may not be rooting for Anaheim, but I do hope you do well in So-Cal!

Trades of favourite players NEVER get any easier…and the longer they were a part of our team the harder it is to say good-bye. Just ask the Oilers and Wayne Gretzky who was traded away from Edmonton BUT then Wayne went on to have great success in LA and the OILERS found themselves a cup without the Great One. So here’s to BOTH my Vancouver Canucks and the Anaheim Ducks having great success in the years to come.

Adios Kes, best of luck in Anaheim!

Adios Kes, best of luck in Anaheim!

Ryan Kesler, if you EVER see this post, THANK-YOU for everything. Thank-you for giving 110% every time you were on the ice. Thank-you for helping to bring to life my passion for the game. Thank-you for everything you brought the Canucks night in and night out. Thank-you for an incredible 10 years of memories. You gave us EVERYTHING, EVERY time you played and for that, I say THANK-YOU. The word seems so small compared to what you helped this franchise become these last 10 years, but the gratitude is infinite.

Thanks for everything, RK17! We’ll miss ya on our side! Best of luck in Anaheim!

Ch-ch-changes keep on knocking! Jason Garrison has been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

TO TAMPA BAY: Jason Garrison + the rights to Jeff Costello & 2015 7th round draft pick

TO VANCOUVER: 2014 50th overall draft pick.

Best of luck in Tampa Bay, Jason! It was fun to see you play for the home team and you’ve got one heck of a shot from the point that the Lightning will love!

ACQUISITION FROM the NY Rangers:

TO VANCOUVER: Derek Dorsett

TO NEW YORK RANGERS: 85th overall 2014 Draft pick (acquired earlier from Anaheim)

Welcome to the team, Derek!

The ch-ch-changes are just beginning. Change was inevitable with the mess that Gillis left behind and it was never going to be easy to clean up. Change had to happen even if that change might break some hearts, sometimes the hardest changes are the ones that make teams EVEN stronger than before. Linden and Benning DO NOT have an easy job taking care of Gillis’ mess BUT they are doing an impeccable job that will make our team better than before. Today marks just the beginning and I’m sure there is more change on the horizon…but there is a lot to be excited about moving forward.

Like the changes that have come or hate them BUT one thing is very clear: some things HAD to change for the Canucks to be able to move forward. People were BEGGING for big changes that never happened last year and now those changes are happening. Benning’s biggest strength is the development of young players and that is exactly what we are getting Canucks fans…depth on our prospect side! The prospect pool is starting to get deep as the Canucks add to their stack of draft picks!

WHAT.A.DAY! The day is not done yet and #TeamLindenning is still hard at work. The first round of 2014 NHL draft is still to come! Updates to follow!

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

P.S. Who do you think the Canucks pick at 6th? (Virtanen?) OR will Benning go all in to get the 1st overall pick from Florida? Leave your prediction in the comments below.