From a December to remember to a January that was definitely a struggle to survive as the injury bug hit the Canucks with full steam. 2014 did not get off the the best start and that has caused many fans and the media alike to jump on the panic button as the stretch drive for the playoffs is just around the corner.

January was NOT the team’s best month by any means….the injury bug attacked the team with a vengeance [Luongo{who returned in the Calgary game},Henrik, Santorelli, Bieksa, Tanev, Weber and Alberts {Dec.29} have still not returned]. It has not been easy to watch the team struggle as the injuries seemed to happen in nearly every game…it seemed their mission most games was to escape the game with minimal injuries rather than focusing on winning. It has been a difficult few weeks to watch the Canuck in part because of the injuries and the mentality of which they let their opponents get in their heads but also because January saw Torts suspended for the final six games of the month.

Yes we are over halfway through the season and yes the team needs to be better. The good news is January is OVER and February a month in which they have had a lot of recent success[Since 2011 the Canucks are 24-9-6] is HERE. There may not be a lot of games this month due to the Olympic break BUT with the return of head coach John Tortorella and the expected return of captain Henrik Sedin things are beginning to look a lot brighter for the Canucks.

True, the Canucks have put themselves into a more difficult position with their play in the last few weeks BUT they also have a lot left to fight for in next 2 1/2 months yet. These games in February and March are ever more so important to their playoff fate. There a 4 games left before 8 Canucks [newly acquired Diaz brings the Canucks total to 8 Olympians!] are sent to Sochi to vie an Olympic hockey gold medal and the rest of the team will be treated to an Olympic break. The Canucks would like to go into the break on a high note with a few wins starting in Detroit.

Good-bye January and HELLO FEBRUARY!! The real madness is set to begin as the Olympics close and the trade deadline approaches…

Trades are one of the difficult parts of a being a fan because you are torn between being upset that a player is leaving the team while being excited for their new opportunity and optimistic about what the new player will bring to your team. In the morning of February 3rd, the Canucks announced a trade with the Montreal Canadiens: in exchange for Dale Weise, the Canucks have acquired defense-man Raphael Diaz. All the best to Dale Weise as he begins a new chapter with the Montreal Canadiens. Raphael Diaz brings a right-handed shot that has been missing on the Canucks combined with all of the injuries on the blue-line will be a great addition to the team. Down the stretch after the Olympics and come playoff time, you can NEVER have too much defense.

Did I mention that TORTS is back? It has been a very long quiet 15 days in his absence…but here is a collection of some AWESOME Torts moments from this season [Spoiler alert…its awesome!]:

“I apologize first and foremost to the players, to the organization and to the league. It hasn’t been a great two weeks. I didn’t help matters for this team and we’re in a tough spot right now. It’s up to me to do my job and get this team back. We had meetings this morning, we have a long list of things we need to improve at. We need to start over on the mental side” – Tortorella [February 3, 2014]

Look out NHL, you’ve released a DETERMINED John Tortorella -and it looks like just as Torts has always stood by his team, his players will continue to stand by him:

“He’s our coach, he’s our leader and we’re excited he’s back. This will be a process, starts with the right mindset” – Kesler [February 3, 2014]

That mindset is where it will begin and they hope to put it into motion starting with their final 4 games before the Olympic break vs. Detroit, Boston, Montreal and Toronto and continuing for the rest of the season.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Off-season ramblings & still waiting on Doan…..

The off-season in review:                                                                                                  Minnesota won the Parise/Suter sweepstakes.                                                                              Rick Nash was traded from Columbus to the New York Rangers, giving him a chance to benefit from offensive line-mates & have a realistic chance at playoffs.                                Weber created drama by signing a ridiculous 14 year $110 million offer sheet with Philadelphia forcing Nashville’s hand to either accept it or let him walk. 6 days after the offer sheet, Nashville decided to officially match the offer, making Weber a Predator for life(& perhaps setting a ridiculous precedent for other players future contracts).                    The NHLPA & NHL head honchos are in the thick of meetings regarding a new CBA agreement & hopefully to avoid a lockout next season(I would not deal with that very well, nor would any other hockey fan, BUT that hasn’t happened yet, so lets cross our fingers that it doesn’t!)                                                                                                                               Marty Brodeur signed a 2 year deal with New Jersey, which basically insures that he will finish his career in New Jersey, playing his whole career for one franchise. This guy is an incredible athlete.

Where oh where will Shane Doan sign? Will it be Phoenix? Or will he go somewhere else? Doan is really taking his time in signing a contract & really considering both sides, not who is trying to sway him with money but which team he will fit best with. Rumor has it that he has met with/or talked with many of the teams that have shown an interest in him. I think he’d be a great asset on any team, particularly in blue & green! But really wherever he ends will be lucky to have his experience and leadership. I would love to see Doan stepping onto the ice in Canuck jersey next year, but like everyone else I will have to wait until Doan announces his decision officially.

A big question remains for Philadelphia. If they were willing to take the plunge with that HUGE offer to Weber, what does that say about Pronger? Will Pronger be available to start the season or play at all next year? If they lose Pronger for an extended amount of time or permanently that leaves Philadelphia with a HUGE whole in their defense. I really hope that Pronger is not done, it would be a terrible way to end his career, to be forced into retirement because of his concussion. He was shut down pretty quickly last year, and his symptoms were quite severe. Pronger is a huge presence on & off the ice. Philadelphia has not addressed the possibility, but by making the offer to Weber that they did , it makes one wonder why they would go to such extremes to sign him if everything with Pronger is okay. I guess we shall have to wait for some sort of official word from Philadelphia, but I really hope that Pronger is not finished yet, that would be so unfair for him to lose the game he loves before he is .

In other news, the Canucks have agreed to terms with forward Dale Weise on a one year deal.