Skate with the Canucks via @VanCanucks Sunlife Financial and @CanucksCorner

skate

How would you like to spend you first BC Family Day Holiday skating at Rogers Arena with members of your Vancouver Canucks?

On Monday, February 11, 2013, Sun Life Financial is sponsoring “Skate with the Canucks“, a chance for you to take the ice with current Canucks players and Canucks alumni. The Vancouver Canucks have generously offered readers of our blog two tickets to this event.

You can enter in three, very easy ways:

  • Leave a comment below and tell us which Canucks player you would most like to take to the ice with.
  • Tweet the following: “I entered for a chance to Skate with the Canucks via @CanucksCorner @VanCanucks & @BrighterLifeCA: http://ow.ly/huDGs #CCSkate”
  • Leave a comment on our Facebook page under the post about this contest.

If you do all three, you have three chances to win!

The deadline to enter is Friday, February 8, 2013 at 6:00 PM. We will randomly choose a winner from the total number of entries using Random.org

Important Information: The skate session starts at 6:00 PM on Monday, February 11. Skate and helmet rentals are not available so you will have to bring your own. You will also be required to sign a waiver before you step on the ice. At least one current member of your 2013 Vancouver Canucks will be on the ice during the event.

Good luck everyone!

Congrats to Samantha Law, her comment on the blog was selected as our random lucky winner that will get two spots to Skate with the Canucks at Rogers arena. Thanks to everyone that entered!


 

Home Opener Canucks tickets! And the winner is…

scrimmage

Last night I was among some invited guests of the Canucks social media team to watch the first of two season scrimmages. It was great to finally back in the rink again, as an estimated 8,000 Canucks fans showed up to watch the team prepare for the season opener on Saturday. The scrimmage itself certainly wasn’t the hockey we all expect to see starting Saturday, but it was great to see fellow bloggers and other social media members at last night’s event.

At the end of the night the Canucks graciously gave us two tickets to Saturday’s home opener and since I already had tickets, I decided to give them away in a contest on Facebook and twitter. We asked our Twitter followers and Facebook page members how long Canucks Corner has been on the internet, and we had a ton of entries as evidenced by the fact that @Canuckscorner was the top trend in Vancouver last night.

The answer is, that we have been online in one form or another since 1996, and we are entering our 17th season of following and covering Canucks hockey. Since the answer could be interpreted many ways, I accepted any answer from “Since 1996″ to “16 years” or “17 years”.

Through a random draw of all correct entries, we used the number generator from random.org and the winner of our contest is…

Brynn Prince (@brynnprince on Twitter)

Congratulations to Brynn, and thanks to all of you who entered. We hope you’ll continue to follow along as this season unfolds, and stay with us for another 17 years!


 

 

Toby Ward: The destruction of the second line.

CanucksCorner.com is pleased to welcome Toby Ward to our team. Toby is a  former reporter and producer who covered the Canucks and has since turned consultant, blogger, and season ticket holder. A lifelong Canucks fan who bleeds blue and green, Toby first saw the Canucks when they hosted Bobby Orr and the Bruins in 1974.

mason-raymond

The Canucks have been without a consistent, stable second line since Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs versus Nashville during the 2011 playoff run – a round that saw the emergence of Ryan Kesler as a potential super stud. Unfortunately, Kesler was injured in the next round versus San Jose, and Mason Raymond famously joined him on the DL in the Finals versus Boston. Since then, the second line has rarely been stable and has constantly been shuffling players in and out.

Nearly two years later, the second line has once again migrated to the infirmary.

The good news: Raymond, who has never been the same since his horrific injury in those same 2011 Finals, and may now get a chance to slowly find his game on the third line (provoking a massive sigh of relief from all those Raymond haters who’ve demanded his trade for most of the past year). The bad news: the Canucks have no second line.

Kesler is a month or two away from making a return; Booth joins him on the infirm list for a minimum of six weeks, if not more, with what appears to be a too-much-training injury of his groin; and Raymond cannot play by himself, and probably would benefit from a reduced roll while he finds a productive hockey stick. In fact, the third line may now likely become the second line by default, even though it still lacks a definitive center.

At this moment, it would appear that young Jordan Schroeder may be given every opportunity to earn the opportunity to win that second line center spot; leaving the third line center spot for Lapierre, or possibly Hansen who can play center, but likely will have a shot on the wing on the second line (Chris Higgins can also play center, but almost certainly will move to the wing on the second line).

If Schroeder fails to impress, one wonders if Jason Arnott might not be considered again, or the spritely local boy and fan favourite, Brendan Morrison (both are still looking for a team). Let’s hope that GM Mike Gillis resists the urge to bring in an aging European winger – a la Marco Sturm, or Peter Sykora (who’s also without a job).

The problem with extended injuries in a shortened 48-game season is that the Canucks can ill afford a slow start – especially since every single game is versus a conference rival who may be competing with the Canucks for conference positioning, or dare I say it, a final playoff position.

The impetus and pressure on Gillis to pull the trigger on a Luongo trade just intensified, but may already be under serious, specific consideration. There are signs that Gillis may already have a trade package ready to go: the signing of veteran defensemen Cam Barker and Jim Vandermeer bring the total number of defensemen with significant NHL experience to nine (not including Frank Corrado and Connauton) – far more defensemen than is necessary on a defense roster that is one of, if not the strongest in the NHL. It would be highly unusual for the team to keep more than seven with the club past Friday).

With Alex Edler out of contract at season end, and the Canucks already pushing the limits of the current salary cap, Elder may in fact be used a trade bait if Connauton or Corrado look like they are ready to make the jump. Although, a move of Ballard and/or Tanev may be more likely.

Regardless, the current injury crisis and destruction of the second line is likely to incite Gillis to make a move – perhaps a mega blockbuster trade – before the start of the season on Saturday.

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What’s the proper way to say sorry to the fans?

bwagon

The lockout is over, training camps are open, but there is a debate among hockey fans on what the league and it’s teams should do for the fans to make up for them missing half a season of their beloved sport.

Gary Bettman has said he’s sorry, but what was he supposed to say? And does anyone care? The Pittsburgh Penguins are offering 50% off all merchandise and free concession items, while the Tampa Bay Lightning offered 200 season-ticket packages for their 24 home games for $200 on a first come, first served basis.

For their part the Canucks have opened up Rogers Arena this week for their abbreviated training camp. They will also hold a “Jersey’s off our backs” night for Saturday’s season opener against Anaheim. The team says there will be other giveaways and random prizes given out during the season.

But that’s not good enough for some fans, who feel the team should be a little more generous if they hope to maintain their loyalty. The reality is however, at least in Canada, they don’t have to. There is a waiting list for season tickets that spans years, so the Canucks have that in their back pocket, and know that soon hockey fans will forget. Probably after the first big save by Cory Schneider, or the first tic-tac-toe play by the twins. Canucks fever will be back, it’s already back so if you’re expecting that half price jersey, don’t hold your breath because if you don’t buy a full priced one, ten other people will.

In Winnipeg the MTS centre was sold out for the Jets first practice of the year. The buzz in Edmonton isn’t “what can you do for me”, but is instead one of getting to watch their exciting young team possibly contend for a playoff spot. In Toronto the rink will be packed as they hope for the arrival of a goaltender from the west coast that could help them get to the playoffs in a post Brian Burke era.

Talk of boycotts of this and boycotts of that are noble and understandable stances, and everyone is entitled to their own way of dealing with the return of hockey, but they likely won’t last long with the true hockey fan.

In the end, I would have been happy with the league making their Centre Ice package free for the duration of the season. A quick look at the Shaw Cable website shows the package is mentioned, but not available to order at the moment. Could it be a discount or free offering is in the works? We’ll have to wait and see, but there would be no better way to get fans interested again than to give them maximum exposure to what promises to be some intense hockey once we get going.

What individual teams do is obviously going to depend on the market they are in. Teams in the U.S. will no doubt have to make more of an effort and Canadian fans will  point south and say, “What about us?” In a way it’s a shame that the game’s most passionate fans will likely get the fewest perks when it comes to post-lockout apologies, but let’s face it…Canadian fans already have the biggest prize they could hope for; their game is back.