Back it Up B*tches, Support the Starter

For as long as I could remember, being the starting goaltender after Kirk McLean was not a great job to have with the Vancouver Canucks. I can see why no self-respecting starting free agent goalie ever wanted to come here and play for this team.  All the fans eventually hate them or are extremely disappointed by them, and they are ran out of town.

I remember it even happened with Kirk McLean. When Corey Hirsch came in to replace the injured McLean (knee), many fans were crying for Hirsch to be the new starter. In their eyes, McLean was done. He will never be the same. Sadly, they were right. Kirk was a shadow of his former self, and no longer at the level of a Vezina nominated goaltender. Off Kirk went, and after that, so did competent goaltending for a good stretch of years. 

We could go on and on revisiting all the goalie controversies here in Vancouver over the last 15 years, but there is no point. It all starts with not liking the starter for whatever reason (not good enough, not nice, too aloof…) and loving the backup in the games he plays. His job is to give said starter the break, so some fans want to see at times a more permanent one. As Canucks fans, we had to see it happen twice to the best goaltender this franchise has ever put on its uniform, Roberto Luongo. How about we put an end to it right now.

Remember this? Photo Credit: The Vancouver Sun

Remember this? Photo Credit: The Vancouver Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 There is no #TeamLack or #TeamMiller in my eyes. It has always been about #TeamCanucks Right now, it’s not even really an issue. Miller still has not recovered from his injury. So, Eddie Lack is our starter, and we should support him. We should especially support him on days he has a not-so-good game. Fatigue starts to play a factor when one plays so many games in a row. It happened to Miller, and it has happened to Lack too. I like Eddie Lack. He’s a pretty cool dude and a good goalie. However, if Miller comes back, he would get my support as much as Eddie does. Why? 28 wins and 6 shutouts says so. Without that body of work from Miller, the Canucks would not be in a playoff spot. Besides, Ryan Miller seems like a nice guy, just a lot quieter than what we’re used to with guys like Eddie Lack and Kevin Bieksa on the team. To me, he hasn’t been given a chance to be accepted as part of this team by a good number of fans.  We all have to also remember, without Eddie’s improved game since taking over the net post- Miller’s injury,  the Canucks would not still be in playoff contention. Both goalies’ efforts have made an impact. That’s not fan fiction, that’s just how it is.

This goalie controversy can be looked at from a different perspective. Both goalies are both capable of winning, so it’s a problem of abundance. It’s a good problem to have. Two goalies capable of taking the team to victories, a problem? I’m sure teams like Dallas, Edmonton, Arizona etc, would love to have one goalie that could be capable, let alone two. Some should be so lucky.

Let's all relax and take in a Lack Dance.

Let’s all relax and take in a Lack Dance.

My point is, the more Canucks fans, and media alike, who buy into and propagate this message, the harder it could become in the future to find that All-Star level goaltender UFA. No one wants to come to a place where he is publicly not wanted by the very fans for he puts the uniform on, night after night. We don’t want another Heritage Classic situation. Frankly, that dressing room has been through enough over the last two years and there is no need to mount this on them too. Let’s cheer them all on, even the ones that ‘suck’ from time to time. Who knows, it might inspire better play from those players. When the team is winning, the less of an issue it all becomes.

What about next season? Well, let’s get through this one first and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

@Aviewfromabroad

#TBT:Passing on Round 2-Trade the Picks, A Habit of Failure

Ever since the Brian Burke era, the Vancouver Canucks haven’t had very much luck with the 2nd round pick of the NHL Draft. With the odd exception, the Canucks’ management, whomever is at the helm, would take heat for not using those 2nd round picks to build within the organization. Many of those 2nd round picks since 1998 were used in trade deals, but the Canucks did not trade all of them away. So from 1998 to present, let’s see what the 2nd round pick has garnered the Canucks via trade or prospect. How did the team fare overall?

Brian Burke Era

1998: Canucks chose Artem Chubarov in the 2nd round, 31st overall. He spent seven years in the Canucks organization before heading to Russia to play in the KHL. He played 228 NHL regular season games and 27 playoff games. Chubarov is better known for his funny little NHL record.

1999: Brian Burke sent this selection (31st overall) was sent to Colorado (via Washington) as compensation to acquire Marc Crawford as the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

2000: Traded to Atlanta for a 2nd round pick in 2001, plus a swap of the 3rd round picks in the 2001 draft.

2001: The pick traded to Atlanta was turned around in 2000 (42nd overall) in a trade to Nashville for Drake Berehowsky.

2002: Chosen 49th overall was Kiril Koltsov. In the efforts of trying to find the next great Russian player, Burke missed on this pick. Koltsov did not play one game for the Vancouver Canucks but spent 102 games with the Manitoba Moose, the then-AHL affiliate of the big club, before going to Russia.

2003: Marc-Andre Bernier, a right winger,  was chosen 60th overall in the 2nd round. He, like Koltsov before him, did not register one NHL game under his belt, but spent his career in the minors, bouncing from the AHL to the ECHL.

Dave Nonis Era

2004: The 61st pick overall was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for backup net-minder,Johan Hedberg. Hedberg only played 21 games for the Canucks with a GAA of 2.52 and a SV % of .900. That was as steep price to pay for a backup goalie for such a short term.

2005: Mason Raymond. One of the 2nd round picks that worked out for the Canucks, for the most part. Raymond played 279 games for the Canucks with one 25 goal season. Most of all, for about four seasons, we the fans, were entertained how many times Raymond fell on the ice, without assistance of a shove, almost each and every game.

2006: The 46th overall pick was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for goalie, Mika Noronen. If you thought Hedberg was an expensive trade, Noronen played only 4 games for the Canucks. With his .870 SV% and his GAA 3.52, Nonis was fleeced.

2007: Taylor Ellington was chosen 33rd overall in an inside-out trade with Buffalo and LA for Dan Cloutier. Ellington spent the majority of his hockey career in the ECHL and was last seen playing in Denmark last season.

Mike Gillis Era

2008:  Yann Sauve was chosen 41st overall. He spent the better part of the last six years in the Canucks’ system. He was a call up for the big club playing eight games, scoring no points. Sauve is now in Springfield, IL playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets farm team, The Falcons.

2009:  Anton Rodin was chosen 53 overall. The Swedish right-winger is currently playing the SweHL for Brynas IF Galve. Another pick really not panning out for the Canucks.

2010: The 55th pick overall was traded to Buffalo for Steve Bernier, and then traded to LA in 2009  and the pick was eventually used by the Bluejackets. Make sense? Not really, but neither have some of the Canucks picks.

2011: The Canucks chose David Honzik, a Czech goalie who played in the QMJHL. Nothing has progressed beyond Honzik’s junior career and hasn’t been seen on any hockey radar since the 2013-2014 season.

2012: Alexandre Mallet, a left wing prospect chosen 57th overall. He played a few years in the AHL and ECHL system for the Canucks until recently. He is now part of the ECHL Stockton Thunder, an affiliate team of the New York Islanders.

2013: CORRECTION: The Canucks did not have a 2013 pick due to a trade in order to get Derek Roy . Along with the pick was Kevin Connaughton. However they did have another pick in the 1st round and turned it into Hunter Shinkaruk. As per @s0ya on twitter.

No 2nd rounder in the 2013 NHL Draft, but Shinkaruk comes as an additional 1st rounder along with Bo Horvat.

No 2nd rounder in the 2013 NHL Draft (Derek Roy), but Shinkaruk comes as an additional 1st rounder along with Bo Horvat. Photo Credit: Vancouver Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Jim Benning Era

2014: A possible goalie of the future in Thatcher Damko, who played in goal for Team USA in the WJC. In development and we are pretty excited to see what happens.

 

Until now, it seems the Canucks management failed to see the importance and true value of the 2nd round picks, especially when Burke and Nonis were at the helm. With the  scouting background of Jim Benning as an asset, perhaps this is a trend that has been bucked and we can look to the future of depth and building within the system. We can all hope.

In 2015, that 2nd round pick has again been traded, but Sven Baertchi looks like his worth the price ,so far since being acquired, down in Utica. Benning and others seem Baertchi as a future regular NHL’er  with the proper development. Travis Green knew how to motive and develop Sven in the WHL, and it could be another wonderful realtionship in Utica.

*Fingers crossed*

@Aviewfromabroad

 

Pat Quinn: Hockey’s St. Patrick

When I headed towards Rogers Arena last night, my husband sent me a text cautioning me of what I might see when I entered the gate:

Keep your eyes peeled when you come in Gate 16. It was quite the rogues gallery when I came

As I was walking down Abbot Street  (now Pat Quinn Way) to my regular gate, Orland Kurtenbach and his wife walked by for the unveiling of the street sign on Abbot St. and Pacific Boulevard. As I came inside, I saw Kirk McLean talking with a few others. Usually, I don’t get phased by seeing McLean, he’s in and around the arena quite a bit during the regular season, but yesterday, it felt different. There was an energy the minute I set foot through the doors. As I waited for the elevator to take me to Level 5, I started recognizing more faces, and then I thought I saw Markus Naslund which made me do a double take and I wasn’t sure, but I was… Anyway, everyone was in great anticipation of the pre-game ceremony.

When I met up with my husband in our section, he told me of some of the people he saw gathered at Gate 16. He said, in a cluster, there was Brian Burke, George McPhee, Jim Robson and Bob Nicholson. Rogues, maybe, but hockey’s upper echelon, definitely. As we were having our pre-game dinner, I believe we both felt at a loss for words. All  we could do was smile just think of how much Pat Quinn meant to hockey and we in Vancouver were so fortunate to have felt his impact so profoundly.

Canucks President, Trevor Linden, bookends the new commemorative sign of Pat Quinn Way" with Vancouver mayor, Gregor Robertson during the unveiling, renaming ceremony. Photo Credit: NHL.com

Canucks President, Trevor Linden, bookends the new commemorative sign of Pat Quinn Way” with Vancouver mayor, Gregor Robertson during the unveiling, renaming ceremony. Photo Credit: NHL.com

The unveiled "Pat Quinn Way". Quinn meant so much to the Canucks and to the city of Vancouver, it was truly a fitting tribute.

The unveiled “Pat Quinn Way”. Quinn meant so much to the Canucks and to the city of Vancouver, it was truly a fitting tribute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 When the actual ceremony began, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and legendary broadcaster, Jim Robson hosted the evening. It was respectful, memorable without being too long winded. It was perfect. Rick Ley, Bobby Clarke, Cliff Fletcher, Ron Toigo, Markus Naslund, Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure, Kirk McLean, Bob Nicholson and Orland Kurtebach all joined in for the on-ice ceremony. But it was the amazing entourage of people who weren’t shown publicly that astounded many. Washington Capitals GM, George McPhee, singer Michael Buble, Flames President- Brian Burke were amongst the many who gathered at Rogers Arena on that very special night.

Seeing people in the hockey world pay their respects to a man that meant so much to this game, to this city and especially to this team. Pat Quinn had an impact everywhere he want into hockey, but nowhere to the extent of Vancouver. I was still a young girl (11 or 12) when Pat Quinn took charge of the Vancouver Canucks, but I do remember the less than half full Pacific Coliseum before his arrival and how things changed when he put his stamp on the team. There was a culture, there was a vibe, there was respectability associated with the Canucks that lacked in previous regimes.

====

Highlights of the Pat Quinn Ceremony

  • Seeing the array of team jerseys that was associated with Pat Quinn in the world of hockey. Even more so the people who wore them out as they were introduced to Rogers Arena.
  • The appropriateness of the St. Patrick’s Day to remember The Big Irishman.
  • Bagpipes and Mark Donnelly singing his rendition of “Irish Eyes Are Smiling” paid a wonderful musical tribute.
  • The combatants of the night, were the two NHL teams Quinn had the most success with as a head coach.
  • All the dignitaries throughout the night that went on-air with kind words to say about Pat.
  • Seeing his daughters and granddaughter with the ceremonial puck drop was a perfect way to end the ceremony.
  • The one that impacted me the most during the ceremony was seeing Bure, Linden and McLean together in their old “Skate Logo” jersey brought the crowd to a rousing cheer. Memories of a team from yesteryear brought many smiles and tears of joy to some present at the arena. Most significant part of that trio together was, as they were leaving the ice after the ceremony, Linden patted Bure on the back and shared what seemed like kinds words with the Russian Rocket. Two men, who have not always seen eye to eye, as teammates and people, put their differences aside for the night to remember Pat Quinn. That’s speaks volumes of how much Pat Quinn meant to people.

For those that missed the ceremony last night, or those who just want to see it again, here is the ceremony in its entirety.

 

@Aviewfromabroad

Top 5 Annoyances of Willie Desjardins

He’s a nice guy. He’s far removed from the Canuck coach of yester-year. He won’t go and try to hunt down Bob Hartley in the opponent’s dressing room at Rogers Arena, but there are things that bug me about Willie Desjardins. For the most part, I like the guy. He seems like a guy that is respected by the team as a whole, one that management likes and the fans can see him just as a regular guy with a pretty cool job. However, with not much emotional range ever shown by Desjardins, there are a few things that bug me about the guy.

I'd love to see a little more 'anger' from Willie Desjardin as displayed here. Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick, Canucks.

I’d love to see a little more ‘anger’ from Willie Desjardin as displayed here. Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick, Canucks.

  1. Love for Linden Vey– How he keeps Vey in the lineup regardless of the inaffectiveness Vey displays on the ice more often than not is quite puzzling. Sure he played for him in Medicine Hat, but that was a while back, and the vast chasm between the WHL and the NHL is too big a jump for many to make. Vey has some good attributes, but when a guy who considers himself a centre but can barely win a face-off wins a spot in the lineup over guys that could be more physical or have a better touch for scoring. I don’t get it. Many of my Canucks brethren don’t get it either.
  2. Pulling the goalie when down by more than two goals- WHY? What’s the point? There is none! When there is less than five minutes left in the game and you want to pull the goalie to see if they can get within two? There is no point. Let’s just not add to the opponent’s goal tally against the Canucks. 3-0 will be 3-0. Why even tempt it to be 4-0 or worse?
  3. He’s too nice- Maybe we don’t see what happens between periods, or when he decides it’s time for a bag-skate, but I can’t imagine Willie getting on the team when it’s called for. He seems like the coach that would rather let the leadership take that burden and hope the message gets through. He’s a nice guy, and maybe at times when it concerns the Canucks, too nice.
  4. Not a “Real Good” interview– Willie D. and his interviews sound like some sound byte on a loop. Remember in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when people would ring the doorbell to his house? He’d have a playback of the exact same thing every single time someone rang the doorbell? It’s like Willie Desjardins post-game pressers. The phrase “real good” comes up often and seems to be his favourite adjective to describe any sort of play made by his team.
    Willie needs to expand his descriptive vocabulary beyond "Real Good". Photo Credit: Passittobulis Vancouver Sun

    Willie needs to expand his descriptive vocabulary beyond “Real Good”. Photo Credit: Passittobulis Vancouver Sun

  • 5. Players Who Deserve to Play on the PP – I’m not sure why Vey, Higgins, Dorsett find favour to be on any of the powerplay units over Kassian, Matthias and Horvat. I realize he is realizing Horvat’s value to be out there during the man-advantage, but why not have Kassian out there regularly? Or Matthias who happens to be 2nd in goals only to Radim Vrbata on the team! Why aren’t these guys given as many chances as guys who can only score every 20 games?

Overall, I have found Willie has done a fantastic job with this team. Considering what we, as fans, had to endure last season, this is a walk in the park. However, maybe Willie could possibly try a little more to address these grievances. Especially the damn post-game interview. He might need to hire someone write him an adjective sheet to be more descriptive. All in all, he’s done a “real good” job with this team, but there is always room for improvement.

@AviewFromABroad

#TICH: Thomas Gradin 500th Point Milestone

Thomas Gradin is a huge reason I became a Canucks fan. I was six years old and when I saw him skate for the first time on that very rare TV appearance, I knew I was hooked. My family wasn’t all that big into hockey at the time, I  grew up watching a lot more football up to that point. Also, I was six, I just learned to write my name and here I am trying to figure out which hockey team I was going to cheer? It was 1981 and Gradin was the first player to ever possess such a high level of natural skill. He was a far cry from his linemates, Curt Fraser, and much more refined than Stan Smyl, with his hockey gifts. However, that rookie line worked out quite well together.

fred-lee-dec-20-2013

Daniel Sedin (left) and Henrik Sedin (Right) were scouted by Thomas Gradin (centre) and convinced then GM, Brian Burke, to draft the twins second and third in the 1999 NHL entry draft.

Gradin was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1978 in the 3rd round, 45th overall. He came to play for the Canucks via a trading of his contract rights. Oddly enough, Gradin also was drafted into the WHA by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round, 9th overall.  He became one of the first Europeans to join the Canucks organization along with his fellow Swedes, Lars Zetterstrom and Lars Lindgren.  In his rookie year, Gradin scored 20 goals, 31 assists for 51 points. He shared the Cyclone Taylor award for Canucks MVP with goaltender, Glen Hanlon.

 On March 8th, 1985, Thomas Gradin scored his 500th NHL career point, becoming the first Canuck to reach that Milestone. The Canucks defeated the LA Kings that night, 4-3.

No. 23, Thomas Gradin, became the first Canuck to reach the 500 point plateau on March 8, 1985.

No. 23, Thomas Gradin, became the first Canuck to reach the 500 point plateau on March 8, 1985.

Gradin spent eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and one with the Boston Bruins before calling it a career in the NHL. He returned to Sweden to play in the SEL for another three years before retiring as a player. In 1994, Gradin came back to the Canucks organization as an amateur scout. Presently he is the Associated Head Scout, a role he has held since 2007.

Notable names Thomas Gradin has helped bring to the Canucks organization:

  • Matthias Ohlund
  • Daniel Sedin
  • Henrik Sedin
  • Alex Edler

On January 24, 2011, Gradin was inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour. He ended his NHL careeer with 209 goals, 384 assists and 593 points. Fittingly enough, Gradin averaged just above 23 goals/year in his NHL career. Thanks Thomas, for validating my reason to become a Canucks fan way back when. You’ve helped mould that six year old’s sports passion and especially for the Canucks. 

That’s #TICH today, March 8, 1985.

@Aviewfromabroad

4160329

Gradin seen here being inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour in 2011