A decent start.

Captain Hankby Jason Kurylo

On the opening night of the 2010-11 season, it would have been pretty hard for the Vancouver Canucks to live up to the pre-season hype. Heck, it would have been pretty hard to live up to the pre-game hype: Las Vegas-style scrims with Canucks stars’ faces projected 10 metres tall, Tom Larscheid’s much-publicized swansong after decades in the broadcast booth, and a dozen-plus members of the original 1970 Canucks on hand to see Orland Kurtenbach hand Henrik Sedin his brand new Captain’s C. Vancouver was positively abuzz with excitement coming up to tonight’s puck drop against the Los Angeles Kings, who to add another wrinkle to the plot, feature ex-Canuck Willie Mitchell as their senior rearguard.

Pundits all over North America have picked VanCity to hoist its first Stanley Cup since the Millionaires had their names engraved inside the bowl of Lord Stanley’s mug in 19-freakin’-15. This iteration of NHL hockey in Vancouver has seen 40 years go by without a Cup, and Mike Gillis has assembled a team that has people in Toronto and New York paying attention? The home team could have won this game 10-0 and some fans would have left unimpressed. It’s a Cup they want, not a win in mid-October.

So what does the 2-1 shootout loss to the Kings mean, exactly?

We saw tonight that the other clubs in the NHL are not just going to hand the Canucks a championship just because Gillis signed Dan Hamhuis in the off-season. Heck, the Kings didn’t even want to hand us these two points just because Roberto Luongo dropped seven pounds, passed the C to Henrik & hugged the blue paint like a good goalie should. Yes, this team has a mobile, trustworthy defense. Yes, Luongo is playing now the way he usually starts playing in November. But this team should not try to win a game 1-0. A solid D does not preclude going for the jugular.

We saw that the league’s second best offense last year will have to work just a little harder if they want to score more than a goal a game. Christian Ehrhoff was the most dangerous Canuck for much of tonight’s game. Ryan Kesler was unlucky not to score tonight – he will have be greasier. Mason Raymond played well, but he will have to go to the net just a little harder. The Sedins showed confidence and patience tonight, but with little of that sandpaper they showed after the All-Star break last year. Raffi Torres made some good plays in his first game for the Canucks, but his linemates didn’t seem to know what to do with those decent feeds.

Quick's retro pads - If you remember these, you're old. *sigh* I'm old.In all, we saw a good team that was unlucky not to win their home opener. Sure, Jonathan Quick played well in his outrageously bad ass retro pads, but the fact is, the Canucks didn’t have enough want to get it done on opening night. Most nights, if the opposition is held to one goal in regulation time, Vancouver is going to be in the W column. This Canucks team, when it gels? It’s going to be a fun time to be a hockey fan in Vancouver.

Anyone jumping off the bandwagon today should be banned from watching in April when it matters most.

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Podcast: Episode 6: NHL Awards

Episode 6: NHL Awards

Better late than never right? Well don’t shoot the messenger, blame the webmaster. A couple of hectic days has made this podcast a day or more late. Jason and Chris focus on the NHL awards and other things in this episode of the podcast with no name on CanucksCorner.com.

My apologies to the guys for the tardiness, but as usual they have an entertaining discussion primed up for you. See how their NHL Awards predictions went, now that we know the winners! Yeah Hank!!!

In this edition, the podcast with no name touches on a variety of topics:

  • Intro / theme by Orchid Highway
  • Congrats to the dirty rotten stinkin’ Blackhawks
  • Awards night at the Cinema on Granville Stree
  • Five Hole for Food comes to Vancouver July 9
  • Habs move Halak’s rights to St Louis
  • Cam Neely named Bruins President
  • Congratulations to ex-Canuck Brent Sopel
  • Five Hole for Food redux
  • It’s NHL Awards time!
  • Lady Byng (Most Sportsmanlike Player) picks Hank for Hart?
  • It’s a two-horse race: Henke & Sid the Kid
  • Vezina (Goalie of the Year) picks Does Brodeur deserve another Vezina?
  • Jason pulls Al Pacino out of his butt?
  • Ilya Bryzgalov should win the Vezina Ryan Miller would win in another life
  • Calder (Rookie of the Year) picks Jason takes Tyler Myers; Chris picks Matt Duchene
  • Jack Adams (Coach of the Year) picks Barry Trotz has no neck!
  • Was it Kick a Ginger Day?
  • Norris (Defenseman of the Year) picks Drew Doughty will win a ton of these in the next 15 years Can we actually call Doughty the next Bobby Orr?
  • Outro

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Jason Kurylo: Do you feel a draft in here?

By Jason Kurylo, CanucksCorner.com

Brent SopelIn the sixth episode of the podcast, Chris “Grease Is My Favourite Musical” Withers gives us the lowdown on the one member of the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks who used to wear a Canucks jersey – a guy who used to get all the NHL’s bad haircut press before Patrick Kane and Scott Hartnell came along – a guy who reportedly only sleeps two or three hours every night – a guy who was traded (along with shiny new championship ring) on June 23 to the Atlanta Thrashers: Brent Sopel.

Sopel was taken 144th overall, in the 6th round of the 1995 NHL entry draft. You’ll get a few more tidbits of info about the thinly-scalped gent wearing number 5 in your Blackhawks program in the podcast, but here’s some information about the Canucks draft history, followed by a few bits of evidence that the Canucks do not necessarily suck at this whole draft thing.

The year of the Sopes

Vancouver’s first pick in the 1995 entry draft didn’t come until the second round; the Canucks took Chris McAllister 40th overall — yes, another brilliant draft decision by the Left Coast brain trust of General Manager Pat Quinn and President, um, Pat Quinn. Actually, that’s not entirely fair. Quinn took Trevor Linden in the 1988 draft after having sent Patrick Sundstrom to New Jersey for goalie Kirk McLean and forward Greg Adams the year previous. Those three players would all figure prominently in the 1994 Cup final run. Still, the ’95 draft was not one for the Canuck scrapbook. How many of these names do you recognize?

The Vancouver Canucks at the 1995 Entry Draft

Round 2, 40th overall: D Chris McAllister

Round 3, 61st overall: LW Larry Courville

Round 3, 66th overall: LW Peter Schaefer

Round 4, 92nd overall: D Lloyd Shaw

Round 5, 120th overall: LW Todd Norman

Round 6, 144th overall: D Brent Sopel

Round 7, 170th overall: C Stu Bodtker

Round 8, 196th overall: RW Tyler Willis

Round 9, 222nd overall: G Jason Cugnet

Interestingly, another Canuck would be picked 144th overall just two years later. He would also win a Cup with another team. His name? Matt Cooke.

A questionable history

Petr NedvedAnyway, the Canucks have long dealt with a reputation for drafting poorly. In 1990, Vancouver drafted Petr Nedved over Jaromir Jagr; okay, at least Nedved scored 300-plus goals and added more than 400 assists in his 16 NHL seasons – heck, he’s still an active player in the Czech elite league. But how about this genius move? We took Shawn Antoski 18th overall. Nineteenth pick belonged to the Winnipeg Jets, who took none other than Keith Tkachuk. Next? The New Jersey Devils swaggered up to the draft podium and casually drafted the young man who would only become the best goaltender of all time: Martin Brodeur.

There’s sun behind that cloud

As mentioned, Matt Cooke and Brent Sopel were both solid Canucks who went on to win Cups in Pittsburgh (2009) and Chicago (2010), respectively. Sighing wistfully as notorious Canuck draft pick Cam Neely (9th overall, 1983 draft) and Boston Bruins Hall of Famer is made the B’s new President and Grand High Public Relations Poobah, however, doesn’t need to be Vancouver’s end-all, be-all. In fact, if we take a quick look down the current roster, the solid come-up-through-our-own-system guy isn’t so much the exception any more.

Cory Schneider, Cody Hodgson and Jordan Schroeder haven’t had their chance to break into that roster just yet, but here are a few Canuck picks that are making waves… as Canucks. Maybe, just maybe, when the draft takes place June 25–26 in Los Angeles, Mike Gillis can build on this altogether more successful tradition.

Case in point: the Sedins. Brian Burke may be a barrel-chested blowhard, but the man did one hell of a dance at the 1999 draft to secure the numbers 2 and 3 spots; he took Daniel Sedin, then his brother Henrik. To this day, the twins garner a lot of attention, and some ridicule. But Henke, with his Art Ross trophy in hand, should eliminate a lot of those “Vancouver can’t draft” snickers.

Daniel & Henrik Sedin

Case in point: Kevin Bieksa. Can you believe this guy was a fifth rounder? We got the square-jawed D-man 151st overall in the 2001 draft. When he’s on his game, he’s as good a number two defenseman as anyone could ask for.

Case in point: Ryan Kesler. Yes, the man of the big contract, the man of the US Olympic near-miss, the man who should be the next Canucks captain; that man was a Vancouver draft pick, taken in the first round, 23rd overall in 2003. Let’s hope his shoulder heals up right nice during the off-season, because Kess might just be lifting a 35-pound silver trophy next spring.

Case in point: Alexander Edler. With Matthias Ohlund gone via free agency, and Willie Mitchell injured, Edler stepped up to play big minutes this year. He then stepped up to throw some massive open-ice bodychecks against the Kings in the first round of the playoffs. If his game keeps elevating like this, the Canucks defensive core will look good for a long time – he’ll also be everlasting proof that trading for Roberto Luongo was not the only good move made by Brian Burke’s lackey-cum-replacement, Dave Nonis.

Case in point: Jannik Hansen. He went late in the draft – way late, in fact. Hansen was chosen 287th of 291 picks in 2004 (the year Ovechkin and Malkin went 1-2, in case you’re interested). The Big Dane is a great fourth-line winger who plays a gritty game and has a knack for big goals.

Case in point: Mason Raymond. A second rounder in 2005, Raymond is fast. No, I mean fast. The good thing about this one is that he’s also got some hands. (Unlike some previous speedsters like, say, Brandon Reid.) On nights he and Kesler click, they get the opposition blueline running around – it’s a beautiful thing. Now the question is, can Raymond produce at a more consistent clip? The follow-up question is, will Mike Gillis sign him, ship him or let him go?

Case in point: Michael Grabner. Another quickfooted forward, he’s still a little green to hold up as a lasting example of draft goodness. That said, he scored an impressive hat trick just 17 games into his NHL career and will no doubt learn how to play night in, night out at this level. This 2006 first rounder will get at least another season to show Gillis what he can do.

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Podcast: Nameless but not speechless, Jason and Chris are back.

The boys are back. They still don’t have a name, and to be quite frank none of the submissions so far have caught the ear of Jason and Chris. So come on folks lets’ name this podcast! If we have to wait all off-season we will but that just means you’ll be hearing this sales pitch next time.

In this edition, the podcast with no name touches on a variety of topics:

  • Gary Bettman = Count von Count?
  • Steve Nash: real man
  • Still taking name suggestions
  • Lots of Canadians in the final
  • The Mullet vs the Wookie
  • Do the Flyers deserve to be here?
  • Will Vancouverites ever stop talking about 82 & 94?
  • Chicago in 5. Or 6. Chicago, anyway.
  • Marian Hossa, bah. Chris Pronger’s impressive.
  • Chicago is DEEP, like good pizza.
  • Winter Classic news
  • Should Vancouver host a winter classic?
  • Is Winnipeg viable?
  • Stevie Y goes to Tampa Bay.
  • How much does Mark Messier suck?
  • Memo to Glen Sather

As always the music is courtesy of the Orchid Highway.

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Podcast: Name The Podcast, Canucks/Blackhawks Wrap Up

Jason and Chris are back and they have a problem. They can no longer call the podcast “Bernier Is A Turd” and they need to come up with a new name. Sounds like a good excuse to give away a prize right? I have a 2009-2010 Vancouver Canucks Yearbook, as well as an official Canucks Playoff towel for the person who comes up with the best name, as chosen by Jason and Chris. You can leave your suggestion as a comment here, or send us a tweet (@CanucksCorner, @TrimTheMullet, @Chris_Withers).

In addition to the search for a new name, the boys also discuss the end of the season for the Canucks and dissect the series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Also, after weeks of saying, “I’ll get to it”, I finally go to it and set up a couple of feeds you can use to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes as well as our new FeedBurner RSS feed. Just click the appropriate icon below, and you can keep updated on all our blog posts and podcasts.

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