Canucks Have Been Proactive In Getting Fans Engaged Via Twitter

This Sunday, May 9th, the next Vancouver Canucks Tweetup will be held at The Academic Public House in Vancouver. The event will be the latest in a series of Tweetups that the Vancouver Canucks have held this season, each one growing in popularity amongst Canucks fans on Twitter and Facebook.

What is a tweetup? Well, it’s an organized event for people that use Twitter to gather and meet one another. In terms of the Canucks, they use tweetups to expose their brand, and bring fans together to watch the game in a fun group environment. Judging by how popular the events have become, it’s becoming a great tool to engage their online fanbase.

The first Canucks tweetup that I know of, was an Official NHL event for game one of last year’s last years playoffs organized by Richard Loat who writes for CanucksHockeyBlog.com and is otherwise known as @Mozy19 on Twitter. Richard describes how the first tweetup came about.

“The NHL wanted to host a tweetup in as many cities as possible. on the same day, which was the firstday of the playoffs last year. I stepped up to host the first Vancouver NHLTweetup and the rest is history. The first tweetup had 25 people show up and the most recent event had over 100. I’ve had a chance to meet other fans and make good friendships with people I would have never ever crossed paths with otherwise.”

The tweetups have grown in size over the course of the last season. The first event held by Loat, who is still involved as an organizer, had 25 people attend, while the last one held for a round one match up between the Kings and Canucks had over 100 people show up to get in on the fun.

The Canuck obviously see value in engaging their online fans with these events. It gives them a chance to meet fans face to face, and gives fans the opportunity to come together and celebrate a common interest.

The organization has stepped up to provide fantastic prizes for those in attendance. Everything from signed photos, stick and pucks to big ticket prizes such as two tickets to a home playoff game. The Green Men have appeared, and hosts such as Scott Rintoul (@scottrintoul) of the TEAM 1040 have emceed the events. The event on May 9th will offer up a signed Roberto Luongo Team Canada jersey as one of it’s main prizes as well as other yet to be named goodies.

The club works with member establishments of their preferred restaurant program to reserve space for the event, making it a great night for those in attendance and giving the establishment a full house for Canucks games.

If you’re on Twitter and would like to see what all the fuss is about, come an join us on May 9th for game five between the Canucks and Blackhawks. You’ll probably meet some new people, and you just may walk out with a prize or two!

Tweetup Information: http://canucks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?bcid=31263

Confirm/Invite your friends on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=119074534788541&ref=mf

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The Loser Point: How Overtime Losses Helped Send the Washington Capitals Home

By Chris Withers: CanucksCorner.com

Alexander OvechkinThe first round of the NHL playoffs was arguably one of the best ever, and certainly one of the most unpredictable. But one of the most improbable upsets in league history, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals losing to the 8th seeded Montreal Canadiens, would not have been possible except for a controversial decision, made some 10 years ago, that was designed to open up overtime. Where previously teams would get no points for a loss, now both teams would be guaranteed a single point for getting into overtime, and would compete for an additional point in the 5 minute extra frame. The decision, while arguably well-intentioned, has created a bewildering points system for the NHL. It is unlike the systems used by every other professional sports league on the planet, it is no longer relevant, it is costing teams playoff berths and it is past time for it to be changed.

First, a little history on the ‘loser point’. In the late 90’s, the NHL was beleaguered. The work stoppage of 94-95 was still fresh in people’s minds, ratings were slipping, the novelty had worn off for fans of the sun-belt expansion teams and the game had slowed to a crawl after the success of Jacques Lemaire’s New Jersey Devils and their stifling neutral zone trap. Some in the league office felt that the new American expansion markets would never fully accept a sport that embraced a tie. Like baseball, basketball and (usually) football, there must be a winner in hockey! The premise of the OTL rule was that teams would no longer have a reason to play ‘kitty bar the door’ hockey, since there was no penalty for a loss but an extra point for the win. The NHL also sought to make the OT period more fun to watch with an accompanying rule change that made all OT periods 4-on-4, thus opening up the ice and making the neutral zone trap more difficult to implement.

In practice, the rule changes worked. The amount of goals scored in overtime ballooned from 22 in 1998-99 to 114 in 1999-2000. That’s a better than 500% increase!

There were, however, consequences to the extra point. First, it made it significantly more difficult for teams to gain ground (or separation) in the standings. Teams were picking up points in more situations. A team could go on a 6 game winning streak, the team it’s chasing could win 1 out of 6 over the same stretch, and the difference could be as little as 5 points. Second, and most importantly, it allowed teams to quite literally lose their way into the playoffs. In the first year of OTLs, both the Anaheim Ducks and the Carolina Hurricanes were denied playoff berths because the teams in front of them had more ‘loser points’ than they did.

Fast forward a few years and another work stoppage, and the NHL introduced more rule changes. The game, start to finish, became more exciting. The tie was forever banished from professional hockey, replaced by the shootout (love it or hate it, you must admit it’s exciting!). The premise for the OTL point, namely spicing up the extra frame, seemed to have been taken away, yet the points system remained unchanged. In fact, the issues that OTLs present are now amplified. Rather than an extra point being awarded in approximately 44% of OT games (as had been the case from 1999-2004), 100% of OT games are now worth 3 points. This accounted for an average of about 150 extra points being distributed in the standings each and every year. As a direct result of this change, a total of 6 teams since the lockout have missed the playoffs; in one extreme case, the Carolina Hurricanes would have won their division under the old system. With the shootout, they missed the playoffs by 2 points.

Presently then, the NHL has a system for awarding points that only made sense in the context of the rules of the late 90’s. The shootout has obviated the need to make overtime more exciting, and simultaneously made a disproportionate number of games worth 3 points. A team is now penalized for losing a game in regulation, rather than in OT, without a corresponding penalty for teams that win in OT, instead of in regulation.

There are two solutions going forward. The simplest would be a straight Win/Loss system, but that is troublesome because of the shootout. Basketball and baseball are able to use that system effectively because the rules remain constant in those sports throughout extra time. The NHL breaks deadlocks with a skills competition that has little to do with the game itself. An outright loss for the team that loses the shootout would be unfair to those teams that build for 60 minutes of hockey instead of a penalty shot competition.

For an equitable solution, the NHL should look to international hockey. In round robin international play, all games are worth 3 points. Period. An outright win garners 3 points and a loss 0. Take it to overtime, and the points are split 2-1. It’s fair to everybody, understandable by all fans, and it properly benefits teams, like our beloved Canucks, that get their business done outright and don’t win 38% of their games in overtime, like the Phoenix Coyotes.

Colin Campbell was asked in 2007 about the league’s decision not to go to a 3 point system. He was quoted as saying “It’s time to establish continuity. You can’t keep making changes.” If the folks at NHL head office don’t think there’s a reason to change the system now, they may wish to take a poll of New York and Washington hockey fans; the Rangers would have been secure in a playoff spot this year even before that dramatic shootout with the Flyers to end the season. Who would have been on the outside looking in? The Cinderella, Cap-killing, Habs.

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Canucks For Kids Telethon Goes This Sunday

Canucks For Kids FundThis Sunday the Canucks take on the Calgary Flames at General Motors place, and the organization will be taking on issues that effect our children on a daily basis. The annual Canucks For Kids Telethon will also take place, and the Canucks organization needs your help to help the the kids.

Earlier this week Henrik and Daniel Sedin announced a generous donation $1.5 Million dollars to BC Children’s Hospital. Through the telethon, the organization hopes to be able to help so many other children who are struck with illness and who are in need.

During Sunday’s game which will be aired on Sportsnet, you’ll be able  to learn more about the money is utilized and the impact it has on these kids.

There are three ways you can help:

1. Donate using the secure online server, or
2. Call 604-899-4646, or
3. Make a cheque to the Canucks for Kids Fund and mail to:

Canucks for Kids Fund
800 Griffiths Way
General Motors Place
Vancouver, B.C.
V6B 6G1

Pavol Demitra/KidsSince it was first created 25 years ago, the Canucks for Kids Fund has granted over $28 million dollars to charities in British Columbia serving children and their families. There is no greater reward than making British Columbia a better place for families and children in need. If you can help, please make a donation, and help the kids!

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Olympic Impact Could Help Canucks

As we all nurse our Olympic hangovers and search for other ways to fill the void by the end of the games, it’s time to get ready for the final push of the NHL season. The Canucks had seven players in the games, and they had varying degrees of success. Three players in particular had great games, and they will bring into the dressing room a complete set of Vancouver 2010 medals. Let’s take a look at how the Olympic tournament may just help the Canucks as they aim to take another Northwest Division crown and go on a lengthy playoff run.

Pavol Demitra – Slovakia

Pavol Demitra - Matthew Manor/HHOF-IIHF ImagesMany Canuck fans may had forgotten who Pavol Demitra was, and you could hardly blame them for doing so. Demitra, 35, who missed 47 games for the Canucks with annoying shoulder problem that required two operations and many opinions on treatment. He returned to the Canucks on January 16th, but had struggled to find his game notching just a goal and three assists in 11 appearances since his return. Of course people were willing to cut him slack after missing so many games, but just before the Olympics Demitra was starting to get some heat from fans and media to start producing and he was seeing time on the teams fourth line.

Playing for his country seemed to be the tonic that Demitra needed and the veteran Slovak led his team to a best-ever fourth-place finish, while earning a spot on the tournaments all-star team. He also nearly ruined the hopes of the Canadian public with a last second goal in the semi-final but was thwarted by teammate Roberto Luongo. Demitra’s continued success would be a huge bonus for the Canucks heading down the stretch, but he won’t be playing with Marion Gaborik and Michael Handzus when play resumes. Early reports say he’ll start the post Olympic session on a line with Ryan Kesler.

Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo - Photo: John MahoneyThere is no doubt that most had resigned themselves to the fact that Roberto Luongo would be the backup to Martin Brodeur heading into the games, and that was the plan when they began. But when the future hall of famer had a sub par game versus the USA, Luongo got his chance and the pressure to win was no doubt immense. Playing in front of his fans in Vancouver, in his rink and with the hopes of a nation riding on his shoulders, Luongo got the job done and won gold.

Luongo has had his critics, and their biggest beef has been the fact that he hadn’t won the big one. A couple of playoff series wins are the only thing on his resume and he needed to take that step. Well on the biggest stage in the world, he got the monkey off his back. No more can critics say Luongo can’t win the big game and with that label out of the way, who knows how it will translate to his role with the Canucks. He’ll get a brief rest and give way to Andrew Raycroft versus Columbus but he should return to the net with confidence of knowing he can win the big games. That in itself could be the key to a long playoff run for the Canucks.

Ryan Kesler

Ryan Kesler - Canucks.comKesler had an outstanding tournament for the USA. He was a leader all over the ice. He killed penalties, won huge face offs and did what Kesler does best…pissed a lot of people off. The same reasons you love him as a Canuck were the ones you hated him as a Canadian. He took shots at his teammate Roberto Luongo in the media, and on the ice. Some felt there was friction between the two but I tend to believe all will be fine in Canuckville, and it was part of the quest for the gold.

The experience for Kesler had to be a valuable one. He led a great hockey team to within a sudden death goal of a gold medal, and the Canucks should reap the benefit of that experience. He’s truly becoming one of the best two way players in the game, and he can contribute in many ways. It sounds like Alain Vigneault will pair Kesler with Demitra to start when play resumes. If both can keep up their inspired play, the Canucks will be a tough team to handle going forward.

The disappointment of losing the gold should feed Kesler’s thirst for a cup and we should see the best Ryan Kesler we’ve seen yet down the stretch. I can’t wait.

The Rest

The other Canucks, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Christian Erhoff and Sami Salo should all be better for the experience. The early exit for the Sedin’s at the hands of the Slovaks was unfortunate for them, but they should pick up where they left off. Salo will bring home a bronze medal for his efforts, but Canucks fans are just happy he came out of the games healthy. Erhoff, playing for the Germans had little expectation of hardware, but got to compete at a high level in a great tournament.

So in the end the results of the tournament set up pretty good for these players to turn their experience into good things for themselves and their teammates. I’m sure a cup  and a ring to along with the gold, silver and bronze in the room would suit the Canucks and their fans just fine.

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Sundin Announces Retirement

Mats Sundin will decide before Christmas who he'll play with.

Mats Sundin officially announced his retirement from the NHL Wednesday.

Mats Sundin held a press conference in Sweden today to announce his offical retirement from the National Hockey League.

Sundin who recently married, explained it was simply time.

”It was just time, I think. Obviously, it’s not an easy decision but I feel with body and soul right now, it’s time to quit my professional career as a hockey player,” said Sundin. ”I’m very glad that I played last season with the Vancouver Canucks and I think I needed that. But now with the season getting started again, it actually feels nice not having to practice every day and play games every other day so I think this is the right time for me.”

Sundin leaves the game at the age of 38, having amassed 1,349 points (564 goals, 785 assists over 1,346), ranking him 25th on the all-time list. He thanked the organizations he played for, and called the city of Toronto his second home.

I’m obviously very grateful for having a chance to play in the National Hockey League and represent the Quebec Nordiques, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks,” said Sundin. “It has been a dream come true for me.”

“I spent 13 years with the Toronto Maple Leafs and I had the honour to be the captain for the most historic and greatest franchise in hockey history and it’s also my second home,” added Sundin.

Sundin spent part of last season with the Vancouver Canucks, and the reviews were mixed on the tenure. Some felt Sundin had clearly lost a step, and some were angry how long it took him to get into shape. The club maintained he was a valuable addition, and in the playoffs, Sundin played his best hockey for the team.