Come welcome Five Hole For Food home and fill Vancouver’s Food Bank!

The 2nd annual Five Hole For Food cross Canada food drive is well underway and by the sounds of it Richard Loat and his team are not only having a blast playing street hockey across the country, they are on the way to smashing their 20,000 pounds of food goal with just 747 pounds to go after they’re Winnipeg event. The team is on their way to Regina next and still have stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria before ending their journey at home in Vancouver on July 9th.

Vancouver is where the idea of Five Hole for Food was born. After starting the trip on the very East Coast it is all going to culminate in the biggest game of the trip as the team will play hockey downtown Vancouver on Granville street for the last time on the trip.

Where: 800 Block of Granville Street

When: Saturday July 9th, 2011

Time:  12:00 PM to 18:00 PM PST

Food Bank Beneficiary: Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society

Special Guests: Hawkey and players off the Abbotsford Heat, Dante Marsh from the BC Lions, Winger from the Surrey Eagles, and Spike from the Coquitlam Express amongst others!

Come on out and bring your gloves and stick to play a little street hockey. Food bank donations will be accepted on site, and cash donations are welcome as well.

If you want to know more about Five Hole For Food the best thing to do is to check out their website and follow them on Twitter @FiveholeForFood.

A Little Faith, Please

As I have gone on this roller coaster ride in the first round so far in the 2011 NHL Playoffs series between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks, all I can say is I am glad it’s coming to an end, one way or another. This series has had the best of times for us Canucks fans in the first three games and the worst of times in the last three games of the series. But I will give credit where it is due, the Blackhawks have fought back to even up the series and bring it to seventh and deciding game. The team who wants it more will be winning the series. No sugar-coating and no excuses; it’s one and done.

I haven’t written a column in a while, and for whatever reason, I feel like putting up a few comments tonight. I could rehash the ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’ angle of this series for the Canucks, but I won’t. There have been more than enough write-ups about that exact topic.  So I’m going to make this my rally cry. My pledge of allegiance to the team that I have been loyal to for 30 years of my life.

The Canucks can win this series, they just need to put their minds, their bodies and souls into this game.  It may take whatever they have left in the tank, but I know they can.  Why? It’s simple, they have been too good all year long and worked too hard to get to this point to give up now.

Last night in Game 6, I saw a team that wanted to win, dictated play for the majority of the game and most of all played for each other. Despite all that, they came up the short end of the stick.  I refuse to believe it will happen twice. I believe they refuse to believe it will happen twice, especially in their own rink.  I am not sure if I can call it destiny but I have had a feeling about this team since the beginning of the season. Call it ‘wishful thinking’ or whatever you want, but I’ve suffered through many heartaches with this team over the last 30 years to doubt this feeling I cannot shake off.

Believe, just like it says! Photo: Wikipedia Commons

If they happen to lose Tuesday, I will have to figure out as to why my feeling was wrong, but that’s for me to figure out. I just want to see a great game between two great teams playing the greatest game on earth. It’s what every hockey fan wants, but as a Canucks fan, I want my team to win…their way. So to the doubters in Canuck land who have their reservations, I ask you all to be like me,along others, who have been long suffering fans to give our team the support they need and deserve.  It may not seem like a lot because we’re not on the ice playing the game, but I want Canucks fans everywhere to unite and cheer our boys on in the final battle of this series.

I am not hoping they seek ‘revenge’ but rejoice in victory.  To me, as a fan, that’s the key to winning the series, playing their game.  The Canucks will play their game, and win like they have done so many times this season.

I don’t have any fancy sports cliches, no ‘motivational’ words of wisdom but I do have faith. So I ask you all, to join me and have a little faith in our Canucks and I am sure they will do their best to deliver.

Cheer loud and cheer proud my fellow Canucks fans, because we are all that seventh man and right now, the boys need us. As fans, that’s what we are supposed to do…believe.

 

Justine Galo

In Case You Missed It: The Sedins On The Hour

This is a little bit of old news, but Daniel and Henrik Sedin recently appeared on the popular CBC talk show “The Hour” hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos. It’s a nice interview and the twins talk about their careers, their fondness for Vancouver, and what it’s like to play hockey in a Canadian city. I thought it would be nice to post it here for people to enjoy.

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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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