Dealing With A Season of Unexpected Success and Expected Failures

Last night was one of those games you wish you could forget, the first period of the game for sure, right? I’d like to forget the last four minutes of the third period as well, but let’s not touch on that at the moment. If you want to read a hard hitting analysis of Vancouver vs. San  Jose at Rogers Arena on March, 3, 2015, you’re not going to get it here. Right now, I want to talk to some of you about how to take the next few weeks without breaking your ankles when jumping on and off the bandwagon.

What I have been noticing a lot this season is after every win, many fans react with, “OMG this team is amazing! They are going to win it all!” or something to that effect. However, after every loss, many react with, ” Trade them all! Fire Benning and Linden! The Sedins are old as crap! Trade (insert player name here) for a bag of pucks or used jock-straps!”

Ladies and gentlemen, we all have those moments, but we all shouldn’t have ridiculous pendulum swings of emotions like that for 82 games in a season. It gets draining for you that are reacting this way, and it gets really annoying and redundant for us, your fellow fans, who see it. We look at you all like a bunch of fish flipping and flopping on dry ground without anything to ground you. You only stop all the erratic movement when you’re bludgeoned or tire yourselves out, you just lay there.

Canucks fans down when a loss occurs, but there is no need to put C4 to the team and see where the pieces land.

Canucks fans down when a loss occurs, but there is no need to throw C4 to the team and see where the pieces land.

So how do we deal with the ups and downs of our favourite NHL team? Well, it’s all about perspective and expectation. How do you measure success of the team? It’s different for all of us, but maybe I can share how I deal with the Canucks roller coaster ride as the season progresses. Here are a few questions and my answers to how respond to the highs and the lows of Canucks season, game to game.

Do the Canucks frustrate me? Yes, there isn’t a team in the universe that frustrates me more than the Vancouver Canucks. There isn’t a team in the world that has disappointed me more in the last 30 years than the Vancouver Canucks, but like that bad romance you cannot shake, no matter how hard you try, I cannot help but love them. It’s just the way of sports and for those that are passionate about it. You just have to find a middle point of elation and frustration.

 Are they…

  • Stanley Cup Contenders? No, my expectations are considerably low this season. This isn’t the 2010/2011 team. The talent level isn’t there. The experience isn’t as deep as it was back then either. This is also probably why they went the way of prospect pickups and minor league trades on Trade Deadline Day. Why spend the future on a push for the Cup that is highly unlikely to happen? Success would be getting into a playoff spot and winning a game or two. If they win a round, they’ve played beyond my expectations.
  • Rebuilding? No, they aren’t rebuilding. A major overhaul of player personnel would have to take place for that to happen. However, with all the NTC (limited or otherwise) handed out to a good chunk of the veterans on the team, it takes the full rebuild off the table. The Canucks have to work with what they have and find pieces to fill in the holes.

At the beginning of the season, what were your expectations? I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure how the Sedins would be playing, if any of our youngsters would make the team, and how the infusion of free agent veterans would mesh with the core. In all honesty, I saw this team not making the playoffs, but barely missing. Sitting in 9th place.

What are you expectations now?  At the 40 games played point, I figured the Canucks would make the playoffs but either in the 3rd spot in the division or a wild card berth. They would need to win just over half their remaining games to ensure that would happe. Barring a disaster like last season, I just don’t see the signs of the Canucks surrendering to more losses than wins, even with the patchwork line-up they are currently icing.

Individual games or body of work for the season are more important? You have to win individual games to make a body of work. We all want the team to win every game, but that’s not a possibility. So we have to look at the work that has been put in over the season so far.

  • The Canucks are scoring goals, they now have to work on preventing them.
  • Only Nashville has more regulation wins than the Canucks. Sure there are teams with more W’s in the win column but some of those are OT wins or shoot out wins, not in a 60 minute frame.
  • Two 34 year old twins are looking like their 29 year old selves.
  • The youngsters, Horvat and Kenins, are playing beyond any expectations we had of them.
  • Win or lose, for the most part this season, the Canucks are far more fun team to watch this season.
  • The culture  and vibe of a unit willing to try is showing more often than not and we are enjoying it. That says a lot about them.
  • Their ability to have comebacks this season are more likely than last. That alone is a huge improvement.

For the most part, they have exceeded my original expectations. I expected more of a struggle for the Wild Card spots, not 2nd place in the Pacific Division. I know there is a lot of hockey left, but with the return of some key players, mainly their defencemen, I see improvement, not failure. So instead of getting all wired about a certain play or a certain game, find a way to assess the overall scheme of things. Take a step back, take a deep breath and hold on to something. Let’s not fall off the wagon when the team hits a rough patch. Grab on to something and ride it out. In the end, you’re going to hit one place or the other, but why get stranded on your own if they exceed where you thought they’d be? Faith is a concept that’s not easily understood, but that’s part of being a sports fan. If you’re Canucks fan, you have to learn to have a little faith or you’d be just miserable. It could be worse, we could be cheering the Leafs or the Oilers.

@Aviewfromabroad

#TBT: Nucks Nicknames

What’s in a nickname? For some, it’s just a variation of their given names. For others, it’s a character tell and some just don’t make sense. Remember when David Booth said everyone on the team were given animal nicknames and we were trying to figure out who he called “Whitetail”?  Over the years, there have been some pretty different and/or cool player nicknames, we have heard of and some others have not. Some were given to them by their teammates, some from fans and many of the mainstream ones from local media.

Looking back to revisit some of these monikers and share some insight (if any) given to them.

Garth Butcher was known as “The Strangler”. When he used to fight, he’d grope or grab on to someone almost like he was strangling them instead of punching. Although, Garth Butcher on its own was scary enough. The nickname was just bonus.

Big, bad Garth.

Big, bad Garth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Crawford is known to many of us just as “Crow” when he coached in the NHL. Some of that is credited to his name but I’d be the first to admit, it might have something to do with his voice as well. However, in Crawford’s playing days for the Canucks organization, his nickname was “747” due to the frequency he went back and forth the big club and the minor league affiliate.

A very young Marc Crawford during his Canucks playing days. Photo Credit: HF Boards

A very young Marc Crawford during his Canucks playing days. Photo Credit: HF Boards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Igor Larionov is internationally known to the hockey worlds as, “The Professor”. He was considered one of the smartest players in the game and many of his contemporaries thought of him being ahead of his time. If you’ve never seen Larionov play, I suggest getting on youtube and getting educated.

"In the '80s, he was arguably the best center in the world." -- Wayne Gretzky, about Larionov

“In the ’80s, he was arguably the best center in the world.”
– Wayne Gretzky, about Larionov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Johan Hedberg came to the Canucks as Dan Cloutier’s backup in the early 2000’s. However, it’s a piece of equipment that gave him his nickname “The Moose”. When an up and coming Hedberg was in with Pittsburgh, he played with his AHL Manitoba Moose mask and never changed it. From then on, he’s had the nickname. Come to think of it, he wore that mask design with the Canucks too, even before the Moose became our affiliate in the mid to late 2000’s.

Hedberg with his Manitoba Moose helmet as he played back-up to Dan Cloutier.

Hedberg with his Manitoba Moose helmet mixed in with the Canucks Orca in the front of it as he played back-up to Dan Cloutier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Sandlak was known to all Canucks fans as, “The House”.  Sure Sandlak was a big guy at 6’4″ and 225lbs, but he didn’t get that nickname just because of his stature. I think it had something to do with eating a bunch of free hot dogs at the Pacific Coliseum in one sitting.

Sandlak was named the 1985 best player at the World Juniors. A Canucks' 1st round pick and a well earned nickname.

Sandlak was named the 1985 best player at the World Juniors. A Canucks’ 1st round pick and a well earned nickname. Photo Credit: The Province Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kirk McLean will forever be known for “The Save” in the first round of the 1994 playoffs against Calgary, but he also has a few nicknames. The ones the fans probably gave him is “Captain Kirk” and caught on like wildfire during that run. His teammates usually called him “Mack” but there have been others ones. One is because of the Scottish Lion on his mask, “The Scot”. I’m with the rest of the fans, I’m all about “Captain Kirk”.

Captain Kirk

Captain Kirk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 It’s not a bad start to be a reoccurring feature on CanucksCorner.com’s Throwback Thursday due to the amount of really good nicknames of Canucks players throughout team history. Got a favourite one? Let us know! We’d love to share it with our fellow Canucks fans. Maybe we can figure out who “Whitetail” is and maybe we can finally get the story on “Harry”.

 

@Aviewfromabroad

#TICH: Team Canada 2002 Gold, Salt Lake City

It was the first time in 50 years the Canadian Olympic team won Gold in hockey. A sport that is synonymous with the nation. It was today, February 24, 2002, Burnaby Joe and the rest of Team Canada could give this nation something to cheer for again in Olympic Men’s hockey.

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s not necessarily a “Canucks” historical moment but there was a member of the Vancouver Canucks  on the 2002 Gold winning Salt Lake City Team Canada roster. Let’s not forget  the winning coach, our legendary Canucks coach and GM, the late Pat Quinn. 

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Jovocop” made the Team Canada roster. Jovanovski was known as a free-wheeling, offensive defence-man. He also didn’t mind giving a few memorable hits here and there.  For Team Canada, Ed Jovanovski, assisted on the first Joe Sakic goal which ended up being the game winner. Team Canada defeated Team USA, 5-2 in Salt Lake City, Utah to win gold again, finally.

Ed "Jovocop" Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men's hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

Ed “Jovocop” Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men’s hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s #TICH February 24, 2002.

@Aviewfromabroad

Here is a 10 minute highlight reel, called by Bob Cole on CBC of the game in Salt Lake City.

 

Ice Drama: Goalies, Blue Line Shuffle and Press Box’ing

It’s been often said that sports are the soap operas for their fans. There are story-lines built into teams, situations and how things have played out from game to game. In Canuckland, it can be at times, even more so of a soap opera. With the happenings that have surrounded the team over the last few years during the Gillis regime, and even presently, the little dramas keep on writing themselves and at times often get pushed in media members’ agendas.

Goalie Controversy

So is there enough to call it a goalie controversy between Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack? Early in the season and the beginning of 2015, there was no question Miller is the starter, but lately has faltered. When he wins, he wins convincingly and when he has lost, it’s been more often than not, a blow out. The one loss he did play well in was the game against the Flames on a second of a back to back which Miller played the night before winning over Boston.  Eddie Lack came back with a win versus the Wild on the following Monday. In fact, in Lack has won three of his last starts and many fans are calling for him to start over Ryan Miller.

Miller was great and then not so great in the Canucks shootout win over the New York Rangers. In the 1st and most of the 2nd, he kept his team in it. Faltered and let in a soft goal and an unfortunate one with a Henrik giveaway.

Miller was great and then not so great in the Canucks shootout win over the New York Rangers. In the 1st and most of the 2nd, he kept his team in it. Faltered and let in a soft goal and an unfortunate one with a Henrik giveaway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve come to the understanding that once Vancouver has a goalie controversy going, overall it’s a good thing. It means the backup is playing very well and the starter can have some rest for the last 25 game push for a playoff spot. When a goalie controversy sparked a few years back, Luongo and Schneider ended up winning the Jennings Trophy. Unfortunately, having this controversy has already cost the Canucks two starting goalies, both aforementioned in the last sentence. With the schedule really picking up and Miller expecting his first child in the very near future, there will be more starts for everyone’s favourite backup.

A more evenly divided workload for the goalies will help the team down the line, but in the process of supporting Eddie Lack, I don’t see why there can’t be love given to Ryan Miller. Without his 27 wins, the Canucks would not be in a playoff spot at the moment. Earlier this season, he’s bailed out his team and stole a few games they had no business winning, twice in San Jose, for that matter. Shouldn’t that count for something? One thing I really love about Miller is his ownership of his play. He has no problem taking responsibility for it when it’s bad, which he did last night.  So before this fan base buries Miller in the graveyard with their shovels in hand, don’t forget all those points he’s acquired the team early in the season. They count exactly the same now, as they did in October, November and early January, two points are two points and they are all important.

Consistently Inconsistent

No one knows what to really make of this whole Kassian situation. And those that do aren’t saying a thing whether it be negative or positive.  A kid with all the tools could be set to be a very effective power forward. However, when Kassian isn’t visible on the ice, it’s glaringly bad or completely unnoticeable, which has earned Zack press-box duties from time to time.  I want him to be effective and although Willie and the coaching staff have to take some responsibility in not always utilizing him to his skill set,  Zack has shown more often than not, he hasn’t earned it. The glaring defensive lapses in his game are the biggest hindrance to his progression as a top six forward. Zack needs to stay focused and to be able to know when to take a penalty and not put his team in a hole because of bone-headed plays. Like I said, Zack has all the tools, but he needs some instruction in using them properly and more importantly, become consistent.

Press-box duties for Kassian versus the Rangers, and we're wondering if he will be out on the ice tonight against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.

Press-box duties for Kassian versus the Rangers, and we’re wondering if he will be out on the ice tonight against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Line Shuffle

If you don’t know the new dance it town, it’s called the Blue Line Shuffle. With three of the Canucks top six defencemen out with injury, there is a whole new look to the Vancouver blue line. Bieksa and Edler out on the IR and Tanev is day to day. Corrado, who has been the 7th d-man most nights,  is also on the IR prompting the call up of Alex Biega.

Edler is one of three Canucks defencemen out on the Injured Reserved. The Blue Line looks unrecognizable at the moment. Speedy recovery to Alex and his teammates!

Edler is one of three Canucks defencemen out on the Injured Reserved. The Blue Line looks unrecognizable at the moment. Speedy recovery to Alex and his teammates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pairings have been shuffled quite a bit from this influx of injured blue liners. Hamhuis has been paired with Yannick Weber, and although I think Weber is a fine Bottom 2-type of  guy, I can’t see him shouldering the minutes Hamhuis has picked up with Edler and Tanev both out. Hammer has also been a little tentative since he came back from his injury, and it shows. He’s not hitting like himself and without his top 4 mates, the little mistakes he’d make seem a little bigger these days.  Sbisa is with Biega is unpredictable and Stanton looks steady with Clendening. It’s a big mess, but when will it be rectified? It all depends when Chris Tanev will be ready to go and who works best with him when he is back.

The Canucks are now down to their last 25 games or so. It is time to find out just what they are made of, and if last night versus the New York Rangers was any indication, they are at least entertaining. 

 

@Aviewfromabroad

 Play of the Night

PS, how about that Henrik Sedin guy? The captain shoulders responsibility and brings the Canucks to OT and the chance to win in the shootout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#TICH: Iron Mike Makes a Deal

January 3rd, 1998: Iron Mike Keenan started his dismantling of the Vancouver Canucks. After 10 years in a Canucks uniform, the longest serving goalie in franchise history, Kirk McLean, gets dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes, along with Martin Gelinas for Geoff Sanderson, Enrico Ciccone and goaltender, Sean Burke. Those three players played a total of 38 games for the Vancouver Canucks before they, themselves, were sent away from by Keenan.

 

Kirk McLean spent 10 & half years backstopping for the Canucks. He was traded to Carolina January 3, 1998.

Kirk McLean spent 10 & half years backstopping for the Canucks. He was traded to Carolina January 3, 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McLean’s play suffered partly because of a reoccurring knee injury but in all honesty, many people believed Mike Keenan didn’t want the core there anymore and McLean was the first piece, with Gelinas, to be dealt out. McLean and Gelinas were the first but they were not the last. Change came, some of it ended up being blessing in disguise eventually, but this was a deal that Carolina got themselves a starting goaltender and Vezina finalist in Kirk McLean and “Notre Coeur” (Our Heart) Martin Gelinas. The Canucks got back, temporary workers.

It was the beginning of the end of an era that Pat Quinn had built previously. Keenan knocked it down with a wrecking ball and in doing so, set the organization back by a decade. He didn’t care, he wanted to make sure the stamp had “Iron Mike” all over it on the Canucks organization. It did, but it was years before we as fans, saw any of the fruition of it.

This is what happened on January 3, 1998, Today in Canucks History.

 

twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

 

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Notable players traded by Mike Keenan out of the Canucks organization:

TO BUFFALO: Geoff Sanderson

TO VANCOUVER: Brad May

TO NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Trevor Linden

TO VANCOUVER: Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe, 3rd Round Pick(Jarkko Ruutu)

TO PHILADELPHIA:Dave Babych, 5th Round Pick(Garrett Prosofsky)

TO VANCOUVER:3rd Round Pick(Justin Morrison)

TO NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Gino Odjick

TO VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Jason Strudwick

TO PHILADELPHIA:Sean Burke

TO VANCOUVER:Garth Snow

TO NEW YORK RANGERS:Russ Courtnall, Esa Tikkanen

TO VANCOUVER:Sergei Nemchinov, Brian Noonan

TO VANCOUVER: Trent Klatt

TO PHILADELPHIA: 6TH Round Pick