NHL blows it again. Perception is everything and once again, they look bad.

So Aaron Rome was suspended for four games by the NHL and its new interim disciplinarian Mike Murphy. I like most were pretty shocked at the number of games. I figured the league would give Rome at least a game and probably two for the late hit.

It wasn’t a blindside hit; it was a late hit with a very unfortunate result. But Nathan Horton is done for the series with a severe concussion and in some respects it may be fair that Aaron Rome misses the remainder of the final as well.

I accept the suspension as a fan, but I what I cannot accept is the part of the process that was used to arrive at the decision. This from the NHL transcript of the decision:

Q.  Is there a formula equating playoff games to regular-season games?

MIKE MURPHY:  Yes.  It’s more severe.

Q.  Is there a number?

MIKE MURPHY: No.  I wish there was a number.  There’s not.  You have to feel that.  I know in the past when we had a playoff suspension, I remember the Pronger elbow going back, the Lemieux hit going on, that was two, Pronger was one.  I spoke to the gentleman who issued the two.  Wanted his formula, talked to him about it.  I’m talking about Brian Burke.  I don’t like to mention people who I deal with.  He was one gentleman who I did speak with. There’s a lot of other people I spoke with, too, not just Brian.

Excuse me?

The NHL is truly stupid sometimes. How does it look when you go to another team’s GM, a GM that was fired by the Vancouver Canucks and ask him his opinion on a suspension? Employees of other teams should never be consulted on discipline issues, period. The optics of that move are absurd but until last night with Nathan Horton lying concussed on the ice, the NHL has never cared about optics. So should fans now be wondering if Colin Campbell was “consulted”? The man that excused himself of his role prior to the start of the series, saying it had nothing to do with his son playing for the Bruins? Sure, I’m getting the conspiracy thing going, but the way the NHL runs things they really don’t give you much of a choice.

I do believe that Burke was probably neutral in his recommendations to Murphy but the NHL has to be smarter in the roles that conflicting parties have in these decisions.

Before I start getting blasted by profanity laced comments and being labeled a homer, read above again. I accept and to some degree agree with the suspension based on the fact that Horton is “out for the series.” In the future the NHL better give a little more thought to who it “consults” on discipline issues. If they can’t do it within their own league office circles and not consult GM’s of other teams then that is a major flaw in the process and one that makes the NHL look bush league…again.

 

 

Contest: Game 4 on the Jumbotron anyone?

Stanley Cup banner hangs from the rafters in Rogers Arena: Photo: Justine Galo

Since the contest for Game 3 garnered  good attention. Congratulations to Armit Gill of Coquitlam in winning to viewing party seats to Game 3. I’d like extend it for Game 4.  There are a few Canucks that could be possible candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy.  My choice right now? It would probably Alex Burrows. He’s tied with Daniel Sedin for goals in the playoffs, for the Canucks with nine.  He’s scored timely OT goals to win a series and to put the Canucks up two games to none in the Stanley Cup Final.

1.Post a comment on here as to who your candidate would be, and why?

AND

2. Cut/Paste or Retweet

I want to go to the Rogers Arena Game 4 Viewing Party courtesy of @CanucksCorner and  @Aviewfromabroad http://canuckscorner.com/?p=2065

As I did for Game 3, I will deliver your tickets right in your hand. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow afternoon on Twitter and on this page.

Good Luck and Go Canucks Go!

Justine Galo

Twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

Game One Brought…

The Stanley Cup Finals have finally started with the Canucks winning in the dying seconds of the third period on a Raffi Torres goal from Jannik Hansen and the heads-up play of Ryan Kesler.  When I was at Rogers Arena last night, I felt an energy in the building that hasn’t been felt in a long, long time. Game one showed me a few things to indicate where this series could go.

Last night, I saw some good things, ,some bad things and certainly some odd things.  Regardless of the strange happenings throughout the arena last night, the hometown team gave their crowds something to cheer about.

Oh, Bite me!

Bergeron and Burrows showing what a French Kiss is all about in hockey- Photo Credit: Globe and Mail


Alex Burrows got into a little scuffle with Patrice Bergeron last night which led into an alleged biting of Bergeron’s finger. Bergeron and Julien complained to the refs, who didn’t see the incident, about Burrows and wanted him tossed out of the series for a game or two. Who knows, perhaps Burrows was in the middle of a sentence in their chirping when Bergeron shoved his finger in Burrows’ mouth? Maybe that’s a way French-Canadians chirp at each other. Who knows, all I know is the NHL didn’t seem to think it was suspension worthy, despite what some members of the media think. Ask yourself Pierre Maguire, if Gord Miller shoved his finger in your mouth during an argument, what would you do?

Confetti

After Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, the braintrust at Rogers Arena thought it would be a good idea to have confetti fall all over the ice surface after the game winning goal.  I wonder if the brainiac who decided it would be an awesome idea ever put on a pair of skates? I don’t think so. It was nearly impossible for the players to skate around to celebrate the victory and it could have resulted in a potential injury to one of the players.  It was a poor choice of celebration fodder.  How poor? So poor that last night, I managed to take a picture of a pile of confetti atop of the cover of the walk-way of the visitors bench. Not only that, an official on the ice had to pick up a stray piece of confetti as it floated down to the surface. I am guessing the brain trust at Rogers Arena and the Canucks front office might want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Well, at least I hope.

Confetti atop the visitors bench entry way cover. - Photo Credit: Justine Galo


Officiating, yet again

So 12 penalties were called in the first  and second periods, but none in the third. I would say about 1/3 of those penalties called were pretty weak ( going both ways) and they should have just the teams play a little more. It would have made for a bit more of an exciting game and given it a much better flow.  The NHL officials are yet again, consistently inconsistent.

Great Goaltending

Both Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo have shown why they are both up for the Vezina trophy last night. Although I am sure, both would gladly concede the regular season honour to one another to win the Stanley Cup.  Thomas dazzled the crowd with his acrobatic saves and his aggressive style.  For a small man, he certainly covers the net very well, and for some of the Canucks in the early goings of the first period, too well. He set an NHL record for best save percentage in the regular season of .938. He broke a record held for 11 years by Dominik Hasek (Buffalo Sabres) at .936. He also can thank a post and crossbar aiding him and his team last night. Despite the late heroic goal by Raffi Torres he stopped 33 of 34 shots by the Canucks. He also faced better scoring chances than his counter-part, Roberto Luongo.

Even though Luongo didn’t have to be as acrobatic as Thomas, he was perfect and acquiring his third shutout of the post-season, posting a 36 save effort for the night. His rebound control, and his efficient movements had Luongo help his team to this win. For those doubting Luongo in the earlier part of this post season, since Nashville, he has been stellar. Maybe just maybe, his critics might start showing him the respect, that I believe he deserves. Mr. Dangerfield, he is not.

Signage

Saw some really cool signs last night, some good, some dirty and but most creative.  There was a couple of long banners passed around Rogers Arena last night that had “Go Canucks Go”

A banner is being used like "The Wave" passed around Rogers Arena- Photo Credit: Justine Galo


And of course, the Cup Final banner was hung from the rafters at Rogers Arena. I managed to get an excellent picture of it from my seat.

Stanley Cup banner hangs from the rafters in Rogers Arena: Photo: Justine Galo


It was a great way to start the series, and I look forward to the upcoming games. I anticipate  the drama that builds, the signs that come in, and the play between two very good hockey teams.

Justine Galo

Twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

For all the marbles: Canucks and Bruins Stanley Cup Final Preview/Prediction

I’ve been running this site since 1996 so I have yet to have the privilege of covering a Stanley Cup Final. Years of hoping and waiting have finally ended, and here we are with the Canucks in the finals for the 3rd time in their 40 year history. It’s been an exhausting playoffs and it seems like forever since they started. The NHL’s brilliant plan to wait so long to start the final haven’t helped but here we sit on the verge of the biggest playoff series in Canucks history.

So here we have it, our last preview of the playoffs, as we take a look at the Canucks and Bruins, for all the marbles.

Canucks and Boston - Photo Credit: Richard Lam/Getty Images

Canucks and Boston - Photo Credit: Richard Lam/Getty Images



If the NHL wanted two of the best teams in the NHL, they certainly got it. That said the two teams are built very differently. Vancouver built on depth and speed and the flexibility to play multiple styles. The Bruins are built on toughness, hard work and solid defense. The Canucks have proven over the course of the regular season and in the playoffs that they can play any style you want to, and they attempt to dictate what style their opponents play as well. Can the Bruins play multiple styles and adapt to a faster Western Conference? They did in the only meeting between the two clubs this year, leaving Rogers Arena with a 3-1 win.

The keys to the series:

The Canucks are the favourites in the series and with good reason. We all know they ran away with the President’s Trophy and have been picked by many to win it all. To beat Boston, the Canucks are going to have to use their speed to make Boston’s defenders chase them. Puck movement, getting to open spaces quickly and efficiently will be crucial to Vancouver’s success.

The defensive pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg will be assigned to contain the Sedin twins who returned to form against the Sharks. The Bruins have strong penalty killing led by Chara and goaltender Tim Thomas and if the Canucks are to be successful their five on five play has to be better than it was against San Jose where they did most of their damage on the power play. They have to generate more shots at even strength, more quality chances, and get Tim Thomas moving in the net.

If the series becomes a parade to the penalty box the Canucks chances are likely increased, as long as that parade includes both teams. The Bruins power play has been brutal in the playoffs and that’s being kind. The Canucks however have been very effective.

For Boston to win they need to control the Sedin line. The twins struggled to find space against Chicago’s Seabrook and Keith and Nashville’s Weber and Suter. They thrived against the Sharks who don’t have a defensive pairing of the ilk of Chara and Seidenberg. But the Bruins will also need to pay attention to Ryan Kesler, who will have used the lengthy break to get as close to 100% as possible and who almost single handedly led the Canucks against Nashville. Kesler may revert to a defensive role again, concentrating on shutting down the Bruins big line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton. But the Bruins roll four lines consistently, and the Canucks may be forced to do the same if they want to keep fresh legs out there. With Vancouver’s fourth line a revolving door, Alain Vigneault may have to find a trio he can stick with and give them more minutes. That will require relying on some youth, particularly if Manny Malhotra can’t get the green light to play.

Both teams sport pests that will attempt to get under the oppositions skin. The Canucks Torres and Lappiere will counter Boston’s Brad Marchand.

The biggest battle however will be between two Vezina finalists in Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas. In three career starts against Vancouver, Thomas has allowed just one goal. Not a large body of work, but it does indicate what impact Thomas can have in a seven game series. Luongo has been solid after a speed bump against the Hawks and despite some untimely goals at times has played a huge role in the success of his team. His performance in game 5 against San Jose was one of his best ever.

Both teams will attempt to get traffic in front of the net and the Bruins have the bigger bodies to do just that. The Canucks defense will have to be at their best to allow Luongo to see the puck as much as possible. The Bruins will have to contend mostly with Kesler and Burrows who will see a lot of Mr. Chara and will have to pay the price. The Canucks have generated fourteen goals from their defence to Boston’s eight and whatever team can get their back end involved will have a great advantage.

If you’re into stats, here is a nice little package compiled by James Mirtle at the Globe & Mail. By the numbers this could be an incredible final and a very competitive one. It could go down the wire but for some reason I just have a gut feeling the Canucks are a team of destiny. They have been the best team in the league almost from start to finish. They have demonstrated they can play any style they need to and in my opinion they are deeper than the Bruins.

The Bruins will put up a tough fight and the games will be close. But I think the Canucks find a way to win this series in six games and win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history and what an incredible end to an amazing 40th anniversary season that would be.

Profiting off Passion: How Much is ‘Too Much’?

It’s the Stanley Cup Finals, and everyone who has an avenue to make some ‘extra’ money off this series is unashamedly doing what they can to profit off people’s enthusiasm. From ticket scalpers to season ticket holders. Hell even airlines are boosting prices from Vancouver to Boston and vice versa to get in on the short term profit margin markups. Everywhere you look in the Lower Mainland (and probably Boston too) everyone is looking to make a buck or two off this playoff run. So I ask, how much is ‘too much’?

Some say it’s ‘smart business’ ,  others say it’s sheer unadulterated greed and some don’t know what to think about all this. They want, but can’t have, so they look to see who can be around to take the blame… errr I mean responsibility.

Stanley Cup Finals. Be there or bust...your wallet. Photo credit: Prediction Challenges



So tickets went on sale to the general public for the Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver and Boston today via Ticketmaster.  Between two cities that are passionate about hockey and both have a very big season ticket holder base, these tickets that were released were harder to come by than the next sighting of Haley’s Comet. So fans are testing different avenues to obtain their Stanley Cup Finals tickets. Online ticket brokers, Craigslist ads, and local secondary brokerages are where fans are turning to get their tickets. But at what price? Many on twitter say too much. Others are pointing at the teams’ owners to take the blame for selling too many season tickets so single game tickets are harder to get for the general public. The real question is, what is a Stanley Cup Final game worth to you?

Canucks Nation

Rabid fans will be asked to pay big bucks for SCF tickets Photo Credit: Justine Galo



When looking for tickets for a member of my spouse’s extended family, who wanted to watch a SCF game with his son from Winnipeg, I was shocked and appalled by some of the prices people were asking for their tickets to Games 1 and 2. The thing was, I was not surprised.  I am not surprised that greed has taken over so many out there and unfortunately have to ability and avenue to gauge fans who want to watch one game and share in the experience with all the others at the arena.  The River Rock Club Section at Rogers Arena have the SCF seats sold to the season ticket holder for roughly $500 a piece.  I know this because one of our  sections of season tickets is right in those seats, which we sold to friends at face value. These seats are being advertised on Craigslist, StubHub.com and other ticket brokerages between $1700-3000 per seat.  I don’t care how some people spin it, but that’s more than at least a 200% mark-up of the value of the ticket. To me, that’s gauging and that’s fueled by the greed the world is built on these days.

It’s bad enough that the ticket vultures are going to be getting fat off the cup finals, but now even airlines are getting in on the game. An insider who works for the ticketing department of Air Canada said that during these two weeks or so, flights between Vancouver and Boston will be hiked up in price to boost their profit margin from the SCF.  I know it’s ‘smart business’ and it’s common that tourism industry hike up their prices for special events, but this is a first I have heard that an airline would do such a thing to accommodate die-hard hockey fans who travel with the team just to make a buck.

"In Greed We Trust" Photo credit: Red Tree Times



So Vancouver and Boston, be prepared to see an increase in  prices in your bars and pubs,  the hotel rates, the airline tickets, the cost of a ticket to a game so others out there can profit from your passions.  Do I think it’s right? The business side of me says, “It is what it is.” The conscience in me says  it’s abhorrent. But I know one thing, I will choose carefully (maybe not wisely) where my put my Stanley Cup Final dollars but I have my limits, as do many of the Bruins and Canucks fans watching this series intently.

As someone I know always says, “Vote with your dollar”. If you don’t buy those over priced tickets, merchandise or airfares, maybe the greedy bastards will think twice before they profit off our passions. The power is yours.

Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

Writer’s note: I own season tickets and I do believe I have the right to ask for a good return on the re-sale of my tickets for the regular season and the playoffs. However, I don’t condone mark-ups that are more than 150% of the ticket value.