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.

 

 

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.

Call it Canucks in 6.

It doesn’t get much better than this. The league-leading Vancouver Canucks, with their franchise record 117 regular season points, won their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy – in doing so, they became the first team since the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens to lead the league in points, goals for and goals against. They boast the Art Ross trophy winner for the second straight year in Daniel Sedin, and the first pair of brothers to ever accomplish back-to-back scoring championships in him and his brother Henrik. Despite a raft of injuries on the blueline – the Canucks were forced to employ 13 different defensemen through the course of the season – Corey Schneider and Roberto Luongo finished third and fourth in the league in save percentage. Did I mention the team had the best power play in the league, and just missed out on having the best penalty kill to boot?

Yes, it was a hell of a season for the Vancouver Canucks. And what did this earn them? A first round match up against the defending Stanley Cup champions in the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Chicago Blackhawks.

Okay, maybe not stinkin’. After all, Dustin Byfuglien is golfing in Georgia right about now.

Wait. Patrick Kane is still on the team, and sporting a wicked bad striped mullet. Yeah, stinkin’.

The top two lines promise a classic playoff battle. D Sedin – H Sedin – Burrows & Kesler – Samuelsson – Higgins vs Toews – Kane – Sharp & Hossa – Frolik – Stalberg. Sound like an easy win for the Canucks on this point? Don’t bet on it. Jonathan Toews wasn’t the Conn Smythe winner last year for letting Dustin Byfuglien do all the hard work. Toews scored two points a game against the Canucks. That said, it wasn’t the top line that made the biggest difference last year. It’s the bottom six and back end where the Canucks have suffered the past two post-seasons. This year, the Canucks have Mason Raymond flying down the wing and Cody Hodgson playing at third line centre where he would have been all year had it not been for the acquisition of Manny Malhotra. Hello eye injury, goodbye Manny; Cody’s in and has his shot to prove his worth in the bigs. Maxim Lapierre, Tanner Glass, Jannik Hansen and Victor Oreskovich will be forechecking like mad. But where are those big pieces of the Hawks’ Cup run now?

Dave Bolland (C), 16 points in 22 games: Injured (concussion)

Adam Burish (RW), agitator played 15 games & got under Daniel Sedin’s skin: Dallas Stars

Dustin Byfuglien (LW), 11 goals in 22 games, and crawled into Roberto Luongo’s skull: Atlanta Thrashers

Ben Eager (LW), clutch goal vs the Canucks in Game Two: San Jose Sharks

Andrew Ladd (LW),  6 points in 22 games: Atlanta Thrashers

John Madden (C), veteran presence in the locker room: Minnesota Wild

Antti Niemi (G), 2 shutouts, .920 save percentage: San Jose Sharks

Brent Sopel (D), 6 points and a +7 rating in 22 games: Montreal Canadiens

Kris Versteeg (RW), 14 points in 22 games: Philadelphia Flyers

With an injury ravaged defense in front of him, a crushing letter C on the front of his mask and defensive-minded forwards like Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows playing hurt, last year’s Roberto Luongo unraveled at home. The Canucks were outscored 17-7 in three losses in Vancouver. (To be fair, the Canucks were the only playoff team to take two games at United Center in Chicago, and outscored the Hawks 11-6 there in three games.) He had been pulled in several games down the stretch, and never looked comfortable with the expectations placed upon his shoulders.

This year’s Luongo put up his best numbers ever, led the league in wins, and looks as controlled as he’s ever been in the crease. With his calmer demeanour between the pipes, the Canucks have only lost back-to-back games in regulation time once since early November. And that was during mean-nothing contests against the Edmonton Oilers after the Presidents’ Trophy had already been locked up – hell, peewee teams would have a hard time getting themselves up for those games.

Going into the playoffs, Vancouver has the healthiest defense corps they’ve seen all year. Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo all dress for game one. There’s no one standout Norris Trophy candidate in

The Lighter Side of Luongo

Determined and competitive; Work-horse and driven; Aloof and intense. All adjectives to describe one Roberto Luongo. More often than not, his tenure here in Vancouver has the majority of the public and media alike thinking that Roberto takes life way too seriously and often his game to the point that his intensity and desire to win tend to harm his play rather than help it. Maybe they’re right, perhaps his very competitive nature and focus is a little too much for us average fans and media geeks can fathom.  After all, what the heck do we know about being professional athletes? In theory we know everything, in reality, not so much.

Over the last couple of months, many of us around the nation got to see a ‘lighter side’ of Roberto Luongo.  On TSN, he shared his poetic skills and some humour.  He even wrote for foreword in James Duthie’s new book.  This was something none of us knew about Roberto, and most likely something we never expected. Why would we? He took his job and criticism too seriously, or so we thought.

When Luongo didn’t show up for winning first star in a game the Canucks won not too long ago and not grant Murph a post game interview, some of us made a big deal about it, he was way too intense.  Some out there even decided it was rather ‘diva’-like of him to stand up the crowd the way he did. Was it? Yeah maybe a little, but wouldn’t you be pissed off that you were just a few seconds away from perfection and someone else botched it up for you? I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’d be livid. But then again, like Roberto, I am a bit of a perfectionist.

The one thing that has gotten my attention and the attention of the wise, is the humour and wit Roberto Luongo has inserted in his pre/post game interviews about his play. He’s been brilliantly funny by poking fun of himself and enjoying his time as just one of the guys and not being Captain Canuck. He has kept his critics laughing instead of pointing fingers at his mistakes and his ‘aloofness’. He has even joined in publicly with some remarks about his teammate in the ribbing sense. When he referred to Lee Sweatt as “built like a fire hydrant”, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He has been not only entertaining, but you can see a more relaxed Roberto Luongo who is far more comfortable to have people see him as human.

So he has been able to open up a bit more and show us a more humanistic side of himself and be more open and take more responsibility for his play. So why do so many out there still bash him? I’m not sure to be honest, but I for one have been very happy with his play so far this year, and his demeanor. On top of all the fun stuff, Roberto Luongo has played very well and stolen a few games for the boys as of late. What more could you ask in your number one goalie?  So what I ask is, if Roberto Luongo has lightened up, why can’t his critics?


Justine Galo

Twas a Nuck Before Christmas: 2010 Edition


In and around this time of the year, I like to give some Christmas cheer to our beloved team.  I’ve been writing a rendition of this poem on and off for the last 10 years on the Canucks Corner boards.  I thought I would share with those of you that haven’t read any of these yet a little of what I like to do to get “Canucks Festive”.  I hope you all enjoy it.

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the Rog
Not a feature was playing, no video montage.
The stands were all empty and the ice rink was bare,
In hopes that Lord Stanley soon would be there.

The players were nestled, all snug in their beds
While visions of playoff runs danced in their heads.
AV is all happy, slow start seems way back
For his crew is front-running, they are on track

No team out there winning; convincing in manner,
No Bolduc out there checking, no Glass man named, Tanner
No Tambellini skating by d-men in a quick flash,
No goal song is playing, no tickets for cash!

Production crew off-set, no one manning the show
No fans up high in the stands, no fans down below.
No Swedish Twins around, for us fans to cheer
No Kevin Bieksa with his mean glare and sneer.

No sight of Alex Burrows, so agile and quick,
No Sami Salo, no shots thunder from his stick.
More rapid than eagles his Bauers they came,
He shucked and he jived, Mason Raymond by name!

“Now Daniel! Now Henrik and a Dane named Jannik!
Go Mikael! Go Manny! Opposition in panic!
To the top of the crease, all balls to the wall!
Now hit away! Shoot away! Score away all!”

There’s DJ Dave, and FIN and the bands
Hot dogs consumed, the fans cheering in stands.
In Jim Robson’s gondola, the broadcasters did stew,
Kristen, Shorty and Murph. Oh yes, and Cheech too!

Now 12, and 16,and 19  raised to the roof
‘Oh Captain, my captain’, your greatness with proof
Staving off critics and all media hounds
We honour Markus Naslund, his number safe and sound

Torres was dressed all in gear, from his head to his foot,
Fighting in the corners, his jersey all dirty with soot.
Alberts hitting hard, Ballard blocking the shots,
Hammer owns the zone like it was Fort Knox.

Henrik to Daniel, their passes so merry!
Lighting up the goal light, bright red as a cherry!
Malholtra wins the face-offs, one after another
Steve  Nash is proud of him, his in-law of a brother

When the Canucks score, the fans cheer the “Woo!!”
Pucks stop dead of at the net, the chant is just “Lu!!”
Solid is Schneider when he takes between the pipes.
Alex Edler is playing like he’s earning stripes.

Ehrhoff  at the blue-line and shooting top shelf,
I’m not hooting and hollering, in spite of myself!
In a wink of an eye and a strange twist of fate
I was at the Garage, entering Linden’s numbered gate.

The stands were all full, many months passed us by,
And all of a sudden it appeared it was hockey in July!
Visions of battered faces and a bloody red nose,
Luongo our tender, to the occasion he rose!

With the sound of the horn and the blow of the whistle,
Bone crunching sounds along with the stretch of the gristle.
I’ll see you on Robson with foamy-head pucks!
“Maybe Lord Stanley will be there with the Vancouver Canucks!”

Merry Christmas everyone.

Justine Galo

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