Thursday Thoughts: Erhoff, Hordi, Hank and Shanny

Merry Christian!

Christian Erhoff - Photo: Canucks.com

Christian Erhoff - Photo: Canucks.com

One could argue that the biggest news of the off-season was the signing of Roberto and Luongo and of course the Sedin twins. And while those players are having good years, there is a newcomer to the team that is making the trade that brought him here highway robbery.

Christian Erhoff and Brad Lukowich were sent to the Canucks from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenceman Daniel Rahimi and forward Patrick White. Lukowich has been sent to the minors, and both Rahimi and White were no longer in the Canucks plans and neither are playing for the Sharks. Erhoff has been the jewel of the deal and has fit right in with the Canucks. In his previous season with the Sharks he recorded eight goals, 34 assists (8-34-42) and 63 penalty minutes in 77 games. This season he’s leading the way on the Canucks blueline and has easily been their most steady defenseman. After 34 games this year Erhoff is just one goal off last years total, has 18 points and leads the team with an impressive plus 16 rating.

At 27 years of age, Erhoff is in the prime of his career, and his addition has more than made up for the departure of Mattias Ohlund.

Hordichuk’s Expiration Date

My friend over at Canucks Hockey Blog, Richard Loat posted about the effectiveness, or lack thereof of Darcy Hordichuk this season.

“Hordichuk is not on this team for his speed or his offense. His offense is a notch above Shane O’Brien. Actually, half a notch. Gillis said he brought him onto the team because he was a tough guy and a heavy weight, but also because he was not one dimensional. He could skate, had some hands, and could also use those hands to pummel opponents. I remember the Hordichuk that played for the Predators and Panthers. That’s the Hordichuk that I thought this team was landing. Unfortunately we’ve seen the complete opposite of what we expected.”

I have to agree. As far as giving the team any spark, it’s been a while since I can think of Hordichuk pumping up his team with any momentum changing bouts. All one needs to do is look at the much smaller Rick Rypien to get that rush. Tough guys have to play their role, and if they don’t bring anything else to the table, they are dead weight. Hordichuk is a light heavyweight at best and as Richard suggests his expiry date as a Canuck is approaching, or may have even passed.

Henrik For The Hart And The Rafters

With Henrik Sedin just one point back of the league scoring league with 43 points, discussion has begun amongst the media and fans as to whether he deserves consideration for the Hart trophy as we approach the midpoint of the season. The answer should be a resounding yes. Henrik is not only having a great year, but with brother and line mate Daniel missing 18 games, Henrik carried the team in the offense department, proving that that twins do not need each other to be effective players. Of course together they are even more dangerous, but Henrik is certainly deserving of being in the company of any Hart trophy discussions. He’s certainly been the Canucks MVP so far, and as a duo the Sedins look like they are going to take another step to becoming among the leagues elite stars an I’ll even go one further. At this rate is there little doubt that if the Sedins retire Canucks, 22 and 33 will be hanging in the rafters next to 12 and 16?

Bettman’s Boy

Our own Tom Benjamin recently posted about the appointment of Brendan Shanahan to the position Vice President of hockey and business development by the NHL. Tom suggests the job may be a little pay back to Shanahan for his work during the NHL lockout.

“He isn’t being rewarded for his behaviour during the labour dispute, is he? How many other players had lunch with Gary Bettman during the lockout? It may reek of corruption, but hey, nobody can say that Gary doesn’t take care of his friends.”

Perhaps a little harsh towards Shanahan, as none of us really know what his qualifications are for the job, and what’s expected of him in it. But it does raise eyebrows when a player retires and is promptly hired to such a lofty position of management within the league. Had Shanahan been named director of a competition committee there would likely be no issue, but the business nature of the job certainly makes things look a little fishy.

Canuck Musings: Down the Stretch

Just a few random thoughts popped in my head as I was thinking of the last stretch of the regular season concerning the Vancouver Canucks.  Since February 1st, the Canucks are probably the most consistent team in the NHL.  Looks like every single player has picked up their game, with the exception of the Phoenix game last Saturday, the Canucks are looking good and finding ways to win.  Even good teams like Detroit have bad games, just as Chris Osgood in Calgary.

Roberto Luongo and his infamous comments about winning a Stanley Cup, and it didn’t matter where. I do not recall at any point in that interview that Luongo made reference to leaving the Canucks was a certainty. If the Canucks can build a winning team around Luongo next year, and they have a good playoff run this year, I don’t see Bobby Lu not considering re-signing in Vancouver.  Get your knickers out of a bunch people! Luongo is a driven, hard-working, and competitive individual that would like his team to do the same. Is that such a bad thing?

Shane O’Brien and his public comments about coaching decisions. People think already think I don’t have any love for O’Brien, but that’s not the truth.  I do think there is a lot of potential with him, I just find that he is more of a reactionary player.  I feel he is a guy that plays with raw emotion and that’s ok, I like guys that play with passion and heart, but at the same time, there has to be some semblance of control to his game. Shane O’Brien has yet to master that.  Also, his word-waging war with management and coaching decisions via the media comes off a bit whiny and unprofessional. Take it with stride big man and find ways to get yourself back into the line-up. Actions speak so much louder than words, especially this time of the season.

Sedins: “Tubthumping” seems to be their Anthem in win over Dallas. Daniel Sedin looked like he got his tooth knocked out and also his upper lip stitched up.  As the famous lyrics go,

“Oh Danny Boy
Danny Boy…”
I get knocked down
But i get up again
You’re never goin’ to keep me down

(thanks Mr. Bjorkloven) *wink*

Everyone can say what they will about Hank and Dan. Many fans around the league find them ‘soft’ and some out there still have the audacity to call them ‘sisters’, but make no mistake about it, as much as these two get knocked down. They keep getting back up, and playing on. No words of complaints, just taking it in stride, like men, and doing what they are supposed to do on the ice. Take note Sidney Crosby.

Ryan Kesler: His drive for a winning franchise
I am not sure what the big deal was for Kesler to talk about wanting to win and keeping a winning team and people taking a few paycuts here and there to sustain winning ways. In the long run, Kesler is right, but we live in a “show me the money, results now” type of world.  At the same time, Ryan Kesler is earning his paycheque.  With 23 goals on the season and playing wonderful two-way hockey, Kesler is a bargain at $1.75million this season.  Bobby Clarke saw something in the boy with that offer sheet back in ’06 and Kesler has lived up to and beyond it.

Alex Burrows: True Grit Alex Burrows is the ultimate ‘feel good’ story of the Canucks recent times. Here is a kid that wasn’t drafted and worked his way into the regular line-up with hard work. Thing is, many of us didn’t think Burrows had the talent to back-up his hard work.  Now, we see differently. A tweener project of Marc Crawford has made his way to the first lines with Hank and Dan. Seeing major ice time with the ability to play on the PK makes Alex Burrows hot commodity in the NHL. I’m am very happy that Canucks GM, Mike Gillis, saw that and locked him up for four years at $2million per annum.

As we head in towards the post season. I do want to say that the Canucks barring major injury have addressed their issues of weakness from this time last year. The Canucks were not deep on the back end and were in a lot of injury trouble. As a collective unit, they were pretty small and soft. This year with the addition of Bernier, O’Brien,and Hordichuk, I don’t see the Canucks being a team to push around.  Roberto Luongo looks more focused and I have more confidence in Jason Labarera than I did in Curtis Sanford. All and all, I do believe although the Canucks aren’t supposedly at the echelon of the big teams like Detroit, San Jose, and apparently Calgary, I believe the Canucks can give anyone they face in the playoffs a good run for their buck.

Just some musings from the mud.
LotusBlossom