So you've registered your heart for Vancouver Canucks fandom, and now, for whatever reason, you're ready to temporarily follow this team with gusto and passion. Perhaps you're an American, and, according to the Canadian stereotype, you know absolutely nothing about hockey. Perhaps you're a wife, and your husband's rabid allegiance to the team is suddenly tolerable because the games matter more now. Perhaps you're an older Canucks fan--you still call them the Canuckleheads, you mainly know what Squire Barnes tells you to know--and you can't be bothered to stay current with one of the most consistently good teams in hockey over the past decade.
Your largest problem won't be enjoying the hockey. The Canucks are a lot of fun to watch. They have the best forward line in hockey, one of its best goaltenders, and a ton of character guys who are good, genuine characters. But true Canucks fans are insanely knowledgeable, and you're bound to look ignorant if you show up at your local pub for a game and don't wince for the other guy when he drops the gloves with Rick Rypien. You need to know who that dude is.
I recognize your plight and I mourn for you. It doesn't have to be this way. Here is a handy cheat sheet of player information, things to say to make friends, what not to say, and anecdotes from players' pasts to help mask how new you are to the Canucks.
::::::::::::::: FORWARDS :::::::::::::::Name: Steve Bernier
About: Bernier wears no. 18 and is what would be classified as a power forward. He hasn't had a very good season, but he always seems to play better in the playoffs. He hits a lot and he screens goalies.
If he touches the puck, you'd better hope it's a rebound and the net is wide open. Better yet, maybe it just bounces off his butt and goes in.
Thing to say: How did he not bury that?!
Never say: This guy would be perfect with the Sedins.
Name: Alex Burrows
About: Burrows wears no. 14 and typically skates with the Sedins. He's a fan favorite because he talks funny, annoys people incessantly, says hilarious things, and has a wicked goal celebration. The media loves him because he went undrafted and worked his way up from the East Coast Hockey League. He once played for the Baton Rouge Kingfish.
If he touches the puck, cross your fingers that it's a shorthanded breakaway, because he's money on those.
Thing to say: Can you believe he led the team in goals? What a story.
Never say: Burrows needs to work harder, I think.
Name: Pavol Demitra
About: Demitra wears no. 38 and is Slovakian. He used to be super good. Try him out on NHL 2001--he's so good you'd think it's a glitch. Sadly, he hasn't played at that level in years, save this winter when he played like that for Slovakia's national team at the Olympics.
If he touches the puck, anything's possible, but usually, nothing happens.
Thing to say: Demitra on the third line. Man, what forward depth this team has. (ignore that he only plays like a third liner anymore)
Never say: I think Demitra would play way, way better if we had gotten Hossa and Gaborik to play with him instead of re-signing the Sedins.
Name: Tanner Glass
About: Glass wears no. 15 and plays sparingly. He was signed out of training camp and has somehow stuck with the team. He overskates the puck, hits a lot, and is generally a good energy guy.
If he touches the puck, it had better be during a fourth line shift. I cannot stress with enough.
Thing to say: Glass brings good energy. He's a good fourth-line guy.
Never say: Put Glass on the third line!
Name: Michael Grabner
About: Grabner was a Canucks' first-round draft pick a few years back and, while many players selected after him have already established themselves as solid NHLers, this is Grabner's first season outside the farm team. He's as fast as Mason Raymond, not as strong, and not as experienced.
If he touches the puck, he might dazzle you with it. Probably, though, he'll skate down the wing and wrist it into the goalie's crest.
Thing to say: Baby banana-grabner!
Never say: Man, we should've drafted Milan Lucic.
Name: Jannik Hansen
About: Hansen wears no. 36 and plays the wing. He bounces around from line to line and is generally a good temporary fit anywhere. The jury's still out on whether he's a permanent NHLer , but he always seems to make the team out of training camp. He's got good speed, a good shot, and he tends to go to the right places, but sometimes, he's completely invisible. He's not quite gritty enough to have a spot as an energy guy, but he doesn't quite have the skill to be a consistent scorer. That said, he's got a little of both, and if he ever put it all together, he'd be money.
If he touches the puck it's a crapshoot. Sometimes, this guy is lights out. Other times, you wonder why he's in the lineup. Hansen has moved from the fourth line to the first line and back in the same game before.
Thing to say: Hansen's got big-league skill, if only his hands could catch up.
Never say: Hansen should fight that guy.
Name: Ryan Johnson
About: Johnson wears no. 10 and is a fourth-line center. He's got good speed, he's a veteran, and he's the star of the penalty kill. He wins faceoffs and he blocks shots. That's literally all he does. It's no wonder, then, that he's always injured, but he'll give you a good string of games before his injury swells up to the point where he can't play through it. He played all year last year with this. Gross.
If he touches the puck, it just shattered a bone in his leg. But don't worry, he'll play through it.
Thing to say: Gosh, that looked like it hurt.
Never say: If he didn't try to block everything, maybe he'd get hurt less.
Name: Ryan Kesler
About: Kesler wears no. 17 and is a fan favorite because of how hard he checks. He often gets the assignments of checking the other team's top player, and has seen a lot of success with that. Kesler takes the game very seriously, and will do anything to win, including making enemies of his friends. You might remember him from the Olympics, when he dissed and mocked Roberto Luongo and slagged the country he lives in just to win. His European teammates back home were rooting for Canada because they didn't want to have to deal with a Kesler that won gold. He's kind of a prick, but he's our prick. That's right. Don't let the other Ryan confuse you; Kesler is johnson of this city. Here's a useful tidbit: people will compare him to Jonathan Toews in the Chicago-Vancouver series, but Kesler had more points, was nominated for a Selke, and was just as instrumental in his team's success in the Olympics. The pundits will say Toews; it's a wash.
If he touches the puck, let's hope it's in the high slot on a powerplay. He scores goals in bunches from there.
Thing to say: Kesler wants it more than anybody on the ice.
Never say: This guy hates Canada. I don't want him on my team!
Name: Mason Raymond
About: Raymond wears no. 21 and is a top-six winger. He's lightning-fast, maybe the fastest in the league. He's got a good wrist shot, too. He's got a lot of skill and potential, but he needs his head to catch up with his feet.
If he touches the puck, he'll probably do a lap around the offensive zone, then pass it to a defenseman.
Thing to say: Raymond just needs to use his wingers a little more, and he'll be a consistently dangerous offensive threat.
Never say: Raymond is just another Brandon Reid.
Name: Rick Rypien
About: Rypien wears no. 37 and is a fourth-line winger or center. He's not known for his scoring touch. He's known for his fighting ability. Which he has. In spades. Rypien's dad Wes is a former Canadian boxing champion and it shows. Rypien shields his face, uses both fists, employs combinations, hooks, and uppercuts. He'll literally fight anybody. Seriously. Anybody.
If he touches the puck, it was probably incidentally. He meant to take the body.
Thing to say: Get Rypien on the ice to bash that guy's head in!
Never say: I don't know about this one. That guy's got fifty pounds on him.
Name: Mikael Samuelsson
About: Samuelsson wears no. 26 and is a first or second-line forward, depending on the weather. He played for Detroit last year and is known for his willingness to shoot the puck. He's got a deadly shot, a deadly sense of humour, and a special message for Team Sweden.
If he touches the puck, he will shoot the puck. From wherever he is.
Thing to say: Can you believe Team Sweden didn't want this guy? Ha!
Never say: You know who this team needs? Matthias Weinhandl.
Name: Daniel Sedin
About: Daniel wears no. 22 and plays wing. For reason unknown, he is often referred to as Brother Daniel, but he is not to be confused with this guy. Henrik and Daniel have a system. Henrik makes all the passes, Daniel scores all the goals.
If he touches the puck, expect magic to happen.
Thing to say: OHMYGODTHATWASAMAZING
Never say: Man, we need to come up with a name for this line!
Name: Henrik Sedin
About: Henrik wears no. 33 and plays center. He won the Art Ross trophy this season, which means he led the league in scoring. He makes blind passes, through-the-legs passes, and saucer passes. He wears an A on his jersey, so if you can't see the number on the back, you can still tell him apart.
If he touches the puck, he will pass it to Daniel.
Thing to say: Henrik is tha best evah! East Coast bias! If he played in Toronto he'd be John the Baptist!
Never say: Personally? He's got too many second assists to win the Hart.
Name: Kyle Wellwood
About: Wellwood wears no. 42 and is the Canucks third-line center. He was once the center for Mats Sundin, but Toronto got sick of his lack of work ethic and gave him away for nothing. Somehow, he has held onto this third-line spot, even though that spot normally goes to big, gritty centers. Wellwood is neither of those things. He plays with a super tiny hockey stick. He's weird as all Hell and he doesn't really seem to care about anything. You either love him or you hate him.
If he touches the puck, he will wow you with his stickhandling wizardry, or turn the puck over. There is no in-between.
Thing to say: More like Kyle Swellwood, amirite?
Never say: Wellwood is fat!
::::::::::::::: DEFENSEMEN :::::::::::::::Name: Andrew Alberts
About: Alberts wears no. 41 for the Canucks and is their largest player, at 6'5". He was acquired in a trade late in this season, and hasn't been good so far. He's taken enough penalties to earn the nickname A Minor, he's been completely embarrassed a couple times, and he's not that fast. But, if he limits the mental mistakes, he could be a very valuable player. Also, he looks a little like Mallrats-era Ben Affleck. Point that out to hear a room full of people go, "huh."
If he touches the puck, it had better be because he just poked it away from somebody. Otherwise, pray he gets rid of it.
Thing to say: I like this guy's size.
Never say: I like this guy's mobility.
Name: Kevin Bieksa
About: Bieksa wears no. 3 for the Canucks, and has the talent to be one of the Canucks' best defensemen. Sometimes, he gets caught behind the play, however, resulting in odd-man rushes. He is much, much better when he's angry, and if he perceives a slight against him, will hit any member of the opposition as his revenge. He always looked pissed, whether he actually is or not. He is known for suffering bizarre skate cuts to his leg. That almost never happens to anyone. It's happened to him twice.
If he touches the puck, he can be expected to make a good outlet pass, or rush the puck up the ice while standing straight up, like the Michael Johnson of hockey.
Thing to say: Bieksa should superman punch the puck into the net.
Never say: I don't think Bieksa pinches enough.
Name: Alexander Edler
About: Edler wears no. 23 and has the potential to be one of the Canucks best defensemen (see the theme here? The Canucks blueline is a bit of a question mark, Edler the chief enigma). Normally, he's known as the Iceman because he's so mild-mannered, but, in the first-round of the playoffs, he was amazing, and he made a ton of good hits. Like this one. Or this one.
If he touches the puck, hope he shoots it. Edler has the hardest shot on the team.
Thing to say: Edler's gonna be the next Lidstrom.
Never say: He's big. How come he doesn't play big?
Name: Christian Ehrhoff
About: Ehrhoff wears no. 5 and was acquired in the offseason from San Jose in the most lopsided trade in history. Ehrhoff creates a lot of offense from the blueline and can quarterback a powerplay. He is beloved and was voted as the team's best defenseman this season.
If he touches the puck, good things are likely to happen.
Thing to say: Finally, a defenseman who can join the rush!
Never say: He's good, but I wasn't quite ready to give up on Patrick White.
Name: Shane O'Brien
About: O'Brien wears no. 55 and has been playing for the Canucks for two years, although sometimes I wonder if he was actually meant to play football. Like Plaxico Burress, he likes to party, and he's always packing heat. When O'Brien's on his game, he's reliable, defensively sound, and smarter with the puck then we give him credit for. But he also tends to get on the coach's bad side for funny stuff.
If he touches the puck, do not encourage him to shoot it. He's not good at that.
Thing to say: Here comes the gun show!
Never say: This guy's a clown.
Name: Sami Salo
About: Salo wears no. 6 for the Canucks and has been playing for them a long time. He is known for his remarkable injury history. He's never healthy; just between injuries. Skeeter thinks it's a cover. Salo has a hard, lethal shot and just might be the Canucks' best defenseman. If he gets hurt, expect everyone around you to take suicide pills, because we need him. Salo is blonde, balding, and pale. He looks like a ghost. He is not a ghost, however. Do not fear him.
If he touches the puck, hopefully he is shooting it.
Thing to say: Hurt again??!!
Never say: This guy is invincible!
::::::::::::::: GOALIES :::::::::::::::Name: Roberto Luongo
About: Luongo wears no. 1 because he is the best. He's also the captain of the team, which is technically against the rules, so he has a C painted on his mask instead of wearing it on his jersey. Luongo was the goalie for Team Canada when they won that gold medal. He's really, really good, but people question him because sometimes he gets scored on. He is the Canucks Messiah, and the longer the Canucks are in the playoffs, the more he'll look like Jesus.
If he touches the puck, he just made a save. That's called a save. If he touches the puck with the knob of his stick, however, it's in the back of the net.
Thing to say: Louuuuuuu!
Never say: I don't see how he's an upgrade on Cloutier.
Name: Andrew Raycroft
About: Raycroft wears no. 30, and is the back-up goalie. He won't play a game in these playoffs unless Luongo is injured or having a really bad game. He once won the Calder trophy for rookie of the year, but he's been garbage ever since. He got run out of Toronto, which is normal for players. He's played much, much better since leaving, which is also normal for players.
If he touches the puck, play is dead, because the puck's on the bench.
Thing to say: I have a lot of faith in our backup.
Never say: How come they never play Raycroft?