And, because it's the off-season and I care way too much about the Canucks, I took the time to watch the summit live on Canucks.com. Let's face it, I'm starved for Canucks news and I hope that you are too. Otherwise, no one would bother reading this post.
A couple of the announcements were expected and anticipated, such as the reveal of the 40th Anniversary sweater and the introduction of a couple of the new arrivals to the Canucks for the 2010-11 season. Others were more surprising. Here's a quick recap of the event and some thoughts on the announcements.
The Big Announcements
- The biggest announcement, of course, is the retirement of Markus Naslund's #19 on December 11th of the upcoming season. While I'm sure this will spark many debates among Canucks fans as to whether the honour is deserved, personally, I'm thrilled. Naslund revived the franchise when he arrived from Pittsburgh, becoming one of the most important Canucks of all time. He's the all-time franchise leader in goals and points, and was the key component of one of the most exciting scoring lines Vancouver has ever seen in the West Coast Express. But equally important, he played a big role in the community, along with his wife Lotta. They gave freely of their time and energy, much of it to Canucks Place and BC Children's Hospital. Markus is a special player who is very deserving of having his number retired along Smyl and Linden.
- Like many other NHL teams, the Canucks will be establishing a Ring of Honour for those players who may not be ideal candidates for a sweater retirement but still contributed to the history of the Canucks organization. The first to be honoured on October 26th will be Orland Kurtenbach, the Canucks first captain and former head coach. This is a great move by the organization, as there are many players that could be honoured. Orland is a great choice to be the first inductee. Three other players will be inducted this year. Possibilities could be Richard Brodeur, Kirk McLean, Thomas Gradin, Pavel Bure, and Wayne Maki. The one player that the Ring of Honour should take out a restraining order on to ensure that he has no contact with it, whether in person or by phone: Mark Messier.
- As expected, the Canucks introduced a special 40th Anniversary sweater, which will be worn on opening night and four additional nights. The sweater is a match for the original they wore for their first seasons in the NHL from 1970-78 with the addition of the 40th Anniversary patch that had already been scouted out. I'm guessing the other four nights this jersey is worn will be the nights they induct the four members of the Ring of Honour, but that's just speculation on my part.
Smaller Announcements and Answers to Questions
- The team formally introduced Manny Malhotra and Dan Hamhuis as members of the Canucks. It's a good thing they showed up, as John Shorthouse was looking dangerously under-dressed in his polo shirt amongst all the suits. Fortunately, Manny and Hammy were appropriately casual. Hamhuis slipped in a jab at Nashville, noting that the attendance at the Summer Summit was awfully similar to the attendance at a Predators home game in November. Shortly after, while drawing a ticket for a prize, a fan jokingly booed when he announced it was a red rather than green ticket. Shorty jumped in, "Your first boo! No, no, it was Hamhuuuuuis."
- Shorthouse used the opportunity of the announcement of Naslund's jersey retirement to ask about the possibility of Pavel Bure receiving the same treatment in the future. Gillis clearly was not expecting the question and gave a classic GM's non-answer. To be fair, Bure could be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and would be the first player who played the majority of his career in Vancouver to receive that honour. I don't see it happening; it's more likely he'll find a place in the Ring of Honour.
- Then came the questions from the season ticket holders, the majority aimed at Mike Gillis. The first was about Russians and the KHL: no Russians other than Shirokov will be competing for a spot on the Canucks and it appears that Kirill Koltsov won't be coming over from the KHL any time soon. Gillis went as far to say that the risks with Russian players and the KHL mean that he'll be likely to pick more Western Canadian kids than Russian kids in the future.
- Best line of the evening easily goes to Gillis. A fan asked "Why don't we have a cool intro like the Flames or Oilers?" Gillis's response: "I'd rather have a hockey team." Killer line.
- Gillis was actually quite funny all night, with a number of great one-liners. He really seemed to enjoy himself.
- Alex Burrows, according to Gillis, is ahead of schedule after his shoulder surgery and may be back in time for the beginning of the season. His agent had previously suggested Burrows might not be back until October or November, so hopefully Gillis is right.
- Who will wear #2 next season, Ballard or Hamhuis? Hammy suggested that in these types of cases, it usually comes down to the number of games played. Convenient.
- Unfortunately, our favourite weirdo, Kyle Wellwood, is on his way out. Gillis wished him the best and hopes that he finds a place to play through free agency.
- And finally, Gillis confirmed once again that Cory Schneider will be the backup in Vancouver, but also expressed the desire to sign a "veteran, young goaltender" to be their third-stringer/starter for the Moose. It's kind of difficult to get someone who's both veteran and young. Yann Danis might work; he's been a respectable backup at the NHL level. He's 29, but he could be a decent pickup. Barry Brust is younger, but has less NHL experience. Thankfully, I'm not the GM of the Canucks.