Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
This post is in response to Qris's post. I was originally going to leave it as a comment, but then I kept having things to say. My brain is on fire. This is a rant:
What frustrates me is that this whole debate is because we haven't been able to beat the Blackhawks these last two seasons. I'm frustrated that we haven't been able to beat the Blackhawks, too, and I'm especially frustrated because anybody with half a brain will recognize that the Canucks were not better than the Blackhawks the last two seasons. Yes, they lost to a better team. Two years in a row. That will likely continue to happen if the Blackhawks continue to be better than us. That should be the story because that's the only fact that matters. But, if you refuse to face the facts, there's a lot of moronic stories about why it is that this team can't get past the second round. One of the worst is that it's not the talent assembled; it's leadership.
Remember the European captain debate? Remember how hard the press beat that horse before Lidstrom won the award? Well gosh darn it, it turns out a European captain can win the Stanley Cup! Of course, it never had anything to do with whether or not the captain was European. It was a stupid, bizarrely racist angle, and a non-story.
The media loves these bogus captaincy stories. Hell, the media loves these status quo non-stories. They love to question anomalies, as though there's a set formula for winning championships (why don't the Canucks just adhere to that?) outside of being the best. My theory: there are some stupid people in the media, and until somebody does something in a way that's never been done, their most oft-repeated line is that it can't be done that way. Again, this is because they are stupid.
Leadership, too, is such an intangible quality. I know a few people who have a Master's in Leadership. It seems to me like this degree might be like having a Master's in Acting. Does it make them better at it? No, natural ability and actual practice does. Does it make them think they're better at it? Frustratingly, yes. Everybody wants to believe there's a formula for this, but, in truth, the formula they're sold on is usually just copying what's worked in the past.
One problem is that we're so influenced by sports movies. We've all seen that kid quote the monologue from "Miracle", inspired as he is. It's an inspirational piece. But come on, is that really why the USA won the gold medal in 1980? It seems that's what the media would have us believe. It's like the players playing the game are secondary to the guy who stands on a soapbox and delivers the pregame speech.
I am so very tired about the captaincy debate. It’s the argument that just won’t die. There’s no end to the people reanimating this horse just to beat it to death again.
But this argument isn’t like the other arguments that won’t die, like abortion, gay marriage, free speech, the Bible or gun control. In this argument, one side is completely oblivious to a fundamental truth that makes most of the discussion seem moot, short-sighted or intellectually dishonest.
Actually, in that vein, it’s EXACTLY like those other things.
So, let’s say tomorrow, August 30, 2010, Luongo is stripped of the captaincy. The C is then given to, for the sake of the argument, Henrik Sedin. Let’s discuss what happens after.
First of all, let’s look at the immediate inane questions asked by the media to Luongo:
“Did you want to keep the C?”
“So are you unsatisfied with the decision by management?”
“Do you think this will give you more time to focus on stopping the puck?”
”Will this affect your role as a leader on the team?”
“Do you believe Henrik will do a good job as a Captain?”
“Do you believe this represented a stance by management on your performance in the playoffs the last two seasons?”
And probably by someone, the dumbest question of all – “Are there any hard feelings between you and management or Henrik?”
Of course, then the season starts. For the first few weeks, it’ll be, “How is Henrik’s captaincy working out?” That will be bad enough. What about the first losing streak, though? General questions by the media and fans:
“Do you feel Henrik’s speaking out enough as Captain?”
“Has the loss of the C negatively affected Luongo’s performance?”
“Was Luongo a better Captain than Henrik?”
“Does Lungo worry that his captaincy is being compared to Henrik’s?”
But then, it was a well-documented fact for the first two seasons that Luongo was here that he was a voice in the dressing room on occasion. He’d speak up when he felt he had to. What happens when he does so after losing the captaincy to Henrik?
“Is Luongo still trying to be Captain?”
”Is Luongo undermining Henrik as Captain?”
“Does Luongo not think Henrik is speaking up enough?”
“Luongo resentful of new Captain?”
It’s just a matter of time before the media starts pretending there’s an internal struggle between new Captain and old.
But no, you say! No, the Vancouver sports media are well known for their responsibility and for their refusal to give in to scurrilous rumors, they’re steadfast guardians of truth who would never go for the sexy scandal yeah you feel stupid even finishing the sentence don’t you?
Don’t believe the Vancouver media would stir up such a ridiculous story? Look into the stories they ran when Naslund and Linden were still teammates from 2006-2008. As soon as Naslund’s scoring went down, the real serious criticism about his captaincy began, and with it, there was supposed friction between Naslund and Linden. Of course, these rumors never amounted to anything but a distraction.
This time, you’d have one player actually stripped of the C, where it’s given to another player. This story is more than just a team with two Captains, it’s got intrigue! It’s so sexy, how can you NOT make it up?
But wait, you say! This is only a one-to-two-month story! No way this would come out in the playoffs, where it counts!
Of course it will. As soon as the Canucks make it to the third round, it’ll be all about how Luongo couldn’t lead the Canucks this far, but Henrik did. Even if Luongo is lights out in the playoffs, it’ll only prove to some people that taking the C away was a good thing, and how easy can it be to concentrate when the better you do, the more justified people feel about talking smack?
But wait, you say! Why should the potential mumblings of some disingenuous news sources and idiot fans affect the decision, anyway?
Oh, I don’t know, maybe because that’s the whole basis of taking the C away from Luongo? No one with any real intelligence questions the man’s leadership, integrity, dedication or sheer will. The only reason people have suggested removing the C is because it “poses too much of a distraction” and makes him lose focus.
By that logic, discovering that removing the C would cause MORE of a ridiculous media storm and cause MORE of a distraction completely destroys the argument that we’re doing it for his mental acuity. And of course, the people who argue he doesn’t deserve the C by merit are just jerks.
But wait, you say! Luongo is a dedicated professional, and has the ability to shut all this out! Why are you acting like he won’t be able to handle the media himself, and we have to protect him from the mean things they might say about him?
There we have it. That, right there, is my point. When Luongo said he wasn’t talking to any of the media pregame anymore, the reaction by sportswriters was to throw a tantrum, because they would have less material. Of course, they lambasted him, and spun it like he was unable to handle the duties of Captain.
Really, what it meant, though, was that he’s more than capable of managing his own psyche. Right there, we were seeing an instance of him dealing with a situation, and he didn’t need any help from anyone else.
Can anyone see him do that, and seriously say, “Luongo wouldn’t admit if the captaincy was too much of a burden, and wouldn’t know how to handle the distractions?” Absolutely not.
Of course, if you disagree, and you think that the media ARE so much of a concern that their constant hounding him is negatively affecting his game, then what makes you think that losing the captaincy would mean he doesn’t have to talk to the media anymore? The media always found him before he was Captain, and they always will after. Removing the C will just make them ask more stupid questions, which, in your mind, will hurt his game.
When it comes down to it, no one can statistically or logically back up the claim that Luongo’s captaincy has negatively affected his game, and there certainly isn't any way to claim that losing the captaincy would improve his game. And when you understand that, it’s a short leap to say that the man works hard, is dedicated, and has earned the C. He certainly doesn’t deserve to lose it.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Rick Rypien is probably the odds-on favourite to do the job. We already know that the coach likes him, and his ability to throw a lot of punches really fast makes him, apparently, a valuable hockey player. Rypien is more of a rock 'em sock 'em robot than a scorer, but he has shown, on occasion, remarkable speed, tenacity on the forecheck, and surprisingly good hands. It's rare, but he tends to surprise with his skill. Those are the positives. The negatives are that, for a natural centerman, Ryp is a pretty underwhelming faceoff guy, and his defensive zone coverage is suspect. This means that if he loses a draw in his own end, the fans have cause for concern, because he might not get it out until the back of the net stops it from moving. He's also not the best passer in the world, probably because his knuckles are always bleeding, which makes the rush a bit of a headache. At 5'11", he's also a bit undersized. Still, he's an NHL veteran now, he's got experience, he's already a coach and fan favourite (unless his uselessness last offseason changed something) and if he's been working on his draws in the offseason he might be a nice surprise. Chances he makes the team? As a returning Canuck, fairly high. I don't think he'll be the center, though.
Alexandre Bolduc was an option last season, and he's likely ready to challenge for the fourth-line center job. At 6'1", he has the height advantage over Rypien, even if the Rypper outweights him by a good fifteen pounds. It's safe to say that he's not a bruiser, if not from his measurements than from this fiasco. Needless to say, Bolduc separated his shoulder in that scrum, and wound up missing a good chunk of the season. What's he good at? Well, he's apparently fairly defensively responsible, perhaps moreso than Rypien. He's been good for about thirty points a season with the Moose, so his hands aren't completely made of stone. The Canucks seem to like his reliability, and forechecking skill. However, he's not the best as physical play, although he tries hard (we call this the Tanner Glass conundrum), and this doesn't seem in keeping with Alain Vigneault's vision for the fourth line. Still, he's been the first call-up these past few seasons, so you have to think he's got a chance to start the season with the team. They're comfortable with him. Chances he makes the team: he's got an outside shot.
Mario Bliznak has been the shutdown center for the Moose for two seasons prior to performing the same job for the Vancouver Giants for three. He's never been much of a scorer, but he has an uncanny defensive ability, and a remarkable knack for increasing his offensive totals every season that he's with an organization. It's a great way to go about things, as Bliznak makes teams as a fourth-line guy, becomes the best guy on that line, and then graduates to the next level of competition. Against all odds, he's now on the bubble to make the NHL. If he were taller than 6'0", he'd probably be there already, but he makes the most of his size, checks hard, forechecks harder, and can be counted on for faceoffs and tough defensive assignments. He skates well, and has good speed. Isn't that what you want out of a fourth-line center? Unless Rypien makes the team on the wing, he and Bolduc are likely fighting for first call-up. Then, the question is what you want. Bolduc might be able to contribute more on the scoresheet, but Bliznak will likely be better at defending. Considering what a liability last season's fourth-line was, I think the coaching staff wants a fourth-line they can trust with some minutes. Still, it's hard to get noticed in training camp when you don't show anything offensively, so we'll have to see what happens. Chances he makes the team: the same as Bolduc.
Joel Perrault has all the qualities necessary to make this team. He's got size, at 6'2" and 212 lbs. In fact, he's been pencil-thin for most of his past few stints in the NHL, but word is he's filled out. He's got offensive ability as a point-a-game player for the AHL's San Antonio Rampage the past two seasons, and he's got NHL experience, having played 69 games for the Phoenix Coyotes. The problem? It took him five seasons to reach those numbers. He's really more of a scorer, and he simply hasn't been a consistent enough offensive threat at this level to stay in the NHL. His new plan? Remake himself as a defensive forward with some upside. If it works, it will really benefit the Canucks. Perrault's got an uphill battle to convince the coaches he can be as defensively responsible or as tough as shutdown guys like Bolduc, Bliznak, Schneider, but if he can show he's developed that side of his game (he's got the size!), he's got better hands than those guys and that's working in his favor. I think he'll do it. Chances he makes the team: fairly high.
Stefan Schneider could be a surprise. People seem to have forgotten we signed him last March, or perhaps they've confused him with the other Schneiders that have worn the Orca over the past few seasons. He's different. Also, his positives are plain to see: he's 6'4", 200 lbs, and still filling out. While he isn't known for his scoring ability, he is known for his defense. He was the top defensive forward on last year's Portland Winterhawks team after they converted him from defense and used him as a shutdown center. He has nice skating ability, good strength, and is a versatile player that can be slotted in anywhere. At 20, he's still growing physically, but his maturity is through the roof. He's won the Bill Anderson award two years in a row for his character and leadership. He's young, and he's coming right out of junior, though. Chances he makes the team: it's possible, though I doubt it.
Cody Hodgson might not be your prototypical fourth-line center, but let's immediately skip past this stupidity that putting him on the fourth-line will ruin him. He's known as a defensively responsible centerman, so what's the harm in putting him in a position that requires that? We already know he has great hands, we know he's got great defensive awareness and vision. All he wants is to make the Canucks, and he could very well do it as the fourth-line center. If he excels, bump him up the depth chart. Considering that nobody else is a lock to get this spot, Hodgson has just as good a shot as any. Naysayers will tell you that this would ruin his development. I'm sorry, but that's just foolish. Playing every night in the NHL, even on the fourth-line, can't hurt you. Expected to be a star player when you're not ready can, and expectations won't be too high if Hodgson's getting seven or eight minutes a night to start. Alex Burrows went from the fourth to the first line. In a better comparable, Ryan Kesler went from the fourth to the first. If Hodgson can contribute here, he'll be placed here, and I think he can. If he shows he's better than fourth-line center, bump him up a line and move Malhotra over. Isn't that what everybody wants? Chances he makes the team: if his skating has improved, fairly high. Chances he starts on the fourth-line? Higher than you think.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
But now that he’s a Canuck, the fact that he hits hard, sets up camp in front of goalies, and agitates makes me want to like him. This is a hard thing to admit, because he spent several seasons as an Oiler, and I don’t like the Oilers. Fortunately, he spent the intervening time with the Blue Jackets and Sabres, two teams I don’t care about in the slightest, so that gives me some nice distance with which I can attempt to be objective. Still, the fact that he got signed on the same day that Willie Mitchell got signed by the Kings makes it feel like we lost Mitchell for Torres, like some sort of trade. Let’s face it, I love Willie Mitchell and hate Raffi Torres and it’s going to take some time to get over that. That said, let’s look at what Raffi Torres actually brings to the ice.
I have to admit that I haven’t seen Torres play enough to make any sort of judgment call on his abilities; instead, I have to go to the numbers. The first one that jumps out is the fact that he went from a $2.25 million cap hit last season to a $1 million contract this season. That’s a pretty significant drop, but it needs to be kept in mind that he was coming off two full 82 game seasons for the Oilers, in which he scored 41 and 34 points respectively when he signed that contract. The Oilers were hoping he could return to the 27 goals he scored in 2005-06. Instead, he suffered a major injury, missed most of the season, and was traded to
With the Blue Jackets, he returned to form, scoring 20 points in 51 games in another injury-shortened season. He followed that up with 19 goals and 31 points in 60 games last season with
That about covers his offensive contributions: he’s scored at 0.42 points per game over his career, pretty consistently from season to season. While he may not be consistent game-to-game (he’s been slammed for being a streaky player everywhere he’s played it seems), that kind of tertiary scoring seems to be exactly what the Canucks need. As long as his shooting percentage doesn’t dive-bomb like it did from 2006-2008, he should be able to score close to 20 goals again. But what about the intangibles, such as physicality, defensive responsibility, douchiness, and special teams?
Click to Embiggen. Stats from NHL.com and BehindtheNet.ca.
When it comes to physical play, Torres is known for his grit, ability on the forecheck, and occasional massive hits of questionable cleanliness. He’s averaged 1.36 hits per game over the past 5 seasons, which is more than Burrows and Kesler managed last year, but well under Bernier, Hordichuk, and Glass. Glass, in particular, averaged 2.46 hits per game, a far cry from the league leaders, but still respectable (also notice Andrew Alberts at #13 on that list, 5th amongst defencemen; I wouldn’t write him off to make the Canucks lineup, especially with Mitchell gone). In any case, Torres does bring a physical edge to his game, but one that occasionally crosses the line. That said, only 34 PIM last season? That’s pretty good; while it makes me question his agitating abilities (surely he’d get more coincidental minors), it also makes me question the assertions that he takes stupid penalties.
Is he defensively responsible? Not especially. He’s definitely not a penalty killer, with a total of 14:41 of shorthanded time over the last five seasons (yes, total). His traditional +/- was -11 last season and -22 over the last five seasons. Last season, his +/- per 60 minutes was -0.51 goals per 60 minutes, which isn’t good at all; while he was on the bench, his team’s +/- per 60 minutes improved to -0.34 goals per 60 minutes. Simply put, his team gave up more goals than it scored when he was on the ice as compared to when he was on the bench. He started in the offensive zone 3rd most often among
This makes me exceedingly nervous to see him line up on the third line alongside Manny Malhotra in a checking role, even though I would expect the Kesler/Raymond line to face the highest quality of competition among Canucks forwards once again. In all honesty, I’d be more comfortable with Torres as a fourth-line banger and crasher with some spot powerplay duty, where he’s experienced some success. He’s seen a regular powerplay shift over the last five seasons and scored 7 powerplay goals last season. If necessary, in case of injuries, he could slot into the second line. Essentially, he would take over the exact role Steve Bernier had last season at half the price.
In fact, Steve Bernier is near-perfect as a comparable player to Torres. Like Bernier, Torres was a first round pick who never panned out as a top-line forward. Bernier has averaged 0.45 points per game, quite similar to the 0.42 points per game of Torres. They both have a similar goals per game average as well, 0.22 for Bernier, 0.23 for Torres. Prior to joining the Canucks, Bernier was also traded to the Sabres. Okay, this is starting to get weird.
The two are about the same weight, though Bernier has two inches on Torres. And, like Torres, Bernier has had his own injury troubles, missing a large part of last season with a groin injury. However, there are some differences: Bernier hits far more than Torres, with 608 hits over his last five seasons in the NHL compared to 438 in the same time period for Torres. Torres is 4 years older and significantly less French than Bernier. The other big difference: Bernier is making $2 million this season. Again, Torres is half the price of Bernier for similar value.
So, with thoughts of Bernier and his various disappointments in a Canuck uniform in my head, I’m not ready to like Raffi Torres just yet. I like the signing – it’s only for one year and it’s only for $1 million – but I’m not sure I like the player.
Dan Murphy is tweeting that the Kings have finally gotten Willie Mitchell to crack, and signed him to a multi-year deal. Canucks fans--just this morning ecstatic over the Torres signing--are throwing themselves off of bridges.
Don't panic, Canucks fans. As much as the Canucks would have loved to have Willie Mitchell back, the plan was never to keep him. That ship sailed when they didn't re-negotiate with him last season. Mitchell is an excellent defensive defenseman, but the Canucks wanted somebody who could do that job while still facilitating the breakout pass. See, nobody was better at poking the puck away and clearing the zone than Willie Mitchell, but the Canucks wanted somebody who could take the puck away from the other team and then, you know, have the puck. Mitchell wasn't that guy, and playing him on the top pairing meant that he played too large a role in the breakout for his offensive skillset, and too often at that.
This is why the Canucks paid top dollar for Dan Hamhuis. Defensive skills? Check. Breakout pass. Check. See, Hamhuis is a better defenseman. The thing Mitchell does well, Hamhuis does well enough. Everything else, Hammy does better. Keep your heads, Canuck nation. We're still good.
Mitchell will do well in Los Angeles and I wish him nothing but the best, but don't think our season's going to tank. He wasn't in the plans at the end of last season, so clearly Gillis thought we could win without him. Even with the Salo injury, which seemed to make Mitchell a bigger Vancouver commodity to fans and pundits, I don't think Mitchell was anything more than a luxurious afterthought for Gillis. Nice to have for the right price, but more a want than a need. So off he goes.
People are going to bash him for taking the contract over his supposed loyalties, but that's bogus. Not to sound like Chris Bosh, but the athlete needs to think of himself before he handicaps his career dabbling in loyalties. If the two ideals sync up, wonderful. If they don't, well, that's business, kids.
Don't underestimate the value of term. If you were offered two identical jobs, but one was guaranteed to last a year longer, which would you take? Take off your fan glasses and put on your family glasses. You want to be able to count on your salary for more than a year. You're job-hunting now. It sucks. Do you want to be job-hunting again in a year? No. Nobody does. What if you get hurt during that year and you're not guaranteed a job for the next year? You're hooped.
It's why Niemi had to cash in as a Stanley Cup winning goalie, he had to file for arbitration when Chicago refused to pay him, even when it meant he'd likely have to leave Chicago. You have to get what you can while you can get it, and you have to protect your value. When your value is high, you take advantage. For Niemi--and it's a shame he hasn't found a home yet, he got screwed--he made the right choice for his career. Protect value. You can't sacrifice career longevity for loyalty or anything else, including, in his case, knowing his team couldn't afford him, unfortunately. You work for yourself, for your family.
Mitchell got lucky. After a nearly career-ending concussion, his value remained intact. It increased through the summer, as he rehabbed into playing shape. Smartly, knowing his value could plummet with another concussion, he took a multi-year contract.
Willie made the right choice for his future.
Godspeed, Bill Pickle.
How am I feeling this morning? Tired, because that argument got way out of hand and the prospect of going to bed drifted further and further into the night. But also? Pretty happy about this signing.
Let's talk about Raffi, and let's agree right here and right now that Raffi the children's singer is too obvious a connection to make. We at Pass it to Bulis strive for a higher level of pop culture referencing, which is why, off the top of my head, I'm more inclinced to bring up Hakob Malik Hakobian, the Armenian author whose pen name is Raffi, and whose seminal work, The Fool, is an inspiration to patriotic freedom fighters from Tavush to Syunik. Or to reference the ironically named Raffi Armenian, who is not the Armenian Raffi I just referenced, but rather a French-Canadian conductor-composer and member of the order of Canada with no connection to his aforementioned namesake.
Okay, who am I kidding? As far as anybody's concerned, there's only one Raffi, and I guess, if I'm being honest, you can't fight the pop sensibility of If I Were a Gorilla.
Now let's talk about the hockey player. Raffi Torres is only six feet tall, but I've learned over the last two seasons to look less at height and more at weight. Keep in mind that Ryan Kesler and Alex Ovechkin are the same height. It's just that Kes is 195 lbs and Ovie is 220. Or consider that Mason Raymond and Raffi Torres are the same height, but Raymond is 180 lbs. and Torres, like Ovechkin, is 220. Don't get your hopes up, Canucks fans, as that's the only connection between the hockey of Raffi and the hockey of Ovechkin, but what you should be optimistic about is that Torres adds some girth to the forward corps. Torres is an energetic winger who likes to crash and bang and be a pest. He's tough to move from out in front of the net. And he's skilled. He's averaged about twenty goals a season for his career.
In fact, the only reason that Raffi Torres is coming to us for the meager cost (in NHL money) of 1 million is because of his post-deadline suckitude with the Buffalo Sabres. In sixty games with Columbus, Torres got 19 goals. That's very good. But, in 14 post-deadline games with Buffalo, he was unable to bump that number to an even twenty. That's very bad. But, if anything, it's an argument for trade deadline acquisitions needing more time to gel with their team, or perhaps that not every acquisition is a perfect fit. Torres simply didn't fit in Buffalo. He had a bad stretch, which he tends to have every now and then, but while he's known as a streaky scorer, his career stats indicate a noticeable level of consistency. He deserved better than this cheap, short contract, but his misfortune is our gain.
On top of this, Torres is built for the Western Conference, and perhaps more specifically the Northwest division. Canucks fans might remember him as Public Ginger Enemy #1, that redheaded Oilers forward who lit us up on a number of occasions. He never played better than at the Canucks, scoring timely/untimely goals and doing his trademark goal celebration (he pumps his fist, and shouts "F**kin' rights!"). Torres was so predictable against Vancouver that even my wife grew to hate him, his stupid red hair, his big hits, and that insufferable fist pump. It's hard to like him: he looks like such a douche.
What's bad about this signing? Not much. If we had gotten Torres for 2 million, there was a possibility that he could underwhelm and wind up overpaid and on the fourth line. (We call this the Steve Bernier conundrum). His time in Buffalo is definitely a little concerning, but if he's not scoring goals, he can still be a serviceable bottom-liner; he's better than Tanner Glass. Reports are conflicting about Torres's personality, too. I've heard that he's great in the room, but I've also observed that he's kind of a douche (he looks like such a douche), so that's a wash. Gillis tends to get good room guys, mind you. He's probably quite a jovial fellow. In truth, there isn't much downside anybody can find to this, other than that he isn't a better player (the gist of Canucks.com forum naysayers' arguments), but that's like being given an HBC gift card and complaining you can't use it at Sears. Suck it up, whiner--you'll get what you need out of it.
Torres will be a good player for Vancouver. He adds grit and veteran presence, playoff experience (he went to a final, remember?) and most importantly, top-nineness to a team that needed more of that. I have to think this spells the end of Bieksa's time in Vancouver, but, come on, we all knew that was coming anyway, Raffi or not. He'll be good with Manny Malhotra, and the overall size of the two of them makes it likely okay if a smaller guy is plugged in on that wing (or at center). With Burrows out to start the reason, we'll probably see two young kids filling out the top nine, which might not be ideal, but consider now that, in every case they'll likely be skating with two vets (The Sedins, Raymond & Kes, ManRaf). That's good for everybody.
From my extremely biased perspective, this is a good deal. In fact, Torres is a better player than Asham, who I've been skeptical about since he impressed as an energy guy with Philadelphia last year. Maybe I'm missing something, but I see low-risk, and potentially, high-reward. Nothing but good, except that I have to look at him, and he looks like... well, you get the idea... such a douche.
Skeeter? Qris? Anybody? Anything to add?
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Here is another incredible Canucks fan video that should get you pumped for the upcoming season. This one is by Canucks fan "SilvinFin", a regular Canucks.com Fan Zone contributor. As ytou can see, he is quite talented. Here is what he has to say about the video I hope you're currently watching:
With the arrival of the Canucks' 40th anniversary, it seems almost inevitable to be excited about the upcoming season. So many changes have occurred this off-season, including the acquisition of several new players, as well as the development of our prospects. Looking forward, it appears this team is set to dazzle with an array of spectacular hockey. This team now comprises of spectacular goaltending, talented forwards, and one of the best defense cores in the National Hockey League, and the anticipation is everywhere. The city has always embodied the spirit of this team, and now, with such heritage to reflect on, both in this city and with this franchise, it seems the best is only a motion away. Enjoy.
I could have used less Coldplay, I guess, but it's hard to quibble with a video of this quality. All right August, you have been the current month for long enough. Now is as good a time as any to give way to September, a month I greatly prefer.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Sweatt was originally drafted 38th overall in the 2007 entry draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. From there, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the deal that also saw Kris Versteeg heading to the center of the universe. The Maple Leafs were, for whatever reason, unable to get Sweatt under contract, and he became a free agent on August 16. Three days later, he signed with the Vancouver Canucks.
This is awesome for a number of reasons. First, it's a free prospect, and a prospect with NHL potential. According to Hockey's Future:
Sweatt has unbelievable speed, but what sets him apart is his ability to make plays at high speeds. He also has great acceleration. Sweatt possesses great hands and is smart in his decisions with the puck. Rarely can he be found turning the puck over. Sweatt's superb defensive play and awareness is one area that has progressed quite nicely this season, and has made him an effective penalty killer. Sweatt also possesses excellent on-ice vision and has a keen sense of being able to find open spaces and knowing where the play is going to end up. While Sweatt has all of the necessary tools for future success, adding size and strength to his 6'0" frame will be essential to his pursuit of achieving that success.
Colorado College head coach Scott Owens' comments on Sweatt: "We've been very impressed with Billy's overall performance. His overall speed and ability to open things up were such that they were obvious from day one. Sometimes Billy goes so fast that it's hard for guys to stay up with him. He has a very good team game concept and we feel confident with him in all areas. He's been really good for us."
The site also states that Sweatt has all the necessary tools to make the NHL. This, ladies and gentleman, is an excellent depth signing, and Sweatt has the ability to be a bottom-sixer as early as this season. Consider Jannik Hansen and Jeff Tambellini on notice. Competition will be fierce and Sweatt will be in tough to make the teams. Word is that he wanted to leave Toronto so he'd get a better chance to play in the NHL this season, but that seems dodgy. Don't the Canucks have a little more forward depth than Toronto? Yes, but consider that, in Toronto, Sweatt would be competing against every other forward on the roster for a role in the bottom six. Zing.
There is a second reason this is an awesome signing: Sweatt is a prospect that cost us no assets to acquire--a free prospect, stolen out from under the nose of Brian Burke. Now, I'm sure we'll get a nifty little spin job about how Sweatt was a problem prospect with a high opinion of himself (just like R.J. Umberger, right?). But, in truth, Burke's second major prospect-based snafu (apart from the whole Seguin-is-a-Bruin thing) has to indicate why Burke refuses to build through prospects: he doesn't know how to handle them. His loss is our gain. What is it they say? Revenge is a dish with specific properties that make it, therefore, best enjoyed at a chilled temperature. I think it's safe to say that Gillis has Burke's number. Sadly, Bill Sweatt's agent doesn't appear to.
Will the Sweatts ever play together for the Canucks? Maybe, maybe not. Lee is a diminutive defenseman who's got a much tougher road than his 6', 180 lb. forward brother. But it's safe to assume they might both wear the Moose together. And that would be pretty neat. I know I always loved it when my Mom dressed us alike.
Update: other sources are linking to an open letter from a Maple Leafs fan to Bill Sweatt. I was a little more taken with this letter, from canucks.com forum member JustJokinen!:
Dear Toronto Maple Leafs,
Yes, that about sums up how I feel about this news.
“Obviously, Europe has been after me for a long time and I haven't wanted to go there yet.”
Monday, August 16, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
It's a good thing the Sedins are married, cause it seems they can't get any love.
Of course, they get love from their family, their team, and fans of their team, but talk to anyone who isn't an out and out Canuck fan and you'll get a very different picture of the dudes. Their reputation around the league? Two words: Sedin Sisters.
Even more recently, when they finished second and third in the league in points per game, they still get less respect than a Rodney Dangerfield impersonator. Henrik Sedin won the Art Ross and yet was an afterthought for Hart consideration for many hockey writers. He said himself that he was honored just to be standing on stage with Crosby and Ovechkin. Both Sedins are projected for less than 100 points next season in most fantasy guides, and the general consensus seems to be that last season was a fluke. Why can't the Sedins get any love?
For the same reason that reliable, intelligent, bespectacled accountants can't get any love -- they just aren't sexy.
Sidney Crosby is sexy in a Harrison Ford sort of way. Obviously he doesn't have the same chiseled-grit features that Ford has -- Angelina Jolie has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get lips like Crosby's. But Crosby seems to model his game off of Harrison Ford's characters. He's reckless, perfectly willing to rush alone into a group of defenders, and yet somehow, it pays off. Like Ford, he has a distinct whine that comes out when he feels threatened. Like Ford, he gets defensive when others threaten to be better than him. And like Ford, he looks ridiculous with facial hair.
Alex Ovechkin is a lot like Kanye West. Obviously, I'm not referring to his beautiful singing voice, but Ovechkin's celebrity has followed much the same path as Kanye's. While originally all we noticed about him was his talent, as soon as he found the spotlight he found ways to make it clear he was a star, but not a role model. Ovechkin plays physically, but also dangerously. During any game, he could score a goal, cause an injury, and earn a suspension -- soon to be called the Alex Ovechkin hat trick. And of course, we can't forget his celebrations. It's almost as if he wants to say, "I'm going to let you finish, but I'm the greatest player of all time."
Compared to that, what do the Sedins have? They aren't explosive. They aren't attention-hungry. They aren't arrogant. When it comes down to it, they're just not sexy. Crosby and Ovechkin are exciting, crazy and reckless. The Sedins are just consistent. You know when they're on the ice, they'll be defensively responsible, patient with the puck, and will find strategic opportunities to get a player a decent scoring chance. There isn't a coach in the NHL who wouldn't love them, but writers and fans are into more flash and dazzle than the Sedins can provide.
Even if the Sedins tie for the league lead in scoring, split the Hart and Pearson and hoist the Cup, they're still the mild-mannered reliable best friend, offering a crying shoulder to the girls dating the jealous, defensive egomaniac (Crosby) and the unpredictable playboy with a rap sheet (Ovechkin). The media likes them, sure, but more like a brother. The magic just isn't there.
So what does a team like the Canucks, faced with ridiculously reliable, safe and unsexy superstars, do to fill the void?
Hire ice girls. Other than that, I'm out of ideas.