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Why I’m Joining The Atheltic Kelowna

I kept reading all of the announcements wondering when I’d receive an invite to the prestigious Athletic and then it happened: I stopped waiting. With zero journalism degrees to my name, no official representation in the real world and being turned down a number of times for a local WHL franchise media pass, I took matters into my own hands and did what many could only dream of…

I created the Athletic Kelowna (which is in no way shape or form related to The Athletic).

As you probably can tell, I spelled the headline wrong and because I am a parent of two young children I don’t have any time for your criticism on a simple spelling error. Maybe that’s why the REAL Athletic wasn’t looking for local representation outside of credentialled writers. It makes sense.

Growing up in the Okanagan, I used to read the Daily Courier (local paper), The Province and even the Vancouver Sun on the weekend. I tracked box scores, signed up for hockey pools and clipped out the Family Circus in the funnies (Love that Jeffy and Billy). Those were simpler times. When the Internet was introduced those papers were still around but the years went on and the online offering for news grew more and more.

The introduction of Facebook and eventually Twitter gave so many ACTUAL writers a wider reach to readers like myself and instant access to archives that only the public library would have. I don’t even have a library card. Come to think of it, I’ve only really ever parked there. I have some soul searching to do apparently.

OK, back to my decision. Lebron got one and I hold myself to at least 1/100th of his talent but as a blogger. No one is broadcasting this, it’s on me. Starting on my own and being invited to write for the prestigious Canucks Army has been a wild ride and what better way to step it up a notch than to join a fictional, parody pay to read subscription based website?

Coming up with a platform was tough. What would The Athletic Kelowna be about? Well, the real one is about real sports, real sports stories and the athletes they cover. This was going to be about how I hate bike lanes, how people don’t respect Nickelback and how blogging has evolved to the living room that only gets used for special occasions now that most moms rent out their basements now or even AirBnB. What a concept THAT is!

There was also a few other names I spitballed: The Dad Bod Kelowna (somewhat similar to athletic), The AK (too gun-like), The White Sunglasses Roidrage Review, and The Ogopolo. The last one confused me too much and I’m not much for croquet on a horse or horses for that matter in general.

Sports are my life and unfortunately, I couldn’t make this all work while I lived in the Lower Mainland as I’m sure things potentially could have gone differently. This new venture will elevate local blogger(s) to the secondary news level which is just below real news but not quite unpaid guest work for sites you can create on your lunch break.

But I’m in Kelowna again, putting my spin on the Kelowna Rockets, writing about the Canucks from just up the Coquihalla and enjoying raising my girls in Canada’s best playground: the Okanagan.

The Athletic Kelowna never really was created; I barely get 100 views per article when I DO write, the site would shut down in a week.

I will say that I am disappointed The Athletic doesn’t see me as the future of sports media but my demands are pretty high and I doubt they have a budget for Frappuccinos and Baconators.

For now, just read Always90four and Canucks Army.

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The 5 Types Of Players At Play On! Tournaments

I’ve played A LOT of road hockey in my day and I’ve seen so many different people that play and yet the same people keep showing up almost every single game. Add to this the tournament aspect, the need to stay in the game and…..rules; you have the setting but do you know the players? When you show up to Play On! Kelowna on June 18/19 @ Prospera Place, THIS is what you’ll see.

 

The Ringer

This guy is all kinds of awesome. He’s probably a washed up major junior player, the guy that killed it in school sports and everybody wants him on their team. He’s good, he’s really good. He’s usually the one putting the puck in the net and most teams that have him rely on him to carry them when quite frankly they just don’t have anything left….after the first half.

The Ringer passes if you ABSOLUTELY are open and he’s ready for a line change, he’s also the guy that somehow knows everyone from every tournament he’s ever played in. The Ringer is so good though that it really isn’t a big deal overall for him to play in this tournament and he most likely is out partying hard the night before. He’s just that good. I will never be the Ringer but I’ve known plenty of em. Instagram the ringer in your game and tag me. We’ll both laugh and that’s good enough for me.

 

The Temper

I probably don’t even need to type this one cuz you know him. The Temper is sometimes a hybrid of the Ringer but still he is his own man. He is an intense player, he’s aggressive in the corners and at some point there’s a confrontation. Temper usually has a pretty powerful shot and pushes the envelope on slap shots and going a bit further than just bump and run.

The Temper is potentially a big player on your team so when he goes off, you’re hooped. Thankfully, this person can be calmed down and usually learns his lesson. He won’t actually fight someone as he knows it’s still a game but no one would question the possibility of him totally annihilated the guy in his way. There’s always a guy that goats the temper…I hate that guy.

I know the temper and he’s a great guy but on the court/ice/road….he’ll own you in the moment.

 

The Lifelong fan/Clearly not all that great guy

I’m pretty much almost this guy. I love hockey, I mean I live it. The problem is as much as I love hockey, I can play but I am not that good. I’ll have my moments like anyone else but put me out there for 20 minute halves and I’m reaching for breaks after 10….like reaching. Thankfully with line changes I survive a lot longer.

This guy wants in 100% and wants to give it his all but he’s a 3rd line player on a 2.5 line team. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. He wants to win and he’ll hustle but there is no finish there and any goals that DO come his way are forgotten by pretty much everyone but him. He’s thrilled he gets the free tee and energy drinks and just loves to be part of the action.

He might write a blog.

 

The Boozer

Our friend here is the one who hits up the pub in between games and might have even played the first game of the tournament hung over. He’s usually a pretty good player but this isn’t the most important thing in his weekend. Somehow, the boozer still manages to out play the lifelong/clearly not that great guy and he still is going to hit up the pub before the 3rd game.

There is no drug testing or breathalyzers so the boozer is safe. The funny thing about him is that he can definitely be the goalie and he’ll play out of his freaking mind the whole tournament. What a messed up group of characters we have here.

 

The Striker aka What Is Defense?

No one likes to play defense, I’m sure of this. Maybe actual defenseman and really they don’t count here. The Striker is all goals baby! He leads the rush and gives it all on every play; the problem is he doesn’t come back to help. He doesn’t need to be the guy that starts the play because he knows everything flows through him anyways.

El Striko gets it done on the offense but odds are he is a heavy minus because the rest of the team is paying for his striking. His legs are always fresh and they always will be. Everyone wants him to come back and usually for about a goal or two he does, but that’s not where he belongs.

It’s not his style, it’s not home.

He’s the Striker!

Play On! Kelowna is coming fast and there’s time to register your team. If you know who these people are make sure to put it up on instagram and tag me @always90four and hashtag it with what guy he is.

Could be fun.

Instagram – @always90four

Twitter – @always90four

cover photo – usedcowichan.com 

Jake Virtanen Skates Into Canucks History, But Why? 

To no ones surprise, the retro 94? 95? night is coming to a Vancouver Canucks near you and I for one am slightly excited. The sole basis of this site is because that jersey and the things that occurred in it took the Canucks to the next level. The former ownership felt that look needed to go and introduced the lovely crapping whale you see before you.

Is this the test phase of what’s to come, even if only as an occasional third jersey which the Millionaires get up failed to accomplish (it was the lack of wins I think). What also intrigues me is why Jake Virtanen of all people is the face of this mini revolution. Intriguing indeed.

I’ve waited so long to see this retro skate look come back; if it had the skate logo I was interested in it. We’ve all talked about how one day the Canucks could bring it back, maybe as a third or even in its current form with the blue/green/white colors. I’ve seen some mock ups and they aren’t too shabby.

When we dabble into nostalgia we get the feels and remember the good times, our favorite players and the excitement it brought; but there’s a reason things move forward too! Black, red and yellow isn’t exactly a modern color scheme that screams dollar bills. Apparently maroon, silver and any incarnation of that mix still works though.

Thankfully the Canucks figured out it wasn’t a good look.

OK, so beyond the excitement of reliving some memories that we think were great, when in fact things almost fell apart, the merch that the Canucks will enjoy a hot market with, what else is there to look forward to?

For starters, the choice of Jake Virtanen to be the face of the new/retro look.

The Canucks have a pretty good crop of players to choose from to be their marketing pawn but why Jake Virtanen? He hasn’t been a standout this year, he hasn’t really been a whole lot of anything really. Don’t get me wrong, its not that he isn’t worthy of being that guy but why not Bo Horvat?

Bo has had a phenomenal turnaround and the sophomore slump we had labelled him with seems to have been very off. This isn’t a Bo Horvat piece though, we’re sticking to Jake Virtanen.

It can’t be his stat line because 2 goals and 3 assists aren’t exactly “Face of the Franchise” type numbers; but I doubt they make these kinds of decisions based who’s done well lately.

Maybe the Canucks are ready to buy in completely on this youth movement and who better but the guy that leveled Connor McDavid? Jake has seen an increase in opportunity on the ice and is getting some better line mates but don’t expect to see his likeness draping 40 feet on the windows of Rogers Arena.

Putting Ryan Miller as the face of this #retronight would have been a good idea as he’s the one who will be artistically on display the most. New goalie pads, block, trapper and a slick paint job on his bucket will make for a pretty cool look when the Canucks face off against the Leafs on February 13.

It’s only a few weeks until this one off night takes place but we’ve been waiting a long time for this and if anyone thinks this is just a re-hash of the Millionaires saga, they’re wrong. We never wanted that one but welcomed it anyways. The skate logo WAS the Canucks for everyone in my generation and even before that. This one may bring us full circle and help us to close the door on a chapter we weren’t ready to let end.

On that note, I’ve put my hat into the ring and am hoping to launch this guy on a new black tee in honor of the game. Hit me up if you are interested in getting one.

It truly is Always90four

It truly is Always90four

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

When You Let Always90four Pick Your Goal Song (Canucks Edition)

Music. It drives sports, it sets the tone of what’s about to happen, what just happened or some cheesy synthesizer at a basketball game when the guys trot up the court. In hockey, the warmups welcome you to the arena with a mix of everything the team is listening to in the dressing room. It sets the tone. The intro song when the team officially skates on the ice is as important as how the team performs, or so it seems in Vancouver.

Now the goal song, that gets criticized as much as the intro. Apparently if its not the most fitting song ever, its wrong and why bother even showing up? The Canucks ran with U2’s “Where the streets have no name” for many years as the intro song but that got them nowhere. No Cups…not even one.

As for the goal tune? Holiday by Green Day, Gold on the Ceiling by the Black Keys and Clutch by Electric Worry. That last one was actually not too shabby.

In a recent article over on Vancity Buzz, they shed light on what the Canucks are doing this season: Having individual goal songs for each player. Im half skeptical about this and half excited. Maybe I’ll finally here Alex Burrows raise his hands to the latest Dem Levato or some throwback Hansen. Your guess is as good as mine.

So I thought, because I’m so amazingly good at unearthing a great song and spreading it to the masses, why not pick each goal song for every Canuck? What could possibly go wrong? Well for starters, this article is going to have a sick ton of music videos.

After you’re done laughing, ridiculing, applauding in amazement over my choices, go on over to Canucks Army and check out Sillig Ekim’s take on this hot subject. Most certainly it will be better than what I have picked but I’ll let you cast judgement when I’m done.

OK, lets do this……..

Henrik Sedin – He’s the older of the two Sedin twins. So his song should be better than Daniels. I have chosen Drowning Pool’s Tear Away. Kinda dark and twisted for Henrik but the chorus is key here: “I don’t care about anyone else but me” Maybe an ode to his 2010 season when he decided to keep the puck to himself and win the Art Ross?

Daniel Sedin – The obvious choice here is the Olsen Twins – Brother for Sale. There was never another option.

Alex Burrows – Does anyone know what he’s saying half the time? I don’t. I love Alex but this song is pretty fitting IMO. Weird Al – Word Crimes

Brandon Sutter – He’s relatively new to the Canucks still and his song choice is kinda weird but when he was moved from the 2nd line to the top group with the twins, this one just seemed fitting. Spice Girls – 2 Become 1

Sven Baertschi – I know, he’s not swedish but this just seems to work. Never put me in charge of this task again. Swedish Chef from the Muppets

Bo Horvat – Young Bo is a teen phenom and you tell me, is this not fitting for our young superstar? Nirvana – Smells like Teen Spirit

Radim Vrbata – His goal stares are legendary, his shot is quick and lethal. He wants line chemistry and he wants it now. But not too much chemistry that would cause one to be…Radioactive. Imagine Dragons

Derek Dorsett – I had a few options for this one but I’ll save the bad choice for Brandon Prust. Dorsy gets the ever fitting Fight music by D12. Its the clean version so its ok for work.

Brandon Prust – This guy has heart, I’ll give him that but his predictable boring fights are waning. Pruster gets the P Diddy – Bad Boys For Life track. He isn’t changing.

You know what, Prusty gets two!

Predictable? Obviously. Great song? Oh ya it is!

Jake Virtanen – Anyone that’s anyone knows big Jake aka Big Country loves him some big hits. What is the best song for hitting people…well Bodies by Drowning Pool is what you might say off the hop but BOOM by P.O.D is what I’m giving Jake. Classic song and it really brings me back to my late teens when I wanted to make big hits on the ice.

Adam Cracknell – Release the Kraken….I’m gonna be real with you right now. I couldn’t find a song and I got lazy for about 10 minutes so I found this hilarious compilation video of Liam Neeson saying Release the Kraken over and over with funny stuff in the middle. Its not even that good but honestly who cares?

Jannik Hansen – Who is by far the leader in failed breakaway attempts on the Canucks? Look no further than Jannik Hansen. If we ran a poll right now, Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson would dominate. So ya, thats what I picked.

Jared McCann – We really don’t know a whole lot about Jared yet but don’t you worry, we will. What we DO know about Jared is his undying love to celebrate goals. He loves em! So why not pick a song that “celebrates” his celebrating? Kool & The Gang – Celebrate Good Times.

Alex Edler – WARNING!!! This song should really be for a former Canuck but considering how many of these boomers he takes, Edler gets the hit track SHOTS by LMFAO and Lil Jon

Chris Tanev – He’s so cool, so smooth. The guy rarely makes a mistake and he bails you out when you’re the goof. The Tan Man gets the soft spoken tune Easy Silence by The Dixie Chicks.

Dan Hamhuis – Theres only one. Its MC Hammer, its U Can’t Touch This and you just need to appreciate it.

Matt Bartowski – Should we care about his song yet? Is he even going to score? What would make sense so far down the roster?

Ryan Miller – Hes the last line of defense. He has to save everything or the Canucks will be in trouble. I was wondering if I would find a way for this song to be chosen. I mean, he’s a goalie, he’s never gonna score. So I figure after every big save that goes to commericial, Big and Rich can play him out.

Ben Hutton – This guy is so popular right now. Everyone on press row craves his stats, he’s a monster on the ice and he forced Frankie Corrado all the way to Leaf land. This guy IS the definition of popular.

Now, who’s left? Oh, the main man himself. Luca Sbisa. For all the hate he gets, all the arm chair GM’s that wish he was gone, he’s a decent guy and this season he could really improve. You’ll like this one.

Luca Sbisa – If there was ever a better song written for Sbizza himself I couldn’t find it. Hanson – Where’s the love?

There it is! The Canucks goal song manifesto. OK, truth be told almost none of these would actually be a song they would play but spending 2 hours on youtube finding a song for each player was a lot of fun.

My personal choice for their goal song would be Whisper and a Clamour by Anberlin. Chorus rocks!

Hopefully my bud Sillig Ekim over at Canucks Army has a better list than this sad sack. Could he actually though?

No.

This is gold.

Follow me on twitter and all my antics too! @always90four

It Was Just Supposed To Be A Clothing Brand

The Canucks have taken far too much of my cranial time lately, trying to figure out the next blitzkrieg post to get readers interested and talking about the doom and gloom that is the new Canucks reality. Thankfully, the start of the summer has given me new life to just enjoy what’s right in front of me: my amazing family and the city you are surely jealous of.

With that, I thought, what is interesting enough to read that isn’t about the Canucks? Whether you care or not, Always90four was not supposed to be a blog. OK, lets make this a little more clear: it was supposed to be a clothing brand with a blog that accompanied it much like some of the famous streetwear brands that have taken over North America.

When I was still working sports retail  back in 2004, Von Dutch made its way emergence into the market. At first I thought, “Oh cool, Vin Diesel is wearing it”. It was vintage, it was original and it was….EXPENSIVE. $60 for a mesh hat? You have got to be kidding me? There had to be a better way. LIttle did I know later in life, Macklemore was right.

After seeing one of my co-workers make the plunge, I vowed I could do it just as good or better for a fraction of the price. I didn’t need Von Dutch to be cool, I was already cool. So my journey began.

Nice thought.

I bought a few mesh snapbacks, a few flexfits and constantly doodled in Paint on my laptop at home. Eventually, I turned those hats into a personal brand called Spank. I was excited to show off my wears and those who knew me closely understood what was up.

I didn’t really push it any further but I pretty much wore out those lids, now two of them accompany me to dodgeball. Spank was going to be cool, it was going to be personal and eventually I’d see my logo in stores and I could bid adieu to those high priced garments and offer something that really, all I wanted was to see out there and clog up my closet.

I had friends ask me if I was going to keep going with it and I basically shrugged it off that I didn’t have the artistic ability to take much further without a real artist beside me. And in 2006, Spank as a brand idea basically died when I moved to the Lower Mainland and made a trip to West 4th Ave in Vancouver.

Spank was ALREADY a women’s clothing store. My wife and I walked in and that decided it: it was over. It wasn’t though. A trip later in the fall back home to Kelowna had me laying in bed looking at the ceiling thinking “What would I call this thing, I needed to keep it alive somehow”.

1:00 am came and I swear to you the name just clicked: Always90four. Spelt exactly the way you see it. I was always talking about the Canucks and any time we as fans got debating, it always came back to that magical run in 1994. Sure, the Canucks never won the Cup that year but it was the lightning rod for nostalgia.

I spent 2 hours thinking about all the ideas I could put together and eventually I needed sleep. This was my next step, but how?

I knew I had to have it Canucks based and I wanted the events and street/sport culture of 1994 to be the basis of it. So much happened that year: OJ, the World Cup, the Stanley Cup, Mrs. Doubtfire and so on. I wanted to hold onto a bit of my childhood and give it a modern spin.

There is a clothing brand that I have followed since approx. 2004 called The Hundreds. They started from nothing and now are sold around the world; who knew a little streetwear brand with a cult following could get so big? There are two articles that Bobby Hundreds wrote on their blog that have helped keep my fire burning for what is now Always90four: ABE and Screen Resolution.

I highly suggest you read these two and see how something can come from nothing and how “No” is a state of mind.

My wife first and foremost badgered me to start blogging and get this thing going because quite frankly, no one is going to buy a t-shirt if they have NO IDEA what it’s about. So after a few half hearted attempts with some other blogs, I started this one.

Facebook and Twitter have really helped the blogosphere get the little, unknown blogs off the ground. Writing about the Canucks came natural for me as does humour and fantasy sports rants. I just typed, published and waited.

Tweeting my efforts across the Twitter world to any proven writer that would listen was my goal. Bob McKenzie, Dan Murphy, the Vancouver Canucks, Blake Price and other local talents were my targets…oh and Pass it To Bulis I think.

Then the day came. I got an email from a buddy saying I was going to be famous and blah blah blah. I had no idea what he was getting on about. He told me to check Pass it to Bulis (at the time a Vancouver Sun blog) and sure enough my blog was in the top 4 on their site, linked and everything.

I think i maxed out around 360 people that day and I knew I had to keep going. They had a Stink in Link feature twice a week that exposed blogs from around the land talking Canucks. It got pretty fun after that.

I had joined a few sites that came and went before going back on my own. I decided to just focus on me. A new season had began and Willie Desjardins was the new Canucks coach and somehow his phrase “real good” was getting blown out of proportion. So I typed a little ditty.

So, it went big. Reddit, Canucks Army and their leader, Thomas Drance (big wig blogger at the Sportsnet) noticed. Something around 1300 people read my ramblings that day. But no one knew who I was I thought. I think i peed a bit.

I now write the game day previews for CA and have gained a whole new audience, new friends and a new direction.

From clothing brand to habitual blogger, life’s weird. Oh, and the clothing brand?

Nucks are out but always90four is rolling!! Delivery day is tomorrow #newtees #beginningthetrend #payup

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It's like Christmas morning

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Thanks again PlayOn! Kelowna what an opportunity #thetourney #BestWeekEndever #imonthetee

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Its been a pretty random year but it feels like it’s just beginning. Hopefully hats are the next surge and as for this little blog?

I could only imagine.

An Ode to PlayOn! Kelowna

Twas the night before PlayOn! and all through the house, all my socks, shorts and tees…dirty; all that was left? A blouse. My sticks, they were all taped, my runners laced up; shin guards, maybe, but definitely not a cup. The anticipation was building and hockey was in the air, the puck drops tomorrow and the Redwood Cup would be there.

This tournament is going to be a memorable weekend and everyone that has a stick in their hand will have something to talk about on Monday. Even the NHL will have representation in the form of the Longsticks. Curtis Lazar and friends will be most likely laying waste to the Elite division; too bad Alex Burrows is done in the ball hockey world.

I will be live tweeting as much as possible this weekend, mostly on Saturday. My team “Best Westerners” will be playing up top on the Delta parking lot. Come say hi. Make sure to tweet your pics to @playkelowna and make this one the #bestweekendever.

I plan on having a few pics myself. Good luck to everyone facing off this weekend. Be safe, good sports and above all else: PLAY ON!

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Bowness Coverage – The NHL Draft Hasn’t Been Kind To The Canucks

June has already been a pretty jam packed month and its only half way over. The Stanley Cup went to the Blackhawks (surprise, surprise), the Warriors won the NBA FInals, Jim Benning isn’t trading Ryan Miller and next week the NHL Entry Draft will commence with the next wave of stars finding homes. With all this, I am trying a new feature here at Always90four called Bowness Coverage that is Canucks first, NHL second and then a whole lot of everything else.

Its kind of like Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts over on Sportsnet, but I’ll keep it to about 10. Hopefully it’s worth doing every 2 weeks or so that it becomes a staple. Let me know what you think!

1) So, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup YET AGAIN for the 3rd time in 6 years. Its not a dynasty but its darn close. The group that has managed to stay together is pretty special. Led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa; the Hawks have found a way to keep a very expensive core together and continue to win with new parts each time.

Duncan Keith is a big reason this is even possible. He logs more minutes of play than an 18 year old when the new Call of Duty comes out. He’s gritty, offensively clutch, a pain in the butt to play against and brutally decorated with achievements: 3 Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, a Conn Smythe, 2 Norris Trophies, etc, etc. He is everything you want in a defenseman and above all else, he wins.

But what if the Canucks were smart enough to have drafted him in 2002 in what largely was a dart board of picks every round? Would Keith have developed into the premier player he has become? The way the Canucks drafted that year and beyond, he would have been frustrated. What really stings is that Vancouver picked well before Chicago in Round 2 and would not have needed to stretch to get him.

Kiril Koltsov was the Canucks first choice at pick 49, with Keith going at 54. Koltsov played all of ZERO games in the NHL so it was a really great pick. Having seen Keith play in Kelowna on a nightly basis, he did all the right things and if the Canucks even bothered to acknowledge the WHL existed, maybe Duncan Keith would have lifted a Conn Smythe for Vancouver, who knows? You want to talk about misses, sometimes its the guy you could have taken that’s the miss instead of who you chose.

2) Speaking of the NHL Draft, there’s another player that I have been bragging about for about 2 seasons now: Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets. This guy is basically the full package of talent. He is only 18 so he can hone is craft and really strengthen his game more than he has already. The Canucks really should be jumping up to get this guy. He is a phenomonal playmaker, a slick goal scorer and his puck possesion reminds me of that guy that played in Edmonton in the 80’s. 

I am not saying Merkley is like Wayne Gretzky but he has similar traits that you just don’t see in every player. Merkley is a hybrid forward that can play both centre and wing and his forecheck is a thing of beauty. Anyone that watched the WHL Playoffs or the Memorial Cup this year knows exactly what he can bring to the table.

Canucks GM Jim Benning went on TSN 1040 on Wednesday and here is a piece that was taken from it:

I really don’t know who else they want in the first round. They’ll have to make a move to get him but man oh man is he worth the risk. His rookie year he played centre and won Rookie of the Year honours, this past season he was moved to the wing and led the Kelowna Rockets in assists and points (20G, 70A, 90PTS). Nick Merkley will only get better and with the right development he can really boom. 

Benning has had an iffy start so far but this is one player he can win with.

3) Sticking with Kelowna Rockets related players in the draft, a defenseman that will be a steal and can be had in the 4th or 5th round, is defensive defenseman Joe Gatenby. Gatenby’s ability to seperate his man from the puck is scary. The way he just becomes a wedge is something not every blue liner can just do. His speed to chase down forwards when his team has maybe pinched too hard is something to watch. 

The Canucks have been anything but successful in drafting defensive prospects. I mean, they aren’t the worst, but I can name a ton of teams that have done better. Joe Gatenby is a safe pick that will turn into an Alex Edler type player, he’s been ok. OH, and he was a Kelowna Rocket too! See a pattern here? Ranked at 174 by ISS, he’s a smart play.

4) Apparently, Ryan Miller isn’t going anywhere. *Insert frowny shrug* Jim Benning feels when Miller is playing   well he gives the team confidence. I am not by any means an NHL GM but is that not what every goalie does for their team? $6M per could be used in more constructive ways than aging Ryan Miller’s equipment.

There has to be a team for him to go to. We are already overpaying for Sbisa, to a degree Dorsett and we need some Canadian Tire money for Brad Richardson among others. Admitting to mistakes makes you a better person, I do it all the time. Admit that Miller was a safe move and you no longer see the need to keep him.

Canucks fans want a Stanley Cup and with Ryan Miller, thats one burnt year without a real shot. Trade Miller and move on Jimbo. I give you permission.

5) The Arizona Coyotes sure know how to stay relevant. How is this farce not over yet? Figure it out and get back to us. The news of Glendale cancelling the lease on the arena agreement for the Yotes was just a greedy, selfish mess. Grow up desert! You are an absolute joke, so much so you let your local residents tase you for charity.

This makes me sick.

6) The Golden State Warriors are NBA Champions. No exclamation point needed. If you have stayed loyal to me and kept reading this was actually a good series. You know, until the Cavs lost everyone but Lebron James. Cleveland just lost pace at a certain point and it was over. I was bored and I happened to have switched to TSN and the game was on, thats how I know.

I swear.

7) CBC Hockey Night in Canada’s PlayOn! 4 on 4 street hockey tournament is in my hometown of Kelowna this weekend and I’ll be there. Word is there are a few NHL teams in the elite division so I can totally understand if my games don’t get the crowds I’d expect. Riiiiiiiight. Its going to be a blast and getting to play hockey with two ringers makes my dismal skills look ok. You can check it out here.


8) Its still a few weeks away but NHL Free Agency opens July 1 and the Canucks would be smart to look at the defensive market this time around. The forwards are starting to show up on the farm so balancing the defense would seem to be a smart move.

There isn’t a lot to choose from but making a splash and landing at least 2 of these guys would fill a void that is um, very voiding. Christian Ehrhoff, Cody Franson, Mike Green and Johnny Oduya are all guys Vancouver should target while sending aging players Kevin Bieksa, Chris Higgins and ugh, Luca Sbisa is newly signed; packing.

Might Jim Benning do something that BENEFITS the Canucks? Time will tell. Its just…Groundhog Day is getting old.

9) You may have quite a different taste in music than I do but Muse has a new album out and its great. Check this song out, I bet we both like it a lot.

10) Finally, as good as the Toronto Blue Jays are playing right now, and I haven’t seen a lot; if they don’t make a serious push for talented, reliable closing pitching they will just be a team that has fun in the summer. Put up your hand if you’re bored of this repeat issue.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

PlayOn! Kelowna Is 4 on 4 In Your Face Action!

Its Street Fighter meets Hockey…so basically street hockey, but imagine the possibilities. If you still are blown away by the previous sentence, please move on; Street Fighter is not hooking up with hockey. The annual PlayOn! 4 on 4 street hockey tournament is hitting Kelowna this weekend (June 20/21) and the area around Prospera Place will be jam packed with Canada’s ultimate past time. It will be in your face action from the opening faceoff to the presentation of the Redwood Cup on Sunday.

  

Road hockey is played across this great country all year round and CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada has created the ultimate get together to showcase our love for the sport. Starting Saturday morning men, women, boys and girls will be facing off in a 4 on 4 street hockey tournament and a select few will get to play for the Redwood Cup, PlayOn’s official championship trophy…ok actually just the Elite division does but I mean, we can dream right?

Teams are divided into several divisions from casual amateurs to the best of the best in the elite division. There is also a Corporate UPS division that companies can enter teams and help raise money for the United Way and get a tax receipt as well. I will be playing on the Best Western corporate team this weekend so watch out! I’m amazingly awesome average.

For all the out of towners, and there are a few, Best Western is the official hotel partner of the tournament so you should definitley check them out if you need a place to stay, I suppose if you gave me $2000 for the weekend you could use my place. Don’t tell my wife though, she doesn’t know I offered.

How the games work is pretty simple: 3 forwards and 1 goalie….that’s it. Games are 30 minutes long and split into 2 – 15 min halfs, and like the Maple Leafs, I don’t care that it’s spelt wrong. If games end in a tie, the good ol’ shootout starts up. Same NHL rules apply in the shootout, if you can manage a spin o rama on the street, knock yourself out.

When goals are scored its the other team’s possession and back and forth you go. We aren’t re-inventing the wheel here folks, it’s hockey. The sun should be shining all weekend so chug that water! Being that it is summer, there will probably be a few NHLers hanging around and maybe just maybe, YOU could meet one, YA YOU!

But this whole thing isn’t just hockey, its hanging with your buds, drinking some wobbly pops and having a great time. PlayOn! has coined the phrase #bestweekendever and having lived here for many years, you can cash that cheque all day long. But lets get back to the wobbly pops for a sec, you have to be 19, I don’t condone underage drinking. Have a Powerade.

This weekend is going to rock so hard and best of all it’s hockey in June. So with hours to go to register, SIGN UP HERE and get jacked for two days of some of the best memories you’ll ever have. Of course, if you have a wife, kids or a Lambourghini those are pretty great memories too! But the hockey memories, those will be good.

So to recap: Hockey memories – GOOD 

                       Wife, kids and lambourghini memories – ALSO GOOD

Some people want to play for the Stanley Cup, some want to own their own home, there’s a select few that just want to be able to skate without falling down…I am that one; but this weekend we all want that Redwood Cup and we want it bad.

Hockey Night in Canada’s PlayOn! Hockey tournament is about to land in Kelowna and it can’t come soon enough.

PLAYON!

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Follow PlayOn! Kelowna: @playkelowna

Rockets Need To Dig Deep To Eliminate Winterhawks

After the Kelowna Rockets beat the Portland Winterhawks late in OT #1 of Game 5, the pressure to close out the series got even greater. The Rockets have lost to the Hawks in the playoffs 2 of the last 3 years. This time, they have a chance to slay the dragon and face off against the top team in the WHL, the Brandon Wheat Kings. It won’t be easy and with Game 6 in Portland, the home crowd will be rowdy. Should be great!

Kelowna will be without energy forward and assistant/alternate captain (who cares how you say it) Tyrell Goulbourne after his calf was cut going into the corner during the second period of Game 5. Goulbourne will be out for awhile and knowing what we know about an injury like that, you can’t just rush back. Rourke Chartier was also on the sidelines for that game and it would be a big boost if he worked into the lineup.

Lets chat about a few of the obvious things for a sec:

  • Hawks goalie Adin Hill has been beyond amazing! His glove hand rivals that of Grant Fuhr and his game stealing kick saves have put Kelowna fans into fits. This kid is unreal and Portland will reap the rewards for a few years after this. Easily the man that holds the series in his hands. Don’t get me wrong, there are some star players in this one but no one has played at his level.
  • Leon Draisaitl has been everything the Rockets could have asked for this year. After being sent back to junior from the Edmonton Oilers and traded to Kelowna, he has given Rockets fans NHL caliber play every night. He does look floaty at times but when the puck hits his stick, he takes off and takes over. If Kelowna does go to the Memorial Cup this spring, that Draisaitl addition will be a big reason they do.
  • Anyone that knows me knows that I am a diehard fan of Rockets hybrid forward Nick Merkley, aka Merk Merk, Merkdaddy and Merkilicious. Its easy to get excited about this kid when you see him play live. From Merkley’s first game 2 years ago, to this year’s WHL Western Conference Finals, he has improved at every facet of his game. His puck sense in unmatched, his playmaking ability is downright filthy and when he controls the puck he controls how the rest of the players will react. If he bulks up another 15 lbs or so and grows maybe an inch or two, whatever team drafts him in June will be getting a star.
  • That Madison Bowey hit

Both the Rockets and Winterhawks figured they would be playing each other in the Western Final when the season began, who else would have matched them? So the fact that they are playing each other again this season after facing off last year at this time is not surprising. Portland is without a few big names from last year (Matt Dumba, Brendan Leipsic ) but Rocket killer Nic Petan, his team mates Oliver Bjorkstrand, Anton Cederholm and Alex Schoenborn have given the Kelowna their moneys worth.

Enough about the Hawks already! What about Tyson Baillie and Chance Braid? Baillie has been the prototypical hero for Kelowna since he has joined the Rockets and his knack for OT thriller goals keeps us wanting more. I wouldn’t be surprised if he factors in on the winning goal again if Kelowna takes it tonight. When Leon Draisaitl was platooned with Baillie, the second line instantly became a 1B line to compliment the Chartier/Merkley duo up front. This team is experienced and ready for the next challenge, we’ve seen Portland’s best and now they will see ours.

Chance Braid has given the Rockets some much needed extra grit when guys like Riley Stadel and Tyrell Goulbourne are making their offensive push. However, in the playoffs Braid has actually shown his scoring touch and his net presence has given the Rockets another unlikely weapon. This guy can hit and he can get the puck to that red pipey thing with net on it.

While Adin Hill has been stealing the show for Portland in the net, Jackson Whistle has had a bit of a different path for Kelowna. In typical Canucks-fanlike fashion, as soon as our goalie shows a sign of weakness we criticize how he isn’t good enough and then he bounces back with a 40 save effort and follows it up with some game breaking saves the next night. With cool hand Michael Herringer ready to take over at a moments notice, Whistle knows every game is the biggest game he will play.

I personally have questioned Whistle a few times this year but he’s stepped up when it has mattered the most. Finish it out Jackson, be the hero.

So with one win left and a chance to face the Wheat Kings, the Kelowna Rockets need to bring the game they have been waiting to play: the one where there is no doubt in their minds they are the champs.

Puck drop is at 5pm.

Go Rockets Go!

Follow me on twitter: @always90four


Photo credit – zimbio.com

JARKKO POLO: Good Wins, BAD Losses and Bill Simmons

Oh man what a week! The Canucks played four very meaningful games, one of which they forgot about and helped their chances of making this year’s playoffs. The Flyers and Blue Jackets came to Rogers Arena and then the Canucks flew to Los Angeles and Glendale for games against the Kings and Coyotes respectively. It doesn’t get any easier from here on out so there will be a lot of puck until mid April.

Zack Kassian dropped out of the lineup with a back injury, Brad Richardson was in and out of the lineup and Ronalds Kenins was forced to play russian roulette with Willie D for his roster spot. With the bad comes the good though; Alex Burrows tapped into his 2011 archives and lit the lamp twice with the Sedins against Philly, Bo Horvat scored a pair the last few games and Eddie Lack might just be the new #1 goalie in Vancouver, might be. Also, some guy named Bill Simmons really hates the Sedins.

THE GAMES WE PLAYED

Vs. Philadelphia Flyers – WIN  4-1 (Burrows is BACK!)

RECAP: Injuries have hurt the Canucks this year and losing Zack Kassian seemed to be a real test but wouldn’t ya know it, Alex Burrows comes back to play with the Sedins and scores two gorgeous goals. It was a great win especially because the late Pat Quinn was honoured. All around great night.

Vs. Columbus Blue Jackets – LOSE 6-2

RECAP: Bo Horvat scored his 12th of the season followed by Daniel Sedin making it 2-0 in the 2nd. Somehow, that’s when the wheels came off. Marko Dano was the star for the ‘Bus and it just got stinky. The Canucks gave up 6 unanswered goals and were embarrased out of their own rink. To be fair, Columbus had been winning some games lately and they weren’t as bad as their record showed. Canucks still lost and it sucked. RESET

@ Los Angeles Kings – WIN 4-1 SUCK IT KINGS!!!

RECAP: What had the makings of a playoff game, ended up being a playoff-like game. Vancouver and LA do not like each other and that was made aware early on. Hard hitting, chippy and cheap; the Kings came to get 2 points. After going down 1-0 in the 2nd, Nick Bonino hit a bloop single past Jonathan Quick to tie it up. Tyler Toffoli became the most hated man on the planet when he levelled Alex Burrows into the boards from behind. The Canucks went ahead on the PP in the 3rd and proceeded to pummel the Kings into submission. Oh ya, Eddie Lack almost fought Quick. HUGE win for the Canucks and a real death blow to the Kings playoff chances.

@ Arizona Coyotes – WIN 3-1 Marky Mark Gets the Win

RECAP: This one was not a game anyone had circled on the calendar unless you were going on a road trip. The Canucks needed these points though, needed em bad. Yannick Weber opened the scoring on a great play from Daniel Sedin and Radim Vrbata. After Arizona tied it up Alex Edler put Vancouver ahead on a shot from the point and the Canucks never looked back. Key notes in this one were odd: Kenins sat for McMillan, Markstrom WON!, there were more posts than a blogger on speed and yes, Mike Smith had an epic dive.

So the Bill Simmons thing. I really don’t get why he hates the Sedins so much. He is a self proclaimed Boston fanatic and yet he still hates the Sedins? Bud, the Bruins won the Cup 4 seasons ago, it’s old. He seems uneducated, ESPN must see something we don’t. Im sure he thought the Toffoli his was a masterpiece. Here’s another thing, why is he even watching LA/VAN to begin with? Im lost.

All in all, the Canucks had a great week despite the Jackets game and they are finding out how to play a full 60 with everyone they have. Vancouver might do ok this spring, weirder things HAVE happened. The way Eddie Lack is playing and the contributions from pretty much everyone, this season has been a welcome change from the dumpster fire of last year.

3 THINGS FROM TWITTER

Screw it, that was a good pic!

Big week ahead with the Jets, Millionaires jerseys against the Avs and the Stars at the end of the week. Till next time: JARKKO………POLO!!

Follow this fly cat on twitter: @always90four