Sports

The (Canucks) Music That Binds Us

I had the radio on the other day and Tom Cochrane’s “Big League” came on. I don’t know about you but anytime I hear that song now I instantly go back to the live performance Tom gave when the Canucks honoured the late Luc Bourdon. I cannot hear that song now without thinking of that poor man losing his life so young. It got me to thinking about the songs that connect us as Canucks fans. There are essentially 5 tunes that like it or not, connect us all.

You have to start with the one I just mentioned, Tom Cochrane “Big League”. It’s such a great track to begin with and I’ve sang along in the car even before it was immortalized in Canucks history. The eery part about this whole story is that it fits Luc’s story so close. The tragic accident that took his life in 2008 shook the hockey world.

He had two close friends, Kris Letang and Alex Burrows, who carried this the closest to their hearts and gave Luc the best tribute they could; Alex with his bow and arrow celebration after every goal and Kris’ tattoo after his Stanley Cup win the next year. There is no telling how good Luc could have been had he still been with us and many think he would have been the difference in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final as he would be coming into the prime of his career. We’ll never know.

Song 1:

The next two are probably a bit more personal as they have become two of my favourite songs since they aired on the CBC montages. The first of the two is the 2009 montage after the Penguins won the Cup. This was the first year the Canucks lost to the Blackhawks. That one really stung. The Patrick Kane hat-trick, Mats Sundin and realizing the Canucks needed to take another step. Oh, and Chelsea Dagger (that’s later). City and Colour AND Gord Downie, I’ll take that any day. Enjoy.

Song 2:

Montage #2  is the setup before the infamous Game 7 meltdown in 2011. City and Colour really has the Canucks number but what a song. We all know how it ended and I knew when they played this song (I’m weird like that) that the Canucks were probably going to regret this one. It’s a fantastic track and I was too excited to really realize the connection to the first time we were serenaded by CBC and City and Colour. It still gives me the chills.

Song 3:

This next one has been around for so long and I don’t think it will ever really leave the Canucks. I believe one day it will come back and echo through Rogers Arena once more and maybe that day the Canucks will be hoisting the Cup for all Canucks nation to embrace. U2’s “Where the streets have no name” is etched in the Canucks historical soundtrack.

So many times people wanted to axe this tune out of the rotation because they had never won anything with it and it was time to start something new. Well, they did but I can’t help but think that they should bring it back and any of the Canucks good luck that came with it.

Song 4:

Chills… still chills.

I hate to include this one but it’s impossible to leave out the song that kind of drove the Canucks (and it’s fans) to madness and ultimately all the way past the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 overtime. No Burrows slaying the dragon clip, it’s Chelsea Dagger. I think after that 2009 series we all were so sick of that song that we never wanted to hear it again.

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment but hearing Chelsea Dagger so many times (7 in one game) it kind of grew on me. All Blackhawks shenanigans aside, it’s a good song. Like U2 and Tom Cochrane, The Fratellis created a song that is as much the Canucks as it is the Hawks. Every time you hear it you can remember how pissed you were that yet again, the Hawks had scored.

The Madhouse on Madison owned the Canucks and Chelsea Dagger filled the voids when the fans weren’t going crazy.

Song 5:

So now you hate me for even including that and making you relive some pretty tough, emotional times in Canucks history but whether you want to admit it or not, these 5 songs define the Canucks and everything they have done in the last 10+ years. You’ll also be happy I didn’t include any Nickelback and believe me I tried.

Hopefully, there is a new song that will bring us joy eventually and something we can cling to for years to come. I hear no one has claimed Tubthumping as their intro song.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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Canucks Got PTOs in Different Area Codes – Season Preview Remix

Im sure Ludacris didn’t have the Canucks in mind when he penned his classic “area codes” jam in 2001 for the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack.  But here we are, one PTO veteran making the team and another going the way of the Ruutu (its actually funny because that’s his name). Jim Benning felt Jack Skille warranted a full season on his team after a solid? preseason. Tuomo Ruutu was let go but the Calgary Flames/Toronto Maple Leafs are always trolling the Canucks wastelands for pickups.

As this season gets underway there aren’t really a whole lot of questions with this team. I mean, no one has them picked to win the Cup so that can be put away, goaltending really isn’t a problem after seeing last year that Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom can easily handle the duties this year while super prospect Thatcher Demko hones his craft in the AHL.

Up front, the Sedins will once again lead the way for Vancouver and it wouldn’t surprise me if they still have some tricks left up their sleeves. New line mate Loui Eriksson (also from Sweden) will start the year on the top line and after a positive first go around with Henrik and Daniel at the World Cup of Hockey, they should easily transition into the regular season. A healthy Tre Kronor will probably net Eriksson 30 or so goals, the Sedins each around 80 points…ok maybe high 70s.

Last year was abismal and I’m willing to say a healthy, properly used Sedin line probably does get close to those totals. Henrik put up 73 points two seasons ago while Daniel put up 76. I’m not even going to link it because I know that YOU KNOW how to use the Internet and I want you to stay here. With Eriksson up front, for we’ll say 70 games, the 70-80ish point threshold is doable. Canucks Army just fired me, pretty sure….pretty sure.

The Sedins aren’t really the focus though for the “wow” factor this year if there even is one. Bo Horvat along with Sven Baertschi will hope to relight their spark they found last year and Jake Virtanen would be smart to get in on that action early. Sure, the lines aren’t in his control but no one wants to be stuck with Markus Granlund or Derek Dorsett.

Brandon Sutter will be starting the year almost healthy and will do his best get back to being a normal NHLer. He was the forward version of Sami Salo last year when it comes to injuries. A broken jaw and sports hernia pretty much shut Sutter down last year and there was no way he was going to be anything close to normal.

Willie Desjardins needs Sutter to produce for him to give this team a lick of hope in 2017. Three reliable centres make the Canucks somewhat legit like Crocs you buy at Canadian Tire. You know they aren’t the real thing but you’ll use them how they should be used and heck they’re 10 bucks! Where was I going with this? I forgot.

Brandon Sutter, right.

If Sutter does indeed stay healthy enough to warrant regular rotation between the top 3 lines, guys like Jannik Hansen, Markus Granlund and even Alex Burrows can become relevant once again. The checking line of Brendan Gaunce, Alex Burrows and most likely Jack Skille/Derek Dorsett might be a regular checking line if the top 3 lines are going. Again, not a Cup contending roster but rolling 4 lines does make the Canucks a bit tougher to defend, ya I said it.

Who’s really going to challenge that line anyways, on the Canucks I mean? If you’re in the first 9, don’t screw up and you’ll be fine.

Does that go for the defense as well?

Apparently you can tear up the preseason (meaningless hockey) and still get sent down. I’m talking Troy Stecher, I’m talking Ben Hutton ver. 2.01. Going into training camp and then the preseason, Stecher to the general public, me as well, was a name we were told to watch for. We watched, he delighted and somehow for a second season in a row, a Canucks defenseman from college was going to crack the roster.

The Utica Comets will give Stecher some solid playing time on a top pairing and it will only be a matter of time before he’s called up. He’s too good and Philip Larsen can’t really be our PP QB, can he? I bet fellow Dane Jannik Hansen is high on him but he can’t really believe our problems are solved on the man advantage with Phil.

Vancouver’s defense looks like this to start the year: Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, Nikita Tryamkin, Lou Alex Biega, Luca “ya they haven’t gotten rid of me yet” Sbisa, Erik Gudbranson, Ben Hutton and the aforementioned Larsen.

I shutter to think where the Canucks are without Hutton or worse, Tanev. The defense on paper is sketchy and anytime you ice a team that has a really tall unproven player along with a veteran not good whatsoever player, you have issues still. Sbisa is our resident dumpster fire but thankfully Matt Bartkowski’s astonishments are now done here.

Tryamkin better start figuring his stuff out quick because having a guy that can’t be sent down to the AHL or he leaves is stupid. If he was that hot, you wouldn’t need that clause in there. Be a big boy and earn your spot. Even bulldog Biega earned his stripes, we like him. He’s not great but when Biega is out there, you want him to succeed. I hope Nikita is everything they hoped he’d be but man, he has to own that body and take names.

One man who doesn’t need to prove himself is newcomer Erik Gudbranson. A gritty defender who doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff. His #fancystats aren’t anything to write home about but he is what the Canucks have lacked since Kevin Bieksa’s hay (sp?) days minus the offensive punch. Markstrom and Miller are definitely safe this season with Guddy in front of them.

As for a nicely wrapped basket of what the Canucks will or won’t accomplish this year, the jist is don’t expect anything promising. They won’t make the playoffs but in typical Canucks fashion, they won’t finish dead last either; thus eliminating them already from Nolan Patrick the first overall pick in June.

We may very well be witnessing the transition into what Canucks land will look like for awhile but thankfully there are a handful of bright spots (Horvat, Virtanen, Hutton, Stecher, Demko and Tanev) that make you think it’s going to be OK eventually.

The Canucks will hang in there this year but at the end of the day, be prepared for many, many 1 and 2 goal games; most of those being defeats.

I won’t sugar coat it because we’re past that now. Enjoy watching hockey again even if it means a bunch of #moralvictories again.

Go Canucks Go, We are all Canucks and all that jazz.

See you out there.

cover photo – insidetoronto.com

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 

Canucks Are Gluttonous For Hutton

It didn’t take long for Ben Hutton to become a star in the Canucks fans eyes AND the Canucks themselves. Once it was official in training camp, but did it even really need to be, Ben Hutton took the wet coast by storm and climbed his way up the rankings in less than a season. On Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings, Hutton was on the Canucks top d-pairing with Luca Sbisa.

That was his 58th career game. The Canucks love them some Ben Hutton.

 

He has such smooth moves, determination and a lovable face but his ability to be a little bit of everything on the ice has caught Willie D and Canucks management’s eye and its safe to say they want him to eventually drive this thing. I mean, if you didn’t absolutely believe in this kid, would you be giving him top minutes every night?

Right now, Hutton is 4th in TOI at 19:20/gm only behind the obvious Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis workhorses; the thing is he belongs there and those numbers will only increase. A rookie season we have waited for since well, Chris Tanev showed up, but with the offensive potential of early Alex Edler and the defensive prowess of the former, Tanev; Hutton is the new hybrid that will eventually QB the power play and will get the top line assignments most nights.

In the 2010/11 season when Chris Tanev arrived, he wasn’t logging top minutes quite yet but to be fair, there were a few stars ahead of him; that and he only played 29 games that year plus the post season. It didn’t take long to realize he was the next “one” as far as defensemen go and he has climbed his way up ever since.

A night without Tanev is the equivalent of watching an episode of Fuller House on Netflix…not good. We’ve already seen that when Hutton is out of the lineup, pretty much just due to injury, that his presence is missed.

The Canucks really brought Tanev along and groomed him until the time was right to have him full time. Ben Hutton was given an opportunity and with a valuable spot open, he owned it.

The only other recent comparable we really have is Edler. In his first full season, Eddie was already getting top 5 minutes behind Ohlund, Salo, Bieksa and Mitchell. He was a point shy of top 10 on the team that year and when you compare Hutton, Ben’s further ahead. However, different situation creates different results.

With just under a third of the season left, Ben Hutton will most likely sit 6th or 7th by seasons end for highest points on the team. He’s already 7th and his 20 assists have been pretty. The goals..er, goal was memorable too!

Hut Bomb (trying something, seeing if it sticks) is just as effective when you break every aspect of his game down. With a minimum of 500 minutes played this season, adjusted, Hutton  ranks 5th with a CF% of 50.5, a pretty nice position for a guy who is still figuring out the pro game.

No doubt, the Canucks are anticipating the arrival and eventual development of Nikita Tryamkin from the KHL and his large frame but that will come; Ben Hutton is everything the team thought he’d be and more.

There will be a time we’ll probably ask him to waive his NTC but until then, Ben Hutton is the hero we asked for so lets just enjoy it.

Ben Hutton Is My Nike AIR MAG (You know the one)

Its never too early to start criticizing coaching decisions, GM decisions or anything resembling doom and gloom for the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also never too early to award praise to a player that is better than he should be, bang on what we want him to be or just the next player we all can’t wait to draw hearts around in third period history. Ben Hutton is not a bad coaching decision, Ben Hutton is not a bad GM decision; Ben Hutton is my cover of Canucks Teen Beat magazine, he is my Nike AIR MAG with self tying laces.

Ben Hutton is the coolest kind of awesome!

Is this too much praise? Is it a verbal love affair for a defenseman yet again? I mean there was Willie Mitchell (dreamy), Alex Edler (currently dreamy as well), Chris Tanev (cooler than craft beer, ya that’s right) and now Hutton too? This is all too sudden. Frankie Corrado was supposed to be that next guy and then Ben Hutton just shows up and says its his job?

That’s what has basically happened.

Drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL Draft, Ben Hutton did the college thing and honed his craft. Through 6 games this year he has racked up 3 helpers and 6 shots. Hutton’s ice time is in the 18:00 min/gm mark and he’s averaging close to 25 shifts a game. He’s trusted to make important decisions and I think like Alex Edler, he eventually is one of the go to guys on the power play; a power play that right now has a problem.

I stated before either on twitter or on here as well that BH reminds me of the blue line version of my favourite future NHLer Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets. They have eerily similar styles of play albeit one is a winger/centre and ones a defenseman but the way they both move the puck and hold on to the puck is a thing of beauty.

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Not to make this too much about Merkley but he has the talent to carry the puck a little bit longer than most without being a puck hog. He can make a timely pivot or pass he has no business making and it instantly changes the course of the shift. His hockey IQ is beautiful. Ben Hutton has those same characteristics.

Being a star on defense for the Canucks is no easy task, in fact playing for the Canucks is no easy task. As the famous line from The Dark Knight goes “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. Right now, BH is the hero and he is far from dying off this roster, that takes at least 10 years on the blue line; less in net.

When the Nike AIR MAG shoe released on Wednesday to the world with self tying laces, the world stood still. This shoe is the holy grail of shoes. Ben Hutton is my Nike AIR MAG. Slight exaggeration maybe. He is developing a shot that will put his name on the marquee, he has confidence with the puck that rivals the Sedins and his decision making skills are already NHL veteran status.

Chris Tanev once received this treatment and really, he hasn’t let up. He isn’t our #1 dman but take him out of the lineup and we have serious problems. Hutton hasn’t even been here a month and you could poll Canucks nation and I’d bet he’s on the list of guys you cannot be without. Tanbir from Surrey knows what’s up:

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In a recent article on Vancity Buzz by Ryan Biech regarding Hutton, you’ll see a clip of Ben going away from his defender on a zone exit and its subtle but its such a pro move that any coach would love to teach that all day long. Im not a coach, I can barely skate but I know an amazing move when I see one.

Marty McFly had the Nike’s and the hoverboard and he traveled through time, we don’t need to travel through time though; The Canucks have Ben Hutton right now and he just might be that find other teams wish they had. Thats been our position on every eligible player we could have taken and now its Vancouver’s turn to enjoy some talent.

It could be argued this is a fluff piece on BH (it basically is) but even Chris Tanev would admit that Hutton brings the Canucks game to another level, you know if Willie would allow better players to be on the ice with him instead of Prust and Dorsett for entire periods at a time.

#Huttonmania is runnin wild in Vancouver and its gonna run wild all over you.

Follow my twitter: @always90four

Blue Jays Love Them Some Home Runs

Despite the way things have gone since the last time the Blue Jays won the World Series, they’re still my fav MLB team. I may not be the most vocal guy for them and I have given my fair share of criticsm. However, this current roll the Jays have been on has been fueled by the long ball and man do I love the long ball…and so do they! 

Now, the Jays aren’t new to hitting long bombs away or letting go of that real rocket, far from. In the last 10 years, Toronto has hit plenty of homeruns, the only problem was that usually the guy hitting it was the only one that crossed home plate.

So what’s different this go around? Well for starters, everyone on the team likes getting on base. Up and down the lineup there really isn’t a hitter that doesn’t contribute nightly with his share of base running.

Here’s a breakdown of the current batting order:

Tulowitzki, Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, Smoak, Martin, Revere, Pillar and Goins

You can’t pitch around any part of that lineup because they…will…burn…you. Six of those nine players are very dangerous and are all reasons the Blue Jays have decimated pitchers all year long. Its such a long season and the post season takes everything up a notch but the lineup they currently hold gives them a chance to once again do something special for the entire country to cherish.

Let’s look at the hits: Toronto is tied for 6th in the MLB with 1159 hits. They make the most of every plate appearance. Of thoses hits, 244 or roughly 20% of their hits go for two bases. You know they all about that base, bout that base no troubles. Toronto also leads the league in extra base hits with 435. 

If you think about that for just a second, approximately 35% of all their hits are hard enough and far enough to reach at least 2nd base if not further. But what about the back back backs?

When it comes to the lasers over the fences, Bautista and friends lead the Majors with 180 dingers. Just over that 15% mark. That doesn’t sound like a huge number but considering over 1 in 10 hits goes over the fence, thats pretty good turnover.

Everyone loves the long ball, its the reason they have a Home Run Derby at the All Star Game every year. No other sport has an event that equals it, no not the dunk contest either. The sound a homerun makes, the arc from the millisecond it leaves the bat, the sweet feel when you are the one at the plate; homeruns are just the best. But don’t take it from me:

Just close your eyes when Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista are at bat; I’d almost guarantee you’ll know a homerun when you hear it. There’s nothing like it.

A lot of this came to a head today when Edwin Encarnacion did the most Canadian thing ever when he hit not one, not two but THREE yes THREE homeruns in a 15-1 route of the Tigers. What made it even more special was the fact he hit a 2 run, a 3 run and a Grand Slam for a combined 9 RBI!!!

A homerun hat trick? In Toronto?

Eddie has a murderous swing this year, as he has in previous seasons and he is making pitchers pay. 

Oh, and after the third dinger? The fans…you know what, here:

Does it get any better than this? A berth in the MLB post season or better yet, the Fall Classic would be the cream on this amazing season.

In case you didn’t get enough homerun love by now, here’s a great video that hilites this seasons Blue Jays bombs to Johnny Cash. FOR….THE…..WIN

The sweet smell of the grass, the crowd on their feet and that crack of the bat; the homerun is every bit entertaining as anything in sports…and more.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Maybe We Were Wrong About Luca Sbisa

Before things got, how do I say this properly, dicey; the only things we really had to overly criticize were not only the gameplay of Luca Sbisa but the shiny new contract he got for said awful gameplay. Was it really that bad? Sbisa likes to get in the dirty areas and he was on one of the Canucks top D pairings. Maybe we need to look past the results right in front of our face and ask ourselves:

Were we wrong about Luca Sbisa?

There hasn’t been much to get excited about this past season and even less in the offseason as Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have put their management skills on autopilot. They passed on my pick in the first round, Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets, they let BC boy Cody Franson dangle his free agentness to no avail thus far and they traded Zack Kassian for Brandon Prust.

And that was just one week.

We keep referencing the apparent awful multi year deal of Luca Sbisa and how it was the beginning of doom and gloom in Canucksland. It was so polarizing that you had to ask yourself “is there something we DON’T know about him or is management really that clueless on how to judge talent garbage?”

In the Ryan Kesler trade that sent Nick Bonino and Sbisa back the Vancouver way, there was a chance the Canucks could start building up their stable again and that a guy like Sbisa might be able to help solidify an aging and sagging back end.

What we know SO FAR is that Luca Sbisa has not made the Canucks defense better, in fact, he’s made it worse.

Statistically speaking, Luca scored better than 8 players on the Canucks last season, there’s a catch though; his 11 points beat out such players as Tom Sestito who was pretty much an after thought of the Canucks, Sven Baertschi who came at the deadline and didn’t get a chance to play enough games to beat Sbisa’s numbers, Brandon McMillan who was a Canuck technically, injury callup Alex Biega and Brandon Defazio who we can only assume stole Zack Kassian’s jersey when he was injured so he could play.

Points don’t tell the whole story as there are some defensemen that are more of a pure defensive asset also called a stay at home defenseman. Most of us wish he actually would stay at home. As I said, points don’t tell the whole story, let’s take a look at the descriptive statistics:

  • His +/- was an unimpressive -8, tied for team worst with rookie centre Bo Horvat. Knowing what we know about Bo and his defensive zone faceoffs, Sbisa pretty much was the reason Horvat even had a minus. If this was golf, Sbisa would be one of Vancouver’s top guys…it is not golf.
  • Plus minus can be the result of bad luck sometimes, coming off the bench as the play turns the other way, being put against the opponent’s top lines or in this case being a horri-awful defenseman. But maybe we were wrong about Sbisa; lets look at his giveaways as he might just be a chronic case of wrong place wrong time:
  • According to foxsports.com, Luca had 46 giveaways in 2014/15 which works out to just over one every two games. We used to be able to count on the bad Roberto goal to start a game, Mason Raymond tripping over the blue line or the ever famous Sedin hooking penalty. Luca Sbisa hands out more giveaways than your local radio station.
  • The Pizza man did have 14 takeaways last season which in itself is impressive because that meant he created a positive situation on the ice for the Canucks. It doesn’t say in the stats how many of those takeaways were then turned back into giveaways but I don’t want to dump on the guy too much.
  • How bout hits? Sbisa finished 2nd on the team with 151 hits behind fellow signee Derek Dorsett who had 166. Benning said Sbisa likes to get in the scrums and brings grit to the team. Technically, he’s right there. Im pretty sure Luca hit Hamhuis at one point this year, so hits don’t mean a lot in this case.

So overall his stats say he hits, he gives it away as much as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and we all want him to be a permanent stay at home defenseman, like…at his own home. But what about that contract?

Luca Sbisa was signing ridiculous contracts before someone paid him to do it, he just liked them. Ok, he’s not Matthew McConaughey but if someone throws 3.6M per at you, you take it. Even him. He surely doesn’t deserve it and you can go on the Internet and find plenty of reasons why, as well as players that are better and make far less.

What it all sums up to is that we are stuck for the time being with this:

I think consistency. Don’t have a great game and then a bad game. Be solid every night… I don’t think I’m great at anything, I don’t think I’m terrible at anything. Obviously there’s so many things I need to improve on. I just think mentally, especially playing in this market, it was tough at times. – Sbisa after year end media interview courtesy of vancitybuzz.com


So he’s not great at anything except knowing how much money he needs to IMMEDIATELY sign for and he’s not terrible at anything except for the 50 minutes after the game starts. As for the other 29 teams, they don’t mind:

The question then must be answered – Were we wrong about Luca Sbisa?

No, no we were not. But you just laughed through enough tears that at the very least you’ll get through tomorrow and then remember he’ll be in the Canucks starting lineup come October.

Its a shame that Sbisa isn’t the OFFICIAL “Swiss Miss” but he is fitting of the title. 

Bowness Coverage – Post Draft, Pre Frenzy, Present Disappointment

This past week has really been a circus of emotions but that hasn’t stopped Canucks twitter and pretty much anything with a pulse from having a say. The NHL draft came and went with many storylines dictating the start to the summer, free agency begins July 1st and hopefully there is a shred of happiness that comes with that. Above all else, it seems Jim Benning may have some critics.

Early Saturday morning Eddie Lack was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 3rd round pick and a 7th next year. On Tuesday afternoon the move we all thought was coming before the draft finally happened, but to a team we never expected; Kevin Bieksa is a Mighty Duck in exchange for the Ducks 2nd round pick next year. 

That alone is a big pause for the cause. 

1) The outrage in Canucksland was heard when Lack was moved for a 3rd round pick, many believing he was worth more. Benning was approached with eight offers and Carolina had the best one. What makes me wonder is if that was the best he could do, why trade him at all? 

Going forward why not keep the combo of Lack and Miller? Big deal if Markstrom walks, at the very least they could have moved HIM for a pick. It hasn’t seemed to matter who is in charge of the Canucks when it comes to goaltending, no one has a clue how to approach it. 

By the time Thatcher Demko is ready, Eddie Lack would be finishing off his 3 or 4 year deal and no doubtedly we would have found someone to partner up with Eddie, quite possibly Joe Cannata or someone else in the system. Everyone knew Lack would be able to sign a very cap friendly, team friendly deal and give the Canucks quality goaltending. Miller is our stop gap and with that tandem they could have actually made it work.

The goalie problems will never end in Vancouver, but thats ok, we’re used to it.

2) Just when the summer was about to get real snarly for Kevin Bieksa, Jimbo made the move I guarantee he did not want to do. Canucks South gained another member on Tuesday when Bieksa was sent to Anaheim to join buddy Ryan Kesler.

Benning did secure the 2nd round pick he was asking for, sadly it was the same one San Jose was offering and you wait, it would have been A LOT better. Bieksa is now on one of the most dangerous teams in the league, one that will most likely destroy the Canucks 5+ times next year.

Jimbo did well to get value out of Bieksa before he entered free agency and with all Juice’s injuries its actually a pretty saavy move. Its a shame he didn’t get what he was offered last week, we could be talking about a good player instead of guy that was just there in round 2. But the draft isn’t a sure thing so I give you kudos Mr Benning.

3) Yannick Weber was not qualified by the Canucks this week which begs the question: WHY!!!!? He was one of the few bright spots the Canucks had last year, he actually made a few powerplays worth watching and we actually didn’t care his name wasn’t Shea. How Benning let this guy slip to not even have leverage to oh I dunno keep his rights at least is nuts. 

Am I wavering here? I can’t tell. Maybe Benning has bi polar disorder or schizophrenia? Make one bad move, then one good move then another bad one. By October, there might be nothing left to criticize: we’ll all be dead from sarcasm.

4) On the plus side, Alex Biega and Linden Vey signed, oh and so did Jacob Markstrom. All very cap friendly numbers and maybe all this hair pulling will end up being a good thing? We wanted a rebuild, we wanted the problems gone and in a roundabout way I think Benning might be doing it.

Im not having fun typing those words and by the time free agency is in full swing I could take back everything and call for his head. Being a Canucks fan isn’t easy, being a Canucks armchair GM is even harder.

5) Side bar – Mike Richards may have a very rough ride back to the NHL; and that’s if they even let him back. He was stopped at the border with oxycodone, a very strong pain killer, and with that, the Kings released him. Richards was given a second chance in LA and it looks like thats all he’s getting. How serious is this? We will probably find out in the coming weeks.

6) Kind of got away from the draft so lets get back into it. At pick 23 Nick Merkley, Kelowna Rockets star forward, was NOT picked by the Canucks. I cried for a short time and my wife pretty much wanted me to shut up but as life happens we ended up getting the better version of Mike Fisher aka Mr. Carrie Underwood. 

Brock Boeser is the newest Canucks forward and although I know jack squat about him, it sounds like he is all business, and his business is doing the hockeys. Getting through the hyped up first round was tough and from the looks of things we did better than Boston.

Mr. Minnesota is a 6 foot hulking winger who is a self professed “power forward” that goes to the net and gets dirty in the corners. Maybe we’ll be so busy hoping Zack Kassian turns into Milan Lucic that Boeser will be our diamond driller.

The past few years have been good to the Canucks in the draft and hopefully ol’ Eggs Benny gets lucky from this one. Years from now we may look back and see all of our fortunes started here; I’m wrong a lot so lets not dwell on this. 

7) Going into July 1 there are a few guys the Canucks could take a swing at and even though they aren’t winning a cup soon, they can take a chance on these fellas and maybe parlay them down the road:

Cody Franson – Vancouver is in the mix to bring the BC boy home but he may not come cheap. With Bieksa gone and not having to sign Lack, there may be a few bucks in the kitty to sign this dman. We don’t have what you would call a good defensive core so Franson would definitely help. WANT LEVEL – HIGH

Joel Ward – I’ve wanted this guy for probably 4 years now and even though he’s getting older he still has some skill a few of our boys could learn from. He’s beat us around the net when he played for Nashville so we know he gets dirty. Won’t cost tons so he’s potentially affordable. WANT LEVEL – MEDIUM

Mike Green – I guess Washington isn’t home for Mike Green anymore. He’s still a valuable defenseman in many peoples eyes and if he somehow came to Vancouver I’m pretty sure he bounces back. Losing Kevin Bieksa and gaining Mike Green? I like that trade off. WANT LEVEL – HIGH

Johnny Oduya – Something something Stanley Cups. He’s 33 but he’s been to the top of the mountain twice and that might be worth talking about in the dressing room. Is this the direction Benning wants to go though? Maybe a bit more than we need. WANT LEVEL – SEMI MEDIUM

Antoine Vermette/Justin Williams – Doubt either of these guys gets a contract but they are worth talking to. 

8) Is Jim Benning done surprising us? Are there any other guys tha have played their last game in a Canucks jersey? Burrows? Edler? Higgins? Sbisa? Don’t hold your breath, I don’t think we’re done.

9) Pass it to Bulis is done with the Vancouver Sun. Daniel Wagner and Harrison Mooney put me on the Stick in Link feature one Tuesday and the next thing I know I’m the GDT guy for Canucks Army. I owe tons to these two and I can only hope their podcast keeps going and they keep pumping out quality shenanigans. 

SALUTE!

10) I ended on a music feature last time and becaause its summer, this one is no different. Here’s one of my new favorites from an amazing band. I hope Canada Day puts a smile on my face for the hockey fan in me but honestly, spending the day drinking beer, swimming in the sun and painting an apple box with my two little girls is all I need.

Enjoy!

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

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