cody hodgson

Bo Horvat: The Anti-Cody Hodgson

2013 was a pretty rough ride for Canucks fans: Roberto Luongo had a sucky contract, former head coach Alain Vigneault was fired, Derek Roy became a Canuck for a bit and Cory Schneider became the Canucks undisputed #1 goalie. But then he was traded at the Draft and Bo Horvat became a Vancouver Canuck.

It was a lot to take in in a short amount of time, with the lockout and all, and it was tough to tell if trading one of the top goalies in the league for a power forward who would still be in Major Junior when the season started was a good idea. How the heck do you part ways with the younger, cheaper option in net when a less than glamorous trade for Roberto Luongo would have made so much more sense?

Drafting Horvat was a great choice but the Canucks had gone down this road before and not too far back either. Cody Hodgson looked like he was going to be Vancouver’s future captain and had dominated the OHL prior to making the pros. A handful of injuries with questionable diagnoses, explanations and of course, Hodgson’s dad and agent, created distrust on both sides which no doubt affected Cody’s play.

Hodgson would eventually be traded for another work in progress, Zack Kassian and now, he is basically retired. A weird ride indeed.

Enter Bo Horvat – a beast for the London Knights and when it was time, a no brainer to make the Canucks after his 9 game stint in 2014. Bo wasn’t exactly used in the best situations aside from faceoff duty but you can blame a good chunk of that on new head coach Willie Desjardins. He wasn’t exactly keen on letting a rookie be a difference maker, even though he was making a difference.

Mr. Horvat finished his first year, sorry, BO (Mr. Horvat is his dad) with 13 goals and 12 assists, good for 10th on the team in scoring. Even though the Canucks were dominated by the Sharks that year in the first round, Bo had a goal and 3 assists in 6 games, not bad for a tucked away rookie! Willie Desjardins knew he had more than just a young kid who worked hard, he had a future star.

SPOILER: Willie does use Horvat more the following season.

I’m not going to include his fancy stats, his amazing faceoff % or what his secret goal song is but just know Bo Horvat is a gift from the future and we should cherish him.

His game escalated last year after he was taken away from the defensive center role with Derek Dorsett on his line and rewarded with Sven Baertschi. It took a bit but when the spark ignited, the Canucks changed. It looked like the two synced immediately after that first goal together and the good times kept on rolling.

This season, Alex Burrows has filled out wing with Baertschi and it’s a line that has impressed night after night. There’s speed, there’s scoring and there’s 3 B’s.

Trading away Cory Schneider seemed like a bogus move and that it was the first piece of many to put the Canucks in what we all thought at the time was a rebuild. They were simpler times back then. We also thought Roberto Luongo was hanging around but former head coach John Tortorella clearly botched even the simplest decision when he started twitter savvy Eddie Lack in the Heritage Classic indoor/outdoor game.

Luongo was traded shortly after.

The big question is always “Who won the trade?” Well, it’s still quite early to decide that but if you’re the Canucks, you have to think you have won. The Canucks have never sat on #1 goalie for too long and even though Luongo was here for 8 years, it felt like he could have been here for so much longer… maybe even his whole sucky contract?

It’s anyone’s guess about how the Canucks have seemed to transition rather smoothly from goalie to goalie in the last 12 years but there has always been an answer. There were some iffy choices in that time but looking back, Roberto Luongo carried things for so long and when it all came to a head, Cory Schneider was more than ready to be a #1, which followed with Eddie Lack becoming a #1, Jacob Markstrom holding the mantle potentially and Ryan Miller filling a gap until super goalie Thatcher Demko was ready.

As crazy as well all though the Canucks were, that position was never truly in jeopardy and trading up to get Bo Horvat was kinda genius. When Bo becomes Captain in the next few years it won’t be a surprise to anyone; his natural progression will have earned the right. Henrik Sedin will eventually become the #2 center and then probably retire and Bo will hopefully have Sven Baertschi by his side when that happens.

There hasn’t been any kind of drama from the Horvat camp aside from the fans and media alike proclaiming him the 2C/3C all of last season, OK and his rookie season too! When Cody Hodgson was here, it wasn’t just about his play but how his whole camp (dad/agent, etc.) questioning the Canucks’ handling of him.

The trade was a bit out of left field when we all thought trade deadline day was over, but to be honest, I never was really a fan of Cody… as a Canuck anyway. The “feeling” was never there. I feel the same way about Jake Virtanen to a lesser degree as I think his drama will play himself out of town and quite frankly sometimes the GM is just wrong on a guy.

So, as we see Horvat climb up the scoring charts and most likely become the team’s top scorer by season’s end, think about what the Canucks would look like without him. Secondly, think about Brock Boeser not having a solid center to get him the puck when he wins Rookie of the Year.

Bo Horvat is the anti-Cody Hodgson and we couldn’t be more happy.

OK, having a competitive team would be a good time but I’ll settle for this.


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Jake Virtanen, Cody Hodgson, Zack Kassian: Honestly, What’s The Difference?

This seems like a recurring theme with the Canucks. With Cody Hodgson, it was the promise of a potential future captain, a top line pivot and the ability to control a game himself. Trading Hodgson for Zack Kassian after “the run” was reactionary to get bigger and tougher. It never really happened and unfortunately, Zack needed to change some things too. Jake Virtanen is drafted as a complementary scoring winger that can hit and drive play.

He has one hit to his name that’s even worth talking about, the goals are missing and most nights, so is he. Is Jake Virtanen really any different than the past versions of “hope” in Vancouver?

Jake Virtanen was sent down to Utica on Wednesday on a two-game assignment, apparently, that will solve everything. Through 10 games this season, Virtanen has 1 assist and 13 shots, hardly even worth mentioning, even on THIS Canucks team. His deployment hasn’t exactly been ideal but then again what really is the best situation for Jake?

There were plenty of signs last year that Jake wasn’t exactly in a position to excel in the NHL after the Canucks kept him up on the big club. He struggled at times and didn’t really use his size to his advantage. Maybe he just needs to bulk up and focus on what made him worth taking 6th overall in 2014. Or, maybe he should focus on being an everyday NHLer and work his butt off like everyone else.

Virtanen has had it pretty good since arriving in Vancouver. He’s a Bieber bud, he’s the face of Twitter (ok he was just a guest but still) and if he ever DOES get his power forward game in check, he will be a whole lot more. Canucks fans have longed for an aggressor since the days of Todd Bertuzzi and that role has never been filled after he left.

Zack Kassian was supposed to be that guy, he was supposed to be the next Milan Lucic (kinda ironic, hey?) but Kassian just wasn’t the right guy for that role. He is a physical player with really soft hands but knowing what we know about Kass, he isn’t exactly Milan Lucic.

Before Kassian, it was Cody Hodgson that was supposed to be the next skilled star to carry the Canucks and maybe stick up for himself a bit too. To be fair, I don’t think that was the Canucks’ intent on getting Cody, he was a skilled and was going to be a goal scorer. Unfortunately, injuries, misdiagnoses, and a meddling dad pretty much ripped those dreams apart.

For everyone.

The Canucks have always looked for a talented forward that could stick up for his teammates as well as score big goals and drive the wing. They’ve had bangers like Raffi Torres, Maxim Lapierre and I guess Anson Carter but aside from Todd Bertuzzi and I can’t really say before my time but Stan Smyl and Harold Snepts (guessing here), it’s always been a need in Vancouver.

Can Virtanen be the player the Canucks and their fans want him to be or have they missed the mark yet again when they could have had, you know what, I’m not going there; he was the guy they wanted and that’s that.

I do remember that pick and from everything I had heard, he wasn’t exactly a game breaker but man could he hit! He does offer a lot if he can get things going and it may take a few years to become the Bertuzzi heir-apparent. What Jake needs is to keep his eyes on the prize; this team is so young and he has a real opportunity to be a difference maker for years.

It wouldn’t be the worst thing to see Jake build himself up in Utica for a few months and make him earn that spot in Vancouver. It’s not going anywhere, that can be assured. Willie Desjardins might not even be the Canucks coach the next time Virtanen plays with the orca on his chest so maybe it’s just the coach, who knows?

We all remember the “murders” by Jake, and no that isn’t a play on that alt rock/boy band, so we know what’s there. Does he, though, does he know what we know?


Check me out on twitter: @always90four

Raymond, Ballard and a 3rd; The Trade That Never Was

We’re 10 days away from the 2016 NHL trade deadline and unless Jim Benning and Co. go on a month long bender and forget they still have a job to do, the Canucks will be sellers at the deadline. In previous years, the Canucks have sold off what we believed to be important parts of the team (Hodgson, draft picks) but found out those would have just held us back.

So seeing that the playoffs are not an option for Vancouver this season and plenty of contending teams are looking for valuable rentals, what can the Canucks get for the future of the franchise? That same question was asked back in 2011 and 2012 but the Canucks were the ones doing the buying. What did we all think they should offer; how bout Mason Raymond, Keith Ballard and a 3rd round pick?

This was the package that was theoretically put together by anyone that thought they could run the Canucks back then. Of course, we never wanted to get rid of anyone of true value because the Canucks still needed to win the Cup; but we didn’t need Keith Ballard who Alain Vigneault basically cast off of the team and Mason Raymond was just good enough to fetch value on the open market, but we could have cared less about him.

As for the 3rd round pick, whether you play fantasy sports or you are actually the real life GM of a sports franchise, this was the very most you were willing to give away without going into the hot zone of future prospects or being shoo’d away for being to frugal. Giving up a 1st or a 2nd was usually out of the question unless you were getting back a premier player or a hot prospect.

The 3rd was the top pick in the 2nd tier of value so everyone was cool with that. But why did that trade never materialize?

Was it because in reality, it was awful? Was it not enough to fetch the likes of Shea Weber, Corey Perry or jeez, I don’t even remember the amount of players I thought could come back in that trade. It’s funny to think that the Canucks still had Cody Hodgson at the time and was so highly sought after by Canucks brass but would later become the scar just above your chin that you no longer can grow facial hair on.

That vacancy just annoys now and the embarrassing story that is the reason for it has just been told too many times. Imagine if they traded Hodgson at the height of his perceived value: Hodgson, Raymond, Ballard and a 3rd for Shea Weber; that totally would have sealed the deal.

Everyone wanted the Canucks to get better and we’re going through that same cycle all over again except THIS TIME, we suck.

Getting back to the pieces of yesteryear, Keith Ballard was a perfect fit for literally any other team because well, he’d get playing time. AV did not like Mr. Ballard and it was frustrating to see a top 4 defender benched or stapled to the bench on so many nights. Frankie Corrado must know the feeling.

Ballard wasn’t huge factor in the 2011 run but most felt he could have offered more had he actually played, same could have been said for Cory Schneider in the Final. Speaking of Schneider, Pass it to Bulis ran a story on this “package” back in 2012 and I forgot Cory was also a chip in the so called deal.

Thinking back, if that deal happened, we’ d have Corey Perry instead of Bo Horvat. Ryan Kesler may never have wanted out and….you know what, it’s fine. We’re better for it and I’ve moved on.

Mason Raymond was what Jannik Hansen is basically this season. Speed, skill, finish and back checking all described Raymond and he was valuable, in our eyes anyways, because it didn’t disrupt the core and we figured we could add some star power. I think a good chunk of the GMs around the league passed on our deal when they started seeing Raymond tripping over the blue line night in and night out.

That would be a deal breaker for anyone.

This trade may have been destined to fail from the beginning or maybe it never was offered but you have to wonder, would any team have taken that deal? There will never be again a package of that nature that would allow the Canucks to keep all the good and get rid of the suck.

Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis, heck Ryan Miller and even Alex Burrows are now all guys we mention regularly as trade bait. Matt Bartkowski wouldn’t fetch a ball so I can’t imagine there’s a use for him even at a dog park. The Canucks are in a rare situation where a few draft picks, B prospects or even one B level star is attainable through trade this season.

They also have the off chance of being able to draft “generational talent” Auston Matthews in June if they suck just bad enough to beat out both the Leafs and Oilers, ya those guys.

I don’t know if any of you have forgotten that the whole Milan Lucic and Cody Franson thing still may happen so a few extra picks, a kid from Zurich and some hometown boys might just make the Canucks worth watching again.

Anything is better than seeing them lose 5-2 for the 4th consecutive game.

The Oracle Says Kassian Is The One…OK, Not Quite

The journey Zack Kassian is on is an eventful one. We definitely haven’t seen it all yet and this circus is far from over. Since the trade that brought him to the Canucks for Cody “my dad says im the best” Hodgson, he has experienced extreme ups and downs. The hope that he would turn into the next Cam Neely or Milan Lucic isn’t much more than a wish right now. His play of late has given us a sliver of hope that he indeed is the player we hoped he will be. The Oracle said this would happen.

He’s given us funny gifs, viral memes and other notable internet shenanigans. Zack Kassian basically has gained the love of Vancouver and half of us thought he would be gone already.

His talent, although impressive at times, is still raw and Willie D and his staff are working to push the right buttons to get the beast within to roar on the ice. Zack has a prototypical power forward body and some pretty silky mitts. Up until recently, Kass hasn’t been able to put that all together for more than a game at a time.

But the tide is changing. Neo is starting to believe.

He has always been pretty good along the boards, it would take a gorilla to strip the puck off him most times in that area, he IS good, he needs to believe.

When Zack’s breaking down the wing he should be able to easily power past most defenders and go forehand backhand at will, like Todd Bertuzzi used to do. That underlying mean streak and that edge are one of the big things holding him back.

Tough love has finally been given to Zack with the healthiest of scratchings a week ago. The message was sent and for a lot of young guys like him, there is an “a ha” moment that acts as a wake up call. He was effing mad.

Am I frustrated? You guys have no idea how effing frustrated I am. But that’s the way it is. I’m not going to sit here and sulk. I just have to find a way. It’s no secret I need to start scoring goals and I need to be more consistent. I have two goals this year. I came in and I had high expectations… it’s tough to score when you’re riding the bike.

-Kassian on his benching
Taken from Elliott Pap of Vancouver Sun

Zack Kassian saw what his career could look like if he doesn’t realize his potential: free popcorn and Farmville game invites in the rafters. You don’t want that Zack, you know this road, you know where it goes.

The Oracle told Kassian the blue paint, shooting at will and playing with an edge will help him achieve his goals; Canucks goals in opponents nets. There has never been a better time for Zack to up his game.

There will be nights where dumb penalties will catch up to him, where he might show some disinterest or he’ll just punch someone out. Actually, the last one is ok, he can do that more.

Being a power forward isn’t easy I’m sure and being a star power forward isn’t something that happens overnight. A work in progress still? You bet. Giving Kass the chance to succeed? That’s a step in the right direction.

This is going to be the team that will turn heads for the next generation of Canucks fans. He’s not the One, heck he’s not even the Two; but Zack Kassian is on the road to realization and he might just be what we wanted all along.


If Willie, Jim and Trevor keep seeing improvements, Kassian can be great.

For now, we all are day to day with our theories. But the Oracle knows.

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Zack Kassian Is NOT Todd Bertuzzi

Well the title is really all I need on this but for kicks, lets keep reading. Zack Kassian was brought in to Vancouver to be the beef. He was brought in to be the answer to the bullying the Canucks were receiving. He was brought in to make teams fear playing Vancouver. Zack Kassian is NOT Todd Bertuzzi. He has not scared anyone.

He might not even be here that long.

When Cody Hodgson was shipped out, Kassian was instantly tied to Cody’s future production. If Hodgson went on to a star career and Zack didn’t, it would be just one more bust trade chalked up to terrible past decisions in Vancouver. Kassian was thrust into the gauntlet and we are all waiting to see how he gets out. Multiple line mates, inconsistent production and the ability to disappear. With a build like Zacks, alarms start sounding when he doesn’t fill out.

The problem with Kassian’s growth is that he doesn’t seem to learn. He has bonehead tendencies which cause him to take the same types of penalties at the wrong times and offensively he doesn’t go where his body should allow him to go. When you are built like Todd Bertuzzi, you drive to the net and play in front of the crease to get what you want. Either he doesn’t want to get banged up or he doesn’t have the ability to be that type of player.

If you remember, Todd Bertuzzi not only had hands softer than pillows, but he used his body to get what he wanted. From driving down the wing on the backhand and pulling it forehand top shelf to taking cross check after cross check to the back while he parked his big ol’ butt in front of goalies league wide. Bertuzzi had it all and for a time was THE best power forward in the game; he had a Gatorade commercial. He used what he had and knew how to translate that into point production. It didn’t hurt that he had Markus Naslund as his line buddy.

While its plain to see that Kassian is not Big Bert, its frustrating to see why he hasn’t made the next step in his progression. His hands are indeed smooth, he has the ability to puck control along the boards and keep it from going to his opponents stick. What Kassian doesn’t do is drive the net when we all know full well it would be tough to take that puck off his stick. So why not just adapt and take the league by storm? I can’t speak to that as anyone that knows me knows I can’t exactly play. Ask around.

The thing is: Kassian’s time is running out. There are players more than willing to take his spot. Hunter Shinkaruk and Bo Horvat, Nicklas Jensen and eventually Dane Fox; these guys are young, hungry and uber talented. Zack Kassian needs to get his game in check. The NHL is for the elite and Kassian hasn’t proven he is indeed that; not in the NHL and definitely not in Vancouver.

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