markus naslund

Markus Granlund or Markus Naslund? SO TOUGH

Safe to say most of us have been pretty critical of the recent moves the Canucks have made and the newest one really hit a nerve. Jim Benning moved (what we believed was) budding forward Hunter Shinkaruk for butt of all current jokes and former Calgary Flames forward Markus Granlund. Its been a few days and the pain is still fresh but the mobs have gone home.

One has to wonder, ok so far it’s just me, but what was Canucks nation like when 7th overall pick Alek Stojanov was traded for Markus Naslund? Obviously, no twitter, no internet and no Benning but thankfully talk radio would have had it’s say in the CKNW days. Were fans mad, were they overly critical? I had to know.

 

The 1991 NHL Draft included both Alek Stojanov AND Markus Naslund going 7th and 16th respectively in the 1st round and it’s no revelation that one of these players went on to be one of the better players the NHL has ever seen, while the other, well….I’m sure he’s doing something productive. Fast forward to 2016 and a guy the Canucks had high hopes on (Shinkaruk) gets moved to Calgary for Markus Granlund who the Flames basically had also given up on.

Both the Canucks and Penguins were fed up with their players and they drafted and flipped the switch, which goes down in NHL history as one of the worst trades ever.

These types of trades happen a lot. Two teams are frustrated with a player that they just can’t get any more out of and hope they can flip that player and end their misery.

Not knowing a whole lot about Granlund, I decided to play a little game of NASLUND or GRANLUND – two players with similar situations, similar sounding names and a fan base that critiques the prizes given away, or lack thereof, from Safeway Score and Win. So let’s see how we all do:

 

  • One started the season with 31 games on the big club before getting traded, scoring 4 goals and 3 assists, while the other played 66 games potting 19 goals and 33 assists before being shipped away.
  • In his first full season he had 4 goals and 7 assists, the other participant had 8 goals and 10 assists.
  • One of these players might have a pair of Nike shoes, the other….was in a Nike commercial
  • Ok last one, there weren’t very many were there? This player often had his name mispronounced for someone who is not his father, while the other is just not the one we wanted.

Hopefully now we have all learned so much more about new Canuck Markus Granlund and how he compares to a player who we really weren’t sure on at first but became one of the greatest Canucks of all time.

Never discount the potential. For all we know Granlund plays with Boeser in 3 years and we have the next dynamic duo. I’m reaching, but maybe not as much as you’d think.

ANSWERS in order: 1) Granlund/Naslund  2) Naslund/Granlund 3) Serious? 4) Naslund/Granlund

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Sedins And Hansen: The New… West Coast Express – A Hot Taek

 

Its been a long time since someone has given a Canucks line a catchy name. We had the Mattress Line, Kid Line, Brothers line (but we won’t talk about that one because honestly, who came up with that one), KLM line, That 70’s line and American Express among others. Some of those aren’t even Canucks ones but after a few I realized Canucks fans aren’t that clever, they’ve also had a ton of unexciting players to name together. But there is one line that stands out above them all: The West Coast Express – Naslund, Morrison and Bertuzzi made up one of the greatest, most productive lines of all time even better than Gretzky, Kurri and Larionov. 

But that was a long time ago, over 10 years in fact, so isn’t it time to recharge that line with NEW members? Henrik and Daniel Sedin are very deserving of a new line name and with Jannik Hansen platooned on the other wing he has received a new lease on life and is producing as a true Sedin winger. Its been such a long time since the West Coast Express that many new fans don’t even remember the first one. What a great way to bring fans full circle.

Crazy idea? Probably. But think of the marketability. SEDINS NEW WEST COAST EXPRESS!!! Forget Naslund and Bertuzzi, these guys are as old as the train itself and still produce nightly. Just like the REAL West Coast Express, you’ll never lose your hat when the Sedins are rolling. Need a rest? Henrik and Daniel are there to carry the load while you get some much needed relaxation, sadly if you are playing on any line but theirs, that means you are stapled to the bench.

It’s not all about the Sedins though, Jannik Hansen brings his own trademark style to the rejuvenated line – like Naslund and Bertuzzi, Hansen is no stranger to breakaways; however Jannik is more like Skytrain than the WCE – frequent in-explainable power outages that result in long delays, in his case scoring. But fear not new West Coast Express followers, now that Hansen is on the top line, his production has never been better and at age 29 he’s well on his way to his best season ever!

This is nothing new to you though, you all have seen how well these three play together. In an article by Jason Botchford of The Province he echoes why the Sedins and Hansen just make sense. Or you could look at my last hurrah why they should be cemented together for the foreseeable future. Would it be smart to reboot the mid 2000’s “West Coast Express”? I say yes and if I’m wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

At 35, the Sedins are still a draw if you have any sense in you and if we get this thing trending on the twitter it can get legs. I mean, jeez #TweetDanielaHat trended. How vain are we? It was a great hashtag and the Bulis Boys know how to unknowingly create a trend.

The Canucks are not playing their greatest hockey right now and a welcome distraction is needed and renaming the Sedins/Hansen line is just that distraction. I’ve seen the hilites: we don’t throw hats, we start the wave when we’re losing and we DON’T THROW FREAKING HATS!!!! If we can’t muster up enough courage to do anything remotely productive, like a 16 year old in his parents basement blogging …….

…or on his latest 36 hour Fallout 4 bender, then lets bring back something that quite frankly we all used to love. Hank and Dank aren’t Nazzy and Bert but when it comes about excitement, real fans know how exciting these guys are and I would say they are definitely on par with that line in a slightly different shell.

So even though you are thinking this –

By Manny Mahal

You’re still seeing this pretty regularly –

By rapturjesuss

Henrik, Daniel and Jannik – your NEW West Coast Express.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four ……….if you still think I’m alive after this article.

 

Todd Bertuzzi Brought The Spotlight Back To Canucks

It’s crazy to think Todd Bertuzzi is still able to play hockey at 40 years old. Most players his age have called it quits and moved on to the next stage in life, well unless you’re Jaromir Jagr. Big Bert feels he still has some gas left in the tank and as a big fan myself, I hope he can give it a go one more time. His time with the Canucks will be remembered the most and what we may forget is that he helped bring the spotlight back to Vancouver.

Struggling in Long Island and not exactly getting along with management, the beginning of superstardom happened in February 1998 when Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe were traded to the Canucks for Trevor Linden. What seemed like the destruction of a franchise, and to a degree it was, it was a blessing in disguise. Bertuzzi brought his big frame, smooth skating and feather light hands to a Canucks team that needed a reboot.

Bertuzzi would emerge as a top line player early on in Vancouver and eventually was put together with star winger Markus Naslund and Andrew Cassels. His angled drive to the net was something to be marvelled. Todd gave the Canucks a true power forward that the team really hadn’t seen in their lineup in ages. He set up shop in front of opposing goalies around the league and could not be rivaled in the NHL during the early 2000’s. When the “West Coast Express” made its inaugural start in January 2002, Big Bert took off.

Combined with center Brendan Morrison and all star Markus Naslund, the West Coast Express quickly became the NHL’s #1 producing line. With 82 goals, 100 assists and a sick ton of PIMs from 2002 through the end of the 2003 season, Bert hit his stride and everyone could see it.

Bertuzzi was a badass as well, and we all wanted in on his distant, grumpy interviews. Everyone wanted his jersey and we all liked how he just didn’t seem to care what people thought. His snarl was his trademark and he didn’t take crap from anyone, sometimes even the coach. I don’t know why Canucks fans adore the black sheep so much but they always seem to gain popularity.

What also can’t be forgotten is the ever visible “dip”. Ah yes, Todd Bertuzzi and his wad of chew. Not an interview went by that Bert wasn’t enjoying a dip. His answers to questions were slurred and short because no one wants to swallow that stuff. With his short answers came his short temper.

Multiple suspensions kept Bertuzzi from potentially winning the scoring title in 2002 after foolishly coming off the bench to help team mate Ed Jovanovski (not a real police officer) fight off the evil Scott Parker of the Avalanche which got him 10 games and possibly ended his career after the infamous Steve Moore knockout punch that had him suspended for a total of 20 games. He wasn’t a good boy that Bert but that only gave him more popularity with his edginess. He was a GIANT in Vancouver….foreshadowing.

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credit gettyimages.com

Apparently Wayne Gretzky thought enough of Bertuzzi after the Moore incident that he invited him to Team Canada Olympic Orientation Camp in 2005 and eventually named him to the Canadian Olympic team for Torino in 2006. Should Todd have made that team? NOOOOOOOOO way, but we all wanted to believe he had changed. He hadn’t.

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credit olympic.ca

As great as the ol’ grump was, he could turn it on and off quite easily and when the off switch got flicked, no one knew when it would go back on again. He floated around the ice most games later on in his tenure with the Canucks and eventually both the Canucks and their fans had enough.

So we can really thank Bertuzzi on a few levels: He was traded for uber goalie Roberto Luongo in Florida and was later traded from Florida to Detroit for Shawn Matthias. See a pattern here? Matthias was traded to Vancouver last season in the deal that sent Roberto BACK to Florida. Crazy I know, but keep up I’m getting somewhere. Would Shawn Matthias have made his way to the Canucks via the Red Wings? Who knows? But he’s here and we like him a lot.

Really, the Florida Panthers deserve a lot of credit as well for helping shape the Canucks to what they are today.

As Todd Bertuzzi tries to get his last gasp of NHL air with potentially the Ottawa Senators farm team in Binghamton, we can think back to a truly zesty career and the many quotes, goals, hilites and low lites that made up Big Bertuzzi.

Thanks for the memories Todd. You had the moves of Lenarduzzi, you looked like the watoosi and night in and night out, you called the goalie Suzy. Heavy Eric you said it best, it’s called the Todd Bertuzzi.

Go get em 44.

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Canucks Need Recharge On Powerplay

Much like the two men in this photo, the Canucks powerplay was once very productive. Gone are the days of the booming shot from the point by Sami Salo, a monolith in front of the net in the form of Todd Bertuzzi, the snipe from the top of the face off circles by Markus Naslund or heck, Henrik and Daniel Sedin just cycling their way to an easy goal. What started fairly hot this season with Hank, Danny and the VRB; has turned into nothing more than a fun exercise in passing. The Canucks PP is in serious need of a recharge.

As of Wednesday Dec 10, Vancouver was ranked 16th on the PP at a 18.3% clip. With 3 PP markers in the first two games, the tease of something finally working again was easy to buy into. Radim Vrbata fit in quite nicely as the final play when the Sedin’s were done goofin around with the puck and adding ex Los Angeles Kings AHL star Linden Vey to the first unit had an immediate impact. Had we figured it out, was the farce over? No it wasn’t actually; but the positive start gave us something to work back to.

Amazing how these two are related isn’t it? You can sense the bitterness built up from years of failure, false hope and pure unadulterated anger. Considering games are won and lost in the playoffs on special teams, you’d figure that would be a key focus point. We remember the good days of being spoiled with Nazzy, Bert, Morrison and Salo. They just made it look so flipping easy.

When you look at the Capitals power play, they have it figured out; they have Alex Ovechkin at the blue line and everyone’s job is to essentially get him the puck so he can blast it into the net. It’s worked pretty well too! They’re 2nd in the league with a 28.8% success rate. Not bad. Ovie has 6 goals thus far with the extra man and my guess is that climbs higher.

In 2010/2011, Vrbata had 10 power play goals, he’s at 5 already this year. Maybe they need to tweek how they setup and have him at the blue line. His shot is so hard and when it’s up close it takes more work for him to get that final pass. Set him up like Ovechkin and let it rip. Get Linden Vey down low with the Twins or at least work him into a position where Vrbata can set up at the back.

They aren’t reinventing the wheel here folks, there have been proven ways to make the power play work. It usually starts with the faceoff, so maybe throw in Bo Horvat as an experiment, his focus at the dots is amazing and who knows, maybe he can turn it up. But that just gets the first unit going.

When the A team doesn’t get it done, there isn’t an answer behind door #2. Sure, its a bit of a case of yips but there needs to be the same hustle and dedication as the first group. Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins have been criticized lately for their lack of well, anything. Clearly everyone can see that Brad Richardson, Jannik Hansen and Shawn Matthias are blowing up on the radar so give them their due and blend them in.

Burrows may have hit his production wall and could easily be on the decline so if it IS broke, fix it. Have Bonino, Richardson and Higgins as a unit. Chris Tanev can help but maybe its the whole setup that’s wrong. There is a fix here and all the armchair coaches have their opinions. Go back to the strengths and just exploit them. This Canucks team has a lot to offer still, they just need to find their way….maybe tomorrow would be nice.

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