ryan kesler

Canucks Dealing With Bo Money, Bo Bridges

The summer is in full swing and there is still no Bo Horvat deal. Everything that has been said so far is that a deal will get done, we should be patient and to just let it be. Jim Benning has already locked up Erik Gudbranson and Anton Rodin to deals, spent some cash on July 1 to acquire Michael Del Zotto, Anders Nilsson, and Sam Gagner West. There is just under $9 million left for the Canucks to spend this year and one would think Horvat would have been the first deal made.

Seems logical, no?

He was arguably the team’s best player last season and with the new additions to the club as well as a new coaching staff, Horvat should see yet another improved season. The talk has also been out there that he would become the heir apparent to the Captaincy after Henrik Sedin retires. Does it not seem a bit ridiculous then that he hasn’t been signed yet?

A deal will get done sooner than later and this will all be put to rest. With that Bo money will most likely be a Bo bridge. No, not the famous actor Beau Bridges best known for his supporting role in the 1989 blockbuster “The Wizard” also starring Fred Savage. Bo’s bridge could be a simple 2-4 year deal with a take home salary of approximately $4 million. Knowing the Canucks, however, they’ll follow suit with the rest of the NHL and offer a ridiculous contract in the six-year range at around $5-6 million per.

So like little Jimmy Woods from The Wizard lets go on a quest and look at 5 memorable bridge deals the Canucks ponied up for:

  1. Pavel Bure – this guy did OK in the money category. After a decent start to his NHL career, Bure’s rookie contract expired and he got his first taste of NHL money. Signing a 5 year/$24.5 million deal with the Canucks in the off season after losing in the Stanley Cup Final would be Pavel’s big break into superstardom. After getting traded to the Panthers in 1999, Bure would eventually sign another monster contract for 5 years/$47.5 million. He clearly is the exception to the rule in Vancouver because most Canucks don’t make it past a bridge deal for one reason or another. Maybe there’s something to that?
  2. Henrik and Daniel Sedin – hard to believe these two guys played for next to nothing for so long. It’s also hard to believe they signed TWO one-year deals prior to their true bridge contract. Could Horvat sign a one-year deal like the Sedins and blow it all up? Henrik and Daniel cashed in after their three years and inked identical (obviously) 5 year/$30.5 million deals. Currently going into the last year of their current four-year contract the sun will soon set on the Sedins but they will have proven to everyone that every single penny was earned.
  3. Cory Schneider – how they ever let this guy go is still confusing. Schneider owned the NCAA before coming to Manitoba and eventually the Canucks to show his worth. As the backup to Roberto Luongo, he still earned quality starts and for a season or two was part of the best goalie tandem in the game. Of course, that all went to crap and here we are. After his entry deal, Schneider signed a two-year contract before the 2010-11 season and he became a household name outside of British Columbia. That earned him a 3 year/$12 million deal and from there he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils and is now banking a combined $42 million for seven years which started in 2015. That one worked out well.
  4. Kevin Bieksa – a relative unknown, Bieksa created a name for himself as a gritty defenseman who could make a pretty play or two. From “Bieksa-face” to the infamous “stanchion goal” that took the Canucks to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994, Bieksa was a fan and media favourite and after his first two-year contract with the Canucks for a measly $1.05 million combined, he stepped up and earned a 3 year/$11.25 million deal. Not bad for a guy drafted in the 5th round! He upped that deal in 2011 signing a 5 year/$23 million contract. Bieksa has always played for true value IMO and has never been over/under paid. He’s a guy the NHL should take note of and maybe settle down with the ridiculous contracts.
  5. Ryan Kesler – hard work pays off and Kesler is a great example. To the people who knew him the closest, he was willing to give a literal finger to keep playing. After Kesler’s entry deal, he was offer-sheeted to a 1 year/$1.9 million deal by the Philadelphia Flyers which the Canucks matched. He earned it before getting injured around playoff time. His bridge contract took him to the next level before inking a 6 year/$30 million which turned him into a star during, go figure, the 2011 Cup run. “Beast mode” was born and the expectations grew. It seemed both the Canucks and Kesler were souring on each other and he was eventually traded to “Californiaaaaa” and is now in the second year of a 6 year/$41.25 million contract with the Ducks.

These are all great examples of what Bo Horvat could fetch before ultimately inking his career-defining deal. What will the Canucks offer Bo, what will Horvat request? Like Kesler and a few others, Bo’ money may lead to Bo’ problems. Time will tell but for now, Jim, please pay the man.

photo – bcmag.ca

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Canucks Are Kinda The Phantom Menace

Positive – I just saw the new Star Wars movie. It was pretty good. Some cheese but building basically a new story isn’t easy. Its been a few years since Episode VI so you can forgive them a bit. 

Negative – The Canucks can’t seem to figure out what it is they’re doing. Are they destined to tank and get Auston Matthews, he of Zurich fame? Or will they continue to part together this team and hang by a thread like Luke Skywalker’s hand did in the Empire Strikes Back? Sweet reference hey?

How do these both tie together? The Canucks are basically Episode I – The Phantom Menance. Everyone couldn’t wait to see the rebuild, the how it all began or in the Canucks case, will begin; but sadly once people saw it, they realized it wasn’t all that good and everyone wondered if the franchise would get any better….or if this was the new suck they would have to endure.

A long time ago, in a salary cap era far, far away…

 

The 2013-2016 Canucks existed. There were questionable draft picks, questionable trades, questionable signings and ROCK SOLID CRITICISM at every turn. This has always been the norm in Canuckland but lately it seemed every decision was getting harder and harder to make. Was this team really that bad? Or are they a victim of injuries, some bad roster moves and an inability to see the forest for the very near trees?

Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have done some things that would make you scratch your head: trading for Derek Dorsett, Brandon Prust and Brandon Sutter are a few of those things. Signing those same players PLUS Luca Sbisa, Linden Vey to not very good contracts as well as waiving what seemed to be up and coming defenseman Frank Corrado are also things that happened. If you’re shaking your head even with no numbers in front of you, odds are your neck hurts.

This has and will continue to be a season of “Will they or won’t they” draft Auston Matthews with the first overall pick and it also is joined very tightly by the question of will this team lose out in the first round of the playoffs? As of today, both are very real possibilities which should frighten everyone. How can a team be so bad that they pick first overall but good enough, albeit, in a Wham!’s greatest hits (awful) of a division to hang around in the playoff hunt?

In two words – The Sedins.

No matter how hard this team seems to botch the opportunities they get, the Sedins always seem to be there to bail them out, usually in droves. Jannik Hansen is the latest benefactor of their talents and he’s having a career year, it’s no joke. The rest of this team is struggling to even possess a cold body that the crime lab could identify dental records from; they’re basically a skeleton.

The word “tank” comes up so much but no respectable athlete will ever tank. It’s not in their DNA. No one likes to lose. What the Canucks have in front of them though is a losing lineup. Injuries to star players, and I use that term quite lightly, Dan Hamhuis, Luca Sbisa, Ryan Miller and Chris Tanev (OK he’s actually a star) have hampered the team to the point of starting Linden Vey, Linden Vey and unbenchable Alex Biega.

Other decisions however, put the team in a position to lose all on its own. Starting Linden Vey in place of Adam Cracknell against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night is dumb. Does Vey really bring that much physical impact to a game that benching the only guy even putting in a visible effort on that line makes sense? It’s beyond me. That’s on the coach.

These decisions, however minuscule add up and eventually may be the reason the Vancouver Canucks are proud to select from Somewheres, Arizona…Auston Mat…you get the point.

I have long supported this team, even with the decisions that have been made and I still believe there is some grand plan. What I don’t get is the path on how they plan on getting there. Finding out a trade was available for Ryan Miller to be shipped is shocking; Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom would have been an entertaining tandem until Thatcher Demko was ready to take the throne.

Giving in to Ryan Kesler’s demands and sending him to Anaheim when, if you really think about it, Chicago wouldn’t have been that much worse seems like a forced hand move. I don’t know what the return is on any given team for the players Benning wanted gone, but there has to be better options than what he received.

Thankfully there are bright spots, like the Phantom Menace, that keep us interested. Only recently have some of these come to light; take for example the Sven Baertschi line and what it’s produced. There hasn’t been a whole lot of actual “production” but the Baertschi/Horvat/Vrbata line since its brief inception around the beginning of December has netted those three a combined CF% of 59.4. Stunning!

George Lucas had to start somewhere and we got to see how cool pod racing was and the force, the force was there.

The goals haven’t arrived in particular but their opportunities have increased immensely. The Kings hammered the Canucks on Monday 5-buzz but guys like Baertschi have started to make an impact both physically and offensively. I believe its a matter of time before this line catches extreme heat. I’m rarely wrong, ask anyone.

Jared McCann is also a bright spot and carrying guys like Dorsett and Prust can’t be easy. This guy has had to endure awful linemates while his faceoff talents go to waste. He too will rise up the depth chart soon enough.  Being stuck with two Jar Jar Binks can only last so long before they axe those characters.

Playing out the games right now is all that they can do. A trade might be on the horizon but gifting a prospect or someone who can actually help the future isn’t the way to do it. This team might in fact go all the way to last place and if it does we should be ok with that. What isn’t OK is all the knee jerk reactions that come with it.

The coach can only ice what he’s given, the GM what is made available to him through trade or other. In the mean time, the Canucks will still struggle and that is all part of the process. It’s not fun most nights but it’s still a process.

Like Star Wars, it didn’t really get good until Episode IV.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Canucks All Smiles After Trading Kesler and Bieksa…Mostly

Watching the Canucks wait for the opening puck to drop after 60 minutes against the Ducks was tough to watch. Plenty of story line to go on and if Vancouver even puts in 40 minutes, they probably could have beaten the Ducks. That didn’t happen, they didn’t put in 5. Aside from that game though, things are noticeably better in Vancouver after jettisoning Kesler and Bieksa to Anaheim. They didn’t really have a choice but Vancouver’s loss is actually their own gain. Who would have thought no Kes or Juice would be a good thing? 

You can’t replace experience but the Canucks should be all smiley face emojis now that they don’t have a selfish centre and an aging, stale defensemen bogging them down. 

Only recently has Ryan Kesler started to show his worth after inking a 6 year deal worth $41M. His 3 goals are alarming but his body has been beaten to nothing over his career. Thankfully the Canucks brass saw that they had an unhappy, selfish player and granted his exit to the Ducks, apparently Chicago wasn’t lucky enough! Now, the Ducks are on the hook for a whole lot of wasted space and it only gets worse for them.

The Canucks took on up and coming defenseman Luca Sbisa and Nick Bonino as well as Anaheim’s 2014 1st round pick who now is the Canucks 2nd line/3rd line pivot Jared McCann. We all know Nick Bonino aka  too many men on the ice was moved to the Pens for Brandon Sutter and his injury is being felt up and down the middle of the lineup.

On the surface it would seem the Canucks are very happy with their return on Kes and on a scale of 1-10 smiley faces, they have to be an 8. McCann is quickly turning into a reliable two way centre and is leaned heavily upon only 26 games into his career. When Sutter returns, McCann will be able to see a bit more space and further his game even  more.

Luca Sbisa has gone from new guy to token hated new guy to apparent 2016 Cyclone Taylor Winner. Figure that out. The return for Kesler a year later is easily in favour of the Canucks and for Anaheim, they  have to start breaking down how much Kesler is going to cost them:

So far, Ryan Kesler’s “Between Two Zambonis” skits are costing the Ducks $1.25M/ per episode – might want to get syndicated Kes. Imagine if they continue to film these things? Their budget will be through the roof and for a guy that isn’t exactly friendly, they’ll be off the air in no time; but they’ll still be paying him until Ryker, his son, gets drafted.

Feeling better yet Canucks fans? We don’t have to pay for this guy anymore and look how much happier the team is. Ben Hutton can’t wipe the smile off his face but I’m beginning to think he has a medical condition because no one should smile that much. Just kidding Ben, nothing but love.

HUTTON MANIA!!!!

But who really cares about Kesler anymore? Let’s go over how disappointed the Ducks must be that they have a extremely underperforming defender in Kevin Bieksa.

I love Bieksa, I really do. His interviews are the stuff of legends and he doesn’t hold a grudge against Vancouver. You can tell when he converses with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. They’ll always be bros…fo sho.

Bieksa just signed a 2 year deal that will net him $4M per. We thought Luca Sbisa was overpaid? I’m so happy we’ve come around to seeing Sbizza has more to offer. Can you imagine paying Bieksa that kind of coin for 2 seasons? Oh man, that’s not even healthy. At some point Dave Nonis will be let go for suggesting the awfulness that is the old Canuck guard.

Jim Benning has quickly become a genius and even though many of us are ready to have his head on a platter, he quietly has turned the Canucks around and if we’re all patient enough we might just buy him a Christmas card next year. Not this year though, they’re awful.

It is yet to be seen what the pick for Bieksa will turn into but having moved him has given Vancouver the ability to give Frankie Corrado Ben Hutton a roster spot and if you watched the two of them on split screen in the same game, its not close. Ben Hutton can become a hybrid of Edler and Tanev and imagine if he does; ok don’t, I hate seeing those pictures all mashed together like they do on the Internet, its creepy.

At some point, everyone will stop grading this trade like so many others that have gone down and we can all focus on one of two things:

  1. How bad the Canucks are currently doing and….
  2. Is Willie Desjardins still the coach?

I feel like this is the direction we are headed and to put a final stamp on things, YES, the Canucks won those trades and they purchased the uber smiley emoji because they are set up the middle for years to come; or until they waive one of them for nothing and Toronto picks them up.

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Anatomy of Bo Horvat: The Next Ryan Kesler

It’s no secret we all love Canucks sophomore Bo Horvat. He’s physical, he’s fast, he has amazing hands and he’s like-able. His progression up the depth chart in less than a calendar year has not been seen in some time by a Canucks forward and it looks like he’ll only get better. We’ve seen this before; Ryan Kesler was that guy that we couldn’t stop talking about. Will this time around be different or are we destined to repeat history?

 

Bo Horvat enters his second season as the favorite to take over the 2nd line centre position, much to the chagrin of Brandon Sutter I’m sure. All Horvat has done is win endless amounts of faceoffs, create energy on a team begging for a spark and put the puck in the net. Maybe Bo isn’t quite Kesler 2.0 yet but he’s being put in a position to climb that ladder.

With 13G, 12A, a SHG and a GWG in 68 games, Bo wasn’t a world burner last season but his presence at the face off circle made him a threat every time he was on the ice. He finished an impressive 2nd on the team with a 51.4% clip in the middle along with his shooting % of 14.1. On a team that really doesn’t shoot a lot outside of the top line and the defense, that isn’t exactly amazing news.

But it’s not just the statistics that make Horvat a future star, it’s his hustle and willingness to create the play, he doesn’t just wait for it to happen. He’s wise beyond his years and understands that the pro game isn’t just one step and you’re there; it’s progression. Jason Botchford wrote a great piece about Bo here and it shows how he has elevated his maturity and readiness to be more for the Canucks this season.

Last season, we all wanted Bo to make the squad but it wasn’t just because he looked good out there, he looked like he belonged. That’s a tough thing to accomplish as a 19 year old but as the season went on and Willie Desjardins loosened the leash a bit, Horvat began to blossom.

The natural progression of any young player is to work your way up and earn your keep; Bo made quick work of his 4th line duties and even the 3rd line position. He just kept getting better and on a Canucks team that wasn’t, he brought more and more every game.

Sound familiar?

Ryan Kesler was that player we all wanted in the lineup but in a different sort of way. Kesler had a similar drive to Horvat but he had a bit of a mean streak to him as well. A slightly cocky American teenager, Kesler had grit. He was an absolute competitor and even if his body failed him, his heart and mind pushed forward.

Receiving a serious eye injury in the 2004 World Junior Championship against Slovakia, Kesler was close to losing sight in that eye, but he pushed on and was right back at it against Sweden. He would kill penalties and in the Gold Medal game against Canada he netted the infamous GTG against Marc Andre Fleury. USA would go on to win the Gold Medal.

Ryan also suffered a hip injury in 2006-07 and upon his return to the playoffs broke his finger in the opening round as noted here in a 2011 article:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Ryan Kesler would never admit that he and the Vancouver Canucks need a few days off before the Western Conference finals.

Kesler is the player who asked doctors to cut off a badly broken finger in his first postseason game four years earlier, and he is also the guy who returned to Game 5 on Saturday night against the Nashville Predators in the same period in which he was hit so hard by a deflected puck that the cut went right through his lower lip and knocked out a tooth.

So even with his swollen face turning shades of yellow and purple around the stitches crisscrossing jaggedly an inch below his lip, Kesler wouldn’t say he wanted time to recover.

Stubborn? Yes. Dedicated. Absolutely.

Kesler was a gamer for the Canucks and his shift disturbing nature along with team mate Alex Burrows gave the Canucks a needed edge in games where they weren’t always the favourite. He was everything we wanted in a Vancouver Canuck and he delivered the goods.

In the 2011 Western Semi-Final against the Nashville Predators, Ryan Kesler put the Canucks on his shoulders and almost singlehandedly won that series. Beast mode had arrived. Unfortunately, after that playoff run we never saw the same Kes.

His drive put him at another level and his body suffered and the strained relationship between the team, fans and Kesler began. It was never repaired.

Bo Horvat has a very similar motivation. He is a student of the game and unlike Kesler, he passes the puck when the time is right. Bo doesn’t necessarily have or require a “scoring winger” yet but when the time comes, there will be weapons readily available to him in the form of Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk and Jake Virtanen.

Both players have been very efficient when down a man and Bo is quickly becoming the PK monster that we lost when Kesler departed. It was such a huge part of the Canucks game when Ryan could kill important penalties and help the Canucks rebound the other way.

Vancouver isn’t going to be a team that draws too many penalties but when they do, Horvat will be a mainstay at some point and his ability to win the all important face off will set the team up for so many more goals than they deserve.

Looking at the similarities between Bo and Ryan is easy in some respects but when it comes to the chirping and the play after the whistles, its safe to say Bo will let his play between the whistles do the talking; something Kesler took awhile to establish.

This go around will be different for the Vancouver Canucks as they are making their build count this time. It may take a few years to fully develop but the future will be in young Horvat’s hands.

Hopefully Bo doesn’t require emergency eye surgery or have his finger practically dismembered to prove his dedication to his team and fans; we’re done with the travesties.

The trade that sent Cory Schneider to the Devils for the 9th overall pick may end up being the Canucks saving grace and as Bo continues to develop into an all around threat at both ends of the rink, we can only smile more.

Ryan Kesler may have left the Canucks and all the great years he gave us will not be forgetten; but Bo Horvat has an opportunity to eclipse Kesler and turn the Vancouver Canucks into HIS team. The fans are already on his side and so is the coach. Both so different and yet very much the same, Horvat at some point will be compared to Kesler for his accolades in Vancouver but his path will be much different.

As the comparisons pile up to who the next Cam Neely will be, why not see what the current Bo Horvat can do? The sky is the limit for this kid and at some point he’ll probably be awarded a letter that only a few players before him have worn better.

Bo Horvat isn’t Ryan Kesler . He’s Canadian, he’s young…and he’s a Vancouver Canuck.

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Canucks Haven’t Won Anything Yet

Let’s do a little exercise in Canucks history shall we? Remember back in 2011 when everyone had the team pegged to be the Stanley Cup Champs in October? Well they didn’t win it in case you happened to forget, or you lived in a bat cave or something, but I guess in the batcave you’d have wifi. Vancouver and most of the hockey world believed it was time the Nucks won the Cup and they almost did.

A shootout loss to the Kings in the first game of the season with those sick awesome retro 40th jerseys and ok, the Kings had purdy neat ones too! Were they doomed? No. Still no 82-0 teams ever so it was fine. The team got it going early though and redeemed the prognosticators, so basically Twitter.

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Oh I miss those jerseys
Courtesy of windsorstar.com

The Canucks had a great goalie tandem that won them games they might have otherwise lost. The beauty of it was on any given night it was Cory Schneider or Roberto Luongo and it didn’t matter; we were excited to see both and a W usually resulted with the start. This season has been a bit of a learning experience and possibly a little hesitation on coach Willie Desjardins‘ part to cycle both goalies.

He certainly trusts everyone in front of Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack when he confidently rolls 4 lines nightly. They have earned it though. Pick a night, any night and aside from the few stinkers, it could be the Sedin line, the Bonino line, the BoHo line or the Vey line stepping up and leading the charge. Even in 2011, it didn’t quite feel this impressive. I do remember how great Manny Malhotra was (61.7 % Faceoff wins, 2011)so don’t think that team sucked or anything.

This 2014/15 has impressed so far and safe to say not many people thought this team would be where they are at this point. 6th in league standings, Miller putting up top 5 goalie stats and countless other achievements by the rest of the team but they are still missing something.

What I’m getting at is, as good as the 2011 team was, when they were pushed and forced to show what their compete level was, they answered the call. Again, a few stinkers to start the year, ahem Chicago game; but the realization games came when they battled Anaheim and Dallas late in 2010. When Cory Schneider stole the game against Dallas on New Year’s Eve, that was the a ha! moment. That’s when this team really turned it on.

When the Red Wings beat Vancouver over the weekend, that was the kind of game that could have helped the Canucks cause not only in the standings but in the makeup of what this team can be. It’s still early but those “test” games need to be statements that this year’s team actually CAN do some damage. If the LA Kings are still wiping the floor clean against all things Vancouver, there is still work to be done.

The win against the Ducks and Ryan Kesler was huge but one game does not a season make. Beating the Blackhawks convincingly wasn’t what it used to be and the hate level just isn’t there. Maybe that’s a good thing. If this team can put some emotion into their games going forward it might help swing a decision here or there.

So maybe the Canucks can start showing off just a bit in the next while against oh I don’t know, Pittsburgh? Maybe a thrashing of the Leafs, burying the Habs in Montreal and the California crew to end the calendar year can help silence this critic.

Sure, Vancouver is 17-7-1 and 1st in the Pacific, but they haven’t won anything yet.

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Canucks Prepare For Black Friday

It’s hard to talk about the Canucks lately when they only seem to play after a new episode of HBO’s The Newsroom has just aired. BTW, it was basically 9 months before that happened again. However, it’s TOTALLY understandable why they haven’t played much: they are getting their game plan together for Black Friday. With so many deals to be had, Walmart riots and a date with the ol’ CBJ, the Canucks are getting their things together.

By the time Vancouver rolls into the ‘Bus, they will have had a yummy turkey dinner, their second meeting of the year with arch nemesis Ryan Kesler and his Anaheim Ducks, a fun get together with the New Jersey Devils and former #1 tendy Cory Schneider and the first meeting of the season with our Chelsea Dagger loving buds, the Blackhawks. Lots to be thankful for there and if things go swimmingly, there may be a favorable place in the standings waiting for them too!

We can’t forget Radim Vrbata sitting at the team dinner staring down Eddie Lack for the last leg on the turkey….and the wishbone.

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Don’t touch that turkey Eddie!

Usually on Black Friday there are crazy ridiculous deals to be had and even more on cyber monday. With the way the Canucks have been playing lately though, Black Friday came early this year. Snipe shows Radim Vrbata and NickI only score ginosBonino have been giving Vancouver the one two punch it has been looking for for years. However that has worked out, it has allowed the bottom six to strut their stuff too! Canucks fans feel like they should be a bull in a china shop and don’t want to break the success they have, but the china shop is the size of Costco.

Nick Bonino has put up 7 goals and 7 helpers in 18 games and is on pace for 200 points this year. To be fair I’m not that great at math so it may be closer to 60 points or so. The bonus is he passes and gets his whole line involved which his trade counterpart RK17 did not do so much…at all. Nicky B is a breath of fresh air on the second line and it gives Hank and Dank more time to be wizards and sorcerers on their shifts. Seems like the team that rolls 4, wins more. I think that usually translates come May too!

The other TODAY ONLY special has a tie to Kesler as well, he straight up thugged #17 as soon as it was vacant. He doesn’t care, he’s Radim “The Dream” Vrbata. Good luck telling him he can’t have it. With 13 points on the year and 6 goals, he should easily surpass his 20 net rockets from last season with the then Phoenix Coyotes. The Sedins are looking like they are good for it, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Pulled a Fasth one on him there…..i’ll wait.

The deals hopefully will be there before the darkest of Fridays as newly waived Kevin Connaughton is available. It would be smart for Willie Desjardins to ask his GM Jimmy Benning to claim him. Its a smart move considering he already knows the Canucks system, but…..it’s soooo much better now and the ghost of Derek Roy is not exactly haunting. Go get him, he’s free!

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You gonna drink that?
Photo courtesy vansportsblogs.com

There is one final deal the Canucks will definitely take advantage come Wednesday, they play the Oilers. They suck in case you didn’t know, well, they sure do against the Canucks anyways. So pull up a chair or maybe a couch cushion, grab that craft brew and some gummy worms and remember that the Canucks will be up early in line to snag that latest win.

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Canucks Break Internet, On Paper Anyways

Despite my lack of Photoshop skills, I know a trend when I see one. Its not a new photo, its not even Kim Kardashian, but darn it, its art. After “Paper” magazine posted a very revealing photo of Mrs. West (shes nekkid), their goal was to, as the kids say “break the internet“. Im not sure how one would break the internet but I doubt a photo does it. The Canucks on the other hand, have found a way to make people talk about them again both on paper and on the world wide portals, thus breaking the internet.

At this point last season, the Canucks were BANG ON the same in the point totals, 24 if you are looking for hard line facts. So what makes things soooo different this season? Well, for starters all four lines are rolling, scoring and sharing pics of Eddie Lack eating tacos. Last season, Im not sure if pictures of Eddie Lack eating tacos were available but I digress. There wasn’t a goalie controversy or a battle really. Ryan Miller has done well as the Canucks new #1 and Mr. Lack has flourished as a backup. The headlines are gone with both Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler moving on and taking their talents to both South Beach and Long Beach.

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Mmmm tacos, canucks.com

Our coach Willie Desjardins seems to be getting the most out of this team and hey, the Sedins are looking Sedintastic again. We can thank RadimThe DreamVrbata for his contributions and his dedication to just shooting and staring.

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Photo courtesy of vansunsportsblogs.com

Im trying to figure out why this team feels so different and maybe it is indeed addition by subtraction, well and some addition again. The arrival of Bo Horvat and his keen urge to be a good team mate is promising as well. It just feels like a dark cloud has slowly been lifting off the city of Vancouver, figuratively of course, and the team is beginning to rebound.

With some extra grit through Linden Vey, Derek Dorsett and Brad Richardson, heck even the Sedins are throwing the odd hit, who knew? The Canucks are answering the challenges as they face them. These aren’t your Canucks folks, I think someone lost their Canucks and they landed here instead.

This team has a feel like they could pull off some upsets this year and if they gave us the indoor/outdoor classic again, I’m almost positive we win that this time. You see, we didn’t need that picture of Ryan Kesler posing nude for ESPN, we didn’t even need Ryan Kesler, ok this year I mean. With the new leadership throughout the team both in the front office and on the ice, all those lessons they learned are finally paying off.

We can put the moral victories to bed and enjoy ACTUAL victories now! If only we could get lower beer prices and Mark Messier out of that awful Rogers NHL commercial. Did they really not do their market research on that? This is that ONE time, we actually would like to be left out of a commercial. No one cares about the Canucks anyways, right rest of Canada? Leave our team alone, you ruined it once…..Mark Messier.

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Canucks Victims Of Their Own Success

After Alex Burrows received his FIRST suspension, I know right? it made me pause and think: are the Canucks victims of their own success? Dig deep, dig Grand Canyon deep or Adam Levine V-neck t-shirt deep and think if all the publicity and fame has finally dug the Canucks a hole. It has, I answered it for you, but keep reading because its not always about the first paragraph.

As fans, we feel the Canucks are getting the raw deal. Every game there is a penalty that makes zero sense and we all look at the TV and go

IMG_0957.JPG
Jackie Chan just makes this easy
Photo courtesy of performinsider.com

We all think it and it makes me think the thoughts that most likely are biased but I think them anyways. When the Canucks got to the top, they brought a lot of haters with them like you know, Nickelback. It didn’t matter how many awards, ticket sales, merch sales, top 4 finishes or whatever the whatever, the Canucks were building a hate empire against them. Referees were getting in on the action where they could too!

There are most definitely a few players in Vancouver who soured the league and its fans. Alex Burrows doesn’t exactly have the cleanest track record. His “diving” has cost him a few bucks ala Stephane Auger, his biting has pissed off most of Boston and most recently Taylor Hall was dealt the “People’s Elbow”. You goto the well enough times and it runs dry.

Our good friend, Ryan Kesler, may have helped the Canucks fetch a fancier ransom if he wasn’t well, a chotchma. If Roberto Luongo wasn’t absolutely dragged through the mud time after time, Mike Gillis may have saved his job or at the very least one of the marquee goalies he was harbouring. You see, as the Canucks became the creme de la creme, they brought with them an audience that judged as well.

Now, all those brownie points have been used up and its time to start earning again, just like when you cash in your air miles to to Maui in January. Everyone is watching Vancouver and they all have pre-determined opinions on how they should be handled. The national media which is basically the Toronto support group does…not…like them and will burn them at the stake every chance they get.

Opposing teams and fans yearn for the next screw up to spotlight the bad guys that the Canucks really are. It wouldn’t hurt Willie Desjardins, Trevor Linden and Jim Benning to have a meeting with their boys and get all the obvious crap in the open so the team can rebuild a once glimmering reputation that actually caught them a few breaks when it mattered.

It’s not just talent that wins games; sometimes a break here and there goes a long way. There is an abundance of skill on this Canucks roster and you don’t think everyone else sees that? Keep the train on the tracks and focus on what got you this far. The West Coast Express didn’t happen overnight, well, ok, it kind of did. But you know what I mean. Build that winning formula again and this time maybe when you’re up 3 games to 2 in the Stanley Cup Final, the refs will call that first punch to your face and not wait to see you retaliate on the 5th one.

A final note: it kills me I wasn’t able to tie a Backstreet Boys reference into this article, I had it all ready to go too.

Oh well.

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Alex Burrows Reborn

His story is already well known: ball hockey star gets shot in AHL after slumming in the ECHL, turns heads and cracks NHL roster. This story gets better and better and almost had a fairytale cherry on top. But that was then and this is now. After a dismal season at best under John Tortorella, Alex Burrows is looking to be reborn this season.

The life was good; top line winger with Henrik and Daniel Sedin potting 30+ goals and getting league wide recognition as a finisher. His past life as an agitator slowly fading away with his true talent shining through. But the foot injury that sidelined Burrows for the start of last season and then breaking his jaw as well as a fight with Phil Kessel that ended in yet another injury; forced Burr down the line to the point fans and media wondered if he would ever get his spark back.

Now, on a line with Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins, Burrows gets that chance to light up the spark. His never die attitude had to have gotten the attention of new coach Willie Desjardins as it warranted an offseason visit in his hometown from the new bench boss. Burrows has been part of a core that was 60 minutes away from winning the Stanley Cup; now he looks like a shell of his former self. The drive is still there and with a rejuvenated line that doesn’t include the name Ryan Kesler, he might just get his chance to step up.

Alex knows how to pot goals and he knows that the dirty spots are where they come for him. A healthy Burrows gives the Canucks another valuable scoring and playmaking winger that the players trust and that the coaches are willing to go to when the game is on the line. In 2011, it looked like Alex was that guy:

Trade rumours swirled this past year and with up and coming wingers Jensen and Shinkaruk, the writing is on the wall. It’s time to see the new Alex Burrows. He’s never backed down from a challenge. This is one he’ll want to take.

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Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

Canucks Hoping To Go From Boring To Scoring

When free agency opened on July 1, the Canucks had a few bucks to spend after dealing Ryan Kesler, Jason Garrison and buying out David Booth. Most expected Vancouver to up their chances of scoring by adding the latest UFA talent to their roster. Well, they signed a goalie; albeit a good one, hardly their strongest need. Ryan Miller will backstop the team this season and the next 2 after but scoring is still the glaring vacancy. The Canucks are hoping to go from boring to scoring this season.

In case you haven’t noticed, the scoring wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams last year. It was dormant, it was dormants fantasy, if you call right now for two easy payments of 29.99 you can buy what dormant wants to be. So basically I have either lost you at this point or you get what I am saying, Nucks didn’t be scoring last year. Let’s recap who could have scored:
Anyone on the first line, most of the second line, at least two guys on the third line, once in a blue moon the fourth line and four of the six d men.

Fast forward to today – we have less of those guys that could have scored for us. New GM Jim Benning did add Radim Vrbata who will be good for at least 20 goals with the Twins this season, the returning players in the Kesler deal Nick Bonino and Lucas Sbisa will probably add a combined 15-20 as well and quite frankly if the Canucks get amnesia this summer they can go back to their normal scoring ways and most of their problems should fix themselves.

Scoring is a tough problem to fix when you have to redefine chemistry from top to bottom on your roster. Thankfully, an all star goalie in Ryan Miller will make up for any sort of transition period as the season starts. The other bonus is we don’t hate Miller yet so he would really have to screw up early for things to fall apart. Its practically Christmas again Canucks fans! Remember that moment when we are so excited for the new guy that we’re blinded by the fact we overpaid for mediocrity but we haven’t won the Cup ever so….basically it’s no big deal welcome to the team.

I will say, the Canucks have made some drastic moves to change the complexion of their organization and with Benning and Linden at the helm, they MIGHT just be on the turn for the better. Time will tell.

If all of that fails, we can always try and sign Luis Suarez.

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