stanley cup

The Canucks Are Back In The Playoffs; Why I’m WILD About Their Chances

Photo courtesy of The Athletic

REVISION VERSION: In my excitement to write an article, I ran with the idea of a one-game playoff. It’s a five-game series for the first round, ala ALDS.

I apologize. Read it regardless.


The NHL and NHLPA have agreed in principle to returning with a 24-team playoff format when hockey resumes. Sure, they’ve essentially adopted the CFL’s model of allowing almost everyone to be a participant, but if you think about it for a second, this could be the beginning of a re-structured playoff format going forward.

Of course, the Vancouver Canucks would then be assured of a one-game play-in versus their heated rivals, the Minnesota Wild. The “purest” fan in me doesn’t love this idea 100% but really what is the big deal? The NHL did have a five-game first-round series format prior to the first lockout… OK, a little before that.

People will argue that it isn’t the playoffs with this proposed idea and to a degree, they’re correct. That being said, the play-in game is one of the most exciting games of the season, case in point the clip below:

The Toronto Blue Jays required a one-game playoff against the Baltimore Orioles in 2016 and in epic fashion, Edwin Encarnacion blasted a three-run homer to send the Jays to the ALDS. It was appointment viewing, especially in Canada where playoff baseball from the only team in the country had eluded its fans for decades.

Every pitch, every hit, every steal was monumental and played out like a high-stakes chess match. It was as playoffs as the playoffs could be.

Prior to the Wild Card game, there have also been a handful of extra games required to even get to the Wild Card game, dubbed Game 163. If teams with identical records were in the same league, a one-game playoff was required to get to the official one-game playoff. Confusing, right?

Baseball has embraced this format for years and it might be time the NHL reworked its playoff structure. Not too long ago, the WHL had its own one-game playoff between the Kelowna Rockets (you didn’t think I wouldn’t mention them, did you?) and the Kamloops Blazers.

Kelowna really had no business being in that game but they made the trek to Kamloops to face their age-old rivals on a heightened Tuesday night matchup to make it to the WHL Playoffs. Kelowna got spanked but the atmosphere was electric even as a fan in the away barn.

Rewind back to the Canucks.

A one-game playoff against the Minnesota Wild doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world but knowing the stakes are so high, it won’t take long to become must-watch television. After all, no one is going to the game anyway.

What I love about this matchup is the opportunity to exorcise the 2003 demons of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. You remember the ones, don’t you?

Wes Walz, Willie Mitchell, and the great Hnat Domenichelli. That team should have lost to Vancouver but it didn’t. This year, the new Canucks can right the wrongs and if they do they get a first-round matchup against, oh crap, the Colorado Avalanche.

I like Vancouver’s chances against Minnesota in a do or die situation. The Canucks are fully healthy and giving Jacob Markstrom the net makes them scary good. I also think this is the kind of game Brock Boeser could put his name back in contention as a star player against the team he grew up watching.

Speaking of Boeser, he hasn’t been the sniper fans, and I’m sure coaches, have wanted him to be but his 200-foot game has turned him into a more complete player. He’s not exactly being placed in situations where he can properly get off the shot that made him famous but maybe he just needs to find a linemate that can set him up.

Boeser also hasn’t scored a goal since he potted a pair Jan. 11 vs. Buffalo. Concerning, for sure. His power-play deployment is also something I’m not thrilled with as it’s beyond predictable of how he’ll get the puck. Anyway, I’m confident Boeser can get back to his scoring ways and this year’s playoff is a great opportunity.

Vancouver hasn’t faired well against the Wild this season and their 2020 has been all over the map. What is certain is that they’ll be healthy when this all returns much like the team they’re trying to forget about at the turn of this century.

This year’s Canuck roster isn’t a juggernaut compared to 2003, stating the obvious, I’m sure.

It still blows my mind that the Canucks never won that ’03 series considering they had one heck of a team and the hottest duo in the league in Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. They had THE Gatorade spokesman on their team and couldn’t muster one more win. In case you forgot, here’s what I’m talking about:

I am really not a fan of team sports like hockey returning during this point of the pandemic but at the same time, I can’t wait to see my favourite sport return. There are a lot of hoops the NHL will have to jump through to make their official return happen but after watching the UFC on Saturday night, I think it’s possible.

With the NHL bringing in this modified playoff format this year to make it fair to all the teams in the hunt, every one-game playoff will have as much intensity as the regular series themselves. Hockey is ready for a change and this might be the time to alter the game yet again.

They removed the red line, added trapezoids, introduced no-touch icing, and brought in coach’s challenges; the NHL is far from its origins but at the heart of it all, the game is the same.

24 teams with a chance for the Cup? Why not?

The Canucks may have a chance at Lord Stanley this season when only two months ago we were all concerned they would just miss out.

I’ll be here when it returns and I know you will too!


Check out the rest of my work over at Canucks Army and my vocal cords as a member of the PP1 Podcast

Could The Future Canucks Become The Championship Blackhawks?

There are few leading headlines that could draw the ire of B.C. sports fans quicker than comparing the Canucks to the Chicago Blackhawks in a good way. Currently, the Vancouver Canucks are nowhere near what the Blackhawks have become and aside from a few home run picks and a blossoming prospect pool, the Canucks will continue to tread water barely above the NHL’s standings floor.

But what if it all turned around starting this offseason? What if the Canucks won the NHL Draft Lottery and were able to pick Super Swede, Rasmus Dahlin? Could the Canucks actually right the ship and begin the ascent back to true glory?

It’s possible, a long shot, but possible.

The turnaround for the Blackhawks wasn’t when they drafted Jonathan Toews third overall in 2006, nor was it when they won the draft lottery in 2007 and took Hart and Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane first overall; the Hawks began their rebuild when they took Duncan Keith in the 2002 draft followed by Brent Seabrook in 2003.

Chicago’s defense would later emerge as the NHL’s elite group and was pretty much unstoppable. As the team continued to finish towards the bottom of the standings in the mid-2000’s they also picked up Corey Crawford, Dustin Byfuglien, Dave Bolland, Adam Burish, Patrick Sharp. These players were picked up in various rounds but the combined efforts of Mike Smith, Bob Pulford, Dale Tallon, and Stan Bowman created the team that most NHL franchises feared and also wanted to emulate.

That team had everything from top to bottom: grit, scoring, goaltending, defense, power play, PK; the works. Oh, and multiple draft picks.

Before the Blackhawks got there, they had similar numbers that resemble the current Canucks roster and it gives hope to a fanbase that might not want to believe this.

Check out the current Canucks stats:

Now, take a look at the mid-build Blackhawks in 2003/04:

OK, that team didn’t have Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane. No, it didn’t. However, there was a very young Tuomo Ruutu, Tyler Arnason, an impressive Steve Sullivan and aging forwards like Alexei Zhamnov and Igor Korolev. That team wasn’t very good and it would stay that way for a few more years, hence the lottery picks.

They would later add Martin Havlat, Radim Vrbata, former Canuck Adrian Aucoin, Rene Bourque, and even a soon to be retired Peter Bondra. There are some similar storylines that mimic what the Canucks have done like the acquisition of Thomas Vanek, Loui Eriksson, Erik Gudbranson and even Michael Del Zotto.

I’m sure a few of these pickups for Chicago weren’t loved, speaking at the Bondra move and possibly the pickup of Michal Handzus who would only play eight games for Chicago before tearing his ACL and moved on.

Here’s the Hawks after the lockout and take a look at what a few new faces do to this team:

Shrewd drafting clearly paid off for the Hawks and it’s possible Jim Benning is still creating a stable of players (hear me out) that could resemble this team in the next 3-4 years. Chicago didn’t win the Cup immediately with this team but the young group grew together and was anchored by an amazing defense, a few star forwards, and a supporting cast that drove teams nuts. The stats don’t lie.

So, where do the Canucks come in?

First and foremost, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat are the keystones of this franchise going forward. Having leaders like the Sedins still on the team to show them how to be professionals can’t go unnoticed. Gritty forward Brendan Leipsic could be one of the players that go completely overlooked as the team grows and his resemblance to Alex Burrows with more of a Patrick Sharp release, will give the Canucks future second line a real punch.

When Elias Pettersson steps onto the ice as a Canuck he will have the opportunity to become what fans have lusted for in a hybrid scoring forward that combines bits of Toews and Kane with the level-headedness of a Swede. Depth forward Adam Gaudette is on the verge of becoming a Canuck as well and even though he won’t get top billing, Kris Versteeg and Adam Burish didn’t either and the Hawks wouldn’t have won Cups without those guys.

I’m not saying Gaudette is a great comparable to either of those players but where they factored in the lineup is very close to where Gaudette will be for the next couple of years. Add to that the likes of Kole Lind, Jonathan Dahlen, and Canucks Army, favorite Jonah Gadjovich, and the Canucks might be closer to rebuilding this team than many thought.

Yes, I’m aware none of the last three will be mainstays and prime contributors to the team in the immediate future but there are numerous teams in the NHL that have had similar problems and have bounced back, let’s not think the Canucks are alone in this problem.

As far as goaltending is concerned, the future lies with Thatcher Demko. He has the makings of a superstar and like former Canucks Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo, he is a big game player that studies the game and is constantly getting better.

Chicago went with Antti Niemi when they won their first Cup and ran with Corey Crawford in the next two; definitely not superstars by any means but they were young and confident. Tough to say how Demko compares to them and every team has a different path to the Cup but Thatcher’s stability in net will determine how far the Canucks go in the future, much like Luongo dictated before he had his throne taken away.

The real results lie on defense. None of this may come to fruition without the luck and fulfillment of this year’s top prize: Rasmus Dahlin. It’s no secret Dahlin and Elias Pettersson would love to play with each other as they were friends and teammates on Team Sweden at the World Junior Championship and potentially at the World Championships this spring.

Dahlin is a game-breaker, nothing like the Canucks have ever had on their backend. He scores, he passes, he dangles, he dipsy-doodles. He’s everything this fanbase has ever wanted and maybe just maybe, missing out on a franchise center like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews can be forgotten if Vancouver gets a stud defenseman this June.

Look through history and see what each team had when they lifted the Stanley Cup: a top defenseman. Niklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermeyer, Bobby Orr, etc. All of these players made their Cup-winning teams a threat because they were game-changers. Rasmus Dahlin may very well be in that category but time will tell if that’s true.

Again, if the Canucks don’t get Dahlin much of this may be delayed until Vancouver can snag their man but overall, the Hawks and Canucks aren’t all that different in their growth. I guess the real difference is that Chicago knew it was happening and set themselves up for the future with multiple picks and picks in the right areas whereas the Canucks are trying to push the door open when it clearly says “pull”.



Photo – Sportsnet

Ryan Miller Is About To Have His Best Season Ever!

Whether or not Ryan Miller comes back to be the Canucks goaltender next season, he might just be in line for his most successful season ever. No, I haven’t been drinking and I don’t have any inside track to any trades the Canucks are about to make that would instantly catapult them up the standings. Miller is 37 years old this year and looking back to another American goaltender who had great success when he turned 37 is Tim Thomas, and he did some stuff.

For starters, I hate Tim Thomas. I don’t know if it is/was because he was such a stingy goalie or that he was so arrogant towards the Canucks or that he has a Stanley Cup and just basically left hockey. It all drives me crazy but one thing is for sure: his stats were real good that year, like Willie D “really good”.

So in 2010/2011, Thomas put up a solid 2.00 GAA and a .938 SA%. The season prior, he put up a 2.56 GAA and .915 in the SA% category. There were a few factors that contributed to that big season like Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara and super-pest Brad Marchand. Now, the difference between Thomas’ 09/10 season and Miller’s 2016/17 season is that Miller isn’t coming off a Vezina year.

Miller also has a catastrophic 2.80 GAA this year and it probably would take a miracle to get in the 2.00 range, like adding Drew Doughty and Damon Severson for starters. That isn’t happening as far as I know. What’s to say that Miller couldn’t just tear it up next year?

It’s not a sure thing he’s coming back to Vancouver but he has found his groove and honestly, if he had any semblance of a defensive unit in front of him, he could actually put up some serious stats.

Could the unthinkable happen?

If Miller does come back, this entire theory goes out the door. He has two NHL caliber defenders in front of him and that isn’t good enough to keep the puck away from the goal line. This is, of course, thinking Luca Sbisa is gone. He has given everything he has for the team and if he was able to play maybe 10-15 fewer games next year, he might actually do OK.

With three years in the books, Miller has built a rapport with the guys in front of him and it would be a great time to capitalize on that time. There won’t be a Cup if he stays but he could help the team stay above water while Thatcher Demko prepares himself.

Believe it or not, Miller’s tenure in Vancouver hasn’t even been his busiest. He could end up facing the 7th most shots in his career when this one is over. Last season was Miller’s only other Canuck campaign that would rank in the top-10. As far as goals go, this would be his 6th best season for GA. Father time has been good to Mr. Miller and a “defense first” system (can’t believe I’m writing that) along with finding a rhythm in net has helped him succeed personally.

As I said before, Thomas had a pretty successful 2011 season and if Miller is able to either find a team that can utilize his hot hand without burning him out or at the very least get some forwards on the Canucks that can keep the puck at the other end of the rink, he could be in line for his best season to date.

What Ryan needs to do is re-sign in Vancouver, get a new mask or just simply the same one but silhouetted black-out, same with his gear and he becomes our black knight. A goalie’s presence with just his gear is something to behold, see: Roberto Luongo. The new NHL jerseys will be released before next season and like the BC Lions came out with their RoboCop looking uniform, so could Miller and he would take no prisoners.

These are some pretty shaky parameters but it’s possible that Ryan Miller is saving some of his best hockey for the end of his career. Seems a bit far fetched but weirder things have happened.

I moved out of my parent’s basement and now I’m doing this from my OWN basement.

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Canucks Lack “THAT” Playoff Guy

Watching the Pittsburgh Penguins force a Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, I couldn’t help but notice yet another player that seems to always hang around the late stages of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Brian Boyle. Now he hasn’t been to a ton of Final appearances but he’s a guy you want when things go the distance. The LA Kings know exactly what they had with Justin Williams which is why when he was free, the Capitals were more than happy to add that Game 7 magic.

The Canucks aren’t in a position to be going the distance anytime soon, as far as we can tell, but they do lack the can’t miss talent that knows what it takes to make it through a long season and a long playoff push. If they actually let Dan Hamhuis walk this offseason, you really wonder what exactly it is that they are trying to accomplish.

In 2011, yes I’m going there again, they had built up a team that was battle tested, knew what REAL losing felt like and when it came time to adding a few extra playoff performers, they knew recent warriors Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre would be key pieces to their accession up the mountain. Raffi Torres ended up being one of those guys as well and every Canucks fan could feel that they were about to watch it all finally happen.

Well obviously it didn’t, big spoiler I know, and they have struggled to put together the right mix until recently and now that things are coming together, again, quite slowly, they need to add the pieces that will once again make them a chore to beat.

I look at Joel Ward and it drives me crazy that the Canucks never signed him after 2011. He’s gritty, he has a certain Ryan Kesler to him (which let’s not kid ourselves, we need), and he’s proven that he’s a playoff warrior. If the Sharks end up going to the Final, or even further, winning; he is a big reason why.

He’s not Joe Thornton or little Joe Pavelski but he’ll be a guy that will score a big goal in a game when they aren’t shining. Joel Ward is still valuable at 35 and is worth a look if a trade every came up. The Canucks aren’t in a position to go after the Cup right now so unfortunately for them, he won’t be in their plans.

Milan Lucic isn’t THAT guy but he might be able to mold into that guy. Sometimes its the guy you expect and at the same time, least expect to shine that actually does. He’ll come with a big price tag most likely but you can sell him at least as ONE of the answers.

There’s no doubt Steven Stamkos would be THE #1 guy to be THAT guy but I doubt the Canucks are close to landing him. We can dream and I mean, hey we got Luongo, but let’s all be real – that isn’t where this team is headed. Now David Perron, is still out there and ripe for the picking. Vancouver can right their wrong by getting him for dollars instead of trying to trade for his services. I think he’s a THAT guy, but I’m wrong a lot.

Kris Russell is rounding the rumour wheel and I believe many think HE is a THAT guy…he’s not. Let’s not Kris Russell ok?

Going full Chicago Blackhawks may be the answer, it’s kinda like the Marian Hossa model but as a team; Troy Brouwer and Andrew Ladd will both be UFAs and by the time this team is ready to pounce again they might get a small run to the second round and with Cup winners littered on the team, the impressionable guys will take notice.

Every team has a THAT guy when they win the Cup and the Canucks will need to start digging to find theirs. There is a potential Cup run inside this team but a few pieces need to surface for that to become a possibility. The recent success of Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton winning the World Championships with Canada give the Canucks more ammo that even missing the playoffs can produce winners.

Tanev is a THAT guy, Hutton is a THAT guy and so is Bo Horvat. But they are also more than that, they’re stars. Who is the guy Vancouver needs? July 1 will give us a glimpse into the answer.

Again, I’m wrong a lot.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This makes me sick.

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

I swear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

The Canucks Greatest Success Was Failure

It really doesn’t matter the year; the Canucks have only given us hope 3 times past the regular season. The first, was obviously in 1982 when they ran into the dynasty New York Islanders and it was over quicker than me and tacos. The second kick at the can was in 1994, the reason most of us became fans in the first place, the reason this blog exists. That one ended in pain and the beginning of a long hatred towards Mark Messier. The final chance at redemption was in 2011 and quite frankly it hurt the most; having the best team in the league and failing to muster any fight in the final two games just isn’t right.

After Saturdays loss to the Calgary Flames, the rational part of me says they weren’t good enough to beat the Flames. The fan in me however, was still bitter. It’s always the same result with these guys; why can’t they figure out how to get over that hump? Why can’t they just get it together. Year after year, the names may change but the story stays the same. Sometimes the names don’t even change. 

There are organizations that have seen the error of their ways and adapted, improved and won. The Canucks seem to be content with status quo or very close to. Why are they never a main player at the deadline or free agency? Why do they hold on to players long after their due date? It really is impressive. Committed to being a sheep and never taking a chance. When does it stop?

Every team has made mistakes that they regret and if they learn from them, they usually don’t happen again. Trading Cam Neely is one of those mistakes, taking the plunge on Messier after he crushed the hearts of thousands is another. The Luongo saga, Pavel Bure, Mats Sundin, Cody Hodgson, Luca Sbisa, it goes on doesn’t it?

I became a Canucks fan literally because of a Pro Set logo hockey card, 90-91 series, you know the one. My dad grew up liking Bobby Orr and I somehow identified with Cam Neely! and Ray Bourque. I thought Ninja Turtles were cooler at the time and my cousin said “you should like the Canucks, they have this guy named Pavel Bure and he’s awesome!” That was it.

So 25 years of the same thing year after year. Sure, there were some pretty good times in between but they never amounted to more than a second round exit or those few memorable losses in the Final. After listening to the most recent Pass it to Bulis podcast, they brought up how the pain, anger and bitterness from the likes of Tom Larscheid and Tony Gallagher are brought forward because they have seen this track on repeat way longer than we have.

You can’t really blame them. Take sports out of it for a second; imagine being amazingly let down/disappointed every year by the ones you love, oh and sprinkle in some good times just for fun. You can’t say you wouldn’t snap at some point, its human nature. Now, back to the Canucks. These guys just continue to let you down and we just take it for granted. We deserve better.

How many times did you try and beat the air ship level on Mario 3 just by keeping pace? Once you figured it out the P Wing was the answer, you dominated that one and Bowser was waiting for you. You felt pretty darn good didn’t you? Ya, you did; I did too!

Even the most realistic fan could have seen that Radim Vrbata should have been back on the Sedin line or that Bo Horvat was ready for better linemates or that Willie should NEVER have continued to put Sbisa and Bieksa together. Do kerosene and blow torches mix well? NO! So you don’t try and force it. 

Cory Schneider deserved a start against Boston in 2011, imagine that ONE…MORE…WIN! At what point does a coach see past the contracts, past the BS and just want to outright win? The teams that adjust when things just don’t look right are the ones that move past the pretenders.

There will be a day when the Canucks move past stubbing their toes on the same chair every day and move the FRICKIN CHAIR! It has to come right? When will the Canucks stop following in the footsteps of the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and to a degree the Calgary Flames? 

Drafting local might be a fun way to start. There are so many examples of how Vancouver could have taken a huge step forward but missed the chance because a player out east looked better. I don’t have to bring up the names because you know them too! Forget about the goalie of the future because you have a few of them, take a chance and see how they pan out.

There are players literally down the street or down the Coquihalla that can contribute at a high level, maybe watch a few extra games in Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria. 

I don’t care who is on the Canucks when they win the Cup. I don’t care if (insert mediocre player name here) is the captain when it happens. Its the logo on the front and everything that came with it that I’m interested in. Don’t you think the LA Kings would have loved Gretzky winning the Cup there? You bet they would have, but 2 Cups in 3 years will make you forget that.

Always90four was started as an homage to the greatest Canucks team ever, but I would love it if that team could finally be put to rest because we finally can cheer for a champion, not a loss that was really close. This current Canucks team has some pretty good pieces but unless they open their eyes and start REALLY planning the future, its Groundhog Day over and over.

Im tired of Punxatawney Phil.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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Canucks Need To Hit That

By now its quite evident the Canucks aren’t just losing the series, they’re losing the physical game too! We have no idea what injuries are affecting the guys that are playing but there is no urgency to hit the Flames off their pedastal. Michael Ferland, Ferkland, Ferby, Fernie..WHO CARES, has been allowed to run rampant around the rink and has gone unpunished for his consistent charging. With two games left in the series (YEP) the Canucks have to push back.

Calgary has been allowed to hit whatever and however they want and its given them an edge; not a skilled edge but an intensity edge. Can I say edge one more time? Vancouver isn’t a physical team and they have managed to get by on four productive lines all year. The Flames seem to like the rough stuff and that has forced the Canucks to be reactive. The unfortunate thing is that they have been reacting all series and haven’t been the ones setting the pace. The Canucks have registered 103 hits compared to the Flames 131; doesn’t exactly seem correct but thats what the site says. Ferland leads the whole series with 33, surprise surprise.

Every opportunity to make a hit has pretty much been downgraded to a fly by on the Canucks roster and it puts a few questions to mind: Where is the intensity, where is the emotion and what is it going to take to hit someone? It isn’t the Canucks game to thrash their opponents physically, they’re skilled players and they do the talking with their sticks. Brad Richardson does it a bit differently.

After having time to digest the big win to force the series back to Calgary, I noticed that Ferland wasn’t a real factor once the Canucks took the possesion game over. Michael Ferland isn’t that great of a player and if the Canucks don’t allow him to keep getting his charging bull hits in, he’s almost, as Kevin Bieksa says “irrelevant”. Once you let the physical Flames start dictating things, they become the focus.

There were too many times last night where one extra step or a follow through hit could have forced the Flames to start reacting instead of setting the pace. I realize that stepping up to make a personal play could take you out of position and possibly turn the game in Calgary’s favour; but the first two periods had plenty of chances to take a bit of a risk.

Game 6 will be a different animal and the biggest test all season: can the Canucks match the effort they put out against the Kings just over a month ago in LA? Calgary has been a loud, intense building through Games 3 and 4 and with a chance to close out the series against the Canucks, they won’t quit. The biggest test is doing your thing away from home and the Canucks had the 5th best road record in the league this year. But that means nothing if they can’t do it tomorrow night.

If the opportunity presents itself, hit those arrogant jerks. Calgary shouldn’t even be here in the first place.

You’ve come this far Vancouver, two more games should be nothing.

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Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Canucks Rapping To Success

Losing to the Flames is the worst! The degradation equivalent of losing to them is watching your dog take a dump and then doing the walk of shame back home with a blue bag in your hand. Everyone knows whats up, they know the feeling and nothing is worse, that is our lowest common denominator. The Canucks need the Flames to pick up after THEIR crap, THEY should feel that shame.

Short stories aside, Vancouver’s orca warriors need to channel their inner hip hoppniss and thug out against these Flames. Calgary is all about the age old blue collar, hard working lunch bucket crew. You know what? Thats garbage. They have some young studs that can skate, should we really care? NO. We have the Jay Z / Kanye equivalent in Henrik and Daniel Sedin. These two collab on the tracks that move numbers, Art Ross numbers.

Monahan and Gaudreau don’t have the greatest hits the Twins do, they haven’t had 99 problems, they haven’t  achieved S**ins in Paris status, they’re just a couple of kids earning their stripes. Hank and Danny know what its like to rub shoulders in the hip hop circle with G’s like Drizzy Drake and he recognizes their thug level: dangerously high. These magicians didn’t exactly start from the bottom…but they’re here. Time to channel that 604.

First name: Trevor, Last name: Linden, like a Stanley Cup parade, it ain’t nothin he’s been in. He wants it all this year, so his crew has to harness that drive. Doresett, Sbisa and Tanev get to do it with a deal, while Matthias and Weber will do it without one this post season. This team started out local, and thanks to all the haters they know Air Canada pilots on a first name basis.

The Regulators that have done it for years: Bieksa, Burrows and Hansen need to bring their 2011 to the table and lead by example as a group. No one man should have all that power, its all about rolling four and getting those points from the Bo’s and the Burr’s, the Higgy’s and the Richy’s. The clock’s tickin without more goals they’ll just count the hours.

Willie has a really good group of guys, a real clique, clique, clique and all those Babychs they want the, they want the………


CLICK CLACK Nucks! Time to suit up, time to play like what those cheques say, time to play like what your neck say. You earned the bills, time to pay up with the thrills. You’re down one game so far but you’re about fourfiveseconds from wildin and there’s no more days til Friday, ITS GAME DAY! 


I’m not sure if this Canucks team is too strung out on compliments, getting to the playoffs maybe they overdosed on confidence, maybe they don’t care and stopped fearing the consequences. Well Vancouver, you fell off, you needed that, you needed to know. You can beat this Flames team no problem, they aren’t YOU. They don’t have what you do, you better do what you’re supposed to do, that Sedin-Sedin to Vrbata is overdue but thats just something you know already, you know… know.

Its STANLEY OVER EVERYTHING, STANLEY ON YOUR MIND! As Canuck fans we hear this, it happens all the time.

A season ago, this team looked a lot different. Now, there’s way too many people here right now that we didn’t have last year, who are these guys? I swear it feels like the last few nights we’ve had every excuse that’s bad, but this series, you beat these shames til its over, til its over, til its far from over.

Eddie, you got the net now. You didn’t get it by slacking off, you got there on hard work. When Miller came you basically needed to be Cinderella Man. This game can ill afford to lose you, so here’s a clue, you came to the game with a Johnny on your blocker lost your balance too! The series is all up in your psyche too, be that Cinderella Man Eddie, overcome, shut that door; get your team to stand behind you like WOO! Get in that zone, forget the past Eddie Lack, you’re the man right now.

So Canucks, this may not mean nothing at all, understand nothing was won for me…Wednesday. We want this cup forever. Those alumni want it too so Dave Babych don’t kill my vibe! Remember, we didn’t start the fire; it was always burning since the world’s been turning.

Canucks in 6, first win in Game 2 wouldn’t hurt.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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Will Canucks Offer UFA Willie Mitchell A Contract?

He’s fresh off his second Stanley Cup in 3 seasons and was a big part of the first one, helping the Kings mesmerize their opponents on the power play. At 37, he still looks like he can offer a lot to any team that wants him. He did so much in Vancouver when he first arrived until his ill fated concussion ushered his exit. Will the Canucks make a play for BC boy Willie Mitchell once free agency opens July 1?

Looking for a new team at 37 isn’t exactly an appealing process. Willie has 2 Cups in the last 3 years and they came while wearing a Los Angeles Kings jersey. That can’t be easy to leave beaches, sunshine, open sea fishing and well, winning. Vancouver is in a state of change and need a splash this offseason. Coming back to the Canucks may not be high on Mitchell’s wish list either. The end of his tenure was pretty ugly.

With Trevor Linden and Jim Benning at the helm now, maybe there is a chance “Bill Pickle” will migrate home. I personally would love to see him back in a Canucks uniform. He was a great defensive specialist, had a stick that swept away numerous chances and is a complete fan favorite. He won’t be relied upon for goal scoring but his recent awakening on the offensive side of the puck sure helps his cause.

If the Canucks can land the Port McNeill native on the relatively cheap, he is still a big add on the blue line. His addition would allow the Canucks to potentially move Chris Tanev for value. This isn’t something I’m saying will happen but you take value where you can get it. Tanev is entering his prime and could, i’ll say it again, could fetch a great ready now forward or be packaged together with a pick and prospect like Hunter Shinkaruk or Bo Horvat for a guy like Ryan O’Reilly.

Big Willie has improved some things during his time in LA. His shot totals went up, he was used on the power play somewhat regularly and proved he can bounce back from a concussion problem that plagued him the better part of a year. Willie is a gamer, a born leader and as long as he is healthy, he’s an integral part of any defense he is a part of.

Hopefully, the Canucks will make a smart move and get Mitchell at value and build up their porous defensive core. Winning 2 Stanley Cups is a nice teaching tool as well.

Follow me on twitter @hankthetank10 and @always90four

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Catchy Slogans Win Stanley Cups

It seems like every year, some team has a witty or inspirational slogan painted on their dressing room wall or made into a t shirt for the whole team to wear in solidarity. Should these catch phrases or slogans drive a team any more than battling through 82 games to get there? Apparently, catchy slogans win Stanley Cups.

“Climb the mountain”, “one win at a time”, “play for each other”, “you’re a minus, you sit next game”…ok that wasn’t one. There always seems to be one or more teams that adopt this approach and somehow they think it gives them a better chance to win. Lets look at a few examples:

2004 Calgary Flames – a green hardhat is given to the hardworking player of the game. Great, you have hard workers and a guy gets the hard hat until he showers and then could care less until the next win. Worked until the last game of the year, no one got it after that, Tampa won.

2006 Edmonton Oilers – awful homeless looking leather jacket. Again, hardworking player type award that wasn’t given away on the last game of the year, Carolina won.

2007 Dallas Stars – GIT R DONE hats in camoflage. I could not WAIT until the Canucks beat those clowns to shove that stupid idea in their face. It took 7 games but it happened.

Maybe teams paint the Stanley Cup on a wall in their dressing room with the numbers 1-16 or 16-1 and cross off the games as they win. Its not original anymore fellas, everyone does it now. This year’s New York Rangers have a neat Stanley Cup puzzley deal that adds a ring for each win, or some part of the cup. Kinda cool, its different, cheezy but different.

I commend the Columbus Blue Jackets for even bothering with their effort this post season. Look at the puck display they created. Good for them, good for themmmm. You’re cute Columbus, don’t ever change. Sure they had 2 pucks on that board but did they really think they were going to get 16? Cute.

I think the inspirational stuff needs to end. The new motivation is on social media. The Montreal Canadiens and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon had a friendly wager that didn’t quite go the Habs way….take a look.

These are so depressing and yet so great! Look online for all 10 photos.

And finally, to get the Cup started right, the Rangers own LA before the opening faceoff:

Winning is an attitude….ok I stole that one from somewhere. Enjoy the Final folks!

Follow my boring antics on twitter @hankthetank10 and @always90four.

I also do birthday parties.