team canada

Kevin Bieksa Might Hang Around Another Year

The deal was as good as done: Jim Benning and Ron Wilson had the pieces in place to send Kevin Bieksa to the San Jose Sharks. Apparently, as crazy as Wilson is to send players like Ehrhoff for a cap dump and parts, he’s equally mad when it comes to basic verbiage in trade talks. Bieksa was a Shark and Wilson had to have back tracked on what he said he’d deliver to Vancouver. A 2015 2nd round pick was supposed to go the other way but it seems he balked on the year. So is Kevin Bieksa hanging around?

It happens all the time in fantasy sports; two guys are ready to make a deal and someone gets cold feet. It usually pisses off the other guy and the damage has already been done regardless of if the trade eventually gets made. We have all been pretty harsh on Jim Benning, including myself, but the man was trying to get a deal done that made everyone happy.

According to Elliotte Friedman’s weekly article “30 thoughts“, Bieksa had made a trip to San Jose to look for houses already. He had prepared himself for his new reality. Taken from said article:

According to a couple of different sources, three entities — Bieksa/Overhardt, the Canucks and the Sharks — were working on this for at least a week and probably longer. In fact, the player recently visited the San Jose area with his family to look at houses. Knowing that, it’s incredible this didn’t work out. Everyone involved had plenty of time to understand the parameters. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of private disgust.

Now, Bieksa hasn’t exactly been amazing the last few years but injuries and the eventual partnership with Luca Sbisa haven’t given him much to hang to. Lost in all this are his leadership qualities. We see grumpy Kevin in the media a lot but this guy was thought so highly of that Team Canada gave him the “A” last year at the World Championships.

He can be frustrating to watch at times with giveaways and some less than stellar decision making but with the injuries he has sustained in his career, one could wonder if maybe he’s trying to keep his body from falling apart. A healthy Bieksa is an affective one. That and being given the reigns again to make the offensive push that turned him into the player he is.

Juice had some of his best years with Dan Hamhuis when Hammer could hang back and play it safe while he pinched and made the risky play. Kevin Bieksa has a good amount to offer still and hopefully wherever he is, he’s given that chance.

With the whole Luongo fiasco that took place the last few years, it looks like Kevin is the next guy to get the shaft. With one year left on his deal, a failed attempt to move him somewhere new and quite frankly a lot of questions coming: why doesn’t Vancouver just keep him?

Players goto free agency all the time and for whatever reason GM’s feel that its always neccesary to get a full return on every player. Sometimes, that just doesn’t happen no matter how bad they want it. It isn’t easy to let a player walk at the end of the day but after what’s just gone down, they probably owe him that at the very least.

Like many players the last few seasons, Bieksa hasn’t looked the same and an aging core is quite evidently showing its face. If Benning doesn’t have something concrete before the season starts, let it ride until trade deadline. If it gets worse before then, revisit what the market is asking and go from there.

But for now, let the man enjoy his summer.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four


Photo credit – canucks.com

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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 Should Draft Kelowna Rockets Nick Merkley

As stated in my article on Two Pad Stack about how the Canucks should try drafting local, here is a perfect opportunity for Vancouver to redeem themselves; Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets is a sure thing. Well, I should clarify; with a growth spurt and a few extra pounds on his frame, he has the ability to be a huge part of the Canucks future.

In 2013, Merkley arrived during the playoffs to try and help the Kelowna Rockets beat the Kamloops Blazers. It wasn’t meant to be, but what everyone saw was that they had the makings of a star. He racked up 3 assists in 7 playoff games but to his credit, he probably should have had 4 goals too. The puck just finds his stick and he is one of the few players in hockey that knows exactly how to be in the right place at the right time.

His hockey IQ looks like it should be off the charts and his ability to stay calm and make smart plays in a fast paced environment is evidence that he can control the game. Merkley is a great setup man, something Ryan Kesler never was; and his smooth hands have goalies looking behind their back in the net when he skates by with his arms in the air. Just as a quick example, take a look at this past Saturdays hilites in Kelowna, he’s #10…..don’t miss the dirty move on the Brandon Wheatkings netminder at 2:05 mark.

http://www.kelownarockets.com/videos

With the Canucks failing to see the gems that exist in British Columbia, save Alex Edler, they can get these guys on the cheap and they have the best access to see them. What they will get in Merkley is a Gretzky-like, ya I said it, playmaker, a savvy shot and moves around defenders that just make you look at the guy next to you and do this:

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Photo courtesy: vansunsportsblog.com

Vancouver is going to need a new breed of hybrid forward in the next few years once the Sedins are gone, Burrows starts tailing off and the kids (Horvat, Fox, Shinkaruk and Virtanen) need help. Merkley has the potential to be a 2nd line center, maybe higher on the right team. If its in a Canucks jersey, sitting second fiddle to Horvat isn’t exactly bad.

Nick Merkley aka @merkdaddy4 doesn’t have an attitude, loves to feed his team mates the puck and all he does is win. He was the 2014 WHL Rookie of the Year, CHL Rookie of the year finalist, 2014/15 U-18 Ivan Hlinka Gold Medallist with Team Canada and after this season, possibly the WHL scoring champion and World Junior Championship Gold Medallist after Christmas.

The Canucks have a chance to do something right this year at the draft regardless of where they pick. As of right now, he is ranked 30th which is a deal for anyone making the playoffs….wink wink Canucks. Check out his real good stats too eh?

If you live in any of the cities the Rockets play this year, check out how good this kid is. If we’re lucky, we may get to see him suit up with the green and blue before we know it.

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Team Canada to wear German jerseys in Sochi

By now you have all heard Team Canada’s roster announcement. Its pretty good. It might even be so good you skipped your work day to bask in glory of your country’s genius decisions. Maybe you just went back to listening to your Ipod or downloading illegal copies of the latest Bachelor episodes online. Regardless of your life decisions after Team Canada was announced, you took notice.

Steven Q Yzerman put his picks out in the free world for all to see on Tuesday and it definitely was met with slight criticisms. For example, how in the blue heck was Todd Bertuzzi NOT on there? He played in 2006. Did he not impress? Were his late night strip poker sessions and hot tub parties too much for the Canada brass? We may never know. Why did Wayne Gretzky yet again miss the cut? Age? Maybe. Did he just feel he couldn’t compete anymore or was the fact that brat Sidney Crosby was already there turn him off?

I could ask questions all day about this, but I have been told its my bedtime soon so I’ll keep it short or short-ish. Mike Babcock will have quite the roster of talent going into Sochi and even though it may not be the best team ever assembled, it has enough leadership and overall talent to get the job done. 2010 was arguably the best team Canada ever brought to the Olympics and with a few of those players no longer in the league or too old to compete competitively, there needed to be a switch in mentality. Go young and make sure the guys that go are responsible with the puck. Not to mention, they can move it around better than the Sedins. Ok maybe thats a stretch but it wouldn’t hurt.

I don’t need to get into a big list of who made the team because quite frankly, you are smart enough to google it and I don’t need to waste my time typing the obvious. Seriously, grow up and google it! You want me to pour your cereal and feed you too? How about I do your laundry and wipe yo….ok im sorry. That was rude of me. Im just so gosh darn excited to see Team Canada repeat as Olympic Champion Overlords of the hockey universe. Aren’t you?

So lets tackle this jersey issue. You read the title of this little diddy and so far I haven’t even given you a hint at whats up. Ok check this out:

We will win gold Mein Fuhrer

We will win gold Mein Fuhrer

See that little red arm band? Lets just leave that thought alone for a second. Why would they put that there? Ok I broke my own rule there. Its of German relation lets just say that.

So back to the team. We have some pretty saucy names going to Sochi. Take for example P.K. Subban. He won the Norris trophy last year and he was great in the World Juniors for Canada. He would be on the Luongo level of criticism for being worthy of going but apparently the talent isn’t good enough for some reason. I’ll never understand that. Jamie Benn is going. Good for him. A great addition to the team and he will bring a physical presence up front. Chris Kunitz got the call as well and he can pretty much thank Sid for that. It makes me think why Mike Richards wasn’t asked to be on the team. Maybe he had too much snow being constantly stuck to his stick blade *wink*

Roberto Luongo will take up residence in Canada’s net again this time around and maybe he can buck the trend of losing that first game or playing bad enough to get the backup in for good. Don’t do it Strombone, DON”T DO IT!!! The last thing you need is one more reason for people to become idiots about your play.

Funny story, after his non invitation to play for Team USA, Bobby Ryan was asked to play for Team Canada. He will play along side Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. No not really, but Brett Hull would sure get a kick out of that.

Is Canada going to win Gold at Sochi? You darn skippy they are! There isn’t a team that can fully contend with our beautiful symmetry of players and abundance of raw, unadultered talent. This will be a tournament for all time and Canada will reign supreme. I do ask one thing of the @strombone1, please please please, do not tweet any pictures of you kissing a man or anything resembling a man, they are on an anti-gay kick right now and I bet they ship you back to Canada. Just saying.

Hope you enjoyed the read, there should be more coming regularly now. Its about to become a beautiful friendship you and me. Lets go crazy together.

Follow my antics on twitter @hankthetank10 and make sure to follow @always90four as well. I’ll hunt you down if you don’t.