Friday, September 30, 2005

Martine Gaillard Moves West

Introducing the new host of Molson Canadian Canucks Hockey on Sportsnet Pacific - Martine Gaillard. Previously from The Score, Martine will also act as a correspondent for Sportsnet News Pacific.

As if there weren't enough reasons to watch the Canucks on TV.

Thanks to Hockey Pundits for the assist on this one... And speaking of which, I am pleased to add Hockey Pundits (http://hockeypundits.blogspot.com) to the blog roll. The pundits provide a daily dose of news and posts regarding... well, hockey. Make sure you pass by and give 'em a read.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 11:25 AM | permalink/comments (9) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Special Play From The Special Teams

It looks like the Canucks are adjusting to the NHL's crackdown on obstruction just fine. In five preseason games so far, they are averaging fewer penalties and more powerplays than their opponents:

# of PEN
# of PEN
vs. EDM
vs. SJ
vs. ANA
vs. CAL
vs. ANA

On average, the Canucks are drawing 14 penalties and only taking 12.2 of their own (+1.8). This has resulted in 10.6 powerplay opportunities per game for the Canucks versus only 8.2 opportunites for their opponents (+2.4). Further, they are converting on almost 21% of these opportunities while allowing opponents to convert on only 9.8% of theirs.

Good sign if the league is truly serious and enforces the crackdown year-round as promised.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:26 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Carnival of the NHL #10

This week's Carnival of the NHL is being hosted by Paul at Kukla's Corner. In this tenth edition of the carnie, Paul takes us through ramblings, musings and analysis regarding the upcoming NHL regular season.
The teams are shaping up, hockey is in the air, last night the temperature dropped to 42 in Detroit, perfect for the start of the NHL season. How is your team shaping up, is the NHL ready for prime time, is everyone involved with the game on the same page, or at least reading the same book. How do bloggers feel about the state of the game, be it on the team level or beyond. Is the “My NHL” campaign the right fit for the game, let’s find out.
Yes let's. The link to the carnie is here. Thanks to Paul for an entertaining read.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:03 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Experts Opinions

Yesterday I humbly offered my expectations of the Canucks this upcoming season. Today, the experts weigh in.

From NHL.com:
Aside from changing two defensemen, the Canucks have not suffered significant turnover from the team that finished the 2003-04 season. But many of the clubs they will be competing against in the Western Conference have made some substantial improvements for this season, so the road to the postseason isn't going to be a cakewalk.
From TSN.ca:
The Canucks also got good news with the re-signing of captain Markus Naslund and centre Brendan Morrison. With the Sedins, Ohlund and Salo returning, the core group is intact and ready for another run at the Cup.
From Sports Illustrated:
The mobile defensemen will disrupt opponents .... This is the year for Dan Cloutier to prove he's a Cup-caliber goalie.
You can click on the links to read the full articles.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 5:53 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Quick Hit on Head Hits

September 23rd, Canucks vs. Edmonton (from Canucks.com):

Sven Butenschon had to be helped off the ice in the third after 6-foot-5 Oiler giant Brad Winchester caught the Canuck hopeful with his head down behind the Vancouver net late in the third.
September 25th, Kings vs. Coyotes (from TSN.ca):

Roenick was injured after carrying the puck up ice along the right boards up ice and taking a hard but clean shoulder check from Phoenix defenceman Denis Gauthier at the red-line.
September 30th, Canucks vs. Flames (from Canucks.com):

Ruutu caught 5-foot-10, 200-pound Byron Ritchie square with a clean shoulder. Unfortunately, Ritchie was out before he hit the ice and had to be helped to the bench.
Different situations on the ice, all resulting in the same - a "legal" hit to the head and a player being helped off the ice. Inadvertent or not, can someone explain why these hits are considered legal in the NHL?

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 5:44 PM | permalink/comments (3) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Great Support, Great Expectations

Less than a week before the start of the NHL regular season, the Canucks are finishing up their preseason schedule and putting the final touches to their opening night roster. Meanwhile, Canucks fans have begun dusting off their jerseys, preparing to forgive, forget and cheer for the home team and the return of NHL hockey after a one year lockout.

Especially the forgive and forget part.

For the second season in a row - and despite the lockout or that the team did not reduce ticket prices - the Canucks have capped season ticket sales at 17,000. This means that in 18,630-seat GM Place, only 1,630 seats are available for single-game sales. Of the 17,000 season tickets sold, 13,000 are full season ticket packages. And for anyone interested in purchasing a ticket package, the waiting list is now 4,000 long and the team renewed 96% of its existing ticket packages this summer.

The (somewhat) good news is that every Canucks game will be televised this season. Sportsnet Pacific will televise 45 games; CBC will televise 15; TSN will televise 5. The remaining 17 games will be available on pay-per-view.

Lockout? What lockout?

But with great support also comes great expectations. While the Canucks have made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, they have won only one playoff series and many feel this is the season they need to go further than they have.

A lot of teams overhauled their roster in the off-season. The Canucks, however, retained their core players from last season's Northwest Division-winning team. These core players have been together for about five seasons now. This season, they are at or close to their prime.

Further, the NHL's rule changes cater to the Canucks run-and-gun style. If the league is serious (for the nth time) about enforcing the obstruction rules, it will open up the ice for the players like Naslund, Park and Jovanovski. It will prevent opposing players from hanging off Bertuzzi and the Sedins. In other words, it will allow the Canucks to play to their strength - their skill game.

What makes this season especially critical is that the new salary cap shortens the team's window of opportunity. Jovanovski and Linden are unrestricted free agents after the season. The Sedin twins may only be restricted free agents but if they have a big year (as expected), they will command big raises. Same applies to Kesler, Auld, Allen and Ruutu. Ditto with Carter, Park, McCarthy and Brent Johnson, all of whom signed with the team just for this season. If the salary cap doesn't go up, it is unlikely the Canucks will be able to re-sign all of them.

So buckle up, folks. Hopefully we're in for a long ride... that doesn't end until next June... with the Stanley Cup.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 11:56 PM | permalink/comments (1) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Post No. 100

I can't believe this is post no. 100 already. It seems like only yesterday that I started writing this blog. Time sure flies when you ramble.

Here's to the return of hockey and a great season to all!

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 11:27 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dude, Where's The Depth On Defense?

Perhaps more disconcerting than the Canucks' 0-4 preseason record - and really we're not that disconcerted - is their seeming lack of depth on defense. The average ice-time for the team's top-six defensemen last season:

Mattias Ohlund - 25:47 min/game
Ed Jovanovski - 23:11
Sami Salo - 22:14
Brent Sopel - 21:55
Marek Malik - 18:05
Bryan Allen - 16:51

If as expected, Bryan Allen is able to play top-four minutes (Brent Sopel's minutes or at least 5 more minutes per game) and free agent signee Steve McCarthy can play Malik's minutes (18 minutes), then the team can simply allocate the remaining minutes to whoever wins the 6th/7th defensemen spots:

Mattias Ohlund - 25:47 min/game
Ed Jovanovski - 23:11
Sami Salo - 22:14
Bryan Allen - 21:55
Steve McCarthy - approximately 18:00
Doig/Brookbank/Butenschon/Bieksa/Baumgartner - approximately 9:00

No problem, right?

But what happens if Ohlund remains injured or Jovanovski goes down? On last season's defense, anyone from the bottom-four were capable of playing in the top-four. When Jovanovski got injured, the Canucks' no. 3 and no. 4 defensemen - Salo and Sopel - were able to replace most of his minutes; their no. 5 and no. 6 defensemen - Malik and Allen were then able to step into the top-four.

This season's defense isn't as deep. Their no. 3 and no. 4 defensemen - Salo and Allen - are already expected to play big minutes. If Ohlund remains injured for any extended length of time, can Salo handle another 4 minutes per game? Can Allen, on top of the other extra 5 minutes he would already be playing? Consequently, can someone from the third pairing - McCarthy, etc. - play an extra 3-5 minutes per game in a top-four role? A better question - can they do so effectively?

So far in the preseason, no one has stood out and proved that they could.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:34 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Friday, September 23, 2005

Carnival of the NHL #9

John at Boltsmag is hosting the latest edition of the Carnival of the NHL, the number 9 Gordie Howe edition. In somewhat of a different format, he put together some of the more memorable hockey blog entries from the 2003/2004 season. Click here to visit the carnival and kudos to John for an entertaining read.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:41 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Thursday, September 22, 2005

My NHL... But Who and What The Heck Is That?

The NHL yesterday unveiled its new ad campaign, "My NHL", which consists of five short clips following a hockey "warrior" as he prepares to do "battle". Click here to see the first clip.

I like the concept behind the ad campaign; but unfortunately it falls short on the delivery. The warrior persona depicts all hockey players; the battles they go through stir the fans' passions and emotions. Perhaps for the first time in the NHL's marketing history, it attempts to enable fans to identify with their warriors.
The new advertising creative is intended to connect fans and players through an emotionally-charged campaign unlike any other in professional sports.
However, if the NHL wanted to connect its fans to its players, why did it use a non-NHL player as the centerpiece for the campaign? As a hockey fan, I don't care if Mr. GQ goes to battle. I care if Markus Naslund or Todd Bertuzzi or Ed Jovanovski go to battle. How do they expect the fan to connect to a player they don't know? Imagine the same ad and seeing Bertuzzi getting ready for game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Imagine his stare, his growl before skating onto the ice. A lot more effective, huh?

Also, if the NHL wanted to draw fans to the game, then why do they not actually show the game? In this first 30-second ad, they showed 29 seconds of a guy getting changed and two half-second flash clips from an actual NHL game - it might make the casual viewer want to run out and buy a pair of Hanes or some Axe Effect, but certainly not to go out and watch a hockey game.

At the very least the league had a good concept to market the new NHL. I just wish it remembered what it was marketing.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 8:35 PM | permalink/comments (2) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Matt Cooke: Core Canuck

The Vancouver Canucks announced that they have re-signed Matt Cooke to a three-year/$4.6 million deal. The length of the deal essentially validates Cooke as a core member of the team. Of the team's free agents, the only ones who received deals of three years or more in length were Naslund, Morrison and Ohlund.

The question most fans are asking is this: Is Cooke worth $1.5 million per season?

To analyze the deal, the first task is to determine Cooke's value in the open market. (Remember that the third year of the deal is the first year he would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency.) This year's unrestricted free agents included Dave Scatchard and Kris Draper. Like Cooke, both are gritty, defensively-responsible, checking forwards with the potential to also produce some offense. The following table lists each player's stats over the last three seasons and Scatchard's and Draper's most recent salaries as unrestricted free agents:

0.44 ppg
0.24 ppg
0.45 ppg
0.23 ppg
0.45 ppg
0.44 ppg

Based on these stats and assuming a.) the market stays the same and b.) Cooke continues to develop over the next couple of years - he's only 26, there's no reason to assume he won't - we can fairly argue that his market value as an unrestricted free agent will be at or close to that of Scatchard or Draper - or $2 million. And if Cooke is worth $2 million in the third year of the deal, then the next question is whether or not he is worth $2.6 million, or $1.3 million per year, in the first two years of the deal. I think most Canucks fans can agree that he is.

Postscript: I know that the actual breakdown of the deal calls for Cooke to be paid $1.5 million in the first two years and $1.525 in the final year. The purpose of this post is simply to illustrate that overall, the deal isn't as irresponsible as some make it out to be. $1.5 million this season may seem excessive, but remember that $1.525 million in Cooke's first year of unrestricted free agency may conversely seem as an underpayment. Or so we hope anyway.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 8:19 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Has It Been That Long?

520 days since the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated by the Calgary Flames in the first round of the 2004 playoffs, they once again take the ice tonight and play their first preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers.


(PS. I don't have a lot of time right now hence the short post. I'll post more on the start of the Canucks preseason and Cooke's signing later tonight.)
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:47 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Brad Gets Booed

Apparently, Colorado Avalanche fans have still to forgive Brad May for his role in the Steve Moore incident. While playing in an intrasquad game, May was booed every time he touched the puck, and was eventually yanked from the bench in the second period. The official word from the Avalanche is that May has some sort of a groin injury - you can bet Pierre "I am not a doctor" Lacroix didn't make that diagnosis - and didn't suit up in the Avs preseason game against Dallas.

May is one of the classiest and most affable players in the league, devoting countless hours to community and charity work and always approachable to the fans and the media. You can ask any former teammate of his and they will tell you he is also one of the best teammates they ever had. Bearing in mind that May's involvement in the Moore incident consisted of one ill-timed comment, I think it's unfortunate that Avs fans can't move past it and see May for everything else he is.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:58 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Big Country and Big Tka-chunky

After a lockout wiped out a portion of the NBA season in 1999, Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, one of the league's most promising and productive centers at the time reported to the Vancouver Grizzlies training camp at 315 pounds - 40 pounds over his regular playing weight. Big Country had just signed a big 6 year/$65 million dollar deal, paying him approximately $8 million that year.

Fast-forward five years later and after a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-2005 NHL season, St. Louis Blues' best forward Keith Tkachuk was suspended by the team for reporting to training camp 25 pounds overweight. (Pierre Maguire from TSN once mentioned that Tkachuk was pushing 270 pounds.) Tkachuk is scheduled to make $7.6 million this year.

Blues owner Bill Laurie may have avoided paying Big Country's bloated salary when he failed to buy the Grizzlies; unfortunately for him, he is on the hook for Big Tka-chunky's.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:49 AM | permalink/comments (2) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Lumby Hockey Mom Wins Equality Fight

A Lumby mom won a settlement involving the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, allowing her 14-year old daughter, and other girls in the province, to change in the same changing rooms as her male teammates:

Jane Emlyn went ahead with her complaint on behalf of all girls in B.C.'s minor hockey system, whom she felt were being discriminated against by the co-ed dressing room ban. She said she saw other young girls "in tears" because they had to dress in separate facilities, missing out on the camaraderie.
Maybe I'm thinking too conservatively, but I don't quite understand why Mrs. Emlyn was so upset that her teenage daughter wasn't allowed to change in the same room as 20 teenage guys.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:42 AM | permalink/comments (2) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Monday, September 19, 2005

Some Quick Notes From The Blue-Silver Game

Some quick notes from the annual Vancouver Canucks Blue vs. Silver intrasquad game:
  • Fedor looked great. Much like two preseasons ago, he showcased his uncanny talent with the puck. Unfortunately, the mental lapses and boneheaded giveaways are still there though maybe less frequent. Interesting that he was placed on the same line as Linden. If Fedor is to take himself out of the doghouse, he needs to pay special attention to what Linden does on BOTH ENDS of the ice and how he handles himself off it. Bottom line: Crawford likes hard-working skaters and Fedor needs to demonstrate that he can be that.
  • Jason Doig is beginning to remind me of Brent Sopel, circa 2002. Big and quick... but lacking in puck smarts. Coincidentally, he is wearing Sopel's #3. I like the physical presence he brings to the team but with how often he gives up the puck, I'm not yet comfortable with the idea of giving him the top-4 minutes he played with the Capitals.
  • Richard Park is proving to be a solid pickup. Maybe it's the transition from a defensive mindset to an offensive one, but he needs to handle the puck with more poise.
  • Keefe, Ruutu and Bouck worked their tails off. Actually, Ruutu has approached this training camp like he way eyeing Cookie's spot on the third line - very impressive.
  • Lee Goren is not nearly mobile enough for the Canucks' system.
  • Luc Bourdon was solid but not spectacular, kinda like at the scrimmage with the World Juniors. His consistency and poise is a good sign. However, anyone who expects him to make the Canucks this season is fooling themselves - he needs another year or two to develop.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:50 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Sunday, September 18, 2005

About Me

Though somewhat overdue, I thought I would take the time to introduce myself and let you know a little bit about me.

My name is J.J. I live in Vancouver, B.C., having moved from the Philippines in 1990. Except for my grade 9 and grade 10 years, I attended Catholic schools my entire life. After high school, I went to Douglas College and completed the Commerce and Business Administration program. I currently work in Information Management, specializing in business process analysis, re-engineering and communications.

Coming from a tropical country, I was never exposed to hockey until I moved to Canada. I was a basketball fan and to be honest, didn't even know the difference between lacrosse and hockey. I idolized Dr. J and Michael Jordan, and didn't know much about Trevor Linden or Kirk McLean. In 1991, the Vancouver Canucks started to rise in the NHL standings, and I got swept up in the bandwagon. Though I didn't yet understand most of the rules, I began watching hockey games on TV and even joined a floor hockey league to further immerse myself in the sport. The first two Canucks games I saw live were games 4 and 6 of their first-round playoff series against Calgary in 1994. Especially after being there for Trevor Linden's OT winner in game 6 and following the ensuing run to the Finals, I began to fall in love with the game.

I worked as an event host at GM Place for nine years. But despite that, I owned my own set of tickets for both the Grizzlies and the Canucks. I enjoyed my work immensely, but I enjoyed watching the games from my seats more. Besides, it was easier to appreciate and understand the systems and intricacies of the game when I didn't have to check tickets or throw obnoxiously drunk people out.

I first started writing the blog simply as a way to record my opinions and emotions as they related to the Canucks. But then also came the opportunity to exchange discussions with other bloggers and hockey fans and that is by far the part I enjoy the most. Probably because of my business background, you will notice that a lot of my posts reflect the business side of the sport - I tend to gravitate towards topics involving statistics, salaries and team management - but I write them with both the blind loyalty and fan angst that comes with supporting a team that has never won the Stanley Cup. Hopefully by June of next year I'll be writing my posts with the elation that comes with supporting a team that has won the Stanley Cup for the first time.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 12:04 AM | permalink/comments (3) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Buyer Beware

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a bit of a rant regarding some of the ridiculous trade rumors that were floating out there. Yesterday, Eric McErlain from Off-Wing Opinion weighed in on perhaps the most notorious of their originators.

For some time now, I've been happy to ignore the infamous Eklund of Hockey Rumors fame. For those of you who dwell in the reality-based hockey community, you might not be aware that Eklund is abandoning his space on Blogspot for Eklund's Hockey Buzz.
I admit to occasionally reading Eklund's blog, but I consider myself to be a smart enough guy and be able to read his entries and not subscribe to his rumors as fact - they are entertaining at best but absolute horse**** at worst. Anyway, take some time to read McErlain's post and the other links contained within it - it may give you a fuller set of information before shelling out the $29.95 it costs to subscribe to Eklund's new website.

(Note: As the free Eklund blog space is now being abandoned, I have decided to remove it from the blog roll.)
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 9:47 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Friday, September 16, 2005

Now or Never, Fedor

Perhaps one of the more intriguing stories at the Vancouver Canucks training camp is the presence of Fedor Fedorov. Long lauded by Canucks management for his size, speed and skill, he has similarly been criticized for his mental lapses and inconsistency. With at least one open roster spot, this could be Fedor's final opportunity to cement his place on the team.

Assuming he puts it all together and makes the team, the Canucks have proposed a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $475,000-500,000 in the NHL and $75,000 in the AHL. With his skill set, he could be a great addition to the bottom two lines with the potential to play in the top two lines. Interestingly, Fedor feels he is owed this opportunity and seems to be demanding it:

I don't think you can really get into the grove with two or three games... I can't get experience with two or three games.
Someone want to tell him that he has to earn it?

If he doesn't stick with the Canucks, it is almost safe to assume that he will pass on the $75,000 salary in Manitoba, but rather go back to Russia, where he already has a $450,000 (tax-free) contract in place. If he chooses this option, it could very well signal the end of his time with the Canucks.

In the next two weeks, the Canucks will have to make a decision regarding Fedor. Fedor has two weeks to influence them.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:43 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Got Tickets.

From NHL.com:
For the first time in NHL history, all 30 NHL Clubs will make a block of single-game tickets available for purchase on the same date, Saturday, Sept. 17. Fans can purchase tickets for their favorite match-ups by logging on to NHL.com.
Adds NHL Enterprises President Ed Horne:
For the first time, all 30 clubs made a commitment to NHL fans to have a block of single-game tickets on sale on the same day so that every fan will have an opportunity to purchase tickets to see their favorite team, even in markets where tickets can be difficult to obtain.
This is a great opportunity for fans who don't have the $2,000 to shell out for season tickets or are simply unlucky to still be on the waiting list.
Click here to go to the NHL.com tickets page.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:28 AM | permalink/comments (1) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Carnival of the NHL #8

In her unique and witty style, Heather Creegan from [so.very.obsessed.com] is graciously hosting the latest version of the Carnival of the NHL, taking us through the news and musings about the hockey world. Click here to visit the Carnival and thanks to Heather for putting this together.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 7:16 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

OT: Melissa O'Neil Wins Canadian Idol

Last night, Melissa O'Neil won the latest edition of Canadian Idol. The somewhat hockey-related twist to this story is that, just seconds prior to the winner being announced, runner-up Rex Goudie put on a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey with his last name stitched on the back:
I just want to show you who I really am.
Just goes to show you that nothing good comes out of wearing a Leafs jersey. :)
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 7:06 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

One More to the Blog Roll

Canucks Hockey Blog is pleased to have recently linked with Kukla's Corner - http://www.kuklaskorner.com/index.php/hockey - an excellent site with news and links to various hockey stories. Make sure you visit the site and check it out.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:38 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Leafs Start Parade... of Injuries

I read a report from the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp and I can't help but smile and think about what a great year this could be for us who don't like the Leafs:
Jason Allison, who hasn't played a meaningful NHL game in almost 32 months, didn't make it to the ice for his first scrimmage after the Leafs' new medical staff decided to keep him out because of a hip flexor injury he suffered while preparing for camp a week ago.
Meanwhile, Eric Lindros survived a big hit from prospect Staffan Kronwall, who afterwards admitted to holding back a bit knowing who was on the receiving end:
I knew it was (Lindros) so I tried to hold back a bit, but I could have hit him harder.
Keep your head up, Eric. Other players won't give you the same courtesy.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 8:38 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Some Quick Training Camp Notes

Sans the unsigned Matt Cooke, the Vancouver Canucks opened training camp yesterday at GM Place. Some quick comments from the open practice:
  • I'm excited to see what Richard Park will be able to do playing the Canucks system. He is quick, quick and quick, and has decent hands.
  • True to media reports, Daniel Sedin looks bigger and Ryan Kesler looks fitter and stronger.
  • While practice is never really a good time to evaluate goalies, Brent Johnson looks like he isn't ready to concede the back-up goalie spot to Alex Auld. Johnson was all-work through the entire session.
  • I know it's only the first day, but I wasn't overly impressed with Anson Carter. For some reason, I expected him to be bigger and quicker. He was neither.
  • On the battle for the final defensive pairing, no one stood out. Nolan Baumgartner was steady but not spectacular. Same with Sven Butenschon and Steve McCarthy. Jason Doig looked winded half-way through practice.

More on camp as the week goes on...

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:44 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Moose and Markus

Mark Messier officially announced his retirement after 25 years in the National Hockey League. He retires ranked 2nd in games played (1,756) to Gordie Howe (1,767), and 2nd in points scored (1,887) to Wayne Gretzky (2,857). Messier was a six-time Stanley Cup winner and two-time league MVP.

Unfortunately for Canucks fans, Messier spent a disastrous and controversial time in Vancouver and was unable to take the Canucks over the proverbial hump. In fact, his time with the Canucks were among the darkest in team history, failing to make the post-season in any of his three seasons.

But despite the lack of on-ice success, Messier had a tremendous influence on the team. When current Canucks captain Markus Naslund won the Lester B. Pearson award in 2003, he attributed his development as a player to Messier:
I think my biggest influence has been Messier. Watching him prepare for games and how seriously he still took everything at his age. A lot of the qualities that he had helped me get better.
With regards to his growth as a leader, Naslund added:
Anytime you're around greatness, which I look at him (Messier) being, I think you try to pick up things. Just trying to see how he tried to keep the team tight, not only on the ice but off the ice, that's stuff that you try to remember.
To see Naslund's evolution to one of the NHL's premier players, this is perhaps Messier's greatest contribution to the Canucks - his leadership is his legacy.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 11:10 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Canucks Acquire Craig Darby, Invite Jason Doig to Camp

In another depth move, the Vancouver Canucks acquired Craig Darby from the Tampa Bay Lightning for future considerations. His TSN scouting report:

Assets: Is rarely caught out of position and makes good decisions on the ice. Has excellent defensive instincts, above-average hockey sense and good size for the center position.
Flaws: Has always lacked skating ability. It's held him back offensively and is a big reason why he's not an NHL regular.
Career Potential: Reserve center.

Kind of a strange signing for the Canucks as the team's style at both the NHL and the AHL level favors strong skaters. Darby is most likely destined for the Moose - he hasn't played a full season in the NHL since 2001 - but he should be able to play the odd game with the 'Nucks.

According to the Province, the team also invited defenseman Jason Doig to training camp. A big defenseman notorious for his open-ice hits, Doig played in the top-4 for a weak Washington Capitals defense. His TSN scouting report:

Assets: Has terrific skating ability to go along with ideal size for a defenseman. Looks like a complete defenseman in terms of physical tools.
Flaws: The whole does not equal the sum of his parts. Lacks the hockey sense to thrive at the NHL level. Needs to start making the most of his opportunities.
Career Potential: No. 6 or 7 defenseman.
If Doig makes the Canucks, he gives the defense the physical element they are lacking. He most likely won't be expected to play the same minutes as he did with the Caps, but this may be to his advantage as he is known to be occasionally subject to mental lapses. Maybe playing less minutes in a bottom-six role will help.

At any rate, his presence at training camp boosts the number of NHL-caliber defensemen to six - Ohlund, Jovanovski, Salo, Allen, and McCarthy are the others. With Baumgartner, Bieksa and Butenschon also fighting for a roster spot, the battle for the bottom pairing should be very competitive and interesting.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 7:45 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

NHL Teleconference Calls

I think the NHL brass is finally beginning to figure out this "marketing" thing. A couple of weeks ago, the league took advantage of EA Sports' vaunted game software technology to explain their rule changes. This week, the league's Public Relations department made player representatives from each team available through six different teleconference calls. Kukla's Corner has transcripts of each of the calls:

In the US specifically, fans have had a hard time identifying with players, and this is a good (albeit small) step towards making the players more visible.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 7:30 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Quiet Goodbyes

With little fanfare, Scott Stevens and Vincent Damphousse announced their retirements from the NHL. A 13-time all-star and three-time Stanley Cup winner, Stevens leaves the game after 22 seasons and having played more games than any other NHL defenseman. A four-time all-star, Damphousse played for 18 seasons, amassing 1,205 points in 1,378 games and winning the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.

One (of the many) unfortunate by-product of the lockout was that players like Stevens and Damphousse had to exit the game quietly. Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Mark Messier may soon join that list as well. These are some of the best players to ever play the game and it's a shame that fans around the league won't have the opportunity to say goodbye to them.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:52 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Welcoming to the Blog Roll

Canucks Hockey Blog has linked with two excellent hockey bloggers - Chris McMurtry from Hockey Country (http://hockeycountry.blogspot.com) and Tom Benjamin from Canucks Corner (http://www.canuckscorner.com/weblog/nhllog). Chris follows the Ottawa Senators and discusses other NHL-related news; Tom covers the Vancouver Canucks and also shares his insights on other hockey-related issues.

Make sure you pass by their sites and give 'em a read.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:46 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Crease Battle Brewing

With the Vancouver Canucks' signing of free agent goalie Brent Johnson, there should be a good battle brewing in the Canucks crease. Barring a massive letdown in training camp Dan Cloutier will, of course, be the Canucks' starting goalie, but after that, things should get interesting.

While mostly unproven in the NHL, if Alex Auld continues to progress and play towards his potential in training camp, then he starts the season with the Canucks, meaning that Johnson starts with the Manitoba Moose. This gives the Moose a respectable goalie combination of Johnson and last year's playoff goalie, Wade Flaherty. For a Moose team with a younger, developing group of defenseman - potentially two of their regular defensemen may start the season with the Canucks - having two solid, veteran goalies behind them can provide a sense of confidence knowing that whoever is in goal can be counted on to cover for mistakes and make some key saves.

Should Auld fail at the NHL level, Johnson should be able to provide the Canucks with more than an adequate back-up to Cloutier. Johnson has more than 150 NHL games under his belt and is not far removed from his 34-win season. He may even push Cloutier for the starting job - without offense to Martin Brochu, Peter Skudra and Johan Hedberg, something that recent Canucks back-ups haven't been able to do.

But probably the most telling stat to remember in Johnson's acquisition is his ability to play in the playoffs. While both Cloutier and Auld have posted good to great numbers in the regular season, both have yet to consistently do the same in the playoffs. In fact, of Cloutier, Auld and Johnson, Johnson is the only one to possess better numbers in the playoffs than in the regular season.


The knock on Johnson has been his attitude and work ethic. Twice in the past he has refused assignments to the minors. That he signed a two-way deal suggests that he is more willing now to do so should the Canucks choose to send him. At the very least Johnson should be able to provide some goalie depth - with the Moose or the Canucks - and some healthy competition in the crease.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:54 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Canucks Rookie Camp

The Vancouver Canucks are holding their rookie camp this week. The camp at Burnaby 8-Rinks is open to the public. Players attending the camp are listed here.

Early returns are positive with Crawford lauding the depth on defense. Luc Bourdon, especially, seems to have made an impression on the coaching staff. Crawford has indicated that some of the kids will also be brought to the prospects and main camp. Bourdon may very well be one of them.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:45 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hockey Bloggers' Hockey Pool

PJ from Sharkspage set up a hockey pool for Hockey Bloggers - thanks again PJ! - and we had our draft this weekend. Following Tom L's (from Sabre Rattling) lead, I thought I'd post my lineup:

  • Pavol Demitra
  • Saku Koivu
  • Tyler Arnason

Left Wings:

  • Markus Naslund
  • Rick Nash
  • Tomas Holmstrom

Right Wings:

  • Dany Heatley
  • Teemu Selanne
  • Mark Parrish


  • Mattias Ohlund
  • Alexei Zhitnik
  • Scott Hannan
  • Sandis Ozolinsh
  • Paul Martin


  • Nikolai Khabibulin
  • Dan Cloutier
Somewhat unintentionally, the forward lines seem to be my strength. Needless to say, I'm quite pleased at getting Naslund, but I also have Nash, Demitra, Koivu and Heatley, all of whom should hopefully get 60-70+ points each. Holmstrom, who may get more quality minutes this year, Selanne and Parrish aren't bad either.

My defense is okay, but nothing spectacular. Zhitnik and Ozolinsh may benefit from the new rules and give me some points and powerplay points, but they will also give me some minuses on the +/- column. Ohlund and Hannan are solid and will give me some stats across the board. I'd be interested to see if Paul Martin can get produce more now that Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens are gone.

In goal, Cloutier has put up some of the better regular season stats in recent years and he should hopefully continue to do so. Also, Khabibulin is one of the best goaltenders in the league, though it remains to be seen if he can put up the same numbers in Chicago, whose roster won't be confused with last season's Tampa Bay Lightning.

I'm one of the rookies in this pool. I can't wait to start playing.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 9:29 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Friday, September 02, 2005

Carnival of the NHL #7

Hello from sunny Vernon, B.C.! While my girlfriend and her mom peruse the local Wal-Mart, I sit in an Internet Cafe, reading that Jarkko Ruutu has re-signed with the Canucks, Brent Johnson has signed on as well... and Matt Cooke still hasn't. But more on those later.

In the meantime, Phil Pilmar from The NHL Is Back is hosting this week's Carnival of the NHL with links to posts and musings from all over the NHL. Click here to visit the Carnival and thanks to Phil for putting this together.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 12:02 PM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

Last but definitely not the least post today before I go. Today has been designated Blog for Relief Day to raise awareness for fund relief efforts to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to The Truth Laid Bare for hosting this.

Most of you have probably already heard or seen the tragic disaster in Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The pictures are grim; the devastation is real. Officials are expecting the death toll to be in the thousands. In the meantime, survivors have no food or clean water. NOLA has no electricity and is underwater, and could be for weeks and months.

I hope you all find it in your generous hearts to help. Donations can be made through the Catholic Charities. Beyond immediate help and aid, Catholic Charities provide long-term recovery work, including direct assistance to get people back into their homes, job placement and counselling. Their website is: http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/news/katrina.cfm. After you donate, you can log your contributions on: http://www.truthlaidbear.com/addcontribution.php.

The list of other participating bloggers are listed here.

Thank you everyone.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 8:10 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Tackling The Trade Rumors

I understand the nature of rumors. The existence of rumors don't bother me. In fact, I admit to liking to hear about them. I mean, if the Canucks were rumored to pull a big trade or sign a marquee free agent, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested. But rumors do bother me when they are passed along irresponsibly. When they are passed on even knowing that there is no rationale behind them. Such like the recent rumors surrounding the Vancouver Canucks.

In the past week, I've seen all sorts of rumors around surrounding the Canucks - they are usually thrown out by the same person but that's another post altogether - but for the life of me I can't see the rationale behind any of them. Look at the following examples:

  • Sedin twins and Kesler for Ilya Kovalchuk and Chris Tamer - because the Canucks apparently have cap space for Kovalchuk and are willing to give up three of their better, young players for him?
  • Three-way trade between Vancouver, Toronto and Columbus. Basically, Cloutier, Jovanovski and Cooke for Marc Denis, Luke Richardson and Nik Antropov - where do I start... goalie with playoff question marks for goalie with 0 GP in the playoffs; potential Norris trophy defenseman for 36-year old defenseman on the downhill; small, versatile, gritty player for big winger who disappears in the playoffs
  • Three-way trade between Vancouver, New Jersey and Florida. Vancouver gets Roberto Luongo and Sergei Brylin; Florida gets Ed Jovanovski, Dan Cloutier (or possibly Todd Bertuzzi), Jamie Langenbrunner and Jeff Friesen; New Jersey gets three high draft picks - Florida gets a no. 1 goalie, a potential Norris trophy defenseman and two high-caliber veterans for Luongo and draft picks; Vancouver getting Luongo isn't bad but at the expense of another defenseman? I suppose Luongo is used to not having a defense in front of him; I know the Devils are trying to clear cap room but trade three forwards for three draft picks?

Again, my issue isn't with that these rumors are out there. My issue is with that they are so far out left-field that they shouldn't have been out there to begin with. One glance at the players involved and you can quickly see that the trades don't add up. Instead, the originator passed them on to the hockey masses, in the process citing "credible sources". That these credible sources seem to include radio talk shows and fan message boards is another story, but again I digress. Anyway, to those who like to "break the story" ... please... at least put a little bit of thought into it first.

I know, I know... more of a rant today. I'm on my way to the Okanagan for the long weekend. I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to post while I'm up there, but I'll try.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 7:17 AM | permalink/comments (1) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Two More To The Blog Roll

I would like to welcome Ryan from the The Habs Blog (http://www.habsblog.com) to the blog roll with whom Canucks Hockey Blog have linked with this week. Ryan covers - yes, you guessed it - the Montreal Canadiens.

I am also pleased to link with The Hockey Report (http://www.thehockeyreport.com). "The Furnace" shares his insights and provides a great resource site for everything hockey.

Please make sure you pass by these excellent sites.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 7:08 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |