Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Post-Weekend Wrap-Up and Thank You

Because of a busy Easter weekend, I didn't get a chance to post a recap after the Canucks/Avs game on Saturday. The game pretty much epitomized the entire season - inconsistent play, a blown lead and not good enough defensive coverage - but it was good to see the boys at least pull off the win in OT and go out on a positive note.

The players came and cleared out their lockers on Sunday and many in the media have already offered their post-mortems for the lost season. Here is a wrap-up:

"I don't think we had an identity" (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province)
Lost in translation.

It's one summation that makes sense of a season gone terribly awry for the Vancouver Canucks, who have missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

Did coach Marc Crawford's message to team leaders fall on deaf ears? Did they not sell it to their peers, and was that dressing room as disjointed as rumoured?

Clearly, something was amiss.

One player, speaking on the promise of anonymity, said who hung out with whom wasn't the problem. Leadership and accountability were the issues that translated into indifferent on-ice performance.
Was Crawford too soft? (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
The Canucks said they saw a different Crawford this year, one who had mellowed during the lockout, one who was trying a new, more hands-off approach.

"He wasn't as hard on guys as he was in the past," Morrison said. "I think that was part of his plan -- to put the onus on guys in the room to take over the team and hold each other accountable."
Bertuzzi vows to return 'with a vengeance' (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province - subscription req'd.)
"After one call I remember talking to one of the refs. I won't say who, but I said something like 'What was that.' He yelled back at me 'Go f--k yourself or I'll give you another one,' even though I had an 'A' on my jersey. I never felt I could play my game all year.


But for me, the worst thing was this stuff about Markus (Naslund) not being a good captain and he should give up the 'C'. That is so off the mark it's ridiculous.

"He's the greatest leader that's ever worn that jersey and to me, he's the greatest person I've ever met, and for him to be vilified and ridiculed like that... that was wrong and he doesn't deserve it.


About the likelihood he'll be traded, Bertuzzi said: "That's not something I can control. As far as I know I have another year left and until I'm told something else, I'll be back here. But I've had some wonderful support here and those people I'd really like to thank."
Where does rebuilding start? (Ed Willes, Vancouver Province - subscription req'd)
"We're not going to roll the team over," said GM Dave Nonis. "You can't make that many deals these days.

"That said, we're more open to doing something than we've ever been. I'm willing to talk to anybody about anything."
'I want to be back' (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun)
After a year of misery for both his team and himself, the unpredictable Todd Bertuzzi had one more surprise for all and sundry to digest: He wishes to play for the Vancouver Canucks again next season.

"I want to be back," Big Bert declared after the Canucks' final game, a 4-3 overtime victory Saturday over the Colorado Avalanche.

"I should be back," he added. "I'm under contract and until I'm told otherwise not to show up here, I'll be preparing myself at my summer home in Kitchener to come back and help this team out."
Three decisions, only one Jovanovski (Cam Cole, Vancouver Sun)
And so we come, in a roundabout way, to the fellow Dave Nonis cannot lose, no matter what he decides about the coach.

Ed Jovanovski is not as polished an all-around defenceman as the understated Mattias Ohlund and he's only half as exciting as Markus Naslund, but there's no single player on the Canucks whose subtraction from the roster removes more of the team's vitality. That came as a considerable surprise to the outsider.
Linden willing to soldier on, if Canucks will have him (Iain MacIntytre, Vancouver Sun)
"The bottom line is: I don't want to play anywhere else," Linden said after his 1,001st game in a Canucks' uniform ended Vancouver's season miserably short of the Stanley Cup playoffs. "This is the only place that I've ever wanted to play. I feel like, mentally and physically, I have a lot to give."
Get Carter a priority (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun - subscription req'd.)
Anson Carter, new Vancouver Canucks hero, needs a new contract - and he's not lacking leverage.

The 31-year-old completed his first season on the wet coast Saturday by dethroning Markus Naslund as team goal-scoring leader, netting 33 to Naslund's 32. He aided linemates Daniel and Henrik Sedin in their emergence as impact performers and caught the fancy of the fans too, as they voted him the team's most exciting player.
It's not all about money (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province)
A pending unrestricted free agent, the Canucks defenceman knows suitors will call July 1 should Vancouver not extend his expiring $3.99-million-US deal.

However, Jovanovski also knows his hockey and home environments are of equal consideration. It may sound corny, but Jovanovski really loves Vancouver, his teammates and the fact he's anxious to lead the charge to redemption in the fall.

So, it's not all about all those zeroes on the end of the cheque.
Bertuzzi blamers went over the top (Ed Willes, Vancouver Province - subscription req'd.)
OK, we know he was minus-17 and a disaster in his own end this season. And we know he hasn't done himself a lot of favours over the years. But somewhere along the line, Canucks fans have lost all perspective on Bertuzzi.

This year he finished with 71 points amid circumstances that can charitably be described as trying. That was also more than Jarome Iginla, Marty St. Louis, Saku Koivu and a lot of others.
He doesn't like to talk about it, but Naslund was playing hurt (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province - subscription req'd.)
He said he is reluctant to talk about injuries because with that talk comes ready-made excuses.

Naslund admits he hasn't been healthy since October, a month he had seven goals in 12 games. A month the Canucks finished 8-3-1.

Some time afterwards he suffered a groin injury that never healed. He refuses to go into detail about how the injury impacted his play this season. But he did allow this:

"I had to fight through games [right to the end]," Naslund said. "I really haven't been healthy since October. It's been a long year and something that I don't want to go through again."
Dejected Canucks brace for changes after lost season (Grant Kerr, Globe and Mail)
All you need to know about the failed season of the Vancouver Canucks is that their most valuable player, as determined by the fans, was goaltender Alex Auld, who was No. 2 on the depth chart at the beginning of the schedule.

The Canucks went on to miss the National Hockey League playoffs for many reasons: they underachieved, had poor habits defensively and didn't reach the necessary competitive level until it was too late in the race.

They still managed to win 42 games, including a 4-3 overtime decision in the finale against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, but failed to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2000.
One more note from the weekend: Saturday's game was the final Canucks radio broadcast on CKNW 980. Starting next season, Canucks hockey games will be broadcast on TEAM 1040. Tom Larscheid, who has spent the last 27 years as the team's color commentator had quite a tearful goodbye. You can hear him via the CKNW audio vault - Tommy's goodbyes start in the final couple of minutes of the 9:00 PM hour on April 15th, then to the first few minutes of the 10:00 PM hour.


On that note, I see that Vancouver Canucks Op Ed and Canucks Corner have already said their thank-you's; I, too, would like to THANK YOU for making this blog's first season a very successful and enjoyable one. I first started writing this blog simply as a way of recording the highs and lows of being a Canucks fan. I never ever expected close to 30,000 visitors to come by and share them with me. (I added Active Meter in mid-August then switched to StatCounter in late December.) To everyone who visited this blog during this season and the many bloggers with whom I had the pleasant opportunity to meet, talk to and link with - again THANK YOU!

Now, just because the Canucks season is over doesn't mean I'm going to call it a summer just yet. There's still a couple of months of hockey left to be played - including by the Vancouver Giants and Manitoba Moose - and also, this off-season promises to be one of the Canucks' more active ones. There's the draft lottery this Thursday, the World Championships in May (there should be a few Canucks playing), the NHL Awards Show and NHL Draft in Vancouver in June, and of course, the start of the free agency season in July (the Canucks only have seven players under contract for next season).

It should be a good "off-season". I hope y'all stick around for it.



Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:27 AM


At April 18, 2006 10:46 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

...and thank you for sharing your Canucks wisdom this season. I don't comment often, but I've particularly enjoyed your game summaries all year.

At April 18, 2006 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who followed your commentary silently but faithfully, I also want to say thanks ...

Randy Hein, Victoria B.C.

At April 18, 2006 9:57 PM, Blogger hoopsjunky said...

Thank you very much for your kind words, guys. They really mean a lot. :)


At April 19, 2006 12:29 AM, Anonymous Janice said...

You are my hockey god.


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