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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Six Million Dollar Man


It's official. Roberto Luongo has signed with the Vancouver Canucks, not for one, not for two or three, but for four years. Easily the most-hyped goalie to ever sign in Vancouver, Louie will also be its highest-paid player. His contract is worth $27 million over four seasons; he will be paid $6 million this coming season.

More from Luongo here.

Dave Nonis had been pursuing Luongo for some time now. Here's what he said after the signing:

"Roberto has proven himself to be an elite goaltender. His international experience, Vezina Trophy nomination and ability to consistently play at the highest level are tremendous assets that we believe will make the Vancouver Canucks competitive each and every night."
Luongo is up to the challenge:

“The Canucks have had a great team over the last few years. Unfortunately they had a few injuries last season and didn't make it but they're committed to winning. And that's really important for an organization. That's something that I really respect.

“There's no doubt in my mind that once I get we're going to make a run for the Stanley Cup and that's why I'm coming there.”
Good to hear.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rick On The Radar

At the Vancouver Canucks State of the Franchise last night, Dave Nonis said that he expects to hire the team's new assistant coaches by middle of next week. Here's a hint from The Chronicle Herald (Halifax) about who one of them might be:

The impact from a coaching change made way out on Canada’s west coast on Saturday could be felt back here in Nova Scotia.

The Vancouver Canucks’ firing of long-time assistant coaches Mike Johnston, a Dartmouth native, and Jack McIlhargey could open the door for Rick Bowness to be brought on board as an assistant coach to recently hired head coach Alain Vigneault.

The two had a strong working relationship with the Ottawa Senators from 1992-96 and it’s been well-documented for some time now that Vigneault would like Bowness to join him behind the Canucks’ bench.

However, it is still uncertain at this point if Vigneault will be given the freedom to hire his own assistants, although it certainly stands to reason he will get to name at least one of his right-hand men.

If that is the case, it appears the decision may, in a round-about way, be Bowness’ to make. The 53-year-old coaching veteran addressed that scenario on Saturday, shortly after learning of the firings in Vancouver.
Bowness played 173 games in the NHL and has had stints as a head coach for the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders and Phoenix Coyotes. His playing and coaching record are here (via hockeydb.com).

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More From Moore

Someone make him stop already.

From CBC Sports:

Bertuzzi, who was traded to the Florida Panthers last week, and his wife Julie are the defendants in a lawsuit filed on March 6 by Moore and his parents. It accuses the Bertuzzis of fraud and asks for $100,000 in punitive damages.

The suit claims that five weeks after Bertuzzi’s attack on Moore during a game on March 8, 2004, the joint ownership of the couple’s home in Kitchener was legally changed to place it in the sole possession of Bertuzzi’s wife.

According to the suit, the Bertuzzi home is worth more than $1.2 million, but was transferred to Julie Bertuzzi for $2. Supporting documents listed in the suit state the Bertuzzis' explanation for the $2 transaction was a “transfer from husband and wife for natural love and affection.”

The lawsuit claims the sale was one step in Bertuzzi's attempt to make himself "creditor-proof."
This, after Moore's thrown-out lawsuit in Denver and the perfectly-timed lawsuit filed during the Olympics and includes a section where mommy and daddy are suing for $1.5 million "for negligent infliction of nervous shock and mental distress."

Some questions for the law types out there. Can he really sue for fraud and seek punitive damages for this? I mean, how does Moore's camp prove that Bertuzzi was trying to hide assets? What's next? Suing for the jersey Todd gave to a fan after the last home game of the season?

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Monday, June 26, 2006

A Fair Price To Pay

From TSN.ca:

The Canucks have made their first move in negotiations with new goaltender Roberto Luongo Monday, making a qualifying offer to the restricted free agent, and there is more to come according to CKNW 980 AM in Vancouver.

The Canucks qualified Luongo at $3.2 million, which gives the club his rights for the 2006-07 season, but the radio station is also reporting that Luongo's agent, Gilles Lupien, will meet with his client in Montreal this week to discuss the prospects of a long term deal.
Two things that will turn the Bertuzzi-for-Luongo deal from a good deal to a great deal for the Canucks: 1) Luongo maintains his All-World play, especially considering that he will face increased pressure to perform from fans in this market, and 2) Dave Nonis signs him to a long-term contract.

There's no reason to think that Luongo can't continue to perform at the same level as he has in the past. While his goals-against average and save percentage took a dip this past season, he also posted a career-high 35 wins in a career-high 75 appearances and has improved in those two categories every year he has been in the league. The 35 wins ranked 7th best in the NHL, an impressive stat considering the Panthers only won 37 games, 23rd overall in the league.

With that in mind, signing him to a long-term contract will be a bit trickier. He had already turned down multiple offers in the $6 million/year range from the Panthers, including a final offer of $25 million over 4 years. Mind you, Luongo maintains he accepted that deal while Keenan says he didn't.

Regardless, that little bit is mostly irrelevant now. What is relevant is the $6.25 million per year that was on the table probably signifies the starting point for Nonis' contract negotiations with Luongo - the multi-million dollar question is, is that a fair price?

The following table compares Luongo to some of the top goalies in recent years and lists what the market paid for them. Note that these goalies, with the exception of Kiprusoff and Vokoun, either signed their contracts as UFA's or as RFA's with contract years that extend into their UFA years. Where does Luongo's salary fit in?

LUONGO

2005/2006 Record:
35-30-9, 4 SO, 2.97 GAA, 0.914 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$3,200,000 (arbitration award)
Career Regular Season Record:
115-168-33, 27 SO, 2.72, 0.919

Career Playoff Record:

No playoff appearances

BRODEUR (NJ)

2005/2006 Record:
43-23-7, 5 SO, 2.57 GAA, 0.911 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$5,237,238
Career Regular Season Record:
446-240-112, 80 SO, 2.21, 0.891

Career Playoff Record:
89-64, 21 SO, 1.89, 0.921

KIPRUSOFF (CAL)

2005/2006 Record:
42-20-11, 10 SO, 2.07 GAA, 0.923 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$2,900,000
Career Regular Season Record:
80-51-7, 17 SO, 2.18, 0.918

Career Playoff Record:
19-16, 5 SO, 1.93, 0.927

TURCO (DAL)

2005/2006 Record:
41-19-5, 3 SO, 2.55 GAA, 0.898 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$3,161,795 (re-signed at $5.7 mil/yr)
Career Regular Season Record:
137-62-26, 24 SO, 2.08, 0.915

Career Playoff Record:
8-14, 0 SO, 2.54, 0.892

VOKOUN (NAS)

2005/2006 Record:
36-18-7, 4 SO, 2.67 GAA, 0.919 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$2,280,000
Career Regular Season Record:
134-147-35, 16 SO, 2.57, 0.912

Career Playoff Record:
2-4, 1 SO, 2.02, 0.939

GIGUERE (ANA)

2005/2006 Record:
30-15-11, 2 SO, 2.66 GAA, 0.911 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$3,990,000 (re-signed at $5.325 mil/yr)
Career Regular Season Record:
120-124-25, 21 SO, 2.52, 0.914

Career Playoff Record:
18-9, 5 SO, 1.95, 0.932

FERNANDEZ (MIN)

2005/2006 Record:
30-18-7, 1 SO, 2.29 GAA, 0.919 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$1,672,000 (re-signed at $3.75 mil/yr)
Career Regular Season Record:
103-97-24, 11 SO, 2.46, 0.913

Career Playoff Record:
3-4, 0 SO, 2.00, 0.927

BELFOUR (TOR)

2005/2006 Record:
22-22-4, 0 SO, 3.29 GAA, 0.892 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$4,560,000
Career Regular Season Record:
457-303-111, 75 SO, 2.48, 0.907

Career Playoff Record:
88-68, 14 SO, 2.17, 0.920

KOLZIG (WAS)

2005/2006 Record:
20-28-11, 0 SO, 3.53 GAA, 0.896 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$4,940,000
Career Regular Season Record:
254-248-63, 33 SO, 2.66, 0.907

Career Playoff Record:
20-24, 6 SO, 2.14, 0.927

THEODORE (MTL)

2005/2006 Record:
18-18-6, 0 SO, 3.41 GAA, 0.882 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$4,500,000
Career Regular Season Record:
142-161-30, 23 SO, 2.63, 0.911

Career Playoff Record:
15-20, 1 SO, 2.67, 0.916

KHABIBULIN (TB)

2005/2006 Record:
17-26-6, 0 SO, 3.35 GAA, 0.886 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$6,750,000
Career Regular Season Record:
226-213-58, 35 SO, 2.68, 0.908

Career Playoff Record:
31-25, 6 SO, 2.27, 0.922

NABOKOV (SJ)

2005/2006 Record:
16-19-7, 1 SO, 3.10 GAA, 0.885 SV%
2005/2006 Salary:
$3,363,000 (re-signed at $5.375 mil/yr)
Career Regular Season Record:
137-113-29, 27 SO, 2.45, 0.911

Career Playoff Record:
18-15, 4 SO, 2.15, 0.920




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Todd Talks

Shortly after his trade to the Florida Panthers, Todd Bertuzzi talked to Dan Murphy (Sportsnet) about his reaction to leaving Vancouver, his buddy Markus and the many fans who supported him. Check out the interview clip here.

Todd also sends us this postcard:


(Image used with permission from a poster on the canucks.com message forum.)

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

NHL Entry Draft Recap

The Vancouver Canucks hosted the NHL Entry Draft yesterday for the first time since 1990. Similar to 16 years ago, yesterday's draft was top-heavy. Most agreed on who would consist of the top five picks this year - Erik Johnson (STL), Jordan Staal (PIT), Jonathan Toews (CHI), Nicklas Backstrom (WAS) and Phil Kessel (BOS) - before the draft went all over the board.

Click here for the complete draft list.

The Canucks had five draft picks yesterday. Here they are along with a short synopsis from Hockey Forecaster and the Vancouver Province:


Michael Grabner, RW (1st round, 14th overall)

Scouting Report: Grabner is the best Austrian available for selection for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, and has two seasons of WHL hockey under his belt... led the Chiefs, and finished in the top 10 overall, with 36 goals in 67 games in 2005-06... owns excellent one-on-one skills and an accurate shot. Grabner knows where to go in order to score goals... needs to display greater consistency in order to maximize his potential as a goal-scorer... could flourish with a better playmaking center on his line, and a greater supporting cast overall...

Impact: After dealing Todd Bertuzzi in the Roberto Luongo trade, the Canucks felt compelled to add another goal-scorer to the fold. Grabner is already used to life out West, so his learning curve may be a quick one. Look for Grabner to make a big splash in Vancouver no later than the 2007-08 campaign.

Daniel Rahimi, D (3rd round, 82nd overall)

Scouting Report: Rahimi is a huge physical specimen with big-time upside... spent most of 2005-06 in the Swedish junior elite league... owns some offensive potential, but needs to work on his skating in order to fully develop his game... is expected to remain in Sweden for several more years...

Impact: Vancouver has had a ton of success over the years with Swedish prospects. They now hope Rahimi will eventually turn out as well as Alexander Edler--another unsung draftee that has turned into one of the system's best along the blueline.


Sergei Shirokov, LW (6th round, 163rd overall)

Scouting Report: After being passed over in the NHL draft twice, Shirokov is the ultimate sleeper... produced seven goals and 14 points in 39 games in the Superleague this season... displays the energy and in-your-face attitude NHL scouts love... produced three goals and five points in six games for Russia at the 2006 WJC... can draw penalties and likes to drive opponents crazy with his shift-disturbing attitude... may be best suited for an energy-line role in North America, mainly because he can be knocked off the puck with relative ease... Shirokov is an excellent puck-handler.


Juraj Simek, LW (6th round, 167th overall)

Skinny: He's a skilled winger known to have fire in his eyes. Simek has some highlight-type one-on-one skills that the Canucks scouts love. He has an NHL wrist shot. He's going to have to play in North America before the Canucks really know how much talent the has.


Evan Fuller, RW (7th round, 197th overall)

Skinny: Delorme said that after the Canucks picked four Europeans they started looking for a tough North American to give the Euros some protection. They decided on Fuller, a speedster with some grit. Delorme said Fuller won over the Canucks in a fight against Kamloops tough guy Matt Kaslan.

I stayed at the draft until after the Canucks' third-round pick. Here are some of my scribbles:
  • Anyone know why fans hate Bob McKenzie? We were sitting next to the TSN desk and Uncle Dave's twin brother was getting taunted all night.
  • Gary Bettman was greeted by boos as well, but we already know why.
  • Ditto the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames.
  • Like most Canucks fans, after hearing about the Tanguay-for-Leopold trade, I wondered if Pierre Lacroix and Francois Giguere had lost all their marbles. Then, Eric Duhatschek reminded me that this was the new NHL and trades are as much about cap space as it is about building and re-building a team.
  • Great touch by the Washington Capitals organization to let Alexander Ovechkin introduce their first-round selections. You know you're a franchise player when...
  • When Gary Bettman announced the Demitra-to-Minnesota trade, the crowd at GM Place gasped collectively. Did the Wild really just acquire an offensive-oriented player? Meanwhile, while the rest of us got over that bit of shock, Jes Gőlbez of Hockey Rants and Pavol Demitra's number one fan, undestandably, reacted a bit differently.
  • A large contingent of fans of the Everett Silvertips made the 90-minute road trip up the I-5 to see four of their players drafted. These are great fans - I've seen them at Vancouver Giants games and yesterday, they were out there cheering and ringing the cowbells for the selections of Peter Mueller (PHX), Leland Irving (CAL), Ondrej Fiala (MIN) and Brady Calla (FLA).
  • Anyone notice Mike Keenan NOT announcing the Panthers' pick? I don't see why he wouldn't. Canucks fans should realize how valuable Keenan has been to the Canucks organization. He brought them Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Sedin and Jarkko Ruutu a few years ago. This weekend, he gave them Roberto Luongo.
  • On the other hand, everyone noticed Bobby Clarke's brain cramp when he forgot the name of the guy he was drafting. I wonder if Claude Giroux re-introduced himself when he got up on stage.
  • If the Boston Bruins can get Tukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft, what can the Canucks get for Dan Cloutier?
More in-depth analysis of the NHL Entry Draft comes courtesy of James Mirtle, who was liveblogging the event, and the boys from NHL DraftNET.


Finally, thanks to everyone who showed up at the Gecko Club after the draft last night. It's always nice to sit down, drink (lots of) beer and talk hockey (among other things) with good people. A special thanks to Jeff and Alanah from Vancouver Canucks Op Ed and Jes Gőlbez from Hockey Rants - it's good to finally put some faces to the blogs.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Thank You Todd

I'd like to analyze the Todd Bertuzzi trade in a bit more depth, but quite frankly, I'm still in a bit of shock. Not in a bad way, mind you, because I understand the caliber of player the Vancouver Canucks are getting in Roberto Luongo, but more so because the changing of this team's core - the core that has been together for the better of seven years - seems to have begun. I'll look at the trade in more depth later. For now, consider this post as a thank you to Todd for the many memories he has provided us.

It's practically expected that some will choose to remember him for what happened on March 8th, 2004, the 18-month suspension, and the rollercoaster of this past concluded season. Many of the fickle fans in this city seem to forget the many positive accomplishments Todd has had during his tenure here.

So thank you, Todd, for developing, in front of our eyes, into one of the league's best power forwards. For forming one-third of one of the most exciting lines in hockey. For scoring 194 regular season and playoff goals in a Canucks uniform. For your hits on Barrett Jackman and Dion Phaneuf. For representing Vancouver in two All-Star games. For being named a first-team All-Star. For being named a Team Canada Olympian.

But most importantly, thank you, Todd, for the countless hours you devoted to Vancouver charities. For volunteering your time at Canucks Place and BC Children's Hospital. For granting "Daniel's Wish". For standing out in the rain to hand out free newspapers on Raise-A-Reader days. For supporting your buddy Brad May's event. And for the many more untold stories, like this one, from the Vancouver community.

From this one fan, I hope you have continued success in Florida, Todd. We'll always remember the good times:










Kudos also have to go to Bryan Allen, a Vancouver Canuck since 1998 (well, drafted then and played his first game in a Canucks uni in 2000) and who developed nicely into a good, stay-at-home defenseman. Also to Alex Auld, who filled in admirably for the injured Dan Cloutier last season and, who in his first full seasons in the league, finished among its top ten goaltenders in wins. Those of you who read this blog last year know that I'm a big Auld fan and I'm sure he'll do just fine in Florida as well.

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Canucks Assistant Coaches Fired

From Sportsnet:

News 1130 Radio in Vancouver is reporting that new Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has fired all his assistant coaches.
The remaking of the Vancouver Canucks continue. Mike Johnston and Jack McIlhargey had been with the Canucks' coaching staff since 1999; Barry Smith had been with them since 2002.

I suppose this wasn't particularly suprising considering Vigneault probably wants to put together his own coaching staff.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Canucks Trade Bertuzzi For Luongo

Oh wow. (Link from tsn.ca via VCOE)

The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have completed a multi-player trade involving Roberto Luongo and Todd Bertuzzi, sources have told TSN.

Netminder Luongo is amongst a package that is going to Vancouver in exchange for a package that includes Bertuzzi.
I just caught a bit on Sportsnet and apparently the package is:

To Vancouver:

Roberto Luongo
Lukas Krajicek

6th round draft pick (2006)

To Florida:

Todd Bertuzzi
Alex Auld
Bryan Allen

More details to follow.


[Update: 06/23/06, 7:43 PM]

According to The Score, the 6th round pick going to Vancouver hasn't been confirmed yet.

[Update: 06/24/06, 12:43 AM]

Here are the Canucks' official press release on the trade as well as some sound bites from Dave Nonis. It looks like the Canucks are indeed receiving a 6th round pick in 2006.

TSN has reaction from Todd Bertuzzi, through his agent Pat Morris. Later in the same piece, Steve Tambellini hints at a possible Cloutier trade - wouldn't be surprised at all if this happened.

Scott Burnside (ESPN) and Ray Slover (Sporting News) also put in their own two cents on the trade.

[update: 6/24/06, 8:17 AM]

Here's some reaction from around the blogosphere. First, from James Mirtle:

Luongo instantly becomes the most highly touted netminder to ever play for Vancouver, a franchise that has almost always struggled to compete with below average goaltending. The city's been called a goaltending graveyard in the past — although that's generally been because the fellows in net have looked as limber as corpses.

(snip)

The ultimate question of 'who wins' this deal will fall to the play of the two centrepieces, Luongo and Bertuzzi. Given Bertuzzi's lacklustre play and declining production (his points per game average has dropped each year since his 'breakout' campaign in 2002-03), it's difficult to see how this deal can come back to bite the Canucks.
David Johnson agrees:

My initial reaction was this trade is a steal for the Canucks. After sleeping on it overnight I think more or less think the same. What Vancouver gets in this deal is two fold. First, they get the high-calibre goalie they have never had. Second, they save some money they despertely needed to in order to try to re-sign the Sedins as well as try and keep Jovanovski and Anson Carter. It is also all but certain that they will dump Dan Cloutier’s salary to the first team willing to take it off their hands. The big question mark on the deal is, will they be able to ink Luongo to a long term deal. If they can then this trade is a steal for the Canucks. If not and they lose Luongo next summer it will not be so great but it is not like they gave up a lot as Bertuzzi is a UFA next summer too.
Jes Gőlbez has mixed feelings on the trade:

I absolute love Roberto Luongo as a goaltender. He is the most talented goaltender in the NHL (Not the best at the moment, but he can could be), but giving up a stalwart defenseman like Bryan Allen and a cheap, league-average goaltender Alex Auld and getting only a loosey-goosey Lukas Krajicek back makes me go 'hmmm'. Both Bertuzzi and Luongo are in the same contract situation, so how does Dave Nonis give two cheap, younger players along in the deal? The Canucks are still left with an expensive backup in Dan Cloutier, and their defense is in serious danger of being thin.
Finally, from the Eastern Conference, John Fontana is elated, but for somewhat selfish reasons:

Rejoice, Lightning fans… Roberto Luongo is heading for the Pacific Northwest.

A constant thorn in the Lightning’s side since he came to the Panthers several years ago, Roberto Luongo has my respects as possibly the best goaltender in the National Hockey League…
More reaction as they come.

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NHL Entry Draft - Meet and Greet Reminder

One more reminder (graphic courtesy of VCOE):


The NHL Entry Draft starts at 3 PM. The first round runs approximately 3 hours and each round after that is about an hour plus each.

Now, the Canucks are in the following draft positions:

1st round (#14)
3rd round (#83)
6th round (#167)
7th round (#197)

I believe the later picks are scheduled for Sunday.

We're thinking of heading to the Gecko Club (518 Richards St.) shortly after the Canucks' 3rd round pick - probably around 8:00 PM.

Hope to see y'all there.

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My Night at the NHL Awards Show

I went to the NHL Awards Show with a good friend of mine last night. For $85 each, we got to walk down the red carpet and see the some of the world's best hockey players gather in one place.

Though it was a good experience, I found the show itself to be just okay. For some reason, there didn't seem to be a lot of stuff going on. Ron McLean emceed, Will Sasso provided some goofy entertainment, Tom Cochrane and 54/40 provided the music and there were various video montages throughout the show. But something seemed lacking, and to be honest, the show lacked a bit of oomph. A few of the award winners - Pavel Datsyuk (Lady Byng), Mikka Kiprusoff (Vezina and Jennings) and Teemu Selanne (Masterson) - weren't even there. For an event that was supposed to celebrate the best individual accomplishments of the past season, there sure wasn't a lot of celebrating, But then again, I wasn't at the VIP after-party so what do I know.

Best acceptance speech: Nicklas Lidstrom (Norris), during his acceptance speech, said "Kenny (Holland), we'll talk later." I wonder how much that Norris trophy is worth on a contract extension?

Funniest acceptance speech: Alexander Ovechkin (Calder). He made it a point to thank his girlfriend for cooking for him, cleaning the house and fixing his car. Lucky man.

Click here for the complete list of award winners.

I took lots of photos, but unfortunately was too far from the stage and most of them didn't turn out. Here are some of the ones that did:


Walking down the red carpet. Really there was a red carpet.


The NHL really does have the most beautiful trophies in pro sports.


More trophies. You know, the Hart kinda reminds me of a chess piece.


Me and Staalzy. God, am I really that short?


Me and Cam Ward. From an virtual unknown to Conn Smythe winner in one season. Ron McLean mentioned that it was Kevin Lowe's idea to include him in Team Canada's Olympic long list. So Kevin Lowe knew something the rest of the hockey world didn't. And yet the Oilers still couldn't beat him.


Me and Ron McLean. Weird, he did that thumbs up thing on every photo. Has he always done that?

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Balding and the Beautiful


Funniest quote regarding the apparent Jose Theodore and Paris Hilton hook-up goes to Japers' Rink:

One of these two sucks 50+ nights a year; the other is - no wait, they both suck 50+ nights a year (alternate caption: Whose five-hole has been exposed more over the past two years?).
Nicely.

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NHL Entry Draft - An Update and Some Trade Rumors

Before I begin, I want to remind everyone of the informal meet-and-greet for hockey nuts at the Gecko Club (518 Richards St.) this Saturday night after the NHL Entry draft. Send an email to myself or to Vancouver Canucks Op Ed and let us know if you are coming. We hope to see you there.

*****

The boys at NHLDraftNET are going to be at the draft as well, but in the meantime, have been providing some good pieces on draft prospects and interviews with various people in the hockey community.

Make sure you pass by their Player Profiles page and Guest House for more. (And while you're there, you can check out the interview with yours truly. Thanks again to Mike and Jeffrey for the opportunity.)

*****

Speaking of interviews, here's a Q&A with Canucks amateur scout Ron Delorme. And here's the bit that would probably interest most Canucks fans:
Q: Do the rules in the "new NHL" have any impact on the types of players you look for?
A: Yes. In this year's draft, teams will be going for picks based on speed and skill, including Vancouver. Look at Buffalo and how they performed with the rule changes. They are a good example of what a team can do. Teams want more speed now and small players that may have been shunned before are now hot commodities.
With the Canucks lacking in more offensive-oriented prospects, that's certainly some good to hear.

*****

More on Delorme from Elliott Pap in today's Vancouver Sun.

*****

One trade rumor that is quickly making the rounds involves none other than our Canucks and the Florida Panthers' Roberto Luongo. Tom Gallagher (via National Post) has more:
It's pretty much a given now that Florida Panthers general manager Mike Keenan has little option now that the goaltender has turned down two terrific offers from the club, stating through his agent Gilles Lupien that he will only finish this next season with the team before testing the free-agent waters -- unless he's given a no-trade clause.

This could be a ploy to force Florida's hand as it's no secret he has been put off on more than one occasion with some of the things that have gone on with his club. He was livid last August when he was at the Olympic orientation camp in Kelowna, B.C., upset that Keenan was going to take him to arbitration. And since then he has turned down at least two lucrative offers from the Panthers, one well publicized offer of US$30-million over five years and another whereby he was offered US$24-million over four years very recently.

(snip)

Sources indicate that the Canucks are certainly among the most interested teams given the type of package they might be able to offer in return. The L.A. Kings are also said to be very interested, along with the Oilers, who don't have Dwayne Roloson locked up for next year. When a guy like Luongo goes on the market, everyone has to be interested.

Canucks GM Dave Nonis has said publicly he feels Luongo is among the best goalies in the game and given the histrionics in goal this team has gone through in the time Nonis has been in and around the organization, he knows full well his acquisition would put an end to all that melodrama.

In terms of assets, he has a few, including one Todd Bertuzzi. A trade for the winger makes sense because Keenan likes Bertuzzi and thinks he'll be great again. And the off-loading of his US$5-million in salary would clear the decks for a Luongo signing in Vancouver.

No deal could happen without one of Vancouver's stars leaving. The problem is Keenan needs a goalie back in return. And while the Canucks have a great range of options to offer, are any of the three possibilities good enough to satisfy the former Vancouver coach turned Florida boss?
What makes this version of this rumor interesting is that now, unlike earlier this past season, Canucks GM Dave Nonis is, more than ever, open to the possibility of dealing members of the team's core. He's said it since they the end of their season and said so again (opens in Windows Media Player) during yesterday's press conference to announce Alain Vigneault as the team's new head coach:
I think there will be opportunities to give our team a different look. How deep those changes go, I mean that remains to be seen. It depends on what presents itself.
When asked specifically about possible player movement this coming weekend, Nonis added (WMP):
It's picking up a little bit. I wouldn't say it's busy. I think it will get busy starting tomorrow (today) when people start getting into town, but a lot of things have happened in the last week or so.

(snip)

I think it'll be an exciting time. I think there's gonna be a lot of things that are gonna be discussed and we may see some fireworks there by Saturday afternoon.

(snip)

In terms of your pick, do you try to move? Yeah, if it doesn't cost you too much. You don't want to hurt your team. With a deal we make there, we can, you know, maybe move a player or two and fill some holes. I don't know. I mean, if that's there, I think there's lots of teams there looking to score those options and opportunities and that could lead to an exciting day.
Interesting? Yes, from the sounds of things, opportunities are there.

Is a Luongo for Bertuzzi-centered package deal in the works? We'll wait and see.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Third Time Lucky?

No sooner than the Vancouver Canucks announced Alain Vigneault as their new head coach, that CJOB 680 (Manitoba) is reporting that Scott Arniel is the front-runner to replace Vigneault as the Manitoba Moose head coach.

Arniel, a former Winnipeg Jet, was twice previously beat out for the Moose job - first by Randy Carlyle, then by Vigneault. He was also rumored to have interviewed for the Canucks job.

Ken Wiebe (Winnipeg Sun), who openly advocated for Vigneault in his open letter to Dave Nonis, is also an Arniel fan:

Besides, you’ve already got a remarkable candidate in Scott Arniel, who could help make the seamless transition as the Moose and Canucks enter into the sixth year of the once-rocky partnership.

Arniel, who is also in the mix for the Canucks job, was twice the bridesmaid for the top Moose post and could easily have been hired both times.

But rather than hang his head and fret over the missed opportunity, Arniel continued to get better and his diligent work as an assistant helped the Buffalo Sabres reach the Eastern Conference final this spring.

Arniel has obvious ties to the community and is ready to run his own team.
More to follow, I'm sure.

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Alain Vigneault: The New Canucks Coach

As expected, the Vancouver Canucks announced that Alain Vigneault would be the 16th head coach in the team's history. He coached the Manitoba Moose to a 44-24-0-7 regular season record this past season and took the Moose to the AHL North Division final. His full coaching record is here (via hockeydb.com).

From the press conference, here's Vigneault's opening statement:

Thank you for coming.

I feel really honored and privileged to be the new coach of the Vancouver Canucks. I'd like to thank Dave and Steve for the vote of confidence that they're showing me. I don't intend to let them down. I don't intend to let ownership down and I don't intend to let the fans down.

I have a memory last year when we were at training camp. We were in Whistler and we went out - the staff, the management, the trainers, the scouts and the support staff - and we walked into this restaurant. Obviously, we were a big group and people were staring and by the time we got to our table, people had realized who had walked in. And all of a sudden, throughout the restaurant, people started chanting "Go Canucks Go, Go Canucks Go!" And you know, right then and there, not wishing any bad things to happen to anybody, but I said to myself internally, "I'd love to coach here. I'd love to coach in a place where hockey means something and I'm getting that opportunity."

I'm a career coach and except for my family, my friends and my two daughters, Adrienne and Genny, hockey is my life and now the Vancouver Canucks are my life, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure this team is as successful as it can be in achieving their goals and the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup.
One thing Vigneault said that stood out was in response to a question about his reputation as a disciplinarian coach:

I really believe that all players want to be successful and if you give them a way to be successful, they'll follow that path. You know, some guys say that I'm a disciplinarian. Some other guys say that I'm a players' coach. I frankly believe that I'm a business-type coach.

You know there's a job that needs to be done and when you're in charge of the business you have to make sure that it is done. And you create the right environment for your personnel to do it. Sometimes it's making sure that the reins are a little bit tighter and sometimes it's loosening it up so guys can go out and play. It's a matter of reading your team, reading your players, getting a feel for when they perform the best.
After Marc Crawford was fired, Brendan Morrison alluded to the ex-Canucks' coach's style:

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."

There were only a handful of times during games, practices and postgame interviews when Crawford showcased his fiery, emotional side.

Other than Morrison, he didn't publicly call out a player during the season, something he often did in past years.

"There is no question that, at times, he was more lenient than he had been in the past," Morrison said.
In hindsight, maybe he was too lenient. Especially with the team struggling, maybe Crow didn't have as good a grasp on his players as he had in previous seasons.

Here's hoping that Vigneault does.

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