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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Friday, February 29, 2008

Game Day Post: Blue Jackets at Canucks

The Vancouver media tried to create a bit of controversy yesterday when they played a sound clip of Roberto Luongo, who obviously wasn't too happy at Wednesday night's loss, over and over and over again.
"We had about six chances to get it out and either we shot it off our own guys or we didn't get it out," Luongo said. "The next thing you know there's a shot from the point and Sakic is all alone at the side. I was able to get the first save, but he chipped the second one over me. It's unacceptable, inexcusable, that should never happen in an important game like that. So we just pissed away two points tonight."
First, Louie responded (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province):
"First of all, I don't throw my teammates under the bus," said Luongo. "We all work hard and try to do the right things out there and work for each other. Obviously, it was a tough way to lose and I was upset. I take losing seriously and I don't enjoy it. We're a team and I respect my teammates and what they do out there. I'd never single out anybody."
Then his teammates backed him up:
"Why would I take it personally? Sakic shouldn't score at the end of the game," said Mitchell. "Players like that [Luongo] with a fire in their belly hate to lose and I love those players. That's the difference between a winner and a loser. You're on the right team when your best player wants it that bad."

(snip)

"We've got a lot of quiet guys in this locker-room and it's always good when Louie steps up," said Burrows. "When we see that he's mad, guys want to give it a little bit more."
Controversy over, ok?

What was funny about this whole thing is that a lot of the same people that said that Louie shouldn't have said that after the loss to Colorado are the same people that complain about the Canucks lacking a vocal leader.

Well, now they have one.

More 'Nucks-related pieces in today's MSM:
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Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Career Night

I know there was no hiding my man-crush for Brad Richards. When the Canucks weren't able to get him at the trade deadline and potential first-round playoff opponent Dallas did, I wished that maybe I was wrong and hoped that Richards was, like a lot of Canucks fans in this city thought before Tuesday, indeed washed up.

He's not.
Brad Richards wasted no time showing what he can do for the Dallas Stars.

Richards had a career-high five points—all on assists—in his Dallas debut, setting up new linemate Niklas Hagman’s first NHL hat trick and sending the Stars past the Chicago Blackhawks 7-4 Thursday night.
Fuck.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pyatt, Pettinger, Oh No!

Courtesy of Waiting For Stanley, here's more about the newest Canuck, Matt Pettinger.



Ladies and gentlemen, lock up your puck bunnies.

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Game Day Post: Avs at Canucks

Everyone's talking about tonight's opponent, the new old and improved Colorado Avalanche (Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province; Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun)

Needless to say, it's a big game. The Canucks are only two points up on Colorado, though Colorado has played a couple more games. They've already four games against each other this season. The Canucks won the first two, while the Avs won the last two. Including tonight's game, they play four more times the rest of the season.

I'm not sure if Matt Pettinger will make his Canucks debut tonight. Word is, he's scheduled to fly in sometime today to meet the team and coaches. If he plays, the projected lineup is:

Sedin-Sedin-Naslund
Raymond-Shannon-Pyatt
Burrows-Kesler-Isbister
Pettinger-Rypien-Linden

On the Avs side, Forsberg and Foote are nice, but it ain't 2001 anymore. (I honestly don't know if Floppa is even playing tonight.)

More from today's MSM:
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More Trade Deadline Day Fall Out

In reference to the Canucks not doing much at yesterday's trade deadline, Cam Cole (Vancouver Sun) had this to say:

But strip trade day down to its essentials, and here's how it appears, after the re-surface: The big guns solidified their positions, and Colorado is on the outside looking in, but it's hard to imagine them staying there.

And that means someone currently in is likely to be out.

If it's the Canucks, they may look back on Feb. 26, 2008, as one more in a series of shoulda-woulda-coulda days.
It could also be the Nashville Predators.

I've already made my peace with what didn't happen yesterday. Is it a missed opportunity? Sure. Will it bite them in the ass? Maybe, though given the way they've been playing lately, I have complete faith that, come April 5th, this team won't be on the outside looking in.

There's no doubt the upper echleon of the Western Conference got stronger. Dallas, Detroit, Anaheim and San Jose all acquired players they needed. The great thing is, if the playoffs started today, two of those teams would meet in the first round. And if somehow the Canucks came back and won the division, they won't meet any of those teams in the first round. Right now, they'd meet Minnesota.

More from the MSM:

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

An Unsung Hero

A little more than a month ago, I raised enough money for the BC Children's Hospital Skate for a Cure and had a chance to meet a Canucks player and get a picture taken with him. When I got to GM Place, I asked one of the arena hosts which player was there and he responded, "The two players that do the most community work around here - Trevor Linden and Matt Cooke."

In the last couple of years, Matt Cooke had a bit of falling out with Canucks fans, but it wasn't always that way. The Canucks drafted him in the 6th round (144th overall) in the 1997 Entry Draft. He made his Canucks debut the year after and immediately became a fan favorite due to his rambunctious style. Canucks fans voted him as the team's Unsung Hero in 2003.

For whatever reason, Cookie's style didn't mesh well with Alain Vigneault's system. Under Marc Crawford, he knew his role - the shit disturber - and played it well. Under Vigneault, quite simply, he looked lost at times. He was okay but he wasn't the same, and today, the team that drafted him and the only team that he had ever played for traded him to the Washington Capitals.

Cooke was one of my favorite players. I have one signed Canucks jersey and it's his signature on it. I love his all-out style. I'm sure you've heard me say this before but I always thought he bled Canucks blue and left everything on the ice. Unlike his critics, I've never perceived him to be a dirty player. Yappy and annoying and always playing on the edge maybe, but definitely not dirty.

He was clutch. I'm sure you'll remember the following couple of videos, both of which are now part of Canucks lore. Both games were in the playoffs, and in both, the Canucks needed a late goal; Matt Cooke delivered.





Off the ice, Cooke is as good people as good people come. A couple of years ago, he started the Cooke Family Foundation of Hope.

The Cooke Family Foundation of Hope was brought to life in 2006 by Michelle and her husband, Canuck left winger Matt Cooke. The couple both grew up in small towns where the values of sharing with neighbours and helping out in the community were deeply ingrained.

Since moving to Vancouver, the Cookes have always been drawn to social issues and community work and, along with other Canuck families, are still involved in the annual Canucks Dice & Ice Event, The Province Empty Stocking Fund, The Children's Heart Network, JDRF, The Michael Cuccione Foundation, as well as frequent visitors to Canuck Place (a hospice for terminally ill children) and B.C. Children's Hospital. Since the 2006 season opener, the Foundation has purchased a suite at the Vancouver Giants games and donate evenings there to deserving children from various community charities throughout the Lower Mainland.
At the Skate for a Cure, I actually drew Trevor Linden's name but switched with someone so I could meet Cooke instead. (I had met Trevor before at other fundraisers.) The picture below was the picture taken that day.


I'm glad I met the Cookie Monster that day. I'm gonna miss him, though I'm sure many others will as well. If not on the ice, then definitely off it.

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Matt For Matt... And That's It

I've had a few hours to digest what happened - or I should say, didn't happen - today.

Like a lot of Canucks fans, my initial reaction to Dave Nonis pulling off the grand total of one trade was one of disappointment. Maybe it was because I psyched myself for Brad Richards (or someone of similar caliber) or maybe I was just expecting more than Matt Pettinger. This isn't anything against Pettinger. I'm sure that once he gets on the ice and plays Cookie's same crash-and-bang style, we'll all get to like him. Plus, he apparently calls Victoria home (canucks.com) and you guys know I'm a sucker for locals that don the 'Nucks jersey. My reaction had purely to do with expectations, and as I watched Colorado, Dallas, Anaheim, San Jose and Detroit load up, I started expecting Nonis to do a bit more.

Talking about Pettinger, here is something a Caps fan mentioned on On Frozen Blog:

Aside from the ladies losing a piece of eye candy; the rest of us see nothing wrong with this trade.
It sounds like Taylor Pyatt has a bit of competition.

Anyway, after scanning the list of players that moved today, I can kinda see why Nonis didn't make the splash we all wanted. The Canucks' glaring need, of course, is a top-six forward, and quite frankly, it doesn't look like there were many available. Or if they were available, maybe the price was too high.

The only player traded today that I would have given up a combination of our good prospects was Brad Richards. It sounded like the Canucks were right there until the very end, but I guess the Lightning preferred players who can play now and not in the next couple of years. Hossa would have helped, but no way the Canucks could have beat Pittsburgh's offer (or at least not without crippling their farm team). Olli Jokinen would have been nice, but who knows if he was even available.

There were other players available that may have upgraded the Canucks' top-six. Andrew Ladd and Tuomo Ruutu were traded for each other. The Blackhawks had Marty Havlat and Robert Lang available as well. But truthfully, I'm glad we didn't throw Luc Bourdon, Cory Schneider and our first-round draft pick at those types of players. (Though I'll admit that Ladd is an interesting prospect but that could be just my local bias again.) Especially with the team's prospect pool finally looking decent, I would have hated to see RJ Umberger for Martin Rucinsky or two 2nd-round draft picks for Sopel-type deals.

Interestingly enough, none of Calgary, Minnesota, Nashville or Phoenix acquired anything of significance for the stretch run (unless you count Chris Simon as significant). I don't know how much this factored into Nonis' approach, but maybe, the feeling is that the Canucks can hang around these teams and make it into the playoffs. They can then take their chances against the likes of the Wings, the Stars, the Sharks and the Ducks.

I guess we'll find out in the next couple of months if this was the right approach.


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Trade Deadline 2008

[added: 02/26/2008, 7:53 PM]

Sorry guys. Had to step out. You can find the rest of today's trades on NHL.com. I've got a summary from the Canucks side of things coming.


[added: 02/26/2008, 12:31 PM]

This made me smile and shudder at the same time (TSN.ca).

The Minnesota Wild added lots of toughness on Tuesday, acquiring Chris Simon from the New York Islanders for a sixth-round draft pick.
Dear God, aren't Derek Boogard and Todd Fedoruk enough?


[added: 02/26/2008, 12:11 PM]

Nice trade by Pittsburgh to obtain Marian Hossa (TSN.ca)?

The Atlanta Thrashers have traded sniper Marian Hossa and winger Pascal Dupuis to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for prospect Angelo Esposito, forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen and a first-round pick.
That said, Pittsburgh is getting themselves a heckuva player in Hossa without sacrificing too much from their current lineup. Dupuis and Armstrong, I think, cancel each other out and Erik Christensen isn't exactly irreplaceable. To me, Hossa's rental for this postseason - and by all accounts, this is just a rental - costs the Penguins Esposito and a low first-round pick.

Not bad.


[added: 02/26/2008, 11:40 AM]

The only big name out there is Marian Hossa. Sportsnet was reporting that he could be on his way to Pittsburgh; TSN is saying it's not done and that a Hossa/Hedberg deal may be on the table with Montreal. With Matt Pettinger the only name coming to the Canucks, should Dave Nonis make a pitch for him?

Unlike Richards and Jokinen, Hossa is an unrestricted free agent after this season. He's purely a rental player and Nonis has been adamant that he won't throw many assets after that. The only other big UFA to be traded so far is Brian Campbell. He went for Steve Bernier and a 1st round pick. Does that change the market for Hossa? Will a prospect and a 1st round draft pick do it? And if that's the case, should Nonis offer Bourdon or Schneider and a draft pick to Atlanta?


[added: 02/26/2008, 10:45 AM]

Those of you who've followed my blog for a while know I'm a big Matt Cooke fan. Don't get me wrong. Matt Pettinger is decent. What I don't understand is the need to replace to Cookie with a Cookie-like player.

Here's Pettinger's scouting report (from Sportsnet.ca):

Assets: Works very hard and never takes a shift off. Loves to play a crash-and-bang style and is very effective in the corners. Can play either wing position.

Flaws: Isn't blessed with supreme skills, so he must always play his heart out in order to get on the score sheet. His hard-nosed style leads to injuries.

Career Potential: Third line winger.
Listening to the Sportsnet panel, it sounds like Pettinger has a bit more scoring upside so maybe the move is intended to upgrade our bottom-six. For what it's worth, he's on pace to score 10 points this season.


[added: 02/26/2008, 10:39 AM]

And the first Canuck to be traded is... Matt Cooke.

Coming back is Matt Pettinger from the Washington Capitals.

More in a minute.


[added: 02/26/2008, 10:00 AM]

Report: Patrick Roy and Ray Bourque sign with the Colorado Avalanche for the rest of the season.

Okay, maybe not those two but after getting Peter Forsberg to re-sign with the team yesterday, they've also now re-acquired Adam Foote. And word has it that Rob Blake might be on his way too. Shit, maybe we can send them Aaron Miller.


[added: 02/26/2008, 9:48 AM]

With a few deals already done, here are some reactions from the blogosphere.

The Battle of California on the Brian Campbell and Brad Richards deals:

Brian Campbell for Steve Bernier/1st rounder? Holy crap, that's a steal. I'm assuming there's a conditional pick involved should Campbell sign. For the first time in, well, ever, the Sharks have a legit #1 defenseman in his prime. Maybe the power play will finally score now AND the Sharks keep Patrick Marleau. Not too shabby, eh?

As for Dallas getting Brad Richards (it's official), fuck you Dallas.
Five For Fighting on the Brad Richards deal:

I have mixed feelings about the Brad Richards deal, just based solely on getting to know these guys in the locker room. I'll especially miss Mike Smith. He had such a great attitude and sense of humor in that locker room, and I don't doubt that he helped keep Marty Turco loose. Those two had such a great friendship.
The Shootout on Jeff Halpern and Jussi Jokinen going to Tampa Bay:

It is with a sad and heavy heart to report that HullJack have traded Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen and Mike Smith for center Brad Richards and goalie Johan Holmqvist from Tampa Bay.

I will not lie that I am not pleased about this trade, at all. I lost my Jew and Juicy in one felt swoop.
So with this sadness, I think it is now time to say goodbye to 2 of my favorite players.
Puckhead's Thoughts on acquiring Cristobal Huet:

The Washington Capitals made a trade to bolster a position that I felt they had needed some help with. Cristobal Huet was traded to the Capitals for a 2nd round pick. Almost for nothing.

This tells me one of two things, Olie Kolzig doesn't look like he will get a contract extension after he is done, and Brent Johnson's days are numbered. The Canadiens obviously are going with Carey Price, and McPhee pulled a goaltender from out of nowhere. He would have been crazy not to take this opportunity.

[added: 02/26/2008, 9:39 AM]

PS. Dave Nonis - You still there?


[added: 02/26/2008, 9:27 AM]

I'm talking to John via Skype regarding the Cristobal Huet trade to the Washington Capitals (TSN.ca). Neither of us expected that trade at all.

The obvious next question is, which other goaltender is on his way to the Habs? Montreal is in a dogfight with Ottawa for the Northeast Division championship. Carey Price is good, but I doubt they go into the stretch run and the playoffs with a Price/Halak combo in net.

Good trade for the Caps. Kolzig's had an inconsistent season and Washington wants to take the next step. At the very least, Kolzig and Huet can push each other.


[added: 02/26/2008, 9:16 AM]

Tuomo Ruutu is now a Carolina Hurricane and Andrew Ladd is a Chicago Blackhawk (Sportsnet.ca).

Ruutu is a nice pick-up, though due to injuries or for some other reason, just never found his stride in Chicago.

I do like this trade for the Blackhawks. I'm surprised Carolina gave up on Ladd, a good Maple Ridge kid, who, after winning the Cup back in 2006, brought it to the Stone Temple. He's a big winger with some decent hands and should look good on a line with any one of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marty Havlat or Patrick Sharp. He's also only 22 years old.


[added: 02/26/2008, 8:42 AM]

Apparently, Brad Richards is now a Dallas Star (TSN.ca).

The Stars get Richards and goaltender Johan Holmqvist.

The Lightning get Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern.

No draft picks, no bluechip prospect on defense exchanged.

Here's hoping for a Marty Turco first-round flop.


[added: 02/26/2008, 8:37 AM]

Bob McKenzie just mentioned that Brad Richards has officially been asked to waive his no-trade clause. It sounds like he's headed to the Dallas Stars.

That sucks.


[added: 02/26/2008, 8:28 AM]

The first of today's big fish, Brian Campbell, has just been traded to the San Jose Sharks (TSN.ca).

In one, swift move, the Sharks addressed one of their biggest needs. Campbell is a heckuva defenseman and he can move the puck. Now they have someone who can actually get the puck to the likes of Thornton, Marleau (if he's still a Shark by the end of the day) and Michalek.


[added: 02/26/2008, 8:18 AM]

Wade Belak has just been traded to the Florida Panthers for a 5th round draft pick (TSN.ca).

I don't know if I'm more surprised that some team actually wanted Belak or that that team actually gave up something to get him. Belak, incidentally, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.


[added: 02/26/2008, 7:55 AM]

I know, I know. As Alanah said last night, I'm quite emotionally invested in the possibility of Brad Richards in a Canucks jersey. This morning, RJ from the Vancouver Viewpoint mentioned he would actually prefer to see Olli Jokinen come over.

RJ is right.

Truth be told, I prefer Olli Jokinen as well. On episode 60 of The Crazy Canucks, I spelled out why too. He's the big center the Canucks have always needed plus his contract is much more manageable. I even argued that I would give up Ryan Kesler if it meant upgrading the top-six to include Jokinen.

Both will cost the Canucks prospects and cap space for sure. The difference is that Richards will cost the Canucks more cap space, and for the reasons RJ mentioned, Jokinen will cost the Canucks more prospects. Bourdon, Schneider and draft picks won't be enough to land Olli Jokinen. To get OJ in a Canucks jersey, start with that package for Richards and then add Kesler or Edler.

Also, I focused on Brad Richards because I know Nonis is hot on his heels and I don't blame him. Again, money issue aside, giving up a package with Bourdon and Schneider ain't bad. Regardless of what high-end player the Canucks acquire and regardless of whether they acquire him through trade or free agency, it's going to cost them significant money (see: Boyle, Dan). Jokinen probably isn't much of a target, perhaps because of how many young players it's gonna cost to get him or perhaps because the Panthers don't want to give us any more of their All-Stars.


[added: 02/26/2008, 7:33 AM]

Woo-hoo! Finally, a trade!

The New Jersey Devils have acquired Bryce Salvador from the St. Louis Blues for Cam Janssen.(TSN.ca).

Solid deal for the Devils. Salvador provides the Devils with some defensive depth. He was playing mostly between 17 and 20 minutes a game for the Blues. Cam Janssen, well, he's been injured all season.


[added: 02/26/2008, 7:09 AM]

Always one of the funniest liveblogs on trade deadline day is Jay Onrait's (TSN). Check it out. He even has some Baby Spice rumors.


[added: 02/26/2008, 6:56 AM]

I actually forgot that TSN has John Ferguson Jr. on its deadline day show. But then again, is there any other ex-GM out there that's more astute than JFJ? I mean, he is the guy that brought luminaries like Brian Leetch, Ron Francis and Luke Richardson to the Leafs on past trade deadline days. Nevermind that he paid primo assets for them in the twilight of their careers.

If I'm not mistaken, Sportsnet has Doug MacLean on. His claim to fame is acquiring guys like Sergei Fedorov and Adam Foote to lead the Blue Jackets.

JFJ vs. Dougie Mac. Who can give the better analysis on today's trades?


[added: 02/26/2008, 6:47 AM]

James Mirtle brings up a good point. Brian Campbell's people should send Dan Boyle's people a thank you card.


[added: 02/26/2008, 6:18 AM]

Jay Feaster is apparently a slow learner (Erik Erlendsson, Tampa Tribune)?

Defenseman Dan Boyle agreed to a six-year contract extension worth $40 million, with a salary cap hit of $6.67 million a season, while left wing Vinny Prospal was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for 22-year-old defensemen Alexandre Picard and a conditional 2009 draft pick.
Ladies and gentlemen, that $6.67 million cap hit ranks fourth among all NHL defensemen. The three d-men with higher cap hits? Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer.

Don't get me wrong. I love Dan Boyle as much as the next guy. I'm just not sure I love him more than, say, Dion Phaneuf and Sergei Zubov. Especially when Boyle is 38, which is when this contract ends, I don't know if I'd still love $6.67 million ways.


[added: 02/26/2008, 5:49 AM]

Okay, so I had time to drive up to Tim Horton's and still no trades?


[added: 02/26/2008, 5:13 AM]

Nothing confirmed on the Brad Richards front, though Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province) and the TSN panel are reporting the rumored proposals from the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and our Vancouver Canucks:

  • From Dallas - Mike Smith (G), Jussi Jokinen (LW), Jeff Halpern (C) and Mark Fistric (D)
  • From Columbus - Dan Fritsche (C), Gilbert Brule (C), Ron Hainsey (D), Ole-Kristian Tollesfsen (D)
  • From Vancouver - Luc Bourdon (D), Corey Schneider (G), draft picks
At first glance, the Stars' offer probably is the strongest, though I'm not sold that Mike Smith is a number one goalie. He's certainly ahead of Schneider in his development, but I think Schneider has a bit more upside. Or that could just be my Canucks bias. Columbus' offer is quite strong as well, but would Richards really want to move to Columbus?


[added: 02/26/2008, 4:52 AM]

The first big name to move yesterday wasn't because of a trade. It was the Colorado Avalanche signing Peter Forsberg (TSN.ca)

As a Canucks fan, I hope the Avs miss the playoffs.


[added: 02/26/2008, 4:45 AM]

Oh crap. Maybe not Brad Richards (link via Canucks and Beyond)?


[added: 02/26/2008, 4:36 AM]

G'morning boys and girls. I see Paul, James, Lyle and Mike are working the web already. Any West Coasters up yet?

Should hopefully be a good day. I'm looking forward to seeing Brad Richards and Mark Recchi in Canucks jerseys by the end of the day.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Morning Surfing

Here are some of today's quick links. As can be expected, there's a lot of trade chatter going on.

I'll post more later tonight if anything happens.

And on a quick programming note, I'll be liveblogging tomorrow's trade deadline day. Make sure you come by and join in the hijinks.

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Whirlwind Weekend Wrap-up

As planned, it was a whirlwind weekend for John, Rebecca, Alanah, Dave and I and The Crazy Canucks podcast.

On Saturday, we did a panel session at the Northern Voice Conference at UBC and we had probably close to 50 people attend and listen to our *ahem* expertise. The questions they threw at us were wide-ranging and quite interesting - i.e. our relationship with the team (in progress), the kind of access we get (getting better), our journalistic integrity (we're not Eklund or Perez Hilton), the kind of hardware and software we use (you'll have to ask John and Dave about this), and others. Very cool experience for sure.

(Photo Credit: Duane Storey on Flickr)

On Sunday, we went to the Canucks Open Practice and set up shop with the Ultimate Canucks Search folks just outside section 101 at GM Place. While Jamie and Bruce from the UCS pimped out their "So You Think You Can-Nuck" contest, we also had a chance to pimp out The Crazy Canucks podcast. We posed for pictures and recorded an episode on-site. We also chatted with a few fans "on-air" and got their thoughts on the Canucks post-season chances. We even met a couple of other Canucks bloggers and podcasters; Hannah (Canucks Fangirl) stopped by and so did Kent (We Are All Canuckleheads) We have tons of audio from this event so hopefully we can put it all together in the next couple of days or so.

But the biggest highlight of the day was a (free) 30-second spot for the podcast on the GM Place jumbotron. Scott Rintoul (TEAM 1040), who was hosting the event, came by and did an interview that they played on the big screen. Really cool of them.



(Photos Credit: Canucks Fangirl on Flickr)

More pictures from the Open Practice on John's and Rebecca's Flickr sites.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Buzz With Brad

Over the last 24 hours or so, there's been a fair bit of buzz about the possibility of the Vancouver Canucks acquiring Brad Richards from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Here's the latest (via TSN.ca):

Sources tell TSN the Tampa Bay Lightning have reached out to star forward Brad Richards and have alerted him to their interest in trading him.

It's believed the Vancouver Canucks, Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets are the most active in the hunt, although according to source, Richards isn't expected to be given the list until later Sunday night.

In the last episode of The Crazy Canucks podcast, we talked briefly about some of the guys that might be coming over. Olli Jokinen was a big topic, but so was Brad Richards. Because of his $7.8 million price tag for each of the next three seasons, John and Alanah were admittedly hesitant to pull the trigger on the deal. Personally, I would welcome Brad Richards and here's why.

There's no denying his price tag is a big risk. Heck, at $23.4 million over the next three seasons, it's a huge risk. However, for the last couple of years, we've been talking about the summer of '08 because it's the summer when Naslund's, Morrison's, Cooke's and Linden's contracts all expire, clearing $11.5 million in cap space and paving the way to sign one, maybe even two or three, very good free agents. I know I was salivating at the opportunity to pluck at least one of Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, and to a lesser extent, Patrick Marleau.

As we all know now, those guys have re-signed with their current teams. Mats Sundin is still out there but he'll probably re-sign with Toronto regardless of where finishes this season. Marian Hossa will simply go where the money is. Instead, the free agent pool this summer will be headlined by guys like: Kristian Huselius, Daymond Langkow, Daniel Cleary, Pavol Demitra, Michael Ryder, Radim Vrbata and Ryan Malone. Good players, for sure, but not exactly players you would throw big money at. There are some interesting restricted free agents - i.e. Jeff Carter and Corey Perry - but unless Nonis goes nuts like Kevin Lowe, offers them multi-year, $5-6 million per year contracts, and gives up four first-round draft picks, I doubt they ever don Canucks colors unless Nonis acquired them by trade.

Which brings me to the Brad Richards' contract. It's not a great contract by any means, but given the silly contracts handed out to last year's UFAs, it's not that bad either. Gomez and Vanek are not $7 million a year players and that's exactly how much they got through unrestricted and restricted free agency. I would prefer the Canucks spend $7.8 million of their freed up cap money on a Stanley Cup winner, Conn Smythe winner and Olympic gold medal winner than signing say, Huselius for 5 years for $30 million or Pavol Demitra for 4 years for $25 million. Richards would be kinda like the Canucks' UFA signing this summer except they'll have him for the playoff run this season as well.

Capwise, it may work out just fine as well for the Canucks. Here's when their key contracts are up over the next few seasons (numbers courtesty of NHLSCAP.com):

  • 2008 - Naslund (UFA), Morrison (UFA), Cooke (UFA), Linden (UFA), Shannon (RFA unless more than 27 GP), Miller (UFA) and Sanford (UFA)
  • 2009 - Sedin (UFA), Sedin (UFA), Pyatt (UFA), Burrows (UFA), Ohlund (UFA), Edler (RFA) and Krajicek (RFA)
  • 2010 - Luongo (UFA), Mitchell (UFA), Kesler (RFA), Raymond (RFA), Bourdon (RFA) and Schneider (RFA)
Unless the salary cap nosedives in the next few seasons - and by all accounts it should actually go up by a few million bucks - the Canucks should not only have enough cap space to account for players' raises, but also, enough flexibility to sign or let go of players as they need.

Admitedly, Richards is having a horrible year. Keep in mind, however, that he's having a horrible year on a horrible team. He is a -25 so far this season, but this is on a Lightning team that doesn't get good goaltending on a regular basis, doesn't have much of a defense, and has the second-worst GAA in the entire league. In fact, the entire Lightning team except for Vinny Lecavalier are minus players and Richards plays more minutes than any other forward except for Marty St. Louis. A change of scenery and playing with a better team can get him back to being a point-per-game, plus-player, and at only 27 years old, there's no reason to think that can't do that.

The only other question left is what the Canucks would send to Tampa Bay. The Lightning need defensemen so they'll obviously want some of the Canucks' depth on defense. They're also trying to shed salary so that pretty much ix-nays a combination of the Canucks' $3 million-ish contracts. (They'll probably take one, but not any more than that.) The Lightning will also want some youth to rebuild. Will Bourdon, Schneider and an exchange of draft picks be enough to get Richards in a Canucks uni? Maybe Kesler, Bourdon and an exchange of draft picks? Maybe Bieksa instead of Bourdon (but not both)? If that's the cost of acquiring Richards, I'd pull the trigger. As much as I like those players, Richards significantly upgrades the Canucks' group of top-six forwards - with someone with proven big-game credentials no less - without significantly downgrading the lineup anywhere else. The other option is to get into a bidding war for a Kristian Huselius.

Frankly, I like the Richards deal better.

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

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Crazy Canucks Around Town

It's going to be a busy weekend for The Crazy Canucks Podcast folks this weekend. (By the way, if you missed episode 60, here it is.)

On Saturday, John, Rebecca, Alanah, Dave and I will be at UBC for this year's Northern Voice Conference. Northern Voice is a social media conference and we've been asked to hold a panel session on the topic of sports blogging and podcasting. Rebecca will be facilitating our panel:

These are 4 individuals who all have different levels of technical knowledge, different blogs or podcasts but we all share one thing - our love for hockey and the Canucks. During our session we’ll simply be exploring the basics (how to start a sports blog), some of the philosophies (how do you keep it going, get an audience, deal with heckler Oilers fans or feel about being “outsiders” of the organizations), and lastly some of the more technical aspects (how do we all come together and record a podcast from all corners of the country) followed by Q&A.
Then on Sunday, we're going to the Canucks Open Practice, joining the good folks from the Ultimate Canucks Search. The Canucks were kind enough to set us up with a kiosk on the concourse of GM Place so we can record a podcast episode (or two or three) and generally just have fun with all the ultimate Canucks fans that stop by.

If any of you are going to be at either event, please do stop by and say hi. :)

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Moose Goalie's Game-Winning Goal

A couple of nights ago, the Manitoba Moose won in overtime against the Chicago Wolves. Drew MacIntyre - yes, the goaltender - scored the game-winner (Adam Wazny, Winnipeg Sun)

If you haven't seen the video yet, here it is.




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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:48 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Canucks 3 Predators 2 (SO)

For the first time in four months, the Vancouver Canucks finally had their top-four defensemen in the lineup. How'd they do? Well, they allowed 51 Nashville shots on Roberto Luongo.

The good thing is, Luongo was the best Canuck last night. He stopped 49 of those 51 shots plus another 3 in the shootout. As we've gotten used to by now, he won a game the Canucks simply had no business winning. In the team's current three-game winning streak, he hasn't allowed more than two goals per game.

In what was probably his best game as a Canuck, Mason Raymond scored a beauty of a goal, added an assist and scored the shootout winner. His line with the other little engines that could, Ryan Shannon and Matt Cooke, combined for 5 points (1G-4A) and 5 shots on goal. To be honest, I cringed when Vigneault put this line together a few games ago. I was worried that opposing teams would just bowl them over. So far, they've been able to utilize their speed to elude them and use their skill to keep the puck away from them.

But the story of the night was Kevin Bieksa's return (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun; Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province; Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province). He, of course, missed 47 games and played the night before with the Manitoba Moose. He played a modest 15 minutes, but you can tell he needs to get used to playing the guys again. He had a miscue with Louie early in the game and left his man open on the Predators' second goal. But overall, Bieksa was okay. He definitely adds a different dimension to the defense. Case in point was him going after Jordin Tootoo, who took a bit of a run at Henrik Sedin. Bieksa probably would have beat him had Tootoo not lay down and play dead.

The win moved the Canucks up to seventh place in the Western Conference standings, four points up on the ninth place Phoenix Coyotes. They're starting to heat up as well. They've won four of their last five games and only has one regulation time loss in their last nine games (5-1-3). Just in time too.

About the game around the blogosphere:

Other Canucks news in the MSM:

Next game:

Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

And The Winner Is...

And the contest winner is... Shane Mattenley.

Send me an email, Shane, and we can arrange to meet and I can give you your tickets.

Thanks everyone!

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What Should Nonis Do Contest Time

Contest time.

With news that Peter Forsberg won't be coming back to the NHL this season, Dave Nonis' job just got a bit more challenging (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province). Signing Forsberg, likely or unlikely as it may have been, would have given the Canucks a top-six forward without costing them any of their young players. Now, If Nonis wants to make this team better for the playoff push and beyond, he has to deal away some assets.

The question is, what should Nonis do? Should he trade or should he stay put? Who should he trade and who should he trade for?

Post a comment and share your thoughts. On Thursday night, I'll randomly select a name to win a couple of tickets to the Vancouver Canucks Open Practice on Sunday. Great seats too. They're in section 117, row 4 - I believe these are two rows behind the players bench.

I'll sticky this post over the next couple of days to give y'all a chance to enter.

Cheers!

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:59 AM | permalink/comments (8) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Game Day Post: Canucks at Predators

Kevin Bieksa played for the Manitoba Moose last night, and by all accounts, looked pretty darn good and looks ready to get back into the Canucks' lineup (Adam Wazny, Winnipeg Sun).
Bieksa wasn't sure of his status after Manitoba's 2-1 overtime victory over the Chicago Wolves last night but the team confirmed he will be going back to Vancouver today. The Canucks play in Nashville tonight.

Bieksa showed why he's such a big part of the Canucks future with his cool robust style. He mixed right into the action, starting the game on the point and making a point to get involved -- as evidenced by the way he hammered former Moose Jesse Schultz twice to the ice before the game was two minutes old.

The Grimsby, Ont. product took a regular shift, killed penalties and spent significant time on the power play. Bieksa took a minor penalty and counted an assist on Pierre-Cedric Labrie's second period goal.
It's been four months since Bieksa last played in the bigs. It was a long road back, and truthfully, I'm surprised he even came back this season. Shows you what I know.

Ed Willes (Vancouver Province) has a nice piece on his return:
So, now that Bieksa's return to the Canucks lineup is so close he can feel it, he can laugh about everything that's happened and, when pressed, even see the positive things.

But way back in November, when his wife Katie broke the news that Bieksa was going to be out a lot longer than the week or two he envisioned, he didn't feel that way. Mostly he felt scared and confused about why this was happening; why something so freakish could derail his season and possibly his career.

"It's the worst part of the game," said Bieksa of his recovery. "It's slow. It's monotonous at times. But the closer you get the easier it is. This week is easier than last week and last week was easier than the week before. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

It's been a long time coming.
Knock on wood, the Canucks will have their top-four defensemen back in the lineup for the first time since November 1st either tonight in Nashville or Saturday against Detroit. They've weathered the storm - they have a decent 25-14-8 record since November 1st - and, at least on the back end, they're finally getting healthy. Having Bieksa back at this time, the Canucks are basically adding a top-four defenseman close to the trade deadline without giving up assets, and hopefully, should provide the team with a jolt over the stretch run.

More from the MSM:
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Canucks 3 Wild 2 (OT)

That's more like it!

I don't want to get ahead of myself too much but last night's 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild makes me feel a lot better about the Canucks' postseason chances. While Saturday night's win was more of a pure blood and grit kinda win, last night's had more of a playoff feel to it. Both teams matched lines, both teams slowed the game down, and both teams approached the game more strategically.

The Canucks won and deservedly so. Just like on Thursday night, they controlled a lot of the play and certainly created more scoring chances. Thankfully, this time they came out with the two points.

On even-strength, Ryan Kesler's line played well against Marion Gaborik's line. Sedin, Sedin and Naslund were clutch. Louie was clutch. The Little Engines That Could - Ryan Shannon, Matt Cooke and Mason Raymond - played great and even chipped in with a goal.

Shannon, especially, is beginning to look more comfortable. Unlike at the start of the season, he looks more patient with the puck and more competitive without it. In other words, he's letting the game come to him instead of vice-versa, and in the five games since his call-up, he has three assists and is a plus-2.

By the way, someone explain to me the Wild fans' animosity towards Mattias Ohlund. I know he slashed Mikko Koivu and Koivu missed 24(-something) games after that, but surely they haven't forgotten that that was a response to Koivu' dirty shot to Ohlund's head moments before that. Personally, I loved Ohlund's game last night - he had 26 minutes of ice-time, an assist on the game-winning goal and a plus-2 rating. It didn't shut up the fans, but I'm sure it pissed them off.

About the game around the blogosphere:

More from the MSM:

Next game:

Tomorrow night against the Nashville Predators.

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

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