Monday, November 28, 2016

What the ......

Last season I blogged two posts.  One at the beginning of the season, recapping all the summer changes, full of hope for the future with our rookies and new backup goalie; not a lot of changes but hopefully enough to put us on the right track.  Then halfway through the season when it was evident that we weren't on any track besides the one heading straight down the tubes.

On the bright side we did get a decent spot in the draft.  Not as good as we should have had (seriously, who besides the Canucks could "earn" 3rd spot and end up with the 5th pick?) but not totally bad.  We got Olli Juolevi, a Finnish D-man who is actually 6'3" rather than the midgets they usually seem to veer towards.  He seems ok so far, we'll see how he does in the OHL before he's ready to move up to play with the big boys.

When they first signed WillieD as coach I wasn't totally convinced he was The Guy who would bring the team back to life and now at 22 games in this season I'm even less so.  There are times when the team is playing well (granted, not a lot of those times) and it seems that he is doing all the right things, putting in the right players at the right times and everything is rosy.  Then the rest of the time, which is way more often, he seems to not have a bloody clue what he's doing.  Yes, he can only play the players he's given.  And yes, if these players aren't playing their best then what can he do but keep pushing them.  But here's the thing:  these are professional hockey players.  They are in top physical shape.  They've been playing the game their entire lives.  They know how to do it.  So how in the world did we manage a 9 game losing streak after 4 great wins?  And why do we keep taking so bloody many "too many men" penalties?  It's like every time they blow the whistle we have too many guys out there.  Then in the Chicago game, when we lost our 3 goal lead, we're at the final 2 minutes of the 3rd period and WD puts Megna out?  Seriously?  Just add on Chaput and Skille and you've got a really great line going there.  It's like he's not even trying to win ... or maybe he's actually trying to lose.

There's been a ton of chatter in the past few years about ownership having their fingers in everything, particularly things that they normally shouldn't be touching at all.  Everyone knows they're super cheap ... they charge over $5 for a not-full bag of cold, stale, oversalted popcorn, there are no fan giveaways on special nights (they charged $2 for PQ pins on his Ring of Honour night).  Once when I bought a pretzel they handed it to me (cold & greasy) on a napkin.  I asked for a popcorn bag to carry it in and they wouldn't give me one because they had already counted the bags........ what?
So with even just these few things it's entirely likely that ownership is poking their noses into other aspects of the team that should be best left alone.  Maybe they do want them to lose for a better draft pick ... it's not like they'll lose money, people will still go to the games in hopes of a win, they'll still buy the overpriced crappy food, so what do they have to lose?  Not a whole lot really.

Ok so what's GOOD this year?

Bo is good.  He's very good actually.  Last year he seemed to struggle, yet he still put up 40 points.  This year in 22 games he's had 14 points so he's on the road to a great year so far.  He's been working on his skating in the off-season and has improved by leaps and bounds.  He's faster, more agile, incredibly strong, and a force to be reckoned with.  I do believe he'll be our next captain, and it'll be well deserved.
Sutter's been on my radar ever since he arrived in Vancouver.  He's good at making things happen when he's out there.  He's got a +/- of -10 which is deceiving, I'll be glad when they get rid of that stat.  It tends to make them look bad when they're not.  Sutter has 11 pts so far with many more to come, I'm sure.
Gudbranson has impressed me, firstly with his physical presence on the ice.  He plays both ends well, he's got size and uses it, and he's one of very few of our d-men who actually stands up for his goalie.  Our defense have gotten the reputation of hanging the goalie out to dry.  Other teams know that they can come right into the crease and pester the goalie and nobody will do a damn thing about it.  Not so anymore ... Gudbranson will kick your ass.  I'm hoping he rubs off on the others, particularly the young'uns.
Tryamkin.  Or as Botchford calls him: BFG.  It suits him.  Just look at the size of him next to our other players -- he's frickin huge!  He apparently wasn't in shape for the start of the season and had to sit out and work on that, but now that he's in the lineup I really can't see them taking him out anytime soon.  He's pretty quick for a big guy, he's got good hands, a great long reach, and to my eye he improves a little more every single game.  BFG does suit him well in the fact that he seems to be a bit over-conscious of his size and doesn't hit as much or as hard as he could because maybe he's a bit afraid that he'll really hurt someone.  Look at the hit on Brad Richardson last week ... it wasn't a bad hit or particularly hard, but Richardson got hurt just in the way he took the hit and his leg got bent around the wrong way.  I'm sure that made the big guy think, even though he did nothing wrong.  He doesn't need to stomp on everybody who crosses his path, but if the other team is killing us then he needs to be able to step in when stompage is necessary.  Hopefully he's getting some good coaching in the hitting department so he can use his size and not worry.  I really like him and I'd like to see him give his game everything he's got.
Then there's Stecher.   He's not a big guy, but he's got a hell of a good slapshot and he seems pretty quick.  I'm keeping my eye on him, he could be ok.

Loui Eriksson .... I don't know ....  They're paying him a buttload of cash to do what seems to be very little  Once he actually started scoring he seemed ok, but overall he hasn't impressed me a whole lot.  He's been demoted to the 3rd or 4th line .... is that where we really want to put a $6m guy?  And why the hell are we paying him that much?!  I really don't know about him.  

So.  We have 9 wins, only 3 in regular time.  13 losses.  Clearly we have more things going wrong than right.  After that 9 game losing streak I half-expected the fans to be chanting "fire Willie" at the next home game.  Now we're kind of doing a win lose win lose pattern, which is no kind of good pattern that we need to be following.  As long as we win every few games, people will be somewhat forgiving and there will be no chanting, but they really need to look at the big picture.  The line choices.  The putting Megna out in the last crucial minutes of a tied game that's going quickly downhill.   The constant use of Sbisa, who does absolutely nothing but take up space.   

We're missing some key players ... like Hansen, Tanev, Dorsett ... though I can't see them skating in to save the day at this point.  Now Edler's hurt, though this hasn't been a banner year (or couple of years) for him either.  

Fire the coach?  I don't know ... it's not like there's a huge pool of fantastic experienced NHL-grade coaches out there just waiting to come to Vancouver to be bossed around by the owners.  I do think WD is out of his depth, but unless some other things change in the upper levels of management and higher I can't see that firing him will really accomplish much right now.  

All year every year everywhere I go people ask me how my Canucks are doing.  And I always try to put the best spin on it no matter what ... I'm optimistic and I'm sure they'll do better or continue improving with a big GO CANUCKS GO!
This year they ask and all I can really say is "they suck".  Because they do.  I love my team, I go to every game, I wear my gear, I cheer and scream every time they score.  Unfortunately this year I haven't been cheering or screaming as much as I'd like.  But I'll still say it.  Go Canucks Go.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Just over halfway through and they look finished....

My boys, they are a-struggling.  We have all these seasoned veterans with years of games and experience under their belts.  Then we have all these new young guns full of spit and vinegar and ready to make us remember their names.  In the pre-season we won 2 out of 6 games.  Not good, but it's the pre-season ... the lineup changes with every game, they're still getting used to playing with each other, it's a time to work out some kinks before the season really starts.  So then the season really started and things did not improve.  Now we're 57 games in and regardless how they try to spin it, we are not even at 500. 

Every now and then the stars align and things just go bing bang boom and they play like we want them to play.  Goals are gotten, saves are made, hits are .... hit.  Once in a while .... a very rare while these days.  Or sometimes we just get lucky and put on our rose coloured glasses and hope the luck will continue. 
In the past week alone, we lost 4 games in a row (3 of them at home) 5-2.  At a certain point they were looking like they were playing their first hockey game ever.  Disorganized, disjointed, discombobulated ... leaving fans disappointed, disgruntled, disillusioned.  

There's a lot of talk going around lately about how the team is being managed, or mis-managed.  Lots of rumours about how the owners have their fingers in way too many pies, Trevor is out there constantly doing damage control and reassuring the public that everything is just peachy and that they just need to work some things out and get back to playing their game.  

Everything is not peachy.  Not even semi-peachy. 

I don't like all the speculating about who the owners supposedly demanded to be traded years ago or what else they may or may not have done.  Something recently in the news a lot that does matter to me (besides the team performance) is the game presentation.  I've only been a season ticketholder for a few years, but even for that bit of time I can see may or may not be doing.  I do care about what I see and know for myself.  And I do know that the game experience is getting worse and worse as time goes on. It doesn't help matters any when I see online various articles about what the other teams do for their fans. 

Everyone already knows that our prices are ridiculous.  Besides that painful fact the concession stands are horribly set up and badly organized.  To start out, when you go to a concession to get popcorn or something, it's incredibly rare to get someone who knows how to work the cash register right off the bat.  About 75% of the time they have no clue what to do with the Bud Designated Driver coupon.  Then there's the condiment carts.  It's like someone came along with a cart full of condiments and just put them around on the tables willy-nilly.  No lie - If I get a coffee I can expect to get my sugar at one stand, then go across and down the concourse a ways for cream, then go on a search for a stir-stick, often just giving up and using a plastic knife.  How difficult is this to figure out?  If things are normally used together, then put the damn things together!  And put a trash can somewhere nearby so we don't have to just chuck our trash on the counter.  I've never seen a trash can anywhere near a condiment cart.  

The hosts at each gate are usually clueless.  They let people just stand around in the stairway so you can't get past to get to your seat (this is pre-game usually), and then they demand to see your ticket before you can go to the seat you've been using for the past few years rather than just ask if you need any help finding your seat.  If they were to ask this simple question they would avoid annoying people who know where they're going and actually do their freakin job and HELP the people who have no idea where they're going.  
When I pick my seats (no laughing now) I have certain criteria that must be met.  My ideal seats are 1. facing the players bench
2. as close to center ice as possible, towards the opposition end so the Canucks are attacking in that direction twice
3. upper bowl 
4. center of the row so people do not climb over me 
Every one of these is just as important to me as the others.  I really don't like people climbing over me and if people know where they're sitting, since I'm right smack dab in the centre of the row, they truly have no need to climb over me to get in or out.  WAY too often someone will come in, go to the wrong seats, then realise they're in the wrong seats and wander aimlessly up and down across the rows and OVER ME to figure out where they're supposed to be.  Shouldn't the hosts notice this and put them in the right spot?
Also, it clearly states on the jumbo-tron and on the rails themselves, not to lean forward.  This is for a. safety and b. so people can see past your big freakin head.  I should not have to tell the people in the rows in front of me to lean back.  The host should be paying attention and remind them themselves.

Then there's the music .... oh my god, the music.  We have the crappiest music.  And the worst part is, it's the SAME every game!  I try to get to the arena when the doors open so I don't have to wait in lines, I have plenty of time to get my beverages and/or snacks, take a quick bathroom break, get comfy in my seat with my radio all set for commentary, and watch the pre-game warm-up.  The same song is playing every time I get there.  Elton John.  I have nothing personal against Elton John, I actually quite like him, but I don't want to hear the same exact track every time I walk through the doors. 
I get that the team likes to have certain music playing as they do their actual warm-up, then as they come out to start the game, to get them fired up and in the groove and ready to kick some hockey butt.  That's fine, I'm down with that.  But once that's done and out of the way we really don't need to hear the same old crap at every puck drop and commercial break.  When I watch a Detroit game, or Montreal, or really just about any other team, they're playing great music that the fans love.  Think about this ... what age are the majority of the people actually paying for these games?  I'm willing to bet they're not 20 and wanting to hear whatever top-40 crap is currently being played.  Rock and Classic Rock always go over well, for old and young alike and everyone in between.  Look at how the crowd responds when "Living on a Prayer" is played at the end of a game.  Or how loud we BABABA'd at "Sweet Caroline" a few years ago.  I watched a stand-up comedy performance from London a few years ago and during intermission they played classic rock songs and actually showed the lyrics on a screen (follow the bouncing ball!) and the entire place was singing along.  Think about it.

To my knowledge we are the only arena to have lighted stanchions.  That, I think, is very cool.  I love seeing them flashing the blue and green .... when they actually flash blue and green, that is.  Sometimes they flash orange and red.  Or blue and yellow.  This is unfortunate when we're playing Calgary or St Louis and we're shining their colours, not our own.  Sure, our retro colours are orange and red, but besides ON retro night, we don't wear those colours.  In my opinion, the only time another colour should be shown is during the anthems.  Red, white and blue during the U.S. one, red and white during ours.  Otherswise, blue and green and nothing else, ever.  #blueandgreenlivehere #thisisourhouse

The opening video was best the year of Tortorella.  The "WE ARE" and the forging of the orca, dropping it down onto the ice, the orcas projected swimming and jumping through the ice, was AWESOME!  Best opening video we've ever had, in my opinion.  Since then we've had a few varieties, last year I think they changed it 4 times, each one worse than the last.  One part in last year's that was totally cool was when they announced the starting lineup.  The player was shown in his fancy suit duds, then spun around like in a video game and then was in uniform.  Cool.
The one that was played for the first half of this season was not great.  A lot of it was just a bunch of bouncing blue, green, and white boxes.  Yes, boxes.  Bouncing about.  Then some shots of highlights from previous games, some goals, hits, victories, all good things ... player intros, starting lineup, done.  Boring and stupid for the most part.  Since Retro Night they've had a new video, mostly just highlights of Canucks past and present.  Shots of Bure, Trevor, Bertuzzi, the twins, lots of memories.  It's ok.  Lots of snazzy graphics on the ice, better than bouncing boxes but still a big waste of time.  I can appreciate all the time that goes into making these videos, kudos to the people who do it.  But really, do they ever get any outside feedback from actual fans who are going to spend a small fortune to come see these games?

Ok, I've ranted enough.  I've sent comments about all of these things to the Canucks when they send around surveys, though you only get a certain bit of space so I'm not sure I got my point across or if they actually even read what we tell them.  
It's been said often lately that at one time (around 2003) the Canucks were voted by the other teams to have the best game presentation of the league.  I'd dare say that is not the case now.  Expensive food, ineffective and unhelpful hosts and concession people, bad music, stupid games (why is it that the winner of the game worn jersey is almost always a kid in an aisle seat?) with pre-determined winners, just so many things that could make it a great experience (outside of the actual game results) but don't.

Another 5-2 loss tonight.  Ohhhh boy.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Play for me ...

My Canucks are looking quite a bit different than when they finished up the last season.  We no longer have Stanton, Richardson, Kassian, Sestito, Matthias, Bieksa, Corrado, or the Stork.  Some got traded, others didn't get their contracts renewed or were just let go.

It's really strange not having Kevin on the blue line with his classic snarky look and his ice presence,. Nothing is the same without the Stork here, sitting on his backup chair behind the bench eagerly wanting to get out there and play ... then hearing his "Backin' Lack" song when he does well, the chants of "Eddieeee Eddieeee" throughout the arena.  Yep, those days are gone, time to move on. 

Last season was the year of Bo Horvat.  He came in as the young gun with something to prove and prove it he did.  He did exceptionally well and got better and better as the year went on.  Now that he's played through the pre-season and a couple of new season games he continues to impress.  He's a decent size, has strength, skill, and he just keeps improving.  

Now we have some new rookies coming in to try to claim their spots on the team and they're looking pretty good.   We drafted Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann in 2014, Ben Hutton in 2012.  They all did their time in the minors and now they're ready to give it a shot playing with the big boys.  I have to say I'm impressed.  Looks are deceiving, they're not the baby-faced kids they appear to be.  

Jake may look like a preppy version of Spiderman, but there's no web spinning needed when he's on the ice.  He's definitely got good hands and a bit of tough-guy is starting to show itself.  He's not afraid to get into the dirty corners and do what needs to be done.  So far he's had to sit out the first 2 games, but I expect we'll see him in LA and/or Anaheim next week.  McCann is about the same size as Jake, so neither of them is really huge in size, but they both more than make up for it in skill.  And McCann is quick!  He's a regular Speedy Gonzales when he gets moving, plus he's good on the face-off.  At the Town Hall meeting I went to last season someone asked JB about Ben Hutton and what he thought of him.  At the time I, and probably almost everyone else there, was thinking "Ben who?".  No more!  He's got a solid spot on the blue line and is already starting to kinda make us go "Kevin who?".  Last night Daniel Sedin was having some issues with a Flames player ... a little pushing and shoving at first, then it turned into a full-on fight.  The Sedins are known for a lot of things, but fighting isn't one of them.  The other team members on the ice went over to help, which is expected when you see a Sedin in a brawl, but what caught my eye was Ben Hutton zooming in to the middle of it all.  He's a big kid, like 6'3" 201 lbs, and it shows.  He carries himself well and LOOKS big, and isn't afraid to take care of business and help his fellow players.  No longer will he be "Ben who?"

We got a few other new guys from around the league in the off-season ... Matt Bartowski, Sven Baertschi, Adam Cracknell, and Brandon Sutter.  The first 3 are doing ok, about as expected though not spectacular yet.  Sutter is doing well, but then he does get to play with the twins and as we know, a monkey could play well with them.  But he's holding his own and earning the right to stay there.  He takes face-offs well, taking some of that pressure off of Henrik, and like Hutton he's also a decent sized guy.  

So .... our goalies.  We have Miller.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, I wasn't crazy about getting him, particularly when we had a perfectly good goalie in the Stork.  I still think they should have kept Lack and had Markstrom as backup, but they don't listen to me.  I know we got Miller because he's a veteran goalie who could provide the team with a solid presence in the net while they rebuild and get things fixed from where they went so badly downhill.  That's why we got him and he's doing exactly that.  He's a quiet guy, doesn't joke around like the Stork does, doesn't always have a lot to say, he's quite serious looking whenever we see him.  He's a good goalie, that cannot be denied.  I don't know if he's a great goalie, but he's good and he's experienced and he's doing the job well.  Vancouver is a tough town to play for ... we're hard on our players and particularly hard on our goalies.  When they do well the fans love them, when they mess up they boo them.  I have never booed a goalie and never will.  It's a hard job to do, particularly when you're coming in to replace such well-loved previous players.  We loved Luongo, now he's gone.  We loved the Schneid, he's gone too.  We loved the Stork ... gone.  It's like the net has a revolving door in it.  I do hope Miller doesn't get caught up in it and end up bitter and hating us.  Markstrom ..... well, he's hurt right now so he hasn't played as the official backup in the regular season yet ... but I think he'll do well.  He's gigantic, so really all he has to do is take up a lot of space in the net.  

At the season opener last night they had advertised that there would be exciting things going on, they would reveal the new opening video, fantastic new food, doors opening at 5:30 to accommodate the throng, fancy new "airport-like" security, blah blah blah.  I generally don't eat the food there basically because it's too bloody expensive.  I used to get popcorn at every game, but that's even gone up.  The concession people still don't know what they're doing when I go to get a drink with my Designated Driver free drink coupon, then they tried to pull the "we have to open every bottle when you buy it" stunt again.  It didn't fly, I took my coupon to a supervisor and got an unopened drink.  I don't particularly want their goobery hands all over the drinking part of my bottle.  
They have figured out the electronic tickets, so I can use my cell phone to get in rather than having to print out tickets, though I take along a printed version just in case their beeper things don't work.  Inevitably one of these games I'll be glad I did.  When we go through the security things they say to hold your phones, keys, etc up over your head to go through it ... I forgot to hold my phone up when entering for a preseason game and they didn't even catch it, so I'm not sure how well that works.  

During the pre-season when they introduced the starting lineup they showed each player as a hockey card, which was pretty lame.  I wasn't impressed, particularly after the way cool video game type intros they did last year.  Last night they started the actual intros, non-hoockey card type, and it was pretty cool.  Still not as good as the video game ones, but not bad at all.  The best opening video that we've had so far was the year we had Torts ... the "We are ....".  That was a really cool video.  Last year they had snippits of games and ice and stuff, not great.  This is the new one:

It was neat how the graphics started up on the ceiling and then rolled down over the crowd.  That was the end of the good part.  Then came a chaotic mess of noise and sound that could send anyone into seizures.  When they showed the players not playing it's quite funny where Higgy had to tell Jake to wave.  After the players all came out they had a tribute to Richard Loney, which was nice. Since it's the 20 year anniversary in Rogers Arena they're planning 20 special nights, so basically half of the home games will have something special going on.  The West Coast Express is one of them, I'm not sure what else they'll do. 

In the last pre-season game we finally had stanchion lights.  I was afraid they'd decided to cheap out on that, being the only really cool thing we've had in a while, so it was definitely good to have that back.  Last night at the game against the Flames though, during intermission the stanchions glowed red, orange and yellow.  I'm sure they thought they were being all retro and harking back to the days of the flying skate colours, but when playing against a team that those are THEIR colours it doesn't quite work out so well.  It looked like we were rooting for the opposition.

So here we go.  Rain or shine (most likely rain, this IS Vancouver) I will be there.  I will never be the fan who gets hijacked in the hallway pre-game to have a host of Canuck Team Store gifts thrust upon them because I wear my gear to every game.  I will cheer for every goal, every assist, every good save.  I will bestow my Canucky knowledge upon any newbie that sits beside me and doesn't know what's going on.  I will be thrilled with our wins and less than thrilled with our losses, and I will always be a Canuck.

The season has begun .... I'm ready, I can only hope they are too ...
I own over 45 pieces of Canucks clothing ...
I have 4 shelves of Canucks memorabilia in my bookcase and a signed stick on my mantle...
I put blue and green streaks in my hair for the hockey season ...
I pay over $8000 for season tickets and I go to EVERY one of them ...
I stay until the end, regardless of the outcome...
I have a quilt on my living-room wall that I designed and handmade, signed by 84 Canucks (so far) ...
I volunteer at Ice & Dice and I'm at Canuck Place at least twice a week ...
I keep a written record of every game (score, goalie, O/T, etc) on my coffeetable for handy quick reference ...
I was in the crowd outside watching on 15/June/2011( and I haven't lost hope ...
The new Canucks slogan is "Play for this" but I've been tweeting "Play for Me".  I am that fan.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Out with the old.....

This season we saw the turnover of power to Trevor, JB, and Willie D.  One of their main focuses was on making the Canucks bigger, younger, and more of a 4-line fully functioning team.  There were bound to be some hiccups, what with all 3 of them being new to the job at hand, but overall they did ok.  We had some new blood, with Vrby, Kenins, Horvat ... with guidance from the veterans of the team ... our third and fourth lines worked better than the top two at times.  Miller performed well, gave the rest of the team the confidence they needed in the net so they could do their jobs and know he had their back.  When he got hurt the Stork stepped up to the plate and did well ... very well actually.  He was always liked by the city, before long he became the favourite.  We had some lulls, some highs, some games where everyone left just shaking their heads wondering if anyone had any idea what they were doing.  

When the trade deadline came in March people had great expectations that JB would make some moves, get some bigger and faster and younger players ... although it seemed that it was also the expectation that we wouldn't have to give up anyone for this.  Regardless, nothing significant was done at that time.  Well, not nothing ... we traded a Moosecomet player for a NY Islander who subsequently left the NHL when his contract finished and went to play in Switzerland.  So .... ya, nothing.

I did figure we'd make the playoffs, despite what most people thought, and we did.  We got eliminated in the first round, but we did get in.  So once playoffs were over and Mullethead Kane had his cup we waited with anticipation for Draft Day.  We had done just well enough to the end of the season and playoffs to ensure we got a crappy late pick in the draft.  Twenty-third.  Yep, 23.  We did get a kid who's over 6' tall, so that's a plus.  He seems promising so far.  Apparently JB had been scouting in Iowa a few months earlier and this was the guy he was looking at, so he did get who he was after.  That can be taken in a good or bad way ... either we say "Yes!  We got who we wanted!" ... or we say "Why the hell were we looking at this guy?"  Regardless, this is who we got.  No other exciting things went on during the draft, we just took our turn and picked who we picked ... pretty quiet on the whole.

Then Free Agency time came around and the proverbial poo hit the fan.  We had a bunch of contracts coming due.  Matthias, Richardson, and Stanton were not renewed.  Matthias went to the Leafs, Richardson went to the Coyotes, I don't think Stanton has been signed anywhere yet.  Throughout the year Kassian was sometimes the hero, sometimes the villain.  Ever since we got him I've been saying the same thing:  he's a big guy, he's got good hands, he's fairly fast, has reasonable skill, is willing to fight (whether he's good at it is another story), but he doesn't know who he is or what his role is.  If they tell him, then he'll try to do it, but at this stage he really shouldn't have to be told.  So when the chance came, he was traded to Montreal for Prust.  Some people were upset, most were not.  The trades that really got people riled up were Bieksa and the Stork.  There had been rumours already that Kevin had been asked to waive his NTC so he could be moved to San Jose, but nothing came from that.  So I don't think it was a HUGE shock when we heard he'd gone to the Ducks.  More of a shock that all we got for him was a 2nd round pick.  But then, he is 34 and he hasn't been the player he once was for over a year now, so a 2nd round pick could work out well for us. 

July 9 was the Summer Summit.  My first ever Summer Summit was 3 years ago when I was a half-season ticketholder.  They did it bbq style down on the arena floor with long buffet tables full of food in the middle, then desserts and beverages along the perimeter, with more long tables for everyone to sit at to eat.  The rookies were all there to serve desserts. This occupied about 2/3 of the arena floor surface, with the other end set up with a stage and seating for the post-meal Q&A time.  Then last year when they got all excited about how they had improved their food services by leaps and bounds they changed it so we had to get the food up on the concourse, then go sit in the stands to eat.  A bit confusing to find the food you want to eat, and cumbersome to have to eat it in the stands.  I think the rookies did desserts again then too.  Then this year they decided that in addition to that they were also going to have the Season End Sale.  This sale is normally held a few weeks after the season actually ends for the team, so last year it was in late May, the year before it was in late June, etc.  So this Summit had the jumble of hunting down food on the concourse, taking it down to the stands to eat, then the sale on the lion's share of the arena floor with the speech stuff set up at one end as usual.  WAY too many people there for one thing.  The sale is busy and confusing at best, this year it was utter chaos.  With so many people around it was like getting food mid-game, with long lines and but limited selection.  The new rookies were around, throughout the arena for pictures and signed cards.  Not all together where we could just find them, no, you had to go hunt them down.  This was BY FAR the worst Summer Summit I've ever been to.  I've been waiting for the survey that always comes shortly after the summit asking what we thought of it, but nothing has shown up yet.  Maybe they're scared....

Since then we've had one more deal come up ... they got rid of Bonino and brought in Brandon Sutter.  I don't know a lot about him besides his stats that I looked up, but apparently he's big, young, a Centre, and being a Sutter usually means he should be pretty good.  Gotta be better than Bonino anyhow.

Another month and a half til pre-season starts, we'll see how that goes.  My hockey pool should be getting set up around then, gotta start my strategic planning.....

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Midway assessment time ...

So ... we have some facts before us that some people may not agree with but hey, facts are facts and this is my space to lay out what I believe to be true.
The Sedins are 34 years old.  
Burrows, Vrbata, and Bieksa are right behind them at 33.
This in no way means they're done, useless, ready to put out to pasture ... but it does mean their games are changing.  We still occasionally see some of that fancy fun-to-watch Sedinery that made us love them when they first arrived on the scene.  They still have their wonder-twin powers and know instinctively amazingly where the other one is for a blind pass.  All good.  We've heard from teammates about what great shape they're in, seen videos of them still at it through the summer.  But regardless of that, they are getting old.  For hockey players anyhow.  They're slowing down, not producing like they used to and likely never will again.  They're not finished and they're still our stars, but we have to start getting some new guys ready to take their place when they inevitably retire in a few years.  

I've been so impressed with Vrby ... he's the perfect match for the twins.  I have no idea why Willie D kept putting Burr in there with them when it just didn't work.  Burr got lucky for a while but that time is over, move him down.  Vrby has experience, size, skill, he's a Presence when he's on the ice, keep him with the twins.

Bonino does great things now and then ... tonight he made a great goal.  He is not Kesler.  He's not a beast, we can't expect him to be.  But he's steady, does what he's there for, and does OK.  Hanson needs to bring out the HoneyBadger fierceness more often.  Not too much as to wear him out, but he's young, he can handle it.  He's fast, he can score, he's not a top liner but he does fine on 2 or 3.
The big topic lately is Kassian.  What's he doing, not doing, why is he doing or not doing these things, have they given up on him, what's the plan?  I think if they give him a shot on the first or 2nd line and tell him to let his inner crazy out, he may surprise them.  He could be the beast ... I have no idea why he isn't.

Miller ...... he was brought in after a disastrous situation.  Poor Stork was broken, the whole team was broken.  Then in comes Miller riding on his white horse (from the US no less) to save the world.  He's cocky, no doubt about that.  But he's an excellent goalie.  I think he's earned that cockiness and is not being given the credit he deserves.  Stork is a great goalie too, but he's best in the backup position for now after Torts broke him last year.

Roberto Luongo
It was nice to see Luongo back for the Panthers game the other night.  He was his usual classy guy, gave a wave to the crowd and then got down to business.  And sure, a few Luuuuuu's for good saves for old times' sake at the beginning of the game were cool.  But when the crowd started Luuuuuuu-ing him every bloody time he touched the puck -- Come on now!  He's NOT our goalie!  There's Miller at the other end of the ice getting nothing.  No support from his team, nothing from the fans, and doing a great job.  He needs a good nickname that we can shout for him.  When Stork does well they play his "Lack is Back" AC/DC version ... Miller does well they do nothing.  I don't know what would be a good chant for him ... maybe RYMI (RYan MIller)?  Something!!!!!

so those are my thoughts for now .... maybe more later .....

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

So far, so good ...... kinda

Tonight is game 9 of the regular season, against Carolina.  Some people are laughing and scoffing at the sure win against the worst team in the league ... I'll remain cautiously optimistic for now.  If history has taught me anything it's not to get too sure of anything.  Cockiness is not always a virtue.

We have won 5 of 8.  The 3 we lost, we lost badly.  Like pathetically bad.  Like it-hurt-my-eyes-to-watch-it bad.  The Stork was in net for the loss against Tampa Bay and Colorado.  Miller started against Dallas, then Stork went in to finish off the game, so that one was not his.  
I admit I was not all that impressed with Miller at the start.  I did say (see post of Aug 18) that we needed a steady, proven goalie in net to allow the team to relax and do their own job, but I wasn't a big fan of the cockiness that comes with said goalie.  I am willing to concede now that maybe he's earned that cockiness ... he is very good.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the Stork, and I could just scream when I think of how badly Torts used him and broke him along with the rest of the team.  His confidence is shot and it's going to take time to get it back. I still grieve the day we gave up the Schneid, but I'm glad it's Miller-time.  Hopefully Miller will mentor the Stork and help him to be the goalie he was becoming before he got broken. 

Vrbata is working out well with the twins, but that doesn't say much in itself ... a monkey could play well with the twins.  He's looking well in other areas too, though, so overall he's turning out to be very useful.  He's a shooter, that was evident from game 1, so the twins can do their Sedinery and confuzzle the other team, then pass off to Vrby and WHAP! right in the net! That line is once again excelling and the people are loving it.  

I've been impressed with JB since the day he got here and immediately went to work on the team, out with the old, in with the new, making trades, drafting people taller than 5'8" ..... he gets things done and I like that.  I'm liking Coach Willie D too.  He has his little whiteboard at every game, showing the guys what he wants them to do.  He has his own version of intensity ... you can tell when he's not happy with a call or a play, and I'm sure he's very vocal in the dressing room, but there's no standing on the bench screaming at anyone's face.  He's not going to embarrass or humiliate his team to make a point.  He's calm, he's steady, he has the respect of his team and I like that.

Burrows had such a crappy year last year ... well, the whole team had a crappy year, but besides that ... he'd just get back to playing and get hurt again.  I don't dislike him like some people do ... I don't think he's the superstar he was deemed to be when he was the 3rd Sedin, but we've already covered that (i.e. monkey), and he has no Kesler to feed off of anymore, so he's having to find his own way.  So far he hasn't been obvious/in your face out there, but he's holding his own and I think he'll continue to do so.  He's got 2 goals, 3 assists at 8 games in, if he keeps up this pace he'll be just fine and we'll all be glad he's here.  

2 guys who are having a great season so far at this early point are Higgins and Hamhuis.  They're doing their jobs and then some ... they're aggressive without going too far and they're covering their ice well.  Hammer still has that partial cage shield thing on and he's still playing well.  Edler is +2, which for him is a good sign, he's hitting people and he's finally taking some slamming shots at the net again.  It's so good to see him being himself!

The rest of the team is steady, playing decently well and getting used to the new configuration without screwing up too much.  Sbisa is a decent sized young guy who could be a good defenceman if he could stay on his feet long enough ... he does tend to fall down a LOT.  Matthias .... I haven't seen a whole lot of usefulness from him yet.  He's big, and we needed that, but ...... we'll see.  Dorsett isn't a huge dude but he's a good little fighter.  Not afraid to get in there and take care of business, so I like him.

My new seats in section 309 are fantastic!  I can see EVERYTHING!  Someone goes down the tunnel, I can see it.  Someone accidentally jumps on the wrong bench wall to get his "too many men" feet off the ice (Kassian) and I can see it.  Hits, fights, faceoffs anywhere on the ice, I can see it!  I love my new seats!  
I just wish they'd fix those 2 dead spots on the jumbotron .... that's super annoying.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

In with the new !!

For the past week or so the players have gradually been trickling back into Vancouver and making their way to some "unofficial" team practices.  Years ago, when I first started following the team's activities (no, it's not stalking!) they had these practices at Burnaby 8-Rinks.  Then as the 2010 Olympics approached and new rinks were built at UBC they started having them out there at Thunderbird Arena.  This year they thought WAY outside the box and have been practicing in East Vancouver on the ice at the Britannia Community Centre.  I wonder if this move is part of the "Change is Coming" theme ... the more accessible, kinder, gentler way of doing things?  Out at UBC the only people that went to watch them practice and then hang around to get autographs were me (of course), and the odd students that happened to come by.  Maybe 10 people, max.  I went out to Britannia last Thursday and again today and both times were a different experience.

On Thursday there were some of the regular guys on the ice, plus a lot of rookies.  I had a list of who I needed to sign the quilt, plus I haven't yet gotten Kevin to sign my jersey.  I also had a friend's husband's and kid's jerseys for the Sedins to sign.  

At the end of the practice I managed to get the Sedins (you're welcome, Dawn, yes I am amazing :) ), Tom Sestito, Michael Zalewski (rookie), Yannick Weber, Jacob Markstrom, Frank Corrado, Shawn Matthias, Hunter Shinkaruk (rookie), Brendon Defazio, Brendan Gaunce (rookie), and Niklas Jensen.
Markstrom, one of our new goalies, a good swede friend of Stork's, is HUGE.  Holy crap!!!  And with all his equipment on --- it's like he's Robocop!  OMG he's gigantic!!

Today I went back, hoping Kevin would be there this time around ..... apparently he's in New York filming some kinda promo or something.  Miller also away, packing up in LA to move here for the season.  I did manage to snag one of our new coaches/ex-Canuck Doug Lidster.  Then as they exited after practice I got Linden Vey, Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, and Brad Richardson. Then I saw Zack Kassion coming from a separate exit all by himself so I went towards him to meet him halfway.  As I got close I said "It's the Kass-man!"  He laughed and said "yes it is", then signed my quilt.  

I've said it before and will say it again .... all very nice guys, happy to sign whatever we sappy fans shove in front of them.  But I will say one thing:  I don't care what his stats say, there's no way Brad Richardson is 5'11" LOL  I'm 5'6" and I look him straight in the eye.
And that's all I have to say about that.