Tag Archives: commentary

Black Ice Issue #33 — How The Mighty Fall

I have been away from blogging for a couple of months due to personal reasons. I’m publishing some old articles in the next few days and will commence updating articles again this week. Sorry for the delay folks!

-Joe Tory

 

History has a way of rewarding and subsequently punishing great men to a comical degree. Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Nixon — each man rose on his laurels to conquer the better part of their contemporary world, only to see victory turn to enmity in a matter of tragic moments. If a great man of history, on the cusp of creating a new dynasty for civilization could be rolled up into a 22-man roster and slapped with an NHL insignia, that man would be called the Ottawa Senators.

 

They were the almost dynasty. The could have beens. The would have beens. The should have beens. The almost but not quits. Here in Vancouverdom we don’t mind, when the Canucks tore off Ottawas shirt and gave it twenty lashings, it was all in the spirit of liberty, equality and brotherhood. Vancouver could have licked them 10-0 (or in the case of the Juniors vs. Kazakstan) 15-0, but in the end, we settled on a 3-0 decision and a modest two points. What is the point of humiliating our enemy when they arrive, already soundly defeated. But an even bigger question is, how did this once mighty organization, fall so hard and so fast upon troubled times? The answer is even more telling if you read between the lines of this, once proud, organization.

The once really good (quite possibly could-have-been great) Ottawa Senators, suffered from a unique form of hubris in their days leading up to the 2007 Stanley Cup finals. It was a hubris that can be attributed to a long stretch in the 90’s in the bowels of the standings to a huge leap in success following years of good drafting and deft handling of player development. Superstars, such as MarianHossa, Martin Havlat and Zdeno Chara, where all former Senators that played with the team through a lengthy run of regular season success and post-season failure in the early millennium.

 

The history of the the Ottawa Senators has been dubious since its inception. Lacking the liquid assets to endorse an expansion team, land developer Bruce Firestone opted to leverage a huge commercial development on farmland west of Ottawa in order to secure the cash deposit for the expansion fee. This went against the conventional wisdom at the time, where the cash strapped NHL opted to take the money ($50 million) and let the new franchise flounder. On the promise to build a new arena up current NHL specks, the new owners underestimated the government involvement in the development contingent of their plan and the bureaucratic entanglement soon handcuffed Firestone and he was forced out of the ownership group. At the behest of the rookie management team, head coach Rick Bowness (currently Vancouver Canucks Assistant) was co-coerced to throw the inaugural season in order to secure a top pick in the upcoming entry draft. While winning only ten games in their first NHL season, the Senators franchise, still rife with financial instability, managed to secure the suspicions of the NHL but ultimately won the Alexanger Daigle lottery in their final game of the season, losing to the Boston Bruins and winning the lottery based on total games won (the equally terrible San Jose Sharks had 11 wins on the season, one more then the Senators).

Ottawa used this automatic first overall pick eligibility to select Junior sensation Alexander Daigle. This decision, along with their questionable inaugural season, shadowed them for years to come. Daigle turned out to be one of the largest draft busts in history, leading the Senators on a five year exodus into the NHL wilderness before ultimately being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. Scoring only 74 goals in four season, Daigle’s monstrous expectations and subsequent rookie contract ($12 million dollars, the largest in league history) was exceeded by Russian sniper, Alexei Yashin in team scoring and durability. It was Yashin, who would later get caught up in a contract squabble with the Sens, that was the cornerstone of Ottawa’s future. Despite leading the Senators in scoring, Daigle was the first son of Ottawa and the prize of its owners. Yashin, knowing his worth compared to the disappointing Daigle, held-out playing the beginning of the 1995-96 season until the Senators wised up to the incongruency. Despite high numbers the following three season, Yashin again held out (this time for the entire 1999-2000 season) due to another contract dispute. The venom in Ottawa towards theRussin was palpable and he was traded to to the Islanders.

 

It is interesting to note that while Rick Bowness was head coach in the first years of the Ottawa Senators, his assistant was none other then Alain Vigneault. Also interesting to note is that current Canuck, Pavol Demitra, was drafted by the Senators (227th overall, 1993), but didn’t evolve into his present form until a trade that sent him to St. Louis in 1997. These footnotes can be heralded for what superseded the club, a change in luck for the Senators. In 1994 they drafted an unspectacular Swedish rookie, Daniel Alfredsson, who would turn out to be the face of the franchise and the clubs all-time leading scorer. Subsequently, the club retained their drafting pedigree, selecting future stars like Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat, and trading the bloated ego of Alexei Yashin for Zdeno Chara (and the draft rights that allowed them Jason Spezza) so that the once dim future of the Senators began to illuminate.

 

After their tumultuous infancy the Ottawa Senators, replete with a cast of ascending stars, began climbing the standings. Their acent apexed with a league best 113 point in 2003 (despite the team going bankrupt and filing for emergency NHL funding) and their 2007 trip to the finals versus the Anaheim Ducks (ironic in its own right as an ownership group out of Anaheim offered to buy the Senators after their dismal performance during the 1992-92 season).

 

The Canucks win over the Senators on Sunday (December 28, 2008) was case in point for the struggling club. What happened to this once mighty juggernaut that came within games of a Stanley Cup? To lose in undramatic fashion to the Canucks was more telling of the Senators as a team then the Canucks. Vancouver is without their Captain (a game-changing goalie, something foreign to the Senators) and best player (Mats!) has yet to join the team. This was a game the Canucks needed to have in the bag. The Senators, on the other hand, are going the opposite way in the standings. Barely surviving their skid last season this year they are in a full tailspin. The history of the Ottawa Senators has very little in common with that of the Vancouver Canucks, instead lending only to the tradition of consummate disappointment for their long-suffering fans. The Canucks, even in 2003, were and are a better team. Vancouver must break through the firewall of San Jose and Detroit to stand a chance at Lord Stanley’s Chalice. That is ultimately what befell the Senator. The road to the Stanley Cup is through the West, to get to the winners circle even the West must beat itself. The East is merely a sacrament at this point in the season, the Senator know better then most of this glaring point in recent NHL history.

Much like the great men in history, the Senators witnessed their demise in the West. This was again the case on Sunday night.

 

Black Ice Issue #7 — Buffalo Wrings Vancouver’s Neck

What an absolute joke of a fourteen minute span. There were the Canucks playing merry-go-round with the penalty box. There was Curtis Sanford doing his best impression of a colander. There — once again — was the third-line pretending it was the first line and the first line pretending the puck was an undetonated landmine.

There you have another road loss to an Eastern Conference team.
The common sentiment among fans is that the season is early. A fair assessment. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that there are still some questionable gaps in the team. Power-play was shit. Penalty kill was worse. Discipline was non-existent.

The gaps were not merely questionable, they were glaring.For those of us long-serving plebeian of fan-dom, it looks to be another long, arduous season.

Next Up –Chicago

Black Ice Issue #6 — Three For One Makes It Three And One

In the 2007 playoffs — when Jannick Hansen made his NHL debut with the Canucks — there was a pulse to the Danish rookie that hinted at a sort of Kierkegaardian positivism . He never scored, and the Canucks lost the series, but the talk of the town for a few days was — who is this Danish kid?

The same was once said of Alex Burrows. Undrafted, he came into the league on a tryout with the Moose. Then he scored a hat-trick against the Los Angeles Kings on one of his first call-ups for Vancouver. Who is this French kid we asked?

We are learning identities quickly. It was all about the “checkers” tonight. Burrows and Hansen, along with Ryan Kesler, actualized — tonight — all the potentiality they have been harnessing for the past few years. All three had points and Alexandre Burrows now leads the team in goals, points and shots.

This trio looked positively top six. Kesler the aesthete. Hansen the ethical. Burrows the religious. Stages on games way.

Ravaged by injury last season, Hansen didn’t make one trip to the big club. Burrows, on the other hand — after struggling the year before — found his place on a shut-down line with Ryan Kesler. The two haven’t looked back. Easily the two best Canuck performers down the stretch, the most promising third-line in hockey has gotten better. With the addition of Hansen, the line has combined for 6 goals and 11 points in the first 4 games of the season. While still early these guys looked dangerous tonight in another scrappy effort tonight against Detroit.

The Sedins/Bernier, on the other hand looked impotent. They were not only pointless, they were invisible. Last year, when the Sedins went absent, the Canucks usually went without a win.

The second line pitched-in again and Mason Raymond looked dangerous off the rush throughout the game. There is obvious chemistry between Raymond and Demitra, but Pyatt looked present for about one-quarter of his shifts. Look to see a healthy scratch for Pyatt in the future if he doesn’t start using his god-given size. I’m calling bullshit on Pyatt right now.

Sorry, but it might be time for him to go.

The Vancouver scouting department has gotten a bad rap in the past. All Gillis has done is tinker, but most of this team still belongs to Burke/Nonis years. We’ll never know now what could have been, but we can be thankful for the likes of Alex Edler (drafted 91st overall), Burrows (undrafted), Kesler (drafted 23rd overall), Rick Rypien (undrafted) and Hansen (drafter 287th overall). This is the nucleus of fortitude and moxie, not to mention goals, that will carry this team for the next few years. Some deft moves were made by both administrations, equally contributing to tonights victory. They could easily contribute to more.

Next Up — Buffalo

Note — As I mentioned in my last post this team is going to win on grit and determination; timely goals by tough competitors. Tonight Coach Vee took my advice and subbed Wellwood for Hordichuk. Wise move coach. All Darcy has to do is frown and the other team backs down.

Black Ice Issue #4 — Three Ingredients For Winning

A championship team needs three things: a hot goalie, a superstar and a gallant captain. All three were on display Saturday night as the Flames opened their season at home. Oh and one more type of player makes a winner: no bad ones.

Roberto Luongo was in his finest form. Robbing goals from the Flames. Playing sound positionally and simply out-dueling Kiprusoff. Okay, so this was not exactly a goalies duel, but Luongo ultimately won the game by shutting down the Flames when it mattered most. It was a gutsy effort on a night that started badly, felt like it was on its to a blowout, but played out the way that many Canuck wins have played out in the last few season. The come from behind victory, the overtime wins, the grizzled display of character and emotion.

What put the Canucks over the edge to a fairy tight tilt was the physical game they brought. One has to wonder if Rick Rypien is on his way to a Burrows-esque rise this season. He had one excellent bout with Flame Brandon Prust and one beautiful goal (his second in two games) that simply dazzled. Its gushing at this point, and the season is still quite virginal, but the team looks like a winner. They won in offense. They won in defense. They won in pure testicular acumen. I have to give props to Jerome Iginla for his (ultimately losing) effort, especially his fight with Willie Mitchell. He’s a terrific leader and I can’t wait to see him playing in 2010, but even his knock-out punch to Mitchell wasn’t enough to propel Calgary to a win.

What propelled the Vancouver was an out-and-out gorgeous effort and a couple of timely goals from the Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin again. The Sedin’s are searching every year for bonnefide superstar status, and every year they fall a little less shy. Is this year the year? 5 points in 2 games is a tremedous start. NHL player of the week is a pretty good start. And don’t forget Henrik, he has 4 point in 2 games and is on track to once again match his brother in points. Oh and at this point they are both on track to score 160 points each, cheeky I know, but nonetheless an effort on par withto super-stardom.

I was delightfully surprised when Luongo was announced as captain starting this season. Like the Governor General, it is mostly a ceremonial post, but it was also the obvious choice. While most fans and commentators lacked the platitudes to dream of this, Vigneault and Gillis did not. The de facto leadership aside, Kesler, Ohlund and Mitchell led in areas the goalie-captain cannot, suchas punishing physical play and of course goals. Ohlund hit more than I have seen him hit in a long time. He was tying up players and assisted on the winning goal. Kesler chipped in with his pesky shut-down roll by doing what 3rd liner do best: score. Mitchell fought Iginla and looked like the leader he has been touted as for the past two years. There was a read display of gallant captaintry tonight.

Did I mention Bertuzzi? Right, who cares.

So there you have it. Superstar by committee. Rugged leadership by committee. Hot goalie. And, almost most importantly, no bad Vancouver players Saturday night. That’s what really got me thinking I might see Canucks hockey in June.

Next Up — Washington

Joe’s Note — Sorry this is so late. The stamina of writing this blog has already caught up with me. I will be more diligent in the future. Thx.

Black Ice Issue #5 — This Game Sucked

There is no need for punditry. There is no need for spin. Empirical evidence ought to do just fine. This game sucked — by all accounts.

Where to begin. Let’s start with my hangover. I still haven’t gone home. I’m at the library right now. I’m too scared to go home. To frightened of my living room. My television. My hopes and dreams.

I’m being facetious, but Jesus. It’s only three games in one says. But this reminds me of a game last year when we lost to the Flyers 8-1 in another spiritess loss. While it is only three games in, the Canucks every year have to remind themselves that every win counts. How close have we missed the playoff 2 out of the last 3 years? 3 points in 2007-08 and 3 points in 2005-06. That means they need to win every game. Or at the very least — do not lose so insipidly.

The Canucks need to be mindful they play much better teams in the East this year than last. And they play all teams at least once. In the past, games against Eastern Conference teams, bordered on exhibition-like. From now onward every game matters. This was a badly scouted effort and Iain Macintyre was right in condemming the Darcy Hordichuk healthy scratch. Coaching needs to realize that this team is going to win on grit and determination; timely goals by tough competitors. Kyle Wellwood, showed nothing of this tonight and I’m pretty sure Coach Vee noticed. Actually nobody showed nothing tonight, registering just 10 shots all game on Washington’s back-up goalie.

Ovechkin was held off the score sheet, but that is a boring excuse for a boring effort. The Capitals are too front loaded to forget about the likes of Mike Green, Alexander Semin and Michael Nylander. This could be the team to beat this season and since the Canucks only play them once, this was the game to win.

Empirical evidence acts as a fine Litmus test.

Next Up — Detroit

Black Ice Issue #3 — How I spent the season opener

… or How either technology failed me or I failed technology

The short answer is work. I spent the season opener of the 2008-2009 Vancouver Canucks at working. Normally this is no problem, I just listen to the game on the radio. Since I have made a commitment to write a blog for all 82 game this year I figured I could at least watch the first one. Well is worked out, sort of.

CBC — that ubiquitous public broadcaster — plays Hockey Night In Canada on their website. This is a great option, but my Mac at work won’t let me load some of the plugins so the reception is pretty shitty. I caught most of the first period, but the play-by-play was so bad I switched to Team 1040 for the second stanza. In the third period I biked down to Pat’s Pub on my break. Unfortunately there was a terrible band playing Rancid covers so I watched the rest of the game in silence (arguably). To recap: I barely watched and mostly listened to the first period. I listened to but did not watch the second period. And I watched but did not listen to the third. Stupid, but my cross to bear, considering I could have asked for the night off in advance.

Nonetheless I am delighted with the outcome. Canucks win. Joe happy. Usually when I drink at Pat’s I wait for people to go smoke and then I steal beer from their unguarded pitchers. Cheap beer even cheaper. Tonight I was content merely to sit and watch abstemiously; immersed in victory.

The highlight of the game was watching the Sedins, fully actualized with new Canuck Steve Bernier. It’s hard to forget that just four months ago the Sedin’s were still looking for a regular linemate after seven seasons in Vancouver. The first major change from the Quinn/Burke/Nonis era is that nostalgic, Mike Gillis is not. He let go of many stalwart from that era and has ushered in a new ideology: bold moves! He also inherited a pretty good hockey team. This was apparent tonight when the top players were Daniel Sedin (3 points), Alex Burrows (2 goals) and Roberto Luongo (25 saves, 0.00 GAA) all leftovers from Nonis and Co.

The problem with the Quinn regime (and consequently the heavy hearted Canuck fanbase) was the failure to let go of the past. Remember ’94 we would say? Remember Pavel Bure we would moan? Remember the Westcoast Express we would labour? Remember would always precede the inevitable if onlys. If only there wasn’t that fuckin goal post blocking Linden’s tying goal in game seven we would say in agony. If only Bure wasn’t the only superstar on the team during the 90’s. If only Dan Cloutier didn’t suck. For every good thing this team has ever had there are ten excuses for why we never win.

Mike Gillis seems to have done away with lamentable facets from the past (Naslund, Morrison etc.). He has hinted there could be further moves to shore up offense. The performance tonight (not to mention the preseason) is proof that many of Gillis’ tactics could paid off. Sundin who? We Canucks faithful add, with a dash of scoffing glee. I wonder how long it will take before the if onlys start up again.

Next up — Calgary

Dave Comment:

Great beer tip! Not for the squeasmish though
Those non-smoking laws enable a great way to “share” beer ;-). Make sure you are up to date on your shots before sharing though. As for good pubs to watch the game at, … the choices seem to be be cheesy “chachie” kinda places or divey bars with crappy tvs and other noise. Perhaps we need a game-watching pub guide column on the site?

Joe Comments:
thats a great idea.

thats a great idea. especially for someone like me. i like pat’s especially on sunday because its pretty empty. also the dover arm’s is pretty good. not too many dorks. its hard to find a bar in this town without serious ‘douche’ tendencies.
delete | edit | reply

Black Ice Issue #2 — Pre-Season

The Vancouver Canucks and the Buffalo Sabres share an immutable bond. Both teams entered the league in the second round of modern-era expansion in 1970. Both teams have had more jeresey/logo changes and style woes than any fan cares to mention. Both teams have respectively won their division five times and both teams have been to the Stanley Cup finals twice and lost.

Buffalo was the team to beat two seasons ago. They had a small window to achieve the consummate hockey holy grail. Icing a ridiculously talented roster with a knack for scoring by committee, Buffalo was the team to beat. And they were beat. Not, however, before entertaining the hell out of fans. In the 2006-2007 season five players scored 30 or more goals for Buffalo. That is an amazing stat considering no one on the team finished in the top ten in scoring that year. They had their window, they did not capitalize.

Vancouver have a really good chance of perpetuating their bond with Sabres fans this year.

Enter Steve Bernier. Both Bernier and Daniel Sedin stand a legitimate chance of scoring 30 goals. There is fundamental promise for this line. Paring Bernier with the Sedins has the appearance of not just a flirtation, but likely a budding romance. In the past the Sedins have toyed with the idea of elite scoremanship. When management sat down to commiserate on what the Sedins need to put them over the edge and went out and acted they came up with a very wise, methodical choice. Bravo Mike Gillis on this move.

Enter Pavol Demitra. Demitra looks like an autistic genius finally let out of the asylum. He is skating, making plays, waltzing around defenders and generally playing a game of entertainment not seen in Vancouver in years. He looks like he’s having fun and its infectious. Whether he’s playing with Mason Raymond, Kyle Wellwood or Taylor Pyatt, he’s going to lite up the red lamp this year. He makes those around him better and his energy seems to rub off. If he plays with Raymond and Pyatt this year either guy stands a good chance of hitting the 30 goal plateau. Is this the secret to breaking the secondary scoring curse that has plagued the Canucks for so long? Expect this line to excel.

Enter Jannick Hansen. We’ll probably see, Ryan Kesler score 25-30 goals this year. Burrows will continue his point incline not to mention his nettlesome ways. Hansen will help hit the final nail into the secondary scoring casket. This guy works. Plain and simple. He gets the puck because he hustles. He creates opportunity because he’s smart and he thinks quickly. (I’ve already hear John Shorthouse dub him “The Great Dane” but i’m not sold.) This line has the talent and tenacity to score fifty goals for the team. Secondary just became even more of an afterthought.
Enter The Defense. If (emphasis on if) the blue-line stays healthy they are the deepest and most sinister in the league. Last year D-men 1 through 5 were the best in the league collectively. With the delightful early arrival of Alexander Edler last year the offensively minded defense corp has the ability to score fifty goals. Kevin Bieksa continues to improve and Sami Salo and Matthias Ohlund provide a stable cast of veterans guarding the zone. There might not be Norris callibre, but that’s an arbitrary award when you boast the best defense, collectivelly, in the league.
There is a real possiblity with this squad to ramp up the offense in the post-lockout, post-Naslund/Linden era. The Sabres, a few years ago, roared out of the gate with an offensive style that capitalized on a young, fast, puck-possession team that scored goals as a team.

The moral of the story is that the Canucks could mirror the goal scoring of the 06-07 Sabres. If they do this then they too have a small window to capitalize. If they are anything like the Sabres of old they will not win. But hell, the rides gonna be fun.

dave note:

Jannick Hansen is Hamlet

I like Hamlet for Jannick’s nickname – it isn’t an accurate historical reference but the vague Shakespeare association works for me.

From http://absoluteshakespeare.com/guides/summaries/hamlet/hamlet_summary.htm

Shakespeare’s longest play and the play responsible for the immortal lines “To be or not to be: that is the question:” and the advise “to thine own self be true,” begins in Denmark with the news that King Hamlet of Denmark has recently died. Denmark is now in a state of high alert and preparing for possible war with Young Fortinbras of Norway. A ghost resembling the late King Hamlet is spotted on a platform before Elsinore Castle in Denmark. King Claudius, who now rules Denmark, has taken King Hamlet’s wife, Queen Gertrude as his new wife and Queen of Denmark.
For other nicknames: Pavol Demitra is “Micheal Stipe” and Steve Bernier is “Bernie” and Cap’n Lou is way better than Louis and waaay better than Lui.

Black Ice Issue #1 — Off-season

The Canucks have had a whirlwind off-season no doubt. The axing of Dave Nonis. A new GM. Linden retiring. The Death of Luc Bourdon. A final exodus of the Westcoast Express. The retarded Sundin saga. At this point you could have the Season 2 synopsis of MVP: The Secret Lives of Hockey Wives under wraps. Lists aside, with the hiring of new helmsman, Mike Giles, management got to work. Sort of.

First order of business: Thwart the signing of Fabian Brunnstrom. With the unexpected firing of Dave Nonis, the Aquillinis indirectly stopped the (almost) immediate signing of the late-blooming Swedish prospect. This is neither here nor there. The notion of a prospect is exactly in the nature of the phrase: prospect. There is expectation and hope. Nothing is proven, the fate of a prospect is left in the vast possibility of nature and chance. Think what you may, wherever this club was heading, a swift u-turn commenced the minute Nonis got the pink slip. What was interesting is that before he was about to be signed he was the next Pavel Bure. After he signed with Dallas he suddenly turned into a talentless has-been, vastly overrated. See: Alexander Daigle.

Second order of business. Hold a news conference (actually two). It was neither reassuring nor enlightening watching Aquillini explain his actions (firing Nonis) under the glare of Vancouver’s ravenous sports media. While the scribes listened intently, Francesco began sweating under the weight of his own decision. After Gillis signed on as GM another news conference was initiated. This one had the zero experience, ex-player agent pondering the fate of the Sedins (not sure if they’re part of our future plans), pontificating on preferred systems of play (less defense, more offense) and holding court on management strategies (Bold moves!)

Third order of business: Not firing Vigneault. Basically reneging on aforementioned plans to play that coveted puck-possession style. The funny thing is I don’t remember anyone complaining about Coach V a season ago. Remember that? When Vancouver was busy winning the division and setting club records in wins and points. But man, fuck that guy now, he destroyed all entertainment value still existing in the game. Right, how many consecutive sellouts are we at now? 4419?

Fourth order of business: Drafting the new Trevor Linden. At 10th overall, Cody Hodgson was the safe bet. With such a defense deep draft, Hodgson easily could have gone higher. What the precocious center lacks in size and speed he makes up with in leadership and hockey smarts. Hodgson captained the U-18 world champs to gold with Pat Quinn steering the ship. Lets hope that ol’ cigar chompin’ Irishman’s magic rubbed off on the kid and he makes good on his promise. I envision his name being retired, sans Stanley Cup, right next to Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden. Dude, remember that 2015 run? God we were so close. If only Hodgson hadn’t hit the crossbar in game six overtime to send the series (against Atlanta?) into a seventh game. Argh. We were so close.

Fifth order of business. Not drafting Kyle Beech. The best players from B.C. never play in B.C. Joe Sakic. Scott Niedermayer. Paul Kariya, Steve Yzerman (although raised in Ontario I think it still counts). The list goes on. What is admirable about this choice is that it’s a safe bet. Beech had some “character” issues (love that word in the context of professional athletics) off the ice that made the Canucks brass waver and ultimately pass on the hulking forward. What I detest about this choice is that it’s a safe bet. It would be nice to see some home grown talent (Beech was raised in Kelowna) skate at 800 Griffiths Way. It would also be nice to gain a reputation for good draft choices. A safe move.

Sixth order of business: The Sundin offer. At this point its a big cock tease. If the big Swede had signed on the first day of free agency, a statue of Gillis would already be up, right between Gassy Jack and the Steam clock. Too bad no one wants to sign in Vancouver. Is Vancouver the new Edmonton? Is the travel that bad? Is the culture of losing in this city so advanced that people will pass on record breaking contract offers? Christ, $10 million dollars and two-and-a-half months later the indecision and the gutless top six roster continue. It doesn’t matter at this point, just sign somebody already.

Seventh order of business: Signing Kyle Wellwood. Kyle Wellwood does two things that I cannot: 1) Play hockey for heaps of money and 2) live without a television. His underdeveloped tenure in the Big Smoke behind him, the prospects of this former prospect have merely codified the perspective most fans have of this team: mediocrity abound! Other former prospects have fared well in the City of Glass (hint: rhymes with Maslund and Gertuzzi). What remains is that other perspective most fans have of this team: delusional hope.

Eighth order of business: Signing Pavol Demitra. The worst kept secret in town. I don’t know why but I love this move. It has to do with the chain around his neck. I always thought athletes who wore chains were really fuckin cool. Hopefully it adds some incentive for Demitra’s buddy Marion Gaborik to sign when he inevitably leaves Minnesota at the end of the year (because of, ahem, Lamaire’s soul-sucking defensive system). The speedy forward hopes to brings finesse to Vancouver’s soon-to-be vaunted puck-possession system. Hopefully the next thing he brings is that other Slovak, suffocating in the clutches of the Twin Cities.

Ninth order of business: The release of Markus Naslund. It was not really a move per se. After a paltry offer, the Canucks captain and all-time leading scorer went out with neither a bang nor a whimper. The shy forward, opted out of the piranha pit of Vancouver media scrums for the calm waters of Broadway. Go Giants! Go Jets! Go Knicks! Go Yankees! Go Mets! Go Red Bulls! Go Islanders! Go Rangers? In New York there are over 1000 roster spots available for professional athletes of any given sport in the greater metropolitan area. I expect Markus to go gently into that good night of his fine career. Do not expect his number to be retired.

Tenth order of business: Yearly signing of possible Sedin linemate. After the offer sheet nonsense with St. Louis, Gillis determined to put the BS back in Bold Moves. What did he come up with? You guessed it, another fledgling prospect. Steve Bernier, on his third team in five months, can use his size on the top line with the Sedin’s or he cannot. I expect him to score 30 goals this year simply because of the Sedin factor. The mirrored Swedes need a third wheel for their cycle game to flourish. Soft hands attached to big body heed results. After eight seasons in Vancouver the Sedins must have a few inside jokes regarding their bazillion line parings.
Eleventh order of business: Retool a wicked fourth line and an awesome third line. Darcy Hordichuk trains with Chuck Liddel. That shot block guy from St. Louis is a da bomb, but no one can remember his name. This is such a great move. The Canucks need more balls, and these two pick ups add depth in the chutzpah department. I think the shot block guy is gonna help with the PK which needs a jump start after a lousy campaign last season. Darcy is the new Gino. Cowan has my vote for the waiver wire. 7-1-4 according to Hockeyfights.com, its been a while since Vancouver has had a bonafide heavy weight.

Everything else seems in working order. The tragic lose of Luc Bourdon still leaves me with great sorrow. Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler return for another season of shorthanded third line magic (I have to wonder about my own sanity when the third line is the one I’m waiting to hit the ice). We continue to see what sort of bizarre injury leaves Sami Salo sidelined, will he get eaten by an Orca while swimming in Coal Harbour? Will he be attacked by a wild band of West End skunks hell bent on purging this city of their best shot from the point? Wunderkind defensman Alex Edler will continue to move up the depth chart with his cooler-than-thou Swedish touch to the defensive end. The Sedins will continue to cycle until the opposition is so twisted up that Gabriella Luongo could score with a tap in from the left side.

Who knows? Shoulder shrug. That’s the general sentiment in this city. Who the fuck knows? This is the best position, entertainment wise, that we can be in. Sure I have to sell my body to afford a ticket. It will be worth it. Why? Because the business of hockey is selling. And I’m already buying. I’m gorging on whatever they feed me. All eleven orders and counting.