Krajicek Shows Up

I'm really not getting used to saying that name any time soon (although it's easier on the vocabulary then Alain Vigneault...thank god for Willie Mitchell to balance it all out), but the often-forgetten fifth member of the "the trade" - Lukas Krajicek - inked his qualifiying offer at $602,000 US.

Considering Vancouver lost Allen in the deal, I'm sure the team will be pushing Krajicek to be a top four D guy along with Ohlund, Salo and Mitchell. Or better yet, he'll be, as Sportsnet.ca describes him as, a "defencmean". Sure, why not?


What doth you covet?

A recent look into what appears to be many team battles going into training camp seems rather over-generous to the Canucks:

First-line right wing: The most coveted available job in the NHL, with the winner playing on a line with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. Contestants include Jesse Schultz, Taylor Pyatt, Matt Cooke, Jozef Balej, Jan Bulis and Jason King.

Second-line right wing: The second-most coveted available job in the NHL. Contestants are as above, with the winner playing alongside Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison.

Perhaps I am overly cynical...scratch that I know I am. But considering the Canucks track record in the past few seasons, is their top RW position the MOST coveted job in the game? I suppose it depends on how you define it; one could easily argue Scott Clemmensen had a plum job backing up Brodeur (great seats at every game, solid chance at the post season and maybe even your name on the Cup! All for being a patient, team-first guy!).

But this seems to suggest that whoever gets to play with the Sedins is most likely to have a career year above playing with any other line in the league. While it's ironic that old linemate Anson Carter doesn't want the gig (I suppose he would if he removed his head from his own ass) I don't think one year of success is enough evidence to have the lofty title of "most coveted job". If they have another solid year, then maybe...and as for the "second most coveted job", that's assuming that whoever gets that slot will have the same chemistry with Morrison and Naslund that Bertuzzi did. That, also, seems generous and ill-founded.

In fact, what if Naslund/Morrison have career years in 2006-7 and the Sedin's remain more or less the same type of line...then isn't the fractured WCE the most coveted?! I guess it comes back to how you define it. For me, I want to be near the player's wives. Can you blame me? In case you were curious, from left to right, that's Brandy Blake, Angelica Bridges, Dina Arnott and Stacin Robitaille. Lucky Luc indeed.


Sean Avery will rake your lawn soon

I mean, Avery needs some flow after he's laughed out of the NHL...enter the good people at Slapshot Lawn Hockey. If you're really nice, you'll offer him some croissants by the early afternoon.

This model holds true for Chelios and Roenick too. But not Garth Snow...and the fact I can't make fun of him anymore is really the great loss of 2006 so far.


Oh Captain...

Well, at least one person is coming to preseason with all the giddiness of a fat kid in a candy store...

Naslund happy playing in his 'special place'


Two more happy smilers in the fold

Mothers, hide your daughters...Dave Nonis has brought back Kevin Bieska (he looks very happy in last year's pic on the Moose) and Tyler Bouck (he looks...modestly...more happy) for next season. Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but my sources tell me the change found in Dave's couch helped a great deal.

You get the feeling everyone is going to need to wear name tags next month in training camp? Well, except the Sedins...if you can't notice these two then get your eyes checked.


Quick Hits

A virtual whirlwind of Vancouver news in the past few days…but when you only have a few million dollars to patch up some rather large holes in the SS Canucks, the news isn’t always that terribly exciting:

  • Gordie Dwyer has been invited to training camp. A quick look at his stats suggests he’s not coming to fill the hole on right wing
  • It seems that Steve Shields could teach Noronen a thing or two about team camaraderie
  • Ed who? Bryan what? All I see is some bloke named Rory with dreams of victory dancing in his head
  • Conventional wisdom says Trevor Linden will be signed. One thing is for certain, he certainly won’t be signing in Florida

And in other NHL news:

  • A pure miracle of modern science is close to inking a contract with Phoenix
  • Our leading scorer from last year is still homeless. And Vancouver still has no ring wings. Meanwhile the Oilers snagged themselves a right winger they arguably don’t even need. Commence crying and the blaming of Al Qaeda.
  • Evgeni Malkin is still on the run. And, curiously, NASA lost its original moon landing tapes. Coincidence? We’re not that naïve… Evgeni is locked up a seedy motel somewhere, potato chip crumbs strewn across his stained wifebeater, as he keeps watching the Apollo landings in a loop. Don’t ask why either…it’s just funnier to think that’s what he’s actually doing right now


Damn it Frei

So of course, on the heels of me saying pre-season predictions mean nothing, along comes ESPN's Terry Frei describing the Vancouver Canucks as the "best buy" of the upcoming season. This really isn't an endorsement of the Canucks going all the way. In fact, he modestly ranks their chances at 20-1, right in the middle of the pack, but he references the Luongo trade and their new defensive mindset - coupled with dropping some luggage named Bertuzzi and Crawford - as the reasons they could be the dark horse this year in the league.

With that on the table, it's all but official: Luongo will split his groin at a strip club, Naslund will crack his spine leaving his condo, Mitchell will up and retire suddenly, and Vancouver will end up in dead last (yet still somehow lose out on the #1 pick anyway...to Anaheim or LA).

Thanks Terry!


I see...errors in your future...

I stumbled across Chris Nichols’ latest fantasy hockey musings (which I really like by the way, the guy knows his stuff backwards and forwards) and was a tad dismayed to see his take on the Luongo trade. Chris, like many people, are questioning how well Luongo will do with all the changes that have occurred in the past few months.

And that’s perfectly rationale since NO ONE knows yet how the Canucks will really look and “feel” come October and, if you couple that unknown with the reduction in pure star power on the roster, it’s going to lead many people to throw the Canucks in a coffin and nail the lid shut faster then you can say “That Paris Hilton song fucking sucks”.

Perhaps because it’s in the middle of summer and painful NFL preseason games are starting that I feel compelled to suggest that preseason predictions, no matter the sport, are pure comedy, no more and no less. I can see ESPN’s take on it now: “Canucks Finish 12th, Luongo demands trade, fans demand to drink from Nonis’ skull”. For fun, let’s skip back to what the ESPN braintrust (which is awful nice for me to say considering Bill Clement’s on their payroll) “previewed” the 2005 – 2006 season as:




In THEIR words

Carolina Hurricanes

11th in East; miss playoffs

2nd in East; Stanley Cup Champs

"...the Hurricanes will make things interesting in the Southeast."

Edmonton Oilers

11th in West; miss playoffs

8th in West; Western Conference Champs

“Ty Conklin is quick and getting better, but has yet to establish himself as the rock every night out. He needs to do that this season.”

New York Rangers

14th in East; miss playoffs

6th in East; ousted in first round

“They are, quite simply, not a very good team.

Vancouver Canucks

3rd in West; make the playoffs

9th in West; miss playoffs

“…they are talented and driven, a potent combination.”

New Jersey Devils

9th in East; miss the playoffs

3rd in East; ousted in second round

Not one word about Brian Gionta (these are my words on their lack of words)

Ottawa Senators

4th in East; make the playoffs

1st in East; ousted in second round

"If Heatley cannot return to form and if Spezza takes a step back in his development, the offense will suffer dramatically."

Buffalo Sabres

13 in East; miss the playoffs

4th in East; ousted in conference finals

"One of the three netminders, likely Biron, will have to assert himself as a number one backstopper."

Making matters worse were their takes on the award winners for the year. This isn’t to suggest that ESPN was 100% wrong as they were basically accurate on some obvious perennial locks like Detroit and Dallas and I’m positive other media outlets missed the board in their respective blind stinking drunk dart game of previewing the NHL as well.

Previews typically factor in what looks really swell on paper (e.g. the 2005-2006 Vancouver Canucks) and - since we haven’t perfected that whole bending the constraints of time and space to the whims of the human will thing - often don't take into account all the intangibles, injuries and sheer luck that cannot adequately be captured by looking at a team on paper (e.g. the 2005-2006 Vancouver Canucks).

Keep that in mind when the NHL previews come out in the next several weeks and Vancouver ranks near the bottom in the West again. Anything can happen. Just ask Edmonton. And if Luongo does have a career year and wins the Vezina en route to helping Vancouver snag their first cup, well, you heard the prediction here first damn it!


Precious Memories

As this summer has crept along inch by baseball-saturated inch, fans of the Vancouver Canucks have been rather split as to the direction of the team. A good chunk of fans are eyeing the new defensive-minded changes as a great way to score the #1 slot in the 2007-08 draft while, in contrast, many see the post-season as a lock because Roberto Luongo will get 50 wins easily and may score a hat trick against the Panthers just to irk Keenan.

While the debate of the future goes forward, I think it's important from time to time to also cast an eye in the rearview at what has been. And in this inaugral posting (christ) I just wanted to review the putrid time known as the Vancouver 2005/06 NHL trade deadline.

With the Canucks reeling from several key losses and trying to stay in the playoff mix, GM Dave Nonis used the 2005-06 trade deadline to snatch up three veteran blueliners and a key back-up goalie. Sounds good right? He certainly got high props for it. We all know how the season ended...so what is to be said of the four guns-for-hire that came along at the very end?

Keith Carney (traded for Brett Skinner and a second-round pick)
The Bertuzzi-looking clone was brought in to help shore up the injuries on the blue-line. While Carney wasn't terrible, he wasn't stellar either (in 18 games, he had two points and finished -5). Carney quickly absconded for the Minnesota Wild this off-season.

Sean Brown (traded for a fourth-round pick)
Typically the idea of getting a defenseman from NJ would be a good thing, but if you blinked at all, then you likely missed Brown in the 12 pointless games he was in for Vancouver. Sensing the Canucks weren't the best match, or the NHL for that matter, Mr. Brown signed on to anchor the blueline for the Hamburg Freezers (yes...go Freezers!) Deutsche Eishockey Liga in the offseason.

Eric Weinrich (traded for Tomas Mojzis and a third-round pick)
Perhaps Nonis had a brain freeze and thought it was the early 1990's when Weinrich was solid as a rock, but the aging blueliner (who was drafted in 1985; for comparison Ryan Kesler was a year old at the time) was a car wreck for Vancouver, going pointless in 16 games while recording a -13 in the process. How does one adequately follow that outing? Simple…by retiring! Weinrich mercifully announced his resignation today and promptly joined Kevin Dineen's coaching staff on the AHL's Portland Pirates.

Mika Noronen (traded for a second-round pick)
Mr. Mika backed-up or replaced Alex Auld in net an incredible four times - winning once and losing once - and yet let in 10 goals in total as a Canuck. After Nonis blew up the roster and landed Roberto Luongo, Noronen was reportedly unhappy with the move (although perhaps he went online and caught what his future looked like) so, rather then hang around the end of the bench in Vancouver, Noronen is moving on to Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian elite league next season.

I don't care if Vancouver is the worst team in the NHL next season (ok scratch that, I'll care and be enraged and make my local bars exceedingly happy) but at the very least I won't have four clearly obvious targets for said anger.

I'll focus, instead, on the NY Rangers. Yes, welcome to my delusional existence.