Saturday, December 08, 2007

Canucks Schedule

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Canucks Court Case

It is very early to be doing much in depth analysis of the team. With tonight’s back end of a “there and here” double header with the Oilers, we will likely be given a look at the character and chemistry of this version of the team. This is even truer with last night's bounce back win after the embarrassing 8-2 drubbing by the much improved Flyers laid on us last Wednesday night. This coming week the Sharks and the Kings will visit the Garage.

For me the regular season is one of those painful things we endure with hopes of promised treats at the end. NHL hockey is about winning the Stanley Cup challenge. Hockey’s second season is where the real excitement lies. We endure 82 games over about six months with the single goal of placing eighth or better in the west. That goal accomplished only one thing. It gives us the right to enter the real challenge.

Let’s face it Canucks faithful. This franchise has never won the Stanley Cup. It has been a little longer since a Vancouver based team held Lord Stanley’s mug. It is tragic that the city with the beautiful, thousand acre park with the same name as the equally beautiful symbol of hockey supremacy has not owned right to the cup since 1915. Frank Patrick’s Vancouver Millionaires won the cup that season and challenged for the cup as late as 1924. The current franchise made it to the finals of the Stanley Cup tournament in 1982 and 1994. Both teams came away from their respective trips to the final empty handed.

As we embark on the journey of a new season there is still one little nagging problem hidden deep in the backs of some of the faithful’s collective mind – a court case.

The gist of it is something like this:

Nov-96 John McCaw becomes the majority owner of Arthur Griffiths’ Vancouver Canucks franchise. Griffiths facing mounting financial pressure from the self financed GM Place and failing Vancouver Grizzles NBA is forced out of the Canucks by McCaw’s executing a first right of refusal option in their ownership agreement.

Nov-03 three Vancouver businessmen, Tom Gaglardi of Sandman Hotels and Suites, Ryan Beedie of construction’s Beedie Group and Francessco Aquilini whose family is best known in real estate circles, discuss the possibility of buying all or some part of Orca Bay Sports from Seattle cellular tycoon John McCaw. Orca Bay owns both the Canucks Franchise and GM Place as well as some key land around GM Place.

Mar-04 Aquilini drops out of the consortium. The suggestion is that Aquilini asked if he could step aside until the fall due to a real estate project that was taking all his time. Gaglardi is said to have refused and Aquilini then withdrew from the consortium.

Aug-04 Aquilini asks to return to the consortium but is rebuffed by Gaglardi/Beedie. This is interesting in that Gaglardi/Beedie contend that they were giving Aquilini information on the progress of their bid and that Aquilini then used that information to complete his own deal. Common sense would say that if the “partnership” were still at that level then Gaglardi/Beedie should have been happy to welcome Aquilini back into the group.

14-Sep-04 CBC Sports releases news of deal in principle between McCaw and the Gaglardi/Beedie pair. Story Here

Oct-05 Aquilini went on a cruise hosted by David Ho, a well-connected Vancouver entrepreneur. Also on board was Orca Bay's president and CEO, Stan McCammon, the man directing the Canucks sale on behalf of John McCaw.

5-Nov-05 McCaw calls Gaglardi and tells him that they can not reach a deal because Gaglardi negotiated too hard.

17-Nov-04 CBC Sports releases news of minority share deal between McCaw and Aquilini. Story Here

Jan-05 Gaglardi and Beedie and their respective companies sue Aquilini, McCaw and their respective companies claiming basically that Aquilini and McCaw conspired behind their backs to reach a deal that excluded their participation in ownership.

30-Apr-07 Case Opens in BC Supreme Court. Story Here

4-Oct-07 Madame Justice Catherine Wedge hears closing arguments. The case is not expected to have a reached a decision before the All Star break.
Story Here

And we all stay tuned…

Ciao,



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Sunday, September 30, 2007

EA Simulation Picks Sharks

Vancouver based EA Sports has completed their annual simulation of the NHL Season. EA NHL 08 predicts the San Jose Sharks over Pittsurgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals.

Here is the the results of their simulation of regualar season and play offs:

EAST
NYR 113
>- NYR
BUF 94
>- NYR
OTT 105
>- TOR
TOR 95
>- NYR
NJD 96
>- CAR
CAR 94
>- PIT
PIT 109
>- PIT
TBL 107

WEST
ANA 109
>- ANA
NSH 90
>- EDM
COL 104
>- EDM
EDM 93
>- SJS
SJS 96
>- SJS
VAN 101
>- SJS
DET 100
>- DET
CAL 101


Vancouver tied with Calgary behind Colorado seems pretty realistic to me. Vancouver loses to the eventual Stanley Cup winner again this year. Edmonton knockinng off Ryan Smyth and the Colorado Avalanche is a funny one. And EA must have a huge bug in their metrics for the Toronto Maple Leaves.

Ciao,



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A look ahead to Friday 5-Oct-2007

If it were me putting in the opening night line up here is what I’d do:

Line 122 D Sedin33 H Sedin26 R Shannon
Line 29 T Pyatt17 R Kesler19 M Naslund C
Line 324 M Cooke7 B Morrison*16 T Linden A
Line 420 J Cowan15 B Ritchie27 B Isbister
Defence 18 W Mitchell A3 K Bieksa
Defence 22 M Ohlund23 A Edler
Defence 35 L Krajicek4 A Miller
Goal 1 R Luongo Back Up 41 C Sanford


Injured Reserve: 6 S Salo**, (?7 B Morrison?)

Healthy Scratches: 25 D McGillis, 14 A Burrows, 21 M Raymond

* If Morrison is injured then send Raymond to the Moose and replace Morrison with Rypien. If Rypien is unavailable due to suspension then move Linden to Center and put Raymond in on the right side of either the 3rd or 4th line and adjust as needed.

** When Salo’s wrist is healed, swap out the least performing of Miller and Edler and pair Salo with Ohlund.

Some Stats:

Age: Forwards 29.2, Defence 27.1, Skaters 28.4. Luongo is 28.

Size: Forwards 6’1”, Defence 6’2”, Skaters 6’2”. Luongo is 6’3”.

Forwards 201 lbs, Defence 207 lbs, Skaters 204 lbs. Luongo is 205 lbs.

National Make-up: Canada 12(57%), Sweden 5 (24%), USA 3 (14%), Czech 1 (5%).

Most Games Played: T Linden 1323, M Naslund 953, B Morrison/M Ohlund 635

Fewest Games Played: N McIver 1, A Edler 22, R Shannon 53

Average Games Played: Forwards 491, Defence 279, Skaters 413. Luongo has played 418 games.

Oldest: T Linden 37, Youngest: A Edler 21

Ciao,



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Friday, September 28, 2007

Thirty Five Years Ago Today

Henderson from Esposito at 19:26. A simple statistic that can bring emotion to the hearts of all Canadians thirty five years after it was scribbled on a score sheet in Russia.

Paul Henderson, with the flick of his own rebound became a hockey legend this day of 28-Sep-1972. If you would like to have another look go here Click Link

What should we think of Paul Henderson's goal all these years later?

For me Henderson, who was a late addition to Canada’s team, is not given enough credit for his full contribution to winning the series. Henderson scored two goals and added an assist in game 5. He scored the game wining goals in games 6, 7 and 8. His goal in game 7 was simply stunning. The game winning goal in game 8 was less pretty. Regardless it is now an iconic event in Canadian history.

We also seem to forget the road that lead to Team Canada being able to win the series. When the teams left Canada the series was 2-1-1. The game 3 4-4 tie in Winnipeg created the opportunity for a series winner. With eight games it could have ended in a tie at four games each. The 4-1 game 2 win in Toronto tied the series at 1-1. Without this win in Toronto, the lost in game 5, the first game in Moscow, would have ended the series.

Ciao,


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sports Nation Votes

I was pondering a piece on predictions for the up coming season. All writing starts with a little research. I stumbled over this site at ESPN where fans can vote their predictions for conference and cup winners in the 2007/08 season. I was quite surprised by the fans collective opinion. Slightly over 3,000 votes had been cast as of mid day 27-Sep-2007 (Pacific). The fan favorites in the east and west (drum roll please): Pittsburgh and Los Angeles? Take it a step further and imagine that 50.5% voters figure Sid the kid and crew to finish atop the eastern conference standings. Buffalo and the Rangers come in second with 15% (+/- 2%) and Ottawa was the only other team worth noting with 7.5% of the votes. The remainder of the east together gathered about 12% of the fans approval as best in their conference.

The west is far less certain. Observation of the potential winner out west is more distributed between the Kings, Detroit Red Wings and your Vancouver Canucks. Even the defending champ Ducks and the San Jose Sharks garnered significant vote percentages. The votes were LA 29.6%, Detroit 20.5% and Vancouver 13.4%. The Sharks and Ducks came in with 9% each. A full 17% of votes were for other western teams to make it to the top of the conference. Colorado bested the other others.

When it comes to winning the Stanley Cup the voters still have a love affair with the LA Kings. Dean Lombardi and Marc Crawford must be selling a particularly good brand of Kool aide down in LA LA Land. At 29% of the votes, LA had double the fans second choice of Buffalo (14%). Other vote getters were Pittsburgh and New York Rangers in the east and Detroit and the San Jose Sharks out west.

Of course a statistician would give you fifty two reasons why such an unscientific web based vote does not present reality. I also look at the numbers with a great deal of skepticism.

Where did I cast my votes? The east: I think the Rangers have taken steps to improve their team. Buffalo has lost Drury to New York. Pittsburgh? Maybe, but I think they are still a year or two away from leading the east. I picked the New York Rangers.

The west: Like the poll voters showed, this is a harder one to pick. Brian Burke is perhaps the best management mind in the game. However, his Todd Bertuzzi move is going to turn out to be brilliant or a disaster. If brilliant the Ducks may just remain the best in the west. Colorado is improved with the addition of Smyth and Hannan. They also have a lot of good young guys like Stastny and Liles. You would think the Sharks are going to be a contender at some point. Suspect defence may still be the Sharks weakness. The fans choice of LA is just plain loopy. There is no way in heck that the Kings are going to improve from 27-41-14 in ‘06/07 to notching around 48 wins this year no matter how darling Anze Kopitar is.

Your Vancouver Canucks? Well we do have one of the best net minders in the game. The team benefits from a full year under the new coaching regime. Scoring depth remains a question. With the improvements to Colorado, Calgary and Edmonton, which represents 24 Canuck games, the boys are going to be hard pressed to repeat even as a divisional winner.

I picked Colorado Avalanche. And my pick depends on Peter Budaj. If Budaj can maintain a decent save percentage deep into the season I suspect you’ll be seeing the Avalanche lead the west and contend for the cup.

Ciao,


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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Canucks Pare Preseason Roster

The ‘Nucks sent eleven players to the AHL Manitoba Moose 25-Sep-2007. There were no surprises in the cuts.

Players assigned to the Moose included:

Fitzgerald, Zack Defence American 6’2” 205lbs 3rd round draft in 2003

Fortunus, Maxime Defence Canadien 6’1” 190lbs undrafted

Heshka, Shaun Defence Canadian 6’1” 205lbs walk on (I think)

Labrie, Pierre-Cedric Left Wing Canadien 6’2” 212lbs Free Agent

MacIntyre, Drew Goaltender Canadian 6’0” 173lbs Detroit 4th round pick in 2001

Schneider, Cory Goaltender American 6’2” 195lbs 1st rounder in 2004

Sharrow, Jim Defence American 6’2” 195lbs We got him for Jesse Schultz.

Simek, Juraj Forward Slovak 6’1” 189 6th round pick in 2006

Balej, Jozef Right Wing Solvak 6’0” 195lbs Montreal’s 3rd round pick in 2000. We got him for Fedor Fedorov from the rangers in ’05.

Classen, Greg Centre Canadian 6’1” 200lbs Free agent who has played a few games with Nashville.

Moran, Brad Centre local boy from Abbotsford 5’11” 187lbs Drafted by Buffalo back in 1998. Played three games with the Canucks in 06/07.

Balej, Moran and Classen need to clear waivers before they become Moose.



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William “Dollar Bill” Wirtz Dead at 77

Bill Wirtz died 26-Sep-2007 at Evanston Hospital, Chicago after battling cancer. The owner of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks franchise served as team president for 41 years and as a governor of the NHL for 18 years.

The Wirtz family bought into the Chicago Blackhawks in 1952 and Bill became President in 1966. With Wirtz at the helm the team only missed the playoff once between 1966 and 1997. Unfortunately their only playoff appearance since then was in 2002.

William Wirtz spanned several era’s in the NHL and is perhaps best remembered as an enigma of himself. Notable contradictions in his legacy include:

He lost Bobby Hull to the upstart World Hockey Association as a result of not wanting to pay the league’s marquee player what was considered by Hull as an appropriate salary. Yet in the late 1970’s Wirtz played a significant role on negotiations that resulted in the merger of the WHA back into the NHL.

Legendary for his attention to the bottom line, Wirtz’s philanthropy through Blackhawk Charities is often over looked. Since establishment in 1993, Blackhawk Charities has donated millions of dollars to worthy causes in Chicago, including the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois.

Wirtz refused to enter into agreements that would see Blackhawk games televised yet he was also instrumental in making the success of amateur sport having server on the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympic committees.

I’m sure we’ll all be hearing more of William “Dollar Bill” Wirtz in the days to come.



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Friday, September 21, 2007

What's News

At the end of the 2005/06 Season things looked bleak. I wrote this analysis of the team at that time. Carolina when on to win the cup and Rod Brind’Amour went on to take his rightful place as a member of the select few who wear the “C” and have won the cup.

The 2006/07 season came with a bang. Fourteen regulars from the 2005/06 team were gone including Todd Bertuzzi, Anson Carter, Dan Cloutier, Alex Auld, Ed Jovanovski, Jarkko Ruutu and Bryan Allen. Brian Burke was let go after 2005/06 and more about that in a moment. Dave Nonis,the new GM, was putting his stamp on the team including the hiring of new coach Alain Vigneault.

The new look Canucks got their major face lift the eve of the 2006 draft which was held in Vancouver. GM Nonis, three days after hiring Vigneault, pull off arguably the largest heist in NHL history. The Florida Panthers were the victim of the crime. Moving to Vancouver were Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round draft pick who turned out to be Sergei Shirokov for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld. Bertuzzi fizzled in Florida. Auld was released after one year. Allen remains the only roster player the Panthers can show for their fleecing.

The team started slow as could be expected with a new coach, new systems and so many new faces. Come New Years Day the team lumbered in meritocracy. Then caught fire! The climbed from lower middle of the pack to first place in their division and west side third seed in the Stanley Tournament. Along the way Luongo notched 47 wins to set a team record for most in a season. The wins were only a tangible metric of how “Robby Lo” was putting his stamp on the team and endearing himself to the fans. Rumors have it that one well know local hockey blogger even had his name tattooed on her (umm) “body.”

The return to the playoffs was welcome celebration of spring. A hard fought seven game win in round 1 only furthered our delusions of expectations. The series featured a quadruple overtime win which was the longest game in Canucks history and the sixth longest in league history.

The second round brought on Brian Burke’s Anaheim Ducks. The series was much closer than the eventual game five win the Ducks posted on their way out of the west and past Ottawa to the first west coast cup win since – well the Vancouver Millionaires in 1915. Scott Niedermayer lifted the cup for the fourth time, kissed it and passed it brother Rob. The senior brother took his rightful place in the Captains Club.

We choose to ignore the events that actually lead the exit of the 06/07 ‘Nucks. Something about Luongo discussing a perceived penalty while Rob Niedermayer threaded a seeing eye shot into the back of the net in overtime. It was a puck up of the brain fart variety. We never mention it. We ignore it. Luongo is the promised land. He will bring us closer to a potential cup. He has got all the latitude he wants: for now.

Ciao,


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