Clay Imoo

Oct 102013
 
from the 2007 video "The Ultimate Canucks Haiku"

from the 2007 video “The Ultimate Canucks Haiku”

I love me a good haiku.  Perhaps it’s my half-Japanese heritage (Imoo is a Japanese name if you’re wondering; my other half is Chinese).  Perhaps it’s because I’m lazy and a haiku – with its 17 syllables – is one of the shortest poems in existence.  Or maybe it’s because my Ultimate Canucks Haiku video on YouTube (with over 30,000 views) helped me win some nice swag in the Ultimate Canucks Search contest back in 2007 (I’ve included the video at the bottom of this post).

Anyway, back to the syllables.  A proper haiku follows the form of 5-7-5.  That is: a line of 5 syllables, a line of 7 syllables, and then a line of 5 syllables.  Good haiku (or haikus…you can use either form for the plural) usually bunches the first two “lines” together, and then leaves the third line on its own to conclude the poem. Think of it as a 12-syllable phrase followed by a 5-syllable phrase.

Tonight, the San Jose Sharks are in town to face the Vancouver Canucks in a battle for early Pacific Division supremacy.  A big focal point of the Sharks will be their exciting rookie Tomas Hertl.  Hertl enters Thursday’s action leading the NHL in scoring in large part to a great 4-goal performance against the Rangers Tuesday night.

An already highly-anticipated match-up now has an added element of intrigue with Hertl.  Will the Canucks be able to avenge their opening night drubbing to the same Sharks?  Will Hertl continue his hot streak?  And will he dare try a fancy move against Roberto Luongo?

In advance of the game, I went to Twitter to solicit responses for a rather unique CHB Top 10.  Turns out we have a bunch of poets and didn’t even know it.  See what I did there?

Thus, I proudly present to you CHB’s Top 10 Hertl Haiku:

HM:  Hertl Hertl don’t u score on us.  Hertl Hertl please miss the bus.  –submitted by @manlycc

HM:  Ahead of the pack, a quartet he assembled.  Lu will stop him cold.  –submitted by @kdmurray

HM:  European kid never been in a fight so Bieksa will try.  –submitted by @mrsurreyjack

#10:  Cute goal by Hertl.  However three years ago, Daniel did it best.  –submitted by @ClasssicDave

#9:  Of all the damn luck Hertl is good with the puck.  Come, Lu – pull the plug!  -submitted by @cefair

#8:  Sharks are dangerous.  Laying Hertl on Rangers.  Sets up Thursday night. – submitted by @PuckedintheHead

#7:  Luongo, Schneider?  That was the past, this is now.  Luongo, Hertl. –submitted by @mikejang

#6:  I’m Czech Republic hockey player this is dream.  To play with sharks, ya? –submitted by @camcharron

#5:  Hertl is quite good – he scored four times on Tuesday.  Trade Weise for Hertl.  –submitted by @passittobulis

#4:  Thomas Hertl balls.  I’m just saying he’s got game.  I don’t mean his junk.  –submitted by @jamjamtao

#3:  Canucks take on Sharks – oh please Hertl, don’t hurt ‘em.  Bobby Lu, stand tall!  -submitted by @gloomybb

#2:  Look at that kid score.  Twenty, thirty, maybe more.  Unsustainable.  –submitted by @petbugs13

#1:  Who is this Hertl?  If you think he’s a bad guy, better Czech yourself.  –submitted by @rebeccapalooza and @camcharron

 

Oct 072013
 
Clay with Marie and Arielle

Clay with Marie and Arielle

After a tumultuous and unpredictable season (and off-season), Roberto Luongo is back in the crease as the Vancouver Canucks’ undisputed number one goaltender.  There is no doubt that the past 18 months have taken its toll on Bobby Lu.

Thus, I proudly present to you Luongo’s Lament to the tune of Phil Collins’ hit Against All Odds.  And I’m so proud to welcome my friends Marie Hui and Arielle Tuliao as the featured vocalists.  You’ll see that they are lovely, talented, and amazing.

With Cory Schneider returning with his new team – the New Jersey Devils – on Tuesday, I thought it would an appropriate time to present this song.  Enjoy!

 

Oct 022013
 

Jerseymusic

As a hockey fan and musician, I enjoy seeing the two worlds come together.  At a hockey game, it starts with the warm-up music followed by the national anthems.  There’s music in between plays (whether live or recorded) and music at the intermission.

Away from the rink you can find hundreds of hockey-themed music videos on YouTube.  And I’ve been known to put a few hockey compositions together, whether it’s a Christmas Carol, a song from a musical,  a classic rock anthem, or an R & B song about our new head coach.

By the way:  my new Canucks song will come out next week…it’s going to be a good one.

So in anticipation of the Canucks’ season opener in San Jose on Thursday night, I took to Twitter and asked:  “What song title do you think best describes the Canucks’ chances and team this year?”

I’m compiled some of the replies for this post.  You’ll see that there is both optimism and pessimism amongst the Vancouver fanbase.  So without further adieu, here are The Top 10 Song Titles Befitting of This Year’s Vancouver Canucks:

Honourable Mentions:

“Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane – submitted by @kdmurray.  Perhaps a reminder that this season is a long journey filled with twists and curves.

“Destination Unknown” by Marietta – submitted by @lyteforce. Of course Chris had to submit something Top Gun related.

“New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel – submitted by @DarcyRotaBlog.  A witty reference to John Tortorella coming to us from the Big Apple…or perhaps a comment at AV going the other way.

“Live and Let Die” by The Wings – submitted by @heatheranner.  Something tells me Heather isn’t counting on a strong season.

 

10.   “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits – submitted by @Canucks_Lions.  Not sure if Andrew is talking about the Canucks not having much cap room, or the money that he shells out for tickets.

9.  “As I Choke” by Ross Copperman – submitted by @OHYAHH.  In his tweet, Justin actually dedicated this song to Roberto Luongo.  How thoughtful.

8.  “Scream” by Michael Jackson – submitted by @Jas_Ferg.  Could be the fans (in a good way).  Could be the fans (in a bad way).  Could be John Tortorella after a loss.

7.  “Don’t Panic” by Coldplay – submitted by @Nrenton.  A nice reminder to all fans that the season is a long one and the window of opportunity might not be shut just yet.

6.  “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi – submitted by @Kyotea and @sylandrews.  Looks like Wylie and Sylvia think the Canucks are in need of some Divine Intervention.

5.  “Baby Blue” by Badfinger – submitted by @PrisonBull.  A very timely and clever suggestion given that this song was featured in the series finale of Breaking Bad this past weekend.  Not exactly sure how the line “Guess I got what I deserved” fits in though.  Or maybe the band name is in reference to Alex Burrows allegedly biting Patrice Bergeron’s finger a couple of years ago.

4.  “We are the Champions” by Queen – submitted by @Angie_Canucks.  Angie is a die-hard Canucks fan and truly believes that this is the year.

3.  “Break Your Heart” by Taio Cruz – submitted by @carlz8.  Something tells me that Carly had a rough go of it in June 2011 (and in the two subsequent playoff years).

2.  “I Love You” by Barney – submitted by @PPGoose.  In his tweet, Puck Puck Goose pointed out that the lyric of “won’t you say you love me too” says it all.

1.  “Believe” by Yellowcard – submitted by @JThompsondesign.  Now that’s a glass-half full approach!

 

And for making it to the very end, here’s a bonus music video for you: my Justin Bieber parody from Christmas 2011 called “Under the Minneso”:

 

Sep 272013
 
Photo credit: cbc.ca

Photo credit: cbc.ca

There was much anticipation for last night’s meeting between the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers for one obvious reason: the first showdown between head coaches John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault since taking over as new bench bosses of their respective clubs.

Despite it being a preseason game, there was an undeniable buzz in the city, in the arena, and of course, on Twitter.

Thus, after the Canucks 5-0 win, I put a simple question out to the fans:  “Why is Torts a better coach for the Canucks (right now) than AV?”

A couple of quick notes:

  • I would have asked this question regardless of the result of last night’s game
  • I have respect for Alain Vigneault the person and the coach and certainly for all of his accomplishments.  Having said that, it was obviously time for a change at the end of last year.

So sit back and enjoy your (unedited) submissions in The Top 10 Reasons Why Torts is a Better Coach for the Canucks (Right Now) Than AV:

10. AV was an awesome coach and a great guy but it was time for the #Canucks to get a new perspective & Torts would give them that (@elmeebaterina)

We start off with a nice one from my friend Elmee, who shares my sentiment of AV being a good coach but that it was indeed time for a change.  Great minds think alike!

9.  He lowers amount of money in the budget allotted to purchasing gum. (@CaptToeDrag)

Indeed.  Too bad these savings can`t be added on to the salary cap.

8. because he makes the team play hard for fear of a bag skate the next day and his wrath (@tpoole00)

Fear can be a great motivator.  My wife uses it on me all the time.

7a.  easy. one word. guts…to make decisions, call it like it is, and tell off those who need it. (@brianna2shoes)

7b.  demands results, holds players accountable stars or not. Won’t accept mediocrity. (@codybarendregt)

7c.  canucks had become complacent after the boston game in 2012. Needed a new voice that would push. So far impressed (@drchill49)

7d.  Hands on, straight forward, brutally honest. Opinionated and demanding. A breath of fresh air. (@Showbot)

7e.  passion front line coach. Talks the truth instead of beating around the bush. #shootsfromthehip #pride (@TheGoodGnu)

These 5 responses share similar themes:  the team needed a change and it needed someone who isn’t afraid of speaking his mind.  I believe they got their wish.

6.  with Torts u can see the D-Men actually take care of the zone and let #luongo see the puck.Simple, effective hockey by #Canucks (@sdhaliwa)

5.  agressive forecheck, 3 F below the goalline vs AV 3rd man in slot. Not often canucks should get out manned in puck battles (@PPGoose)

#5 and #6 talk about some of the differences in game play and strategy under Torts.  Will be interesting to see if these trends continue.

4.  because AV can’t grow facial hair. (@TucoSalamanka)

I can relate as it takes me 2 years to grow a beard.  I’m guessing that @TucoSalamanka doesn’t have that problem.

3.  Because he’s Italian and we’re better at everything. (@BrowntoBure)

Never one to shy away from polarizing comments, @BrowntoBure doesn’t disappoint this time around.  I wonder this is related to #4.

2.  Press conferences. Duh. (@SirCanuckles)

Enough said.

1.  “Under Alain Vigneault…Vigneault…Vigneault…Eh, Eh, Eh” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

You just knew I was going to work this video in!

 

Sep 162013
 
Photo Credit: NHLPA.com

Photo Credit: NHLPA.com

Arsenio Hall is back on TV with his talk show, so I guess it’s appropriate that we bring back this Arsenio-inspired feature on CHB.  This past weekend, I was at two of the three Vancouver Canucks “Open Scrimmages”.  I’ve put a few thoughts together from my observations in this Training Camp edition of Things That Make You Go Hmmm.

Who Will Be Our 6th D-Man?

First off, I realize that you can only glean so much from a few low-impact training camp scrimmages.  And as coach John Tortorella has pointed out already, the proof in the pre-season pudding will be in the exhibition games rather than the scrimmages and practices.  Having said that, an interesting battle is shaping up for the 6th d-man spot behind Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison and Chris Tanev.

Conventional wisdom suggests it’s between Frank Corrado, Andrew Alberts, and Yannick Weber.  Based on the scrimmages I saw, it was actually Andrew Alberts who was the most noticeable.  On Sunday alone, he showed decent speed going end-to-end before losing the puck in the offensive zone corner.  On his very next shift, he roughed up Ryan Kesler in the defensive end – even without one of his gloves.  Alberts is making $600,000 this season (compared to $1.2-$1.3 million the past three seasons) so he’s obviously hoping on a big year to help him return to bigger money.

However, when the smoke clears, I think it will be Corrado with the spot on opening night.  He played with Hamhuis over the weekend (with the other big pairings being Edler-Tanev and Bieksa-Garrison).  Also, he got into all 4 Canucks playoff games last spring and the club is counting on him to continue his rapid improvement.

How Many Games Will Ryan Kesler Play This Season?

For all the talk of how injury-prone Kesler has been, when you look at the pre-2013 numbers he’s actually been quite reliable.  Prior to last year, Kesler’s regular season games played over the previous 7 seasons were 82, 48, 80, 82, 82, 82, and 77.  Take out the 2006-2007 season that saw him miss 34 games with torn cartilage in his hip, and you’ll see that the centre had only missed 5 regular season games in those 6 seasons.

We now know that Kesler tore his shoulder in February 2012 but played through it (undergoing surgery in May).  Just a month later in June, he had surgery to repair his injured wrist.  He finally made his debut in the lockout-shortened season in February 2013 but he broke his foot in that game and went onto injured reserve just 7 games into the season.  He ended up playing only 17 games the entire season.

So what can we expect this year?  It’s hard to tell…yet there are some intriguing factors.  What will his role be under new coach John Tortorella?  Will the Olympics make Kesler more vulnerable to injury post-February?  And is everything (hip, shoulder, wrist, and foot) fully healed?

I would love nothing more for Kesler to stay healthy and have a good Olympic tourney (but not TOO good haha).  He showed a lot of flash and dash during the scrimmages including one beautiful dangle on Sunday.  However, it’s this same flash and dash that has Canucks fans nervous.

A Future “Triple H” Line?

Sunday’s scrimmage saw 2013 first-round draft pick Bo Horvat centering wingers Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen.   Perhaps we were looking at a glimpse of the not-so-distant future.

Horvat seems a longshot to make this year’s squad.  And Higgins and Hansen will likely end up playing with newly-acquired Brad Richardson on opening night.  But depending on Horvat’s development, he could be our 3rd line-centre sooner as opposed to later.  At least that’s what many Canucks fans are hoping for.

There you have it.  An entire Canucks article without a mention of Roberto Luongo.

Whoops.

Jun 282013
 

Clay with son Sean and Marie Hui

My new Canucks song is a tribute to John Tortorella – the brand new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.  He brings with him passion, a wealth of experience, and a Stanley Cup ring.

This song features the amazing Marie Hui and my son Sean doing some background vocals (along with camera work and holding up cue cards…haha).

 

I was happy that I got in Torts’ famous line from his first press conference in Vancouver: “If you’re a good loser, you’re a loser.”

Jun 012013
 

Credit: NHL.com

The NHL’s Final Four starts today with the star-laden Penguins taking on the big, bad Bruins in the East.  In the West, it’s the talented Blackhawks against the defending champ Kings.

It’s very possible that many hockey fans – Vancouver Canucks hockey fans that is – are still undecided as to who to cheer for.  Thus, we here at CHB wanted to provide you with some suggestions.

Chicago Blackhawks

Recent History

The Chicago Blackhawks ousted the Vancouver Canucks in the second-round of the playoffs in both 2009 and 2010 before the Canucks got some revenge in the spring of 2011 in a thrilling seven-game first-round series.  Then in March 2012, just a few weeks before the start of the playoffs, Duncan Keith took out Daniel Sedin with a vicious elbow in the neutral zone, effectively leading to the Canucks’ disappointing first-round exit.

What’s to Like

Jonathan Toews, despite the occasional tantrum, is still a great leader and one of the hardest-working players in the league.  Patrick Kane has cleaned off his off-ice shenanigans and is very exciting to watch.  Patrick Sharp is one of the best snipers in the NHL.  Overall, the team plays an exciting brand of hockey led by their creative forwards.  And Brent Seabrook was born in Richmond if that makes a difference to you.

What’s not to Like

Duncan Keith.  Whether it’s concussing a Sedin or getting into it with a female reporter, the guy simply isn’t that likable.   As well, many Canucks fans still can’t get over those back-to-back playoff losses a few years ago.

Likability Score:  2.5/5

 

Los Angeles Kings

Recent History

The Canucks disposed of the Kings in six games in the 2010 playoffs.  Then, we all know what happened last year.  The Kings dominated the Canucks in the 2012 playoffs, much like they dominated every team they faced on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.  The Kings proved to be a very deep and rugged team, and goaltender Jonathan Quick was extremely strong.

What’s to Like

Jonathan Quick for one.  He is extremely athletic and absolutely never gives up on the play.  It’s very possible he could win back to back Conn Smythe awards.  Jeff Carter and Mike Richards are fun to watch (mostly) and are clean players (although David Booth might disagree).  Drew Doughty is an exciting player when he’s on his game.   Darryl Sutter is growing on me albeit very slowly.  And Willie Mitchell is still there.

What’s not to Like

Captain Dustin Brown has developed a reputation of being a diver, so much so that there are numerous YouTube “tribute” videos dedicated to his mastery of the craft.  It’s too bad, because at his best he’s a talented, scrappy player.

Likability Score: 3/5

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Recent History

There’s hardly any to write of.  The Canucks didn’t play the Penguins in this lockout-shortened season, and prior to that they’ve only played once in a year. The games have ranged from the relatively-forgettable to the extremely-memorable (anyone remember Luongo’s overtime penalty shot save on Crosby at GM Place in December 2007)?  I must admit that I’ve been a Crosby fan ever since he scored the golden goal here in February 2010.

What’s to Like

If you’re a fan of offensive hockey, then Pittsburgh is your team.  Their forward depth is unbelievable with Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Iginla, Dupuis, Kunitz, Morrow, Jokinen, etc and they often need to outscore their goaltending.  Kris Letang is a stud back on the blue line, and you have ex-Canucks Tanner Glass and Matt Cooke (more on him below).

What’s not to Like

Much like some fans vehemently oppose Lebron James and his cast of superfriends on the Miami Heat in the NBA, there could be some who want to see the Penguins fail after loading up at the trade deadline.  As well, Matt Cooke is extremely polarizing, despite being an ex-Canuck.

Likeability Score:  4/5

 

Boston Bruins

Recent History

As if you need me to actually type anything here…haha.  The Bruins beat the Canucks in the Stanley Cup final in 2011 in a spirited and emotional series.  Their January 2012 regular season meeting in Boston (an intense game that Vancouver won 4-3) is regularly cited as the start of the Canucks’ downfall last year.

What’s to Like

My parents taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say to not say anything at all.

What’s Not to Like

Marchand.  Lucic.  Paille. Horton. Thornton. Chara. Julien.  And Tim Thomas….oh wait….

Likability Score:  0/5

May 072013
 

The Vancouver Canucks are down three games to zero to the San Jose Sharks in their first-round NHL playoff match-up.  As they try to stave off elimination in this must-win game, I turned to my kids for their predictions.

Sean and Kayla are optimistic that the Canucks will still make this a competitive series, and they pulled out every sports cliche possible in expressing their optimism.

Meanwhile, Jacob took a more cynical approach as he worked in a few cliches and a bunch of thought-provoking questions regarding the Canucks’ future.

 

May 062013
 

Photo credit: Christian Petersen via NHL.com

So the Vancouver Canucks have lost the pivotal game two and the must-win game three.  Looking ahead to a pivotal must-win game four, there are a few Things That Make Me Go Hmmm.

The Goalie Conundrum

Well, wouldn’t you know it?  We’re possibly one game away from the end of the season and the story that became a story at this time last year is still a story.  Whether you agree with management’s (GM and coach) handling of the situation or not, you can’t deny that it’s been the number one story with the team this year.  So much so that people are talking more about the goaltending then they are about the team’s primary reason for being pushed to the brink of elimination: their inability to create enough good scoring chances.

Facing elimination, the Canucks need to start the goaltender that gives the skaters the most confidence that they can win the game.  And without a shadow of a doubt, that goaltender is Roberto Luongo.  He was solid in the first two games of the season before Schneider’s shaky return to the line-up.  Go back to Luongo and hope that the team plays lights-out in front of them.  And who knows, a strong playoff showing (even in defeat) wouldn’t hurt his trade value.  That is, if the Canucks are still trying to trade him.

Flipping the Switch

Many people have asked me over the last week, “What’s wrong with the Canucks?”  After lamenting the team’s scoring woes and my desire to see Keith Ballard in the line-up, I always say that it’s not as simple as just looking at the Vancouver Canucks.  You need to look at the San Jose Sharks as well.

It was ludicrous to think that the Canucks would simply “flip a switch” in the three days between the end of the regular season and the first playoff game and be back to a dominating team that would steamroll the competition.  This logic is mostly flawed because it doesn’t account for the team lining up across from the Canucks.

San Jose is a good team.  They have strong depth at forward, a solid (if non-descript) defense, and a strong goalie.  Also, they are well-coached and have strong special teams.  So Canucks fans can talk about flipping a switch all they want.  Just remember that San Jose has a switch too – and it seems to be working very well.

Staving Off Elimination

Get ready to hear the word “stave” dozens of times over the next couple of days.  While the Canucks look to stave off elimination, I wonder why more people don’t use the word more in every day conversation.  I think it’s a cool word…and it shouldn’t be reserved just for sports playoffs.  After all, there are so many other ways you might use it:

  • I wonder how many ladies I will have to stave off this week.  After all, I’m happily married
  • Will Christy Clark be able to stave off Adrian Dix in this month’s election?
  • How does Keith Ballard manage to stave off thinking of ways to hurt Alain Vigneault?

 

Looking ahead to game four on Tuesday night in San Jose, I simply wasn’t interested in any of the post-game quotes from AV and the players – especially the clichéd ones.  All I care about is the Canucks laying it all out on the ice as they try to stave off elimination.  Then perhaps they’ll have a chance to play in another pivotal must-win game on Thursday night.

May 022013
 

Photo credit: Jeff Vinnick via NHL.com

After an abbreviated season, the Vancouver Canucks opened up the postseason with a 3-1 loss to the visiting San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night. Looking back at the game and looking ahead to the next one, there are a few Things That Make Me Go Hmmm:

Searching for the Right Line Combinations

The Canucks forwards simply did not create enough shots or scoring opportunities. This continues a trend of low-scoring games as the Canucks have not scored more than 3 goals in a game since their 4-2 win over Nashville on April 15. I must admit that I was a tad befuddled when I learned the line combinations on Monday for last night’s game.

We know that Burrows with the Sedins is pretty much a given (for now) and that the fourth line will consist of any combo of Ebbett, Weise, Sestito, Pinizzotto, and sometimes Lapierre. The Canucks started game one with a second line of Kesler between Higgins and Kassian, and a third line of Roy between Raymond and Hansen. While Roy and Kesler were likely separated to spread the Canucks’ centres over three lines to counter Thornton, Couture, and Pavelski, I was surprised that Higgins was placed on Kesler’s wing and not Roy’s. In the few games that they played together, Higgins and Roy looked like a dangerous combo. Instead, they found themselves on different lines to start the series.

We all know that coach Alain Vigneault has no problem with juggling his lines. I’d like to see Roy between Hansen and Higgins leaving Kesler to centre Raymond and Kassian. Who knows – if AV is confident in Lapierre, we might see Kesler and Roy reunited on a second line to give the Canucks more scoring potential. Moving Lapierre up would likely mean Kassian moving down to the fourth line… a position he found himself in by the end of game one.

Home Ice Disadvantage

With the Canucks loss, they have now lost 5 straight playoff games at home – a stretch dating back to game 7 on June 15, 2011 against the Boston Bruins. Obviously, a lot has to do with the quality of opposition, but for whatever reason Rogers Arena is not a difficult place for opposing teams to win in during the playoffs.

The Canucks’ regular season home record was decent at 15-6-3 while San Jose’s road record was a pathetic 8-14-2. By contrast, San Jose’s regular season home record was a sparkling 17-2-5. Thus, you can see just how important it will be for the Canucks to triumph in game two and tie the series up. If they lose, they won’t be able to beat this strong San Jose team 4 times out of 5 (with 3 of the games in San Jose).

Canucks fans need to get a lot louder and a little more rowdy (much to the chagrin of Rogers Arena employees). After all, isn’t this what we live for?

Every Game is a Pivotal Game

Get ready to hear about how much game two is a “pivotal” game. Captain Obvious here would like to point out that going to San Jose tied one game apiece is a lot better than going in down two games.

Then, game three will become pivotal as it will either create an almost insurmountable deficit at 3 games to 0, or one team will at least take a stronghold in the series. Game one was intuitively pivotal as both teams wanted to get off to a good start.

The point being that every single game in the playoffs is a pivotal game. Now the Canucks need to start playing like it.

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