Richard Loat

Jul 032013
 

We’re in St. John’s, Newfoundland, set to embark on our 4th Annual Five Hole for Food Summer Tour. Thinking about the last four years, time sure has flown by. From our humble beginnings in 2010 to our 133,000LBS tour total in 2012, Five Hole for Food is bursting with possibility and potential for this 2013 tour – and the puck drops this afternoon.

Once again, we’re traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast, stopping in 13 cities across Canada and raising food donations and funds for 13 different food banks. Our goal this year? 250,000 lbs. of food. One quarter of a million pounds heading straight to local food banks across the country. We know it’s advantageous, but I’ve been thinking about this number since last year – and I’m fixated. I know we can make it happen.

You can join us in St. John’s, Halifax, Charlottetown, Saint John, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria or Vancouver. If you can’t make it out, be sure to check out our website for more information and consider making a donation to our tour. As a non-profit organization, we function with a team of over 50+ volunteers across the country with one unified passion for change.

Canada, will you play hockey for food?

May 032013
 

Who wants to win some Canucks tickets? Well, lets play a game, shall we?

Vancouver Canucks "This is What We Live For"

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com


Rules are simple, you solve the puzzle, you have a shot at the Canucks tickets. Feel like testing some of your Canucks knowledge? It isn’t going to be easy! Have at’er and let me know what you come up with!

Ready?

Step 1: Lets crunch some numbers.

Quick example of how this is going to work – If I gave you the clue: “You take Mario Bliznak, and take away Dan Hamhuis. Next, throw in Rob Davison.” Then your answer would be 604. Mario Bliznak (62) take away Hamhuis (2) is equal to 60. The answers to each of the clues in the following bullets is a number. Do you follow?

First, lets play with some jersey numbers, shall we?:

  • Divide Alex Burrows in two.
  • What number did Gary Lupul, Dan Quinn and Barry Pederson have in common?
  • Imagine Trevor Linden being half the man he is.
  • Throw in that cheeky best-shootout-goal-ever goal scorer, Marek Malik.
  • Divide Cam Neely into three.
  • Then add together Charlie Hodge, Keith Carney and Pat Quinn.
  • John Arbour and John Schella shared more than a first name.
  • Anyone remember Fred Speck?
  • Oh, and lastly, a current player in the San Jose Sharks organization has a dad that played for the Canucks – what was daddy’s number? (The one he shared with another ex-Canuck, fondly called by some as the “Finnish MacInnis”.)

Step 2: How’s your math?

Write down the numbers in the order you got them. If you’ve figured it out, you might be looking at a phone number. Before you do anything with it, add these ten numbers up.

The number you get should be one of the jersey numbers a former San Jose Shark and former Sedin linemate wore just before he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks.

Who was this player?

Step 3: Text us your answer.

Remember that code you cracked, Mr/Mrs. Da Vinci Code?

Text your answer (from step 2) to that phone number (from step 1) by 3:00 PM today – make sure you include your name or Twitter handle so we know who you are – and you could two lower bowl tickets to tonight’s Game 2 playoff matchup between the Canucks and the San Jose Sharks.

It’s that simple.

And… go!

Jul 032012
 
Five Hole for Food

Thinking back to the summer of 2010, it seems like so much has happened since Five Hole for Food’s (FHFF) inaugural tour where Vic and I grabbed some hockey sticks, headed to Montreal to start a nine-city, eleven-day journey, which saw us raised 6,000 pounds of food for food banks across Canada.

Last summer we visited the very East Coast for the first time and Canadians from St. John’s to Vancouver came together to help us raise nearly 45,000 pounds. Now faced with another trip ahead of us, things are more exciting than ever as we gear up for a third tour across Canada. 11,000 kilometers, 19 days, 13 cities, 5 people, 1 epic trip to fight hunger across the country.

With a year’s worth of incredibly hard work put into this iteration of the tour, we had to step up our game. We had to take things to the next level and so we didn’t just want to raise more food than last year. We wanted to obliterate that total. As we kick things off in St. John’s, Newfoundland, it’s time to highlight how giving Canadians are and use the game we love to bring a nation together to make a difference. July 3rd to July 21st will mark the third annual FHFF tour and our quest to raise over 100,000 pounds of food for food banks across Canada and we can’t wait to have you join us!

You can join us in St. John’s, Halifax, Charlottetown, Saint John, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria or Vancouver. And if you can’t make it out, you can donate online.

To follow the trip and live every second of it with us as we go coast-to-coast:

Twitter: @fiveholeforfood
Facebook: Facebook.com/fiveholeforfood
Instagram: fiveholeforfood
Youtube: YouTube.com/fiveholeforfood

Apr 162012
 

A lot of people were caught off-guard when the Zack Kassian trade came to fruition. For all the speculation around why it happened, at the end of the day Cody Hodgson went to Buffalo and Kassian joined the Canucks.

Kassian came from a team where he was getting limited ice-time – and seriously less quality ice time than Hodgson – and, fairly or not, was expected to step straight into Cody’s shoes.

But that’s unrealistic. Completely unrealistic. And the last thing Kassian needs is this city and the media to run him out of town so I write this post pre-emptively after two comments really nailed home how I feel about the kid.

The first was from Steve “Dangle” Glynn:

RT @steve_dangle: Thing about Kassian is he really is the type of animal the Canucks needs, but not yet. He will be, but he’s a rookie

Kassian is exactly what this team needs. He’s a year younger than Hodgson, and he’s going to need a little more time to fall into the team’s system. Cody took a couple of year to develop. Even some of the team’s veterans took time to find their step within Vigneault’s system. Kassian had a matter of weeks to gear up for the playoffs and was dispatched on every forward line trying to find a fit. Finding a fit on this team isn’t easy for the best of players, but Kassian will soon, and those dividends will start to pay off after a full off season with the team. Don’t believe me? You’ll see it in David Booth as well.

The other was from Brian Wawryshyn of Canucks Corner:

RT @canuckscorner: Don’t spew venom at Kassian. He didn’t trade Hodgson. He’s a young kid with potential who is rarely getting on the ice. #canucks

Kassian has a whack load of potential. He’s been compared to guys like Lucic (which I don’t necessarily agree with) but he also looks to me like he can evolve into a young Todd Bertuzzi. This kid’s going to be wreaking havoc on the ice for the Canucks and his experience in the playoffs this season, whether it goes for just one more game or longer, is going to be big for his development.

The Canucks need someone to step up and lead this team. And while it would be great for Kassian to contribute more, it may be a bit much to expect such from a raw rookie. Instead, look at the veterans before him – guys like Hank, Kes, Booth, Higgins and May Ray have combined for 0 goals in the first 3 games in this series. I know fans are looking for a scapegoat, but this kid is hardly it.

Apr 112012
 
Vancouver Canucks after losing game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

Last year, the Canucks went through it all. Almost quite literally. The question is, what have they learned from last year which will change things this year?

They say sport is more mental than it is physical. Having spent ten years as a national calibre athlete, I can’t stress the truth of that statement and it’s the root of a fundamental difference between last year’s run and the journey the Canucks are about to embark on.

Last year, the Canucks were in the hunt for the Northwest Division crown, the Presidents Trophy, and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. They were in the hunt for the Art Ross Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Selke Trophy, and of course, the Stanley Cup. There was a pressure instilled on them from day one with TSN and a host of others picking them as the favourites to take it all. That pressure comes with an unparalleled mental fatigue which drains you before you even get to the important part of the year, the second season.

This year, the Canucks almost chanced upon the Presidents Trophy when they came into contention of winning it in just the final games of the season. Home ice was locked up well in advance, and the Northwest Division crown was hardly a challenge.

Out of the running for the Art Ross this year, the Sedins have had less pressure on them and have allowed them to simply play hockey. With Ryan Kesler having a rebound year post-injury, Cody Hodgson and his Calder Trophy stress shipped off to Buffalo, Cory Schneider playing significant games, and in a way, taking Roberto Luongo out of the running for the Vezina, the Canucks enter the most mentally-gruelling part of the season significantly more mentally-rested and without the day-in-day-out drain of individual trophies and awards.

Nobody remembers that you won the Presidents Trophy; everyone remembers that you lost the Stanley Cup.

Having been to the dance before, this veteran group is armed mentally for the grind. That said, there is much to be said for the lack of other pressures leading into the post season, which have allowed the team to move forward and focus on the most important task at hand which is getting to 16 wins this post season. The post-season is emotional and we saw that toll – both physical and mental – on the team. While some have suggested an off-year for many players is a bad thing – and have compared the accolades of last year to the noticeable lack of them this year – it may actually quite possibly be the best thing that the Canucks finished again with the most points in the league – their second best season ever – having expended considerably less energy as they head into the toughest two months of the schedule. In this context, they’re better prepared for the grind than ever before.

Dec 312011
 
Chicago Wolves

Every year when the Canucks’ affiliate comes to town, CHB gets a group together to check out the prospects. Of course for years, we watched the Moose; this year we get our first look at the Chicago Wolves.

When the Wolves come to town in a few weeks to play against the Abbotsford Heat. I want to get a group of people to head out to Abbotsford and watch the Canucks prospects hard at work. When we went last year, the crowd was a solid 50/50 split of Moose and Heat fans. Every time we started a “Go Moose Go” chant it was countered by a “Go Heat Go” chant. The game was a blast – there’s nothing quite the same as watching the prospects give it their all to get noticed by the big team.

The games versus the Canucks’ AHL affiliates are some of the few that the Heat sell out all season – and they’re definitely a good time.

GAME DETAILS

When: Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 (there’s no Canucks game that night) at 7:00 PM
Where: Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Center
What: Chicago Wolves vs Abbotsford Heat
Tickets: Tickets are $25 each if we get a group of 10 or more people. We’ll be sitting together and making sure that Canucks (Wolves) Nation is well represented at the game.

Last year we carpooled and groups of us headed out. You can drive to Abbotsford on your own, or let us know if you’d like to organize a carpool. If anyone’s up for it, we can also meet up and get together for a group dinner at the restaurant across from the arena.

Are you in? Send me an email at [email protected] and we can reserve a spot for you.

Nov 282011
 

Okay kids, after a couple of days off, the Canucks are back in action against the Columbus Blue Jackets tomorrow night. That seems like a good enough reason to have a little bit of fun and include the Canucks in it all.

This is what I’m proposing: I’ve got two tickets to the game. One’s for me, and the other is for you. Now, I’m open to taking anyone to the game, but you’re going to have to work for it a little bit.

Here are your instructions:

  1. The following players are arranged in a particular order: Sid Veysey, Robb Gordon, Wayne Connelly, Moe Lemay, Ab Demarco, Alexei Tezikov, Sheldon Kannegiesser, Robert Nordmark, Lars Zetterstrom, John Schella. Figure out their jersey numbers and you’ll find yourself looking at a phone number.
  2. Once you decode the phone number, break out your calculator. Add the player numbers up and you get a new player number.
  3. It doesn’t stop there. The new player number you’ve come up with has only been worn by one player in Canucks history. He’s a player with a tie to tonight’s game. Lets call him “Player X”.
  4. Here’s the question: “Who is Player X?”
  5. Text your answer and Twitter handle to the phone number you decoded in step 1 before 12:00 noon on Tuesday, November 29.
  6. Also, make sure you follow @mozy19 on Twitter – I’ll DM the winner (so if you don’t follow me, you can’t be contacted as the winner).

Everyone who enters will be thrown into a random draw for that extra ticket and the winner will be announced and contacted after lunch.

This will probably be one of the easiest ways you’ll ever get Canucks tickets – so what are you waiting for?

Oct 242011
 

One of the things that’s impressed me about Canucks GM Mike Gillis is his ability to be patient when he needs to be, and urgent when he wants to be. At the time you expect him to make the biggest moves he stands pat. Then he surprises everyone by trading Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson for David Booth, Steven Reinprecht and the 3rd round pick that he traded to acquire Chris Higgins.

With the arrival of Booth comes a flood of potential. High risk, high reward. That’s what you get with him. There’s no doubt a new environment will hopefully spark the American-born player back to his 30-goal season ways, but that’s what we said of Sturm when he was signed in July and now we see him on the other side of the trade probably breaking out his speedo for the beaches in Miami.

So what makes Booth’s situation different?

Gillis has proven that he operates his team with a revolving door. There are no guaranteed spots here. You earn your playing time. To creating a winning team, Gillis has created a winning culture. It’s not just his winning culture, but it’s a culture that the team has bought into. The players want to be a part of this system and they fight for their ice-time. Case in point, with their depth, we’ve seen guys like Samuelsson drift from the first line to the fourth line depending on how switched on he is.

Booth comes not only into a new environment, but a new culture. A culture of competitiveness both internally and externally, a culture of youth and excellence, and a culture of winning. This isn’t Florida, and the moment he steps out onto the ice in Rogers Arena he’s going to realize just how different things are when he has 18,810 fans roaring behind him and another million or so with TEAM 1040 on speed dial. You’re a long way from home, Dorothy. Time to see what you’ve been missing out.

Oct 242011
 

In the wake of the David Booth trade to Vancouver, there’s been a lot of sentimental thought around Mikael Samuelsson leaving. In fact, I’m a little surprised at how attached people have become to Samuelsson to the extent it’s been expressed that the Canucks lost out on this trade. All I’m going to say is, we got DAVID BOOTH.

Now this isn’t about Booth, it’s about Samuelsson. The Canucks walked away like bandits in this trade but Samuelsson won’t be forgotten in Vancouver. When you look at Samuelsson and what he was brought to Vancouver for, there’s no doubt it was because of his Stanley Cup rings and playoff experience. Samuelsson came in with a connection to the Sedins and he brought with him a maturity this young Canucks team didn’t know. He came to this team because Mike Gillis wanted him to take his team one step closer to being contenders.

If you think back closely, Samuelsson isn’t the first Swede to have served a similar purpose. When the Canucks signed Mats Sundin, he came in and had a huge influence on developing Ryan Kesler and the Sedins. He didn’t hang around for long, but there’s no doubt he’s had a lasting impact on those players, something they’ve admitted as well.

Samuelsson’s experience was supposed to kick in at the tail end of a long playoff run but injury prevented him from contributing his largest asset, experience, at the time it was needed most. That said though, his time in Vancouver was served well. He stepped up when he needed to, but most importantly, he taught this team a part of the game that will be with these players long after he’s left. The Canucks as a whole have now almost been there. They’ve come close. The pain that comes from being so close yet so far is something ingrained in every single player and it breeds a determinism and playoff maturity that Samuelsson can’t teach them. It’s a lesson they already know.

Sep 132011
 

It’s taken me a while to look back at last year’s season and start to think about how the team can take that step forward after a near perfect campaign last year. That’s one of the biggest challenges – it was near perfect. It could have been perfect when you look back at all the records that were set, but it wasn’t because of one game which went wrong – Game 7 – and as such the season wont be defined by its records and wins but rather by one loss.

*****

I tweeted at the start of the playoffs (and hoped it wasn’t going to truly be a deciding factor) that the Canucks didn’t have that journeyman or veteran NHL player hungry for a Cup (or in other cases his last Cup). The Red Wings seem to have one every year. Gary Roberts helped Pittsburgh to the Cup Finals (although they didn’t win that year). We’ve seen Teemu Selanne give the Ducks a boost, Dave Andreychuk the Lightning, Ray Bourque the Avs, and the list goes on. Most recently, we were privileged to see the Mark Recchi and how he seemed to carry the Bruins on his back at the most important time of the season. One could argue that Samuelsson was that player, but we won’t know because he was injured and it seemed all the talent in the world wasn’t enough to handle the sheer will of Recchi.

Heading into training camp, we come out of a 2011 offseason that doesn’t look anything like the 2010 offseason. 2010 was rife with big-name signings and the bolstering of a line up that boasted many stars. 2011 was Gillis’ quiet confidence in the team he has and the acknowledgement that they are merely a step away. It’s something we all knew, but it’s also something he reaffirmed by inviting Owen Nolan to camp.

If there was one thing missing from the Canucks team it was heart. Mind you, it’s not the kind of heart that the entire team showed in order to beat the Blackhawks in the first round or the heart that Kesler showed by singlehandedly leading the Canucks over Nashville in the 2nd round. Rather, it’s the kind of heart you see from players like Selanne, Andreychuk and Bourque who know that they may never get another chance. It’s not easy to find that player. It’s even harder given the demands of such a high-caliber team, the restraints of the cap versus players’ egos, and the need for depth on a roster that is so susceptible to injury as a result of one of the NHL’s toughest travel schedules. While Nolan hasn’t gone past the second round in his career, he, as a veteran, brings something to the table that the Canucks don’t have. It’s a hunger and desire to sip from Lord Stanley’s Cup in a way that only a player fighting against time can demonstrate.

Is Owen Nolan the answer? Only time will tell.

%d bloggers like this: