Jan 312013
 

Adrian and his bowl cut

Although I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting @AY604 in person yet, we have a connection that extends beyond Twitter.  It turns out that one of Adrian’s good friends played hockey with my cousin Dusty in Japan back in the day.  And thanks to the generosity of both his friend and my cousin, Adrian is the proud owner of some bright red Vaughn goalie pads.  They look pretty darn sweet.

In his words:

Adrian (@AY604) was born on a tiny island in the South Pacific known for its high end, square shaped bottled water or what the locals call ‘tap’. Immigrating to Vancouver and eventually settling in Burnaby at the tender age of 4, Adrian spent his formative years as the only Asian kid in his neighbourhood crying daily over his $5 Chinatown bowl cut. In his spare time, Adrian is a trophy husband and father. His main goal in life is to teach his daughters that a bathroom is not a photo booth. His other interests include gossip, yelling at bad drivers, judging people and Schadenfreude. He sounds like a terrible person. Adrian began supporting the Canucks in 1982 after a chance meeting with Thomas Gradin. That’s 31 years of punches to the gut yet he still bleeds black, yellow, orange, blue, green and sometimes salmon red.

1.       Are you concerned by the Canucks’ poor start to this shortened season?  

I wouldn’t say this is a poor start. It’s not ideal but fortunately the Canucks play in a Division that’s weaker than vending machine coffee. The other four teams in the Northwest aren’t terrible per se but I don’t believe they have the goaltending to win this division. In less than two weeks this team should be 6-3-2 and we can go back to planning the parade. For a team with two key players out with injuries and whose best players haven’t played meaningful hockey for 9 months, a .500 start is to be expected. What concerns me the most is their inability to finish out games and protect a lead. When you’re up 2-0, the mentality should be to bury your opponent not to park the bus.

2.       Do you think Alain Vigneault’s job is in jeopardy?  

If AV’s job is to be witty and self-deprecating during interviews then he should be fine. However, if his job is to find a way to get The Kassassin on the ice in OT or figure out why the power play is staler than riot jokes then I think his gum chewing days could be over.

As former Canuck’s coach Harry Neale once said, “Coaching is about keeping the half of the team that hates you away from the half that’s undecided.” I don’t think the players hate AV but I do think they’ve tuned him out to some extent. All coaches have a best before date and I fear that his is approaching BC Place processed cheese status.

I think he needs a long playoff run to save his job but with that said, the Canucks only last 5 games last year and he was given a contract extension. So what do I know.

3.       What do the Canucks need to do to get back to their winning ways?

Everybody knows the Canucks are notoriously slow starters. They just don’t look sharp right now. The Sedins’ cycle looks like it’s missing a gear, Higgins is skating with cement skates and the top four defensemen have been less than stellar. Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa look like Div. 6 beer leaguers and I’m one turnover away from calling Alex Edler, “The Baker”. So it’s going to take time for them to all start clicking but unfortunately time is not a luxury in a 48 game season.

I do think that any turnaround starts with figuring out why their special teams are so poor right now. Pundits will say that it’s still early and both the PK and PP are close to last season’s averages which were top 10 in the NHL. To which I say, facts and rational opinions have no place in discussions about the Canucks. My eyes say the PP and PK look terrible and my eyes don’t lie except for that one time in Grade 9 when I thought I could pull off French rolled jeans.

The PP has become too predictable, cycling on the perimeter, passing it around the horn until they find the perfect shot for their defensemen. Teams know what’s coming and seem to shut it down with an aggressive box (that’s what she said). The Canucks need to start getting bodies and pucks to the net. It’s time to stop looking for the pretty goals and get all Zdeno Chara in there, ugly! It may be an overly simplistic solution but sometimes you have to K.I.S.S.!

4.       Will Roberto Luongo get traded?  If so, what’s fair value coming back?

Honestly, I’m of the mind that the Canucks should keep Lu this year. Having a 1 and 1A in a shorten season could prove to be an Ace up their sleeve. No one knows how Schneider will perform in the playoffs after being a Number 1 and all the pressure and work load that goes with it. Having a Luongo safety net if Schneider ever gets anxious about a Barker/Alberts pairing may pay dividends down the stretch.

If Lu is traded, the Canucks need to get back at the very least goal scoring help for the 2nd line and a proven backup now that Eddie Lack is out for six months. I’m sure both of those things are a dime a dozen.

5.       Who is your favourite Canuck?  Least favourite?

I’ve played the position for 30 years, so my favourite Canucks have all been goalies. So currently, I’m a fanboy for Lu and Schneider and before that Kirk McLean. Hell, I even paid actual dollars for a Dan ‘I make grown men cry in their sleep” Cloutier jersey.

Least favourite Canuck? David Booth with a bullet.

6.       Aside from Vancouver, what is your favourite NHL team and why?

In reality I’m a Canucks fan not a National Hockey League fan. In fact I would say I’m way more of Whitecaps and Major League Soccer fan than the NHL. But if I had to follow another team it would be the Montreal Canadiens, an original 6 team with tonnes of history, tradition and one of the best jerseys in all of sports. Also, the crowd shots, zut alors!

Tasting victory

Jan 102013
 

Although I’ve never met @suitoflights in person (our closest encounter was both being at the Five Hole for Food street hockey game last summer), I’ve always admired her wit and honesty on Twitter.  Thus, it was a no-brainer when it came to picking my first guest for the 2013 year.

In her words:

Jocelyn (@suitoflights) was born in Victoria, BC and studied at Thompson Rivers University before becoming a Legal Assistant.  In April 2010, she followed her life-long dream of moving to Vancouver although she’d always been aware of the Vancouver Canucks and hockey in general.  It wasn’t until the 2004 playoffs (game six  against Calgary and, more specifically, Brendan Morrison’s triple-overtime goal) that really did her in; speaking of lockouts, the last one came at an otherwise horrible time for a new hockey fan.  Other than hockey, Jocelyn’s passions include tattoos, all things cat-related, music and Ron Swanson’s moustache.

1.       After 4 months the NHL lockout is over.  Were you surprised that it took this long to resolve?  Why or why not?

I am surprised that it took this long because I feel like the entire situation could have been avoided. At the same time, however, I did kind of write the season off and had no expectations of there even being a season. So, when I woke up Sunday morning to several text messages about the lockout being over, it was a nice surprise and made me realise how badly I’ve missed cheering on the boys.

2.         How will you change your viewing or spending habits on the NHL because of the lockout?

To be honest, the NHL doesn’t owe us, the fans, really anything, other than the pleasure of being able to enjoy watching the sport we all love.  We’re lucky to live somewhere where we’re able to care so deeply about something like this, instead of whether or not the water we’re drinking is clean, if there’s shoes on our feet or a roof over our head.  So, to answer the question, I’ll still continue spending money, when it permits, on the NHL, and I’ll resume watching just like normal.  I do have a life outside of the NHL, like we all do, but I’m excited to incorporate back into my life.

3.         What excites you about the 2013 Canucks and what concerns you about the team as it is right now?

To be honest, what excites me the most is the fact that there’s even a 2013 Canucks team because I didn’t expect it. I think, at the same time, a shortened season is equally stressful as it isn’t because there’s less time to prepare for the playoffs but then you want to be able to enjoy the season for what it is as well.  What concerns me is, as we all know, the Canucks are slow to start their season, so I’m hoping they find their feet fast and don’t put themselves in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.

4.         Which Canuck will be the first player into Alain Vigneault’s doghouse and why?  How long will this take?

Probably Keith Ballard – because he’s Keith Ballard – and he’s already there. Isn’t he?

5.         Where will the Canucks finish in their division and in the Western Conference overall and why?

I’m certain the Canucks will finish first in the division still and I’d like to see them at the top of the Western Conference, obviously.  No matter who the starting goaltender ends up being we know there’ll be someone solid between the pipes, a stronger defence (hopefully) with the addition of Jason Garrison,  and the Sedins up front together with Burrows, Kesler and Higgins, there’s solid scoring all around.  I think it’s enough to get the job done, and I’m excited to see what happens. I’d like to see a stronger checking line, though; I know I’m not the only one.

Oct 252012
 

I met Matthew Hawkins through the Ultimate Canucks Fan Contest back in 2007.  Since then we’ve become fast friends sharing mutual interests of family (our own and not each other’s), video games, making videos and of course, the Vancouver Canucks.  Speaking of videos, here’s a Clay’s Canucks Commentary from last year where we talked more about the Ultimate Canucks Fan Contest.

It’s a year later and while there is no hockey (yet), I thought it would be a good time to check in with my buddy Matthew in my newest Shooting From the Hip.

In his own words:

Matthew (@matthewahawkins) resides in the horribly named town of Chilliwack, BC. He is a professional amateur adult rec hockey league player in the C division. His team doesn’t win much, but he plays for the money.

1.  Tell us about the Ultimate Canucks Fan contest and some of the videos you did for it.

Years ago I entered this crazy contest the Canucks put on called the Ultimate Canucks Fan contest. I never won anything out of it, but I did sell rights of one video to a studio in Halifax and I was on several news stations. People still don’t get that the Boston accent was a big joke and think there is something wrong with me. Here’s one of the videos.

2.       One of your most popular videos is a rap song called “I Just Pulled an Auger on You”.  Care to explain?

I don’t think this video started to get popular until Harrison Mooney, from Pass it to Bulis, made fun of it on his blog. Auger decided to retire from his illustrious career as an NHL official and my video fit in well to say farewell to the French Canadian referee. I know I can’t rap, at all, but I wanted to make a video of me being an idiot and I think I succeeded.

3.       What’s your general mood with respect to the NHL lockout?

To be honest, I haven’t followed it too closely. I do think the PA has some legitimate gripes and I think the owners are extremely stubborn, then you throw in Garry Bettman and who likes that guy? I have been finding my sports fix in the NFL this year. Still trying to find out what happened to Tebow?

I don’t like that there is a lockout. Saturday evenings seem so empty in our house. Hockey Night in Canada is one of our favorite nights as we hang out in front of the TV, play some living room hockey and try to understand what Kevin Weekes is saying. I’m not happy about the lockout, but all I can do is wait for them to figure it out.

4.       What’s your prediction of the date of the next NHL regular season game?

I think we’ll be lucky to see any hockey before Christmas. Maybe they’ll get the Winter Classic ready to go because that’s a big money maker and we can celebrate the anniversary of Sidney Crosby’s concussion. Both parties seem so far apart from each other, I don’t think hockey before Christmas is going to happen. I really wouldn’t be surprised if there is no season at all this year. So much for EA’s NHL 13 Moments Live feature…

5.       Where is Roberto Luongo going to end up once the lockout ends (whenever that may be)?

If this lockout keeps going, I think Luongo will have a gut from eating too many canollis. Maybe he’ll team up with Wellfed in Winnipeg?! In all honesty, I think Luongo will be going to Florida and maybe, just maybe, Toronto. For a little while there was rumor he may go to Chicago, which would make the feud between the two clubs even better, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I say Florida, his roots are there and he’s probably pushing for it to happen.

Oct 112012
 

@iam_canuck

On the day that the Vancouver Canucks were supposed to open their 2012-13 regular season in Calgary against the Flames, I check in with another two Canucks fans about their favourite and not-so-favourite players, preferred dinner guests and of course, the lockout.

Crystal (@iam_canuck) was born in Abbotsford, BC, and has hop-skipped around the western provinces (except Alberta) before settling where she currently resides in Winnipeg, MB.  She lives with her parents, sister, and her equally Canucks-crazed brother.  She started watching hockey in February 2010 (during the Vancouver Olympics!), and latched on to the Canucks since she was living in BC at the time.  Her secondary love is basketball and she has played it for longer than she can remember.  She’s living her dream of playing at the university level right now at Providence University College.  While playing ball, she’s studying Communications and Media and hopes to someday work in sports journalism or reporting (she would love to take over Derek Jory’s job).  Her other interests include rockin’ out to country music, hanging out with friends, and watching movies.

Dan (@vancitydan) is currently between professions, and open to new opportunities.  Born in Calgary, he moved to BC before four, and feels homesick without the purple mountains’ majesty about.  Having been schooled mainly in the classroom of life, Dan has worked in a variety of businesses as a manager, and truly enjoys helping people.  A lifelong photographer who went from making his living as one to being part of a team of professionals helping movie makers realize their creative visions.  While he first hit the ice in full Bobby Orr regalia at age four, Dan has been a Canuck fan since three years later, when the team joined the NHL in 1970.  He fully agrees that Dale Tallon got unfairly compared to Perreault, loved how Andre Boudria played, and still cannot fully understand how Vladimir Krutov went from one of the best power forwards in the world to a cautionary tale for overeating in one year.  Vive le Vancouver restaurants!  Currently one part of the team of many fine writers at NucksMisconduct.com.

1. Who is your favourite current Canuck and why?

Crystal:  I have struggled with this question forever.  When people ask me this, I usually rattle off my top 5 or 6, simply because I love them all.  But since I have to narrow it down, I tend to be drawn not only to the best players on the ice, but the guys with awesome personalities off the ice as well.  Having said that, Cory Schneider, Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler are the main guys that spring to my mind.  Watching these guys do interviews are some of the most entertaining, hilarious moments of the season for me.

Dan:  My favourite Canuck is Kevin Bieksa both for his style of play and his talent, and because he’s one of the most community-oriented guys on the team. Plus, come on:  he is obviously one of the funniest and toughest guys on the team, no matter what that punk Vern Fiddler says!

2. Which Canuck would you not miss if he wasn’t on the team? Why?

Crystal:  Dale Weise.  Hands down.  It’s not that I hate the guy; it’s just that I like him the least.  Okay, I kinda hate him.  It’s mainly because back when he had his Twitter (and wasn’t using it wisely), I made a harmless comment about him doing so.  He responded not-so-nicely to me.  Ever since then, I haven’t been so fond of #32.  There’s also the question of production for Weise.  He’s never been a prominent player.  Not even close to prominent actually.  He’s been… present.  That’s all I can say for him.

Dan:  I don’t want to answer that question, as it will make the guy I pick feel bad.  You have Mason Raymond who falls down too much and Keith Ballard who isn’t worth his cap hit.  I do think that Ballard would be better on another team where he would have more opportunity.  So, if I had to answer (and it sounds like I do), I would say Ballard should be traded somewhere where he’d get more ice time.

3. Who would you rather have dinner with: Alain Vigneault or Mike Gillis? Why?

Crystal:  Alain Vigneault.  I want to see if he chews gum throughout dinner as well.  No, seriously I’d like to pick his brain!  Last year the team had a lot of different line combinations (most of which didn’t work), so I want to hear the logic behind that from the man himself!  I also just would like to get to know him.  I feel like we know tons about the players, their families, etc., but AV is kind of in the background.  He’s a really funny guy who I think would be entertaining to talk to!  I also want to find out if he can impersonate Cory Schneider as well as Cory can impersonate him.

Dan:  Alain Vigneault.  Though I would enjoy hearing about the travails of coaching the team, I am almost as interested in hearing about his time as “Bam Bam” as a St Louis Blue.  As well, I want to hear what it’s like to have millions of British Columbians “couch coaching” your every move.

4. What’s your general mood with respect to the NHL lockout?

Crystal:  The regular season is supposed to be starting today, which really made me think (and cry).  I should be donning my jersey, getting super pumped for my Canucks to pummel the Calgary fLames on opening night in their arena.  But I’m not.  Which is sad, because all summer I was literally counting down the days to October 11.  One of the things I hate the most about this situation is the fact that the Canucks were supposed to be coming to Winnipeg on February 9, and my brother and I were going to go.  Now we can’t.  Stupid lockout.

Dan:  A growing indifference, tinged with the realization that I would probably come running back!  The NHL knows they have Canadians in their back pocket.  I do feel that even this Canadian is reaching his breaking point if there is some foolish reason for no season.  Grow up Gary!

5. What’s your prediction of the date of the next NHL regular season game?

Crystal:  Being the positive person I am, I don’t really want to say that I don’t think there will be a season at all this year.  So I won’t.  I’m hoping for a October 25 start, although you and I both know that won’t happen.  At the rate the NHL/NHLPA talks are going, I think the most realistic goal, as the great Wayne Gretzky has already predicted, is for the Winter Classic on January 1.  Until then, I guess I have evenings free to do schoolwork.  Ugh.

Dan:  Late November or early December.  The Winter Classic will be the impetus for a deal.  So, when the Canucks win the Cup next summer, the haters will talk about how it deserves an asterisk.  #EmbraceTheHate!

Oct 022012
 

@_EricaDawn

We’re two weeks into the NHL lockout so I decided to check in with another two Canucks fans about their feelings, their frustrations, and their outlook.

Erica (@_EricaDawn) only acknowledges two seasons and is lucky enough to experience both in British Columbia:  hockey and summer.  Erica was born in Langley, raised throughout the Lower Mainland and currently resides in Coquitlam.  She has an education in hospitality management, a job as a food and beverage department supervisor, a passion for hockey and travel, and a love for her Boston Terrier fur-baby Cali (named after her favorite place to be…California!). She travels down to California to watch the boys in white take on the three local teams.  Her top three not so best kept secrets would be her love for Halloween, her love for Disney, and her love for Ryan Kesler.

@Mitch_SBMedia

Mitch (@Mitch_SBMedia) was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, but don’t hold that against him. He moved to BC at the age of two and ever since he can remember, he’s lived and died by the Vancouver Canucks.  He studied audio engineering which in his words was “a colossal waste of time and money”.  Currently Mitch finds himself as a production and logistics coordinator in his home town of Coquitlam.  A devoted partner to his lovely girlfriend of eight years and father of two, Mitch is already well on his way to being a hockey dad.  As a matter of fact, he recently assaulted another parent in the parking lot after his four-year old sons’ “refresher” hockey class.  When pressed on the subject all he could say was “It’s an ongoing investigation, but I think if you know me, you know I’ll do a three or four year bid just to prove a point.”  When he’s not watching hockey or playing it, his time is spent with his girlfriend and kids. Mitch also blogs about hockey for Northwest Sports Beat, Rob the Hockey Guy and Nucks Misconduct. He’s also a member of the secret order of the Stonecutters.

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