Jan 082014
 
scrum

There’s just something about the Vancouver Canucks. Everyone seems to want a piece of them. Sure they are a consistently solid team with (somewhat) mouthy players like Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows, but does that merit, what seems to be, a league-wide hatred? If you ask the players they’d tell you they like being hated – it means they are doing their job. But there are certain players which go above beyond the casual disdain. Players that seem to thrive on making the Canucks miserable whenever they get a chance.

These players are sprinkled throughout the league and may only visit Rogers Arena once or twice a year but Canucks Nation does not forget. We proudly and stubbornly maintain our air of loathing for years if we have to. For these are the players Facebook groups are made of. Players that cause Canucks fans everywhere to put down their beers and join in a very heated and very unanimous bashing.

This list could probably become a graduate thesis, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to the five most disliked players by Canucks fans in the league today. Hate away:

5) Dave Bolland- This one dates back a few years to Bolland’s antagonizing of the Sedin twins. A central part of the on ice rivalry, Bolland took it too far when he publicly insulted the veteran brothers  on Chicago radio.

4) Dustin Brown- A player who doesn’t seem to respect the “code” involving star players, Brown always seems to gravitate towards the Sedins often plastering them with high hits and vicious checks.

3) Tim Thomas- Just uttering the alliteration of this goalie’s name can get you glares among Canuck fans. Stemming back to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, there is no love lost for the Bruins’ former goaltender. Here he forgets about the puck and absolutely nails Henrik Sedin (no call of course).

2) Joe Thornton- A thorn in the Canucks side, Joe has had some legendary battles with our boys. With the San Jose sharks being somewhat of a foil to the Vancouver Canucks, there’s no wonder Jumbo Joe is a big part of this rivalry. Whether it’s scoring a big goal, or putting his hand in Henrik Sedin’s face during a meeting with the ref, Joey knows how to get under the Canucks skin.

1) Brad Marchand- Was there ever any doubt? Public enemy number one has to go to Brad Marchand. Cheap hits, sarcastic gestures and an overall rat-likeness has garnered Marchand the position of most-loathed in the city of Vancouver. Here he cleanly hits tough-guy Sami Salo. Notice my use of italics….

Dec 152013
 

As far as rivalry matches go, you couldn’t ask for much more. Roberto Luongo was great. Tuukka Rask wasn’t. Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli were in beast mode. Milan Lucic wasn’t. The Sedins didn’t back down. Brad Marchand was being a dick. As usual. David Booth scored on a helluva snipe of a shot. Chris Tanev scored. Shorthanded, no less. But most importantly, in the Boston Bruins’ first visit to Rogers Arena since Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks won. And won in convincing fashion.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 092012
 

If you want to know where the lack of respect that’s infiltrating the NHL is coming from, look no further than Boston’s frothing-at-the-mouth reaction to Brad Marchand’s submarining of Sami Salo, a dirty, cheap, low hit that knocked Salo out of the lineup with a concussion.

It started with Marchand’s excuse:

The puck was going around the boards and I went to pick it up,” said Marchand. “I was looking over my shoulder and saw Salo coming. I just kind of went down. When you see a guy 6-foot-(3) coming in on you, your instincts are to protect yourself. It was very unfortunate that he was hurt on the play.

And punctuated with his coach, Claude Julien, defending him and then some:

We all have our opinions with what is going on with the game and the hits and everything else,” said Julien. “All I’m gonna tell you is that, I have always told my players that they need to protect themselves. The last thing I want my players to do is to get hit and then end up with a concussion, and they have to protect themselves.

“Whether it’s the right way or the wrong way, it’ll depend on how the league looks at it. But I’d rather have a guy take a two-minute penalty than turn his back to the play, stand up straight, and then get his face knocked into the glass, and be out for the rest of the year with a concussion, or maybe end a career, like Savard.

“In my opinion, if guys start protecting themselves the way Marchand did, maybe guys will stop taking runs at other guys.”

On the one hand, it’s admirable that the Bruins take matter into their own hands. There are many reasons they are the best team in the league and the physical intimidation they bring is just one of them. Julien pretty much admitted in his statement that his team will continue to play the way they do and force the officials to call the penalties if they commit them – nothing wrong with that. (You’ll recall the league chose not to do so in the Finals and it worked beautifully in their favor.)

On the other hand, I shudder at the implication that they think the best way for their players to protect themselves is by taking out another’s knees. There’s a difference between playing hard and hitting dirty. (If you’re not sure, Canucks Army and Pass It To Bulis have excellent articles on this very subject.) To anyone who follows hockey, what Marchand did was indefensible. It’s even more ridiculous – irresponsible even – that someone in Julien’s position would: a) defend such a dangerous hit, and b) even seemingly encourage it.

And you wonder where the lack of respect in the game is coming from.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis correctly calls it “a dirty hit by a dirty player“. Coach Alain Vigneault goes a bit further and calls Julien’s comments “stupid”.

“That’s a stupid comment,” said the Canucks coach. “What Marchand did there, you could end a player’s career doing that and I’ve never seen Sami Salo take a run at any player in the NHL. All I’ve seen Sami Salo do is play with integrity and play the right way.

“Marchand — this is just my feeling on this — some day he’s going to get it. Somebody is going to say enough is enough and they’re going to hurt the kid, because he plays to hurt players and in my mind if the league doesn’t take care of it, somebody else will.

“Sometimes it takes the league time to figure things out and there’s a difference between a good hip check when the player is coming down on you one-on-one with the puck and what we saw Marchand do with his definite attempt to injure. Something needs to happen.”

It was announced yesterday that Marchand has a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan. A phone hearing means that if Marchand can face up a suspension of anywhere from 0 to 5 games. How serious – or how dangerous – of an infraction do they believe is it for a player to do something that could have potentially ended another player’s career?

*****

It looks like I’m not the only one who have had just about enough of the over-the-top homerism by the Boston media. If there’s something we’ve learned in the last few months, it’s that perhaps some of them have spent too much time on their knees lapping every word coming from the Bruins’ mouths.

Before the game, Ben Kuzma called out Joe Haggarty for Haggarty’s piece on Roberto Luongo.

Heard Haggarty called Luongo a “coward”. Really? And the #Canucks are arrogant? #giveyourheadashake

Without mentioning names, Ray Ferraro pretty much did the same.

Back in Van after WJC-i see goalies still the talking point. Also see the absurdity that Luongo asked out of Bos gm floated in Bos papers

After the game, Global TV’s Jay Janower was equally incensed.

Was truly embarrassing as a professional to see Boston “media” in action. Cheerleaders with mic’s and note pads. Bring on the suspension..

If you’re wondering where all this is coming from, here are a couple of articles on the game by Boston’s *ahem* professional media.

First is Haggarty’s on Luongo:

Maybe Roberto Luongo should stop wondering why nobody else ever wants to pump his perpetually saggy tires?

The Vancouver Canucks goaltender has once again created a firestorm of criticism by simply doing what everybody predicted “Bobby Lou” would choose in the first place: taking the easy way out.

No matter what the Vancouver coaching staff posited publicly as the reasoning behind it, Luongo opted out of the difficult challenge facing down his demons against the Bruins at TD Garden.

It’s the perfect example of “Bobby Lou just being Bobby Lou.”

With all due respect to Joe, he has absolutely nothing – nada, zilch, zero – to back up his claims in this article. Was it entertaining? Sure, if you consider reading the National Enquirer entertaining. Is it full of stuff that came out of his own ass? Yes.

Next up is this gem by the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaugnessy.

Playing the Vancouver Canucks is like playing a collection of A-Rods or a full squad of Bill Laimbeers. The defending NHL Western Conference champions are a virtual conga line of Claude Lemieuxes and Ulf Samuelssons.

They are posers and floppers, arrogant and cowardly. It’s hard to believe Cam Neely ever wore their sweater. Beating them up is just so much fun, and flipping one of them butt-over-tea kettle sweetens the day.

Never mind the guy they flipped butt-over-tea kettle – incidentally one of the classiest guys in the league – suffered a concussion out of it, and the flip was as illegal and dirty and dangerous as a hit could possibly be, this poor excuse for a writer also thought this was, well, fun and sweet.

Listen, I understand this shit sells. I know we live in a world where Snooki is a celebrity and Toddlers and Tiaras is prominent on The Learning Channel. But, I do expect more of the professional media – for starters, I expect them to be able to look at facts and spew something more intelligent than your regular Internet troll – though, in Boston, maybe that’s expecting too much.

Nov 132011
 

In hockey, there are two types of intimidation.

There’s the kind of mental intimidation a team imposes before a game — where a team knows it will win games before the puck is even dropped (The great Soviet Union teams of the 1970s and 1980s will attest). And then there’s the other, more obvious kind: physical intimidation.

The Boston Bruins are the poster boys of physical intimidation.

Lost in the Bruins’ steamrolling over the Sabres on Saturday night was when Ryan Miller came out of his crease to play the puck and saw Milan Lucic — all 220 pounds of him — barreling down on him and hitting him at full speed. Miller got up quickly and had some choice words for Lucic after the game, but for the most part, the Sabres didn’t really respond and fight back.

Now I could give you the ol’ Don Cherry spiel about how players should be policing themselves and how if you do something that violates the hockey player code, you’re going to pay the price. But that issue’s been beaten to death, so I’ll spare you that.

The Lucic fiasco last night harshly reminded me of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, when Brad Marchand used Daniel Sedin’s head as a human speed bag, clocking him with six jabs before a referee stepped in. Daniel Sedin, like the Sabres last night, didn’t fight back. The Canucks, on that night, with the game already out of hand, didn’t fight back.

And looking back, that incident might’ve been the final nail in the coffin for the Canucks. With their blueline already depleted, the Canucks’ inability to fight back gave the Bruins the kind of mental advantage they’d need to win Game 7. For so much of this series, the Bruins bulldozed and bullied their way en route to winning the Stanley Cup. Hindsight may be 20/20, but it leaves me curious as to what the end result would have been if the Canucks not absorbed all the bullying the Bruins laid down on them.

That kind of intimidation is a big part of how the Bruins operate. Physically, they’re a daunting team; Lucic, Nathan Horton, Shawn Thornton and Johnny Boychuk are all over 215 pounds, while Zdeno Chara at 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds is the undisputed king of intimidation.

It’ll be important to keep this x-factor in the back of your mind when the playoffs roll around again in April. You get the sense Mike Gillis keyed in on that intimidation when he brought in Byron Bitz (6-foot-5, 215) and Dale Weise (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) into the fold. You can also bet the team is hoping Aaron Volpatti will keep up his physical play for long stretches, too.

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