Jun 272014

Gino Odjick at Pavel Bure's jersey retirement ceremony.

Gino Odjick at Pavel Bure’s jersey retirement ceremony.

(Photo credit: cbc.ca)

It was heartbreaking to read about Gino Odjick last night. It was even more heartbreaking to read his letter to his fans. It’s just hard to picture the guy with one of the biggest hearts in the game now battling a terminal heart disease and may only have weeks to live.

Gino has always been a big favourite of mine. I started watching the Canucks in the early 90′s and worked for Orca Bay for almost a decade starting in the mid-90′s. As many players and team personnel from that era have already commented, Gino was the ultimate teammate and a great friend. He was someone who exemplified everything we ever wanted a Canuck to be.

If there was ever a moment that defined the relationship between Gino and the Canucks family, it was this that happened in 1998. The Canucks were in shambles and the roster had been decimated by Mike Keenan and Mark Messier. According to team lore, during one game, Keenan tore a strip off Trevor Linden the encouraging his teammates after a bad period, after which Gino spoke up and defended Trev. Shortly after that incident, Gino was traded to the New York Islanders for defenseman Jason Strudwick. (Trevor was traded to the Islanders too, about a month before Gino was.)

As fate would have it, the Canucks were playing the Islanders the day after Gino’s trade. That night, I was working in what was then the Air Canada Club section at GM Place. When both first took the ice, the crowd roared. And then, Gino dropped the gloves against Struds, and GM Place exploded with “Gino! Gino! Gino!” chants.

The Canucks were awful that season – they were on their way to a 25-win season – and it wasn’t uncommon for large pockets of GM Place to be empty. But that night, the building was unusually full for that era. The funny thing was, it was full, not necessarily to cheer on the home team, but to welcome back Trevor and Gino. And man, did they ever.

Canucks fans always loved Gino. And how could you not? He gave his heart and soul to this team and this city. He gave his time to his community and inspired many Aboriginal children to follow their dreams. As word of his disease has come out and you read many of the tributes written for him today, it’s obvious the feeling is mutual.

Gino, we wish you the best and we thank you for being a Canuck. Rest assured that we’ll be next to you as you fight this disease as you were always there to stand up for us.

Dec 042013

Kevin Bieksa fights Brian Boyle at the end of the Canucks/Rangers game.

Photo credit: Yahoo

It’s been an angry month for the boys in blue.

The struggling Canucks have tried to keep it together, but every once in a while the anger bubbles through and we see their frustrations manifested through some sort of outburst.  It can be a John Tortorella “pecking” Jannik Hansen with his finger or a Kevin Bieksa challenging  the ogre, Brian Boyle, to a meaningless post-game fight. These guys maintain a calm front and an air of professionalism, but it’s hard to believe they don’t want to break their 300$ sticks over the cross-bar from time to time. The Canucks are no stranger to emotion, with coaches and players alike joining in on the fun throughout the years. And while in the game of hockey angry moments are a dime a dozen (i.e. every Brian Burke press conference), here are a few that stand out.

The top 5 angry outbursts from Canucks are as follows:

5) Ryan Kesler: Hobbies- taking wrist shots, killing penalties and being angry. Kesler was known more for his temper and trash-talking before he won the Selke trophy in 2011. Here we see vintage Kes’ testing the durability of his stick after a missed call.

4) Rick Rypien: Despite his small stature, Rypien was known as one of the most ferocious fighters in the league in his prime. Willing to take on any combatant, Rick even ventured into the crowd to dole out some punishment during a blowout loss to Minnesota.

3) Alex Burrows: Anyone can feel the wrath of Alex Burrows, even the refs. Here, Burr rants about some unfair officiating and an alleged vendetta against him by referee Stephane Auger. Warning: angry Frenchmen often warrant a translator.

2) Entire Canuck Squad: Yellow and black to a Canuck is like red to a bull. The Canucks hate the Boston Bruins and their passion came out with a vengeance in this Stanley Cup final rematch. A line brawl erupts as resentments of season’s past boil over.

1) Gino Odjick: I’m guessing someone peed in Gino’s cornflakes the morning of this game. The big man goes commando style taking down anyone and everyone who comes across his path in a bout against the Blues. Holy cow that guy scares me.

Oct 292013

Brad Richardson of the Vancouver Canucks scores the OT winner against the New York Islanders.

Photo credit: CTV

Canuck goal-scoring leaders: Ryan Kesler- check. Daniel Sedin- check. Brad Richardson- che- whoa, wait a minute…..Brad Richardson? Can we really be reading this stat-line correctly? The answer is yes and while there’s no chance “Rocket Richardson” will be hitting the 50- goal mark, he’s been a pleasant surprise in the early-goings of the season.

The Canucks will be needing goals from everyone more than ever with injuries popping up all over the forward squad. Fourth line goals have been hard to come by for the Canucks in recent years but every once in a while we bare witness to a diamond in the rough. A tasty little treat from the boys who grind it out eight minutes a night for no glory. Here are the top five goals from Canuck fourth-liners both past and present.

5) Dale Weise- We think of him strictly as an edgy grinder, but during the lockout he scored a god-like 48 points in 19 games for the Dutch league’s Tilburg Trappers. Here he drives the net for a classic power-forward goal against the Sens.

4) Darcy Hordichuk (featuring Rick Rypien)- Two scrappers for the price of one. Darcy Hordichuk takes a great feed from the late Rick Rypien and slips it five-hole to give the Canucks a one goal lead in game four of the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Huge goal from a couple of guys known more for their fists than finesse.

3) Jeff Cowan- Cowan the Barbarian rips one home, bringing the home crowd to their feet and bras to the ice.

2) Gino Odjick- Poise and Precision. Not words you would normally associate with tough-guy Gino Odjick but in this case they fit. He beats Calgary goalie Mike Vernon on a penalty shot with a wrister and then solidifies the goal with a celly for the ages. 

1) Rick Rypien- How can this list be complete without at least one Rick Rypien goal? Here he outskates two Calgary defencemen, fights off hooks, manages to get in a deke and then buries it top corner. Beautiful.

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