Mar 072009
Jan 302009

Depending on who you talk to, yesterday’s flare-up between Mason Raymond, Willie Mitchell and Shane O’Brien was a positive or a negative sign.

It’s a positive if you consider that the players are at least showing some emotion. It’s a negative if the bad blood carries into the dressing room and during games. Not too long ago, the players themselves were commenting on how truly tight-knit this group of Canucks are so I’m sure the former is true. I hope that’s still the case.

Some coverage from the scrap:

Global TV has some video. Click on this link to watch it – Mason runs into Willie at about the 1:30 minute mark.

And Kristin Reid from Canucks TV has reaction from the players and the coach.

Jan 272009
Nov 272008
Nov 122008
Oct 022008
Ohlund, Kesler, Luongo and Mitchell

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Goaltender Roberto Luongo’s selection as captain of the Vancouver Canucks may have been unconventional but I think it’s still the right choice. No one can dispute that he is the Canucks’ best player. He makes his teammates better. He makes the team better. He is one of Canucks’ most vocal leaders, and really, they’ll go as far as Luongo takes them. By definition, he already was the team’s captain. And that’s just the on-ice stuff.

One of the characteristics I’ve admired most in Canucks captains is their dedication to charities and involvement in the communities. Trevor Linden, Markus Naslund, Stan Smyl all devoted a great chunk of their time at Canucks Place and other causes. Luongo has already started embracing the same causes. For example, after Naslund signed with the Rangers, Luongo took over “Nazzy’s Suite Corner”, a program which gives sick and underprivileged kids an opportunity to watch Canucks games. It has since been renamed as “Lui’s Crease Corner”, and like Naslund before him, Luongo pays for use of the suite out of his own pockets.

To be honest, I didn’t even consider Luongo as a possible candidate for the captaincy. After all, NHL rule 14-D states that no goaltender can serve as captain – Joe Pelletier has a great history of this rule on his blog. – and in fact, the Canucks had to seek an exemption from the NHL prior to formally announcing Luongo as their team captain. The NHL approved the exemption on the conditions that Luongo can’t wear the ‘C’ on his jersey and the Canucks designate alternates to confer with the officials (Willie Mitchell) and perform the ceremonial duties (Mattias Ohlund).

While I understand the logistical issues with a goaltender having to leave the crease to talk to the officials, I don’t understand the issue with wearing the ‘C’ on his jersey. My feeling is that if the league approved Luongo’s appointment as team captain, they should have also approved him having a ‘C’ on his jersey. Remember that this is the same NHL that was considering plastering ads all over the goalie. I imagine Francesco Acquilini or Mike Gillis will start petitioning the league at some point to change this rule.

Regardless, after a summer of speculating, the Canucks finally have their captain and a worthy choice at that. He’s their best player and a proven leader. With or without a ‘C’ on his jersey.

Sep 152008
Mitchell, Kesler and Bieksa

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Going into the start of training camp this weekend, there are some obvious questions surrounding the Vancouver Canucks. Will Mike Gillis acquire another top-6 forward? Or does he hope that Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner play well enough to warrant roster spots? Can the defense stay relatively injury-free? Can Demitra?

But one question that is sure to come up more as the season approaches is this – who will be the next Canucks captain?

With Trevor Linden’s retirement and Markus Naslund’s and Brendan Morrison’s departures, the team has yet to announce the next Canucks player to don the ‘C’ on his jersey.

This question came up at the State of the Franchise back in July and Mike Gillis, probably expectedly, was non-committal. He simply mentioned that the coaching staff would decide on who would assume that role and thought that perhaps some of the younger players would be ready to step in.

Considering the makeup of this team, I think it’s fair to assume that the young players Gillis is referring to are Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa. On the ice, both seem to have the attitude and character befitting of a captain. They’re vocal and willing to back up their teammates. But especially in this market, it is just as important to exhibit the same qualitites off the ice. At 24, can Kesler handle that added pressure? After only one full season and an injury-plagued one, can Bieksa? Us Canucks fans were notoriously critical of Markus Naslund, even though by all accounts he was great in the dressing room and a saint outside of it.

My personal choice for new Canucks captain is Willie Mitchell. He’s a leader and a warrior on the ice – for evidence of that, remember this shift? He also exudes a great personality for the local media (kinda Jarome Iginla-ish actually) and is quite active on the local charity scene. He’s 31 years old, a BC boy and has two more years left on his current contract. From the outside looking in anyway, he seems perfect for the role now and at least until Kesler and Bieksa (and I’ll add Cody Hodgson to this list) develop further.

Now for the fun part of this post.

Thanks to the Vancouver Canucks organization, our crew from The Crazy Canucks podcast will be guests in a suite for the first preseason game on Tuesday, September 23rd against the Edmonton Oilers. As a result, I have two spare tickets now to that same game. And here’s your chance to win them.

What do you guys think? Who is your next Canucks captain?

Leave your comment on this post and I’ll randomly draw a name on Sunday, September 21st at 8 PM. I can meet the winner in downtown Vancouver on Monday or Tuesday before the game to give them the tickets.

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