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.

Dec 312011
 

2011 may well shake out to be one of the most memorable calendar year in Canucks history. (At least in my mind it will be until the year the Canucks win the Stanley Cup.) Through the ecstasy of the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals and many team and individual highs and the sadness in the deaths of Rick Rypien and Pavol Demitra, here are 10 Canucks moments from 2011 that I will remember. Feel free to add your own memorable moments in the comments section.

10. The passing away of Rick Rypien (August 15, 2011)

9. Ryan Kesler activates beast mode – 2nd round, game 5 vs. Nashville Predators (May 5, 2011)

8. Lee Sweatt’s first goal in his first game as a Vancouver Canuck (January 26, 2011)

7. Daniel Sedin wins the Art Ross Trophy, Ryan Kesler wins the Selke Trophy, and Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider win the William Jennings Trophy (June 22, 2011)

6. The Canucks win the President’s Trophy for the first time in franchise history (March 31, 2011)

5. Alex Burrows’ OT game-winning goal – Stanley Cup Finals, game 2 vs. Boston Bruins (June 4, 2011)

4. Canucks fans clean up after the post-Stanley Cup riot (June 16, 2011)

3. Max Lapierre’s game-winning goal with 4 1/2 minutes left, the only goal of the game – Stanley Cup Finals, game 5 vs. Boston Bruins (June 10, 2011)

2. Kevin Bieksa’s double OT game-winning goal off the stanchion – 3rd round, game 5 vs. San Jose Sharks (May 24, 2011)

1. Alex Burrows’ OT game-winning goal off a Chris Campoli turnover – 1st round, game 7 vs. Chicago Blackhawks (April 26, 2011)

Oct 192011
 

[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary.]

I was at Rogers Arena last night as the Vancouver Canucks hosted the New York Rangers.  With the tribute to Rick Rypien, the return of Ryan Kesler, and the newest Canuck Dale Weise facing his former team, it promised to be a memorable night.  Unfortunately, with respect to the actual game, people will be remembering defensive breakdowns and seeing the Rangers win their first game of the young season.

As always, here are a few things that make me go hmmm…

  1. Roberto Luongo – or more accurately – his supporters and detractors.  The netminder is easily the most polarizing sports figure on the Canucks let alone in the entire province.  After the game, likely 75% – 80% of the Canucks-related tweets had to do with Luongo.  When he’s not playing well, his supporters preach patience while his detractors call him a waste of money and bust.  When he is playing well, his supporters remind us that he’s the best netminder we’ve ever had while his detractors say that he hasn’t proven anything until he leads the team to a Stanley Cup.  I’m not afraid to proclaim that I’m a Luongo supporter.  But I don’t flippantly point to him being a traditionally slow starter as an excuse for only one win in four starts.  Luongo must bear some of the blame, but he can certainly share it with his forwards who aren’t scoring enough and his defencemen who are breaking down at the most inopportune times.  One thing’s for certain however:  for the Canucks to win he can’t be the second-best goalie on the ice.
  2. Problems on the point.  Why is Coach Vigneault so insistent on keeping Mikael Samuelsson on the point on the first powerplay unit?  I’ve already written about this before, but Samuelsson’s ineffectiveness was on display once again Tuesday night.  He had trouble generating decent scoring chances and he struggled with keeping the puck in the zone.  While I would love to see Sami Salo on the first powerplay unit, I’m presuming that the coach wants to balance things out with a booming shot on each unit (with Alex Edler playing marksman on the first unit).   However, when the home team goes 0 for 8 on the powerplay in a game where we desperately need goals, something has to give.

    Also, as an aside, I would love to see Hamhuis and Ballard play together.  They are both good skaters and the steady Hamhuis would help offset the riskier play of Ballard.  And can you imagine the hip checks they could dish out?  Ever since the Canucks acquired them last summer within 6 days of each other, I’ve been hoping to see them on the ice together.  But it hasn’t happened yet.  Then again, Ballard didn’t spend much time on the ice with anyone last season.

  3. Speaking of polarizing players…the love/hate Luongo phenomena reminds me of the feelings towards Todd Bertuzzi after his hit on Steve Moore.  I happened to be in GM Place on that fateful March 8, 2004 evening.  The game itself was a blowout, with Canucks fans looking for something to cheer for.  We were wrought with anticipation as Bertuzzi chased Moore around the ice and we cheered like mad upon Bertuzzi’s first punch.  The cheers quickly subsided as players and fans alike realized that Moore was seriously injured.  There was an eerie silence in the stands followed by a reserved buzz as fans compared notes as to what they had just witnessed.  The radio shows and internet were abuzz with chatter for weeks afterwards, with equal percentages of people applauding and condemning Bertuzzi.

    Can you imagine if Twitter had been invented back then?  Whereas last night’s Luongo Twitter chatter kept the social networking platform busy, Bertuzzi’s hit might have shut the whole thing down.

   

PS:  Kudos to the Vancouver Canucks for an emotional and classy tribute to the late Rick Rypien.  The most touching moment for me was seeing Kevin Bieksa embracing Rick’s mother Shelley.  It brought a tear to this writer’s eye…and I’m sure I’m not alone.  Rest in peace Rick…you are already missed.

Oct 052011
 

Today’s quickies, a bunch of links, clips, news and other tidbits about the Vancouver Canucks.

Ryan Kesler

Photo credit: ESPN

Sep 082011
 

As sports fans in general (and hockey fans in particular) continue to mourn the tragic plane crash in Russia that claimed 43 lives (including players and coaches from the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl KHL team), many people have named the summer of 2011 as the worst-ever in the history of hockey.  And when you consider the sudden deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak (all within the last four months), it’s hard to disagree.

This latest tragedy affects different people across the world for various reasons.  Canucks fans are fondly remembering Pavol Demitra, who played here for two seasons and had an excellent 2010 Winter Olympics tournament here in Vancouver.  Combined with Rypien’s death last month, Luc Bourdon’s death in 2008, and the death of Taylor Pyatt’s fiancee, Carly, in 2009, it’s been an extremely difficult three-year period for fans on the West Coast. 

The Czech Republic lost 3 ex-NHL players in Jan Marek, Karel Rachunek, and Josef Vasicek.  And both Lokomotiv head coach Brad McCrimmon and the recently-retired Wade Belak were born in the prairie province of Saskatchewan.

But as tragic as these hockey deaths have been, sadly these types of deaths happen every day… just to less famous people.  We see stories and read accounts of people being killed by earthquakes, washed away by tsunamis, and starving to death in Africa.  But for some reason we don’t always give these people the same amount of attention that we do to professional athletes.

Not to mention our own family members and friends who may be suffering from disease, illness, and disability.  They often fight a silent yet noble battle with little to no fanfare.

The truth is, catastrophe and disaster bring people together.  Despair can lead to hope…and we can only hope that tragedy will lead to triumph.

As much as it pained us to see the Vancouver Canucks lose game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, recent events both inside and outside of the sporting world help put things into proper perspective.

Don’t get me wrong:  I’ll still be screaming, cheering, and jumping around like a madman whether I’m at Rogers Arena or in the friendly confines of my living room.

But I hope to do so with the proper perspective.   Because perspective helps us gain an appreciation of the bigger picture and reminds us as to what’s important.

KHL Lokomotiv

Aug 162011
 

I found this video this morning – a compilation of some of Rick Rypien’s great moments:

I’ll always remember the fights against Zach Stortini, Hal Gill and Brandon Prust, and that shift he had against the Chicago Blackhawks when he had, like, 4 hits in a matter of seconds. He truly was, pound-for-pound, the best fighter in the NHL.

*****

For anyone interested, some fans are holding a memorial outside Rogers Arena on Wednesday, August 17 at 2:00 PM. The link to the Facebook event is here.

Aug 152011
 

It was back in December that Rick Rypien was given a personal leave of absence to deal with his demons. For a while, it seemed as though he was on the right track to recovery. He joined the Manitoba Moose for the AHL playoffs and then signed with the Winnipeg Jets early in July.

It goes without saying that the news of his passing today – as tweeted by James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail – is an utter shock to his family, friends and fans.

Police confirm former Canucks tough guy Rick Rypien has been found dead in his Alberta home.

RIP Ryp. We hope you’re in a happier place. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your family and loved ones.

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