Pictured above is former Canucks goaltender and current Sportsnet broadcaster John Garrett. This photo might have been taken during the 1984-85 season. That year Garrett earned the nickname “Lotto” because he finished the season with a goals against average of 6.49. To further refresh your memory, that season marked the last year the Canucks wore their flying V jerseys (possibly the ugliest jerseys of all-time), they started the year with Bill Laforge as their head coach and finished the year with a 25-46-9 record. It sucked to be a Canucks fan. Patrick Sundstrom was their leading scorer with a mighty 68 points (only 140 points behind the league leader, Wayne Gretzky). As bad as they were, they finished with the fourth worst record in the league and selected Jim Sandlak fourth overall in the draft that summer (yikes), so not exactly a great reward for finishing poorly.
Ok, maybe “like” is a little strong, but I don’t mind it. I certainly don’t hate it or think that it should be abolished (unlike a lot of members of the media). The reason I’m making these statements is because every year for about the last ten years or so, it has become fashionable to say the All-Star Game is a waste of time and should not be held anymore. In about the last three years, this movement has gained even more steam with the increasing popularity of the Winter Classic, making it the new marquee mid-season showcase.
Dear Kevin, I have an apology to make. I was in favour of trading you last summer. Well, not even just last summer. I didn’t like your game. I thought you couldn’t return to the player that the city of Vancouver fell in love with in 2006-07. Even this year, I said some nasty things. I said you were not a shutdown defenseman. But here you are, paired with Dan Hamhuis playing against the other teams’ best lines and playing great! You’re now leading the defense corps in plus-minus, are back to playing mean and lately you’ve even begun putting up points again!
Sad news yesterday as legendary local broadcaster Paul Carson passed away. Carson had been battling pancreatic cancer. I never met Paul Carson but his accomplishments were lengthy. He was the brains behind Sports Page and also started up the Team 1040. Perhaps no person has shaped the local sports scene more than Paul Carson. He did a lot of it in front of the camera, but even more behind camera. He’s responsible for essentially discovering Don Taylor, John Shorthouse, Dave Randorf, Barry McDonald, Scott Rintoul and Blake Price (among others).
I don’t know it for sure, but I believe the Canucks sellout streak is over at Rogers Arena. Now, the Canucks aren’t admitting this, and the game notes on Canucks.com for tonight’s game claim that they have 322 consecutive sellouts. But over the last little while I’ve noticed a few things that make me doubt the current sellout streak.
Two days before Markus Naslund is set to become the third player in Canucks history to have his number raised to the rafters, I can’t help but feel like anyone excited about this is forced to defend him. No question, his detractors are out there and there are a lot of people not in favour of his number being retired. Why? A lot of people didn’t like his demeanor, blame him for lack of playoff success or his perceived lack of leadership. But the real reason? A lot of fans have short memories.
The more and more I watch Canucks games this year, the more I find myself thinking “what does Keith Ballard got to do to get some playing time?” The guy blocks shots, hits (hip checks!) and fights. He does this while having a great upside given what he has accomplished in the league and the fact that he’s relatively young. Still, Alain Vigneault treats him like a Manitoba Moose call-up by giving him minimal ice time and even sitting him as a healthy scratch on multiple occasions. I don’t get it, and I haven’t gotten it all year long. Take last Sunday’s game versus St Louis for example. He received just over 13 minutes of ice time (fewest among Canuck d-men), was a +2 and was a goal short of the Gordie Howe hat trick. AV, give this man some ice time!
First of all, let me start off this article by stating that this is not a knee jerk reaction article because of last night’s 7-1 debacle against the Chicago Blackhawks. I have been thinking about writing this article for some time now, and last night just cemented my feelings on this.
Keith Ballard sat out his fourth consecutive game this evening and it has Canucks nation puzzled. Fans and media alike have questioned this move by Vigneault which at first appeared to be a case of a coach sending a message to a player. That theory was largely thrown out after it became evident that this was more than just a couple of games in the press box. The theory also didn’t make sense to me because this was a player that got into a spirited fight in his last game and hasn’t hesitated to block shots in his first eight games.
So the NHL is changing their All-Star Game format to let captains pick out their teams. I like it. It’s novel, it’s unique, and as far as I know no other league has tried it before. But what I’d really like to see is for the NHL to go back to the day when it used to be the Stanley Cup Champions taking on a group of All-Stars.