Hello everybody. I’m back. It’s been a while since my last blog, and I’m sure you can understand why. The Canucks exciting and exhausting Stanley Cup run ended one month ago today. That was followed up quickly with the NHL draft, the NHL awards and the start of free agency. I was exhausted. I needed to re-charge. And no, the signing of Marco Sturm didn’t exactly give me the kick start I needed.
But I’ve recovered and I’m back for some fun summertime blogging. You know what’s great about summertime blogging? RUMOURS. Mike Gillis and the brass are pretty tight lipped, so there aren’t many juicy ones out there.
This Friday is one of the most exciting days of the year for hockey fans, July 1st, the start of free agent season! Only trade deadline day and the draft (especially this year with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards getting traded) can come close to matching the intrigue of July 1st. Last year Mike Gillis signed Dan Hamhuis, Manny Malhotra and Jeff Tambellini on the first day of free agency. The previous year Gillis re-signed Daniel and Henrik Sedin, just hours before July 1st.
Earlier this week we took a look at the Canucks goaltenders and defencemen, deciding who is likely to return and who is likely to move on. Today, we look at the Canucks’ forwards.
Mike Gillis doesn’t have a lot of work to do with his forwards, but he does have options. His most important forwards are already under contract for next year, so it’ll be just a matter of tinkering with his depth forwards. Given the lack of production from his second line at even strength, he may want to find a better winger to play with Ryan Kesler.
Due to the Canucks long playoff run, the team is in for a very short offseason. The NHL entry draft is in four days and free agency begins in only eleven days. Mike Gillis has some work to do, as all GMs do. Luckily for the Canucks, most of their core is locked up long term, but there are a few key players that will become restricted free agents. Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo, Andrew Alberts, Raffi Torres, Chris Higgins, Tanner Glass and Jeff Tambellini are all unrestricted free agents on July 1st. Maxim Lapierre, Jannik Hansen, Victor Oreskovich and Alex Bolduc are all restricted free agents.
As I sit in the comfort of my own living room, watching drunken hooligans ransack downtown stores, I was finally able to relax myself enough to type this up. I, like most of you, truly believed this was THE year. A President’s Trophy, a Clarence Campbell Bowl, a franchise record for points in a season, a William M. Jennings Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, and Hart, Selke, Vezina, and Adams Trophy nominations. The highest scoring team in the regular season. The highest scoring defensive corps in the regular season. Let’s not forget that home teams in Game 7s of the finals were 12-3, and the whole trend of Stanley Cup wins after hosting Olympics in Canada. But quite simply put, it was not meant to be. Boston was the better team this series, and as painful as it was to watch them lift Lord Stanley’s Cup in OUR home arena, they deserved it. Here are my reasons why things turned out the way they did.
I’m not one to use Canucks marketing campaign slogans on a regular basis (I’ve never said that ‘we are all Canucks’), but never has ‘this is what we live for‘ been more true. Game 7, Stanley Cup Final, at home. This IS what we live for. It’s what the players live for, it’s what the fans live for. Quite simply stated, it’s the biggest game in Canucks history. It’s bigger than 1994. There will probably never be a bigger game for this franchise. This is their time. They will become legends if they win, or be labeled as chokers should they come up short.
The Vancouver Canucks will get a chance to scratch a 40 year itch if they can find a way to win game 6 in Boston tonight. The Stanley Cup is in the building, and for only the second time in franchise history, the Canucks have a chance to carry it home.
We’re now through four games of the Stanley Cup final and the Vancouver Canucks have scored precisely five goals on Bruins netminder Tim Thomas. Of those five goals, only four of them were meaningful (the late goal in game 3 was scored in garbage time). Everyone is blaming Luongo right now (and there is validity to that blame), but they are not going to win this series unless they can score more goals. So this begs the question: how do the Canucks solve Tim Thomas?
Late last night I received an email from my friend Darin. Darin is a die hard Canucks fan, about as die hard as you can get. He watches every game, analyzes every play. He loves the Canucks. But he also takes losing pretty hard. He last ranted this hard during the Chicago series last year. He was remarkably quiet during the first round this year, but after last night, he needed to rant.
With all the hoopla surrounding the Aaron Rome hit (and the subsequent suspension) on Nathan Horton, a few stories have been overshadowed. Everyone has had a chance to hash it out by now, so it’s time to move on to the big stories heading into game 4.