The Hockey News has sparked a lot of talk in the hockey world lately by picking the Canucks to win the Western Conference last Wednesday. The Hockey News has also picked the boys from the West Coast to win the Stanley Cup this season. This is significant because to the best of my knowledge, no well respected publication has ever picked the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of a season. This, of course, terrifies me.
After weeks of rumours, Willie Mitchell finally ended the suspense on Wednesday, signing a two-year deal worth $3.5 million per season. According to most, including yours truly, he hit a home run. While still a very effective defenseman, I thought that he would have to give up a little bit more money and/or term given his age and concussion history. Quite simply, he was out of the Canucks price range. The Canucks are very deep on defense and already have an injury riddled d-man they’re holding their breathe on with Sami Salo.
All signs are pointing to the Willie Mitchell making a decision on where to play this week. Mitchell has worked out for the Canucks, Sharks, Kings and Capitals this week. One would assume that he is undergoing physicals to prove his health to these teams before they tender him an offer. He has reportedly already been offered a two-year deal by the Los Angeles Kings, but the price is not yet known. Cap-wise, the Kings are by far in the best position. The Sharks could also fit-in Mitchell with relative ease, that is if they stick with Niittymaki and Greiss in net. The Capitals and Canucks are both in tight against the cap as it is, and would probably need to get creative.
The rumour mill is heating up with regards to Willie Mitchell and shockingly it appears the Canucks may still be in the race. It looks like the free agent d-man is now symptom free and will be ready to start the season. He has also reportedly narrowed his search to four teams: Washington, Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver. Mike Gillis didn’t do anything to curtail rumours, admitting to talking to Mitchell.
Perhaps it was the media hoopla on the Team 1040 that made me overlook this, but upon further review it turns out that Tom Larscheid did not decide to retire, rather the Team 1040 decided for him. Team 1040 program director Rob Gray stated that the Team 1040 wanted to “look to the future”.
Very disappointing news today, as it has been learned that longtime beloved Canucks colour commentator Tom Larscheid will retire from the broadcast booth after this year’s home opener versus the Los Angeles Kings. When I heard about this news this morning I was devastated! Larscheid is truly one of a kind. The Team 1040 has announced that Dave Tomlinson will be the new radio colour commentator.
The Canucks announced on Monday that they have re-signed Mason Raymond. The restricted free agent re-signed just minutes before his arbitration case was to be heard. But that’s not the surprising part, the surprising part is that Mike Gillis was able to get Raymond to sign a two year deal, worth $2.55 per season. There’s no doubt in my mind that Raymond would have been awarded more in arbitration, perhaps well more. In fact, most pundits (including myself)were predicting $3 million or more.
Reports out of Finland are saying that Sami Salo has injured his achilles tendon in a game of floor hockey and could be gone 3-5 months. The report has not been confirmed as of yet.
It went somewhat under the radar because it was reported the same day as Markus Naslund’s jersey retirement was announced, but the Canucks have announced that they will be having a “ring of honour” at Rogers Arena. The idea behind the ring of honour is that they will be able to honour some players from the past that don’t quite deserve to have their jersey retired.
Is this a good idea? In a way I like the idea of honouring past players in a way other than jersey retirement, but just what will be the criteria to get on the ring? Four players will be honoured this year, beginning with Orland Kurtenbach. The other three have yet to be announced.
The Canucks held their annual Summer Summit (formerly known as the state of the franchise) last night at Rogers Arena (yes, it will take a while to get used to the new name) where they announced that Markus Naslund will have his #19 jersey retired on December 11th. And so the debate begins: is he deserving of this honour? This was a debate Canuckz.com brought up at about this time last year, to which I thought he was deserving, but I thought the team ought to wait a few years before retiring it.
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