Chris Johnston on tanking, Puck Talks and why a Canucks rebuild is inevitable

Thomas Drance
September 10 2015 04:00PM

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Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

From dampened tracksuits to potentially disastrous predatory offer sheets that failed to account for a pretty important CBA article, Sportsnet reporter Chris Johnston has broken all kinds of colourful, interesting, and controversial stories in his career. 

This month Johnston has got a new sort of challenge though: tour the country and host four live hockey-talk shows in four different cities in four nights. It's called Puck Talks Live and it's coming to Vancouver! The event will take place at your favourite watering hole (the Pint, duh) on Friday, Sept. 18th and you can buy tickets here. For some reason (some reason that the Puck Talks crew is sure to regret), they've decided to invite me to be part of a panel. But really we'll all be there to hear Ray Ferraro spit some unvarnished truth. 

Anyway, we caught up with Chris to talk about why a rebuild in Vancouver is inevitable, why tanking doesn't work, and also about the upcoming Puck Talks Live event.

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Rogers Arena 20th anniversary celebrations will honour Bertuzzi, Oprah and hopefully Big Country

Thomas Drance
September 03 2015 04:39PM

Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their home rink - formerly GM Place, now Rogers Arena - this season, and they'll do so with a variety of themed nights. 

We already knew this, and already knew that the retro 90s skate logo would be part of the festivities, but the full gamut of the club's plans was revealed on Thursday and from Vancouver Grizzlies night to a celebration that name-checks Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton, there are some eclectic choices to say the least.

You can see the full list here, but we'll offer some thoughts on the other side.

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CA's All-Time Greatest Canucks Team: Stan Smyl

Thomas Drance
September 01 2015 02:48PM


The following is a guest post by the always fantastic Cam Davie. Enjoy!

He was, in some ways, the first true Canuck.

Before he joined, there were the likes of Kurtenbach and Boudrias and Ververgaert, all of whom fared very well and were liked in Vancouver. But they were acquisitions, and all had short lifespans with the Canucks, still a growing franchise in the league. Then in 1978, the Canucks drafted Stan Smyl 40th overall from famous (nay, infamous) Memorial Cup champion New Westminster Bruins. He was destined for Canucks lore.

Smyl was a small player, but played with tenacity and a chip on his shoulder, never one to back down from any confrontation. His playing style was the same from his time in junior all the way to his final year in the NHL. He earned the nickname "Steamer" back in his junior days, as he worked as tirelessly and as brutishly as a steam locomotive. His relentless play, and decent skill set, made him a fan favourite from the moment he joined the Canucks right out of his draft year.

For the better part of the next decade, Stan Smyl WAS the Vancouver Canucks.

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Trevor Linden defends Benning, praises Salo, and describes the club's 'delicate dance'

Thomas Drance
August 13 2015 03:59PM

On Thursday afternoon Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden got into the hot seat for TSN 1040's President's Week

Joining Matt Sekeres in studio for a two-hour segment on Vancouver sports talk radio, Linden was treated to several hours of questions - both from Sekeres and from ranting fans - about the club's overall strategy. During Linden's lengthy, exhausting appearance the Canucks president defended his general manager Jim Benning and his new assistant general manager John Weisbrod, articulated his belief in the NHL entry draft as crucial for the Canucks' future, discussed what he's learned in his first year on the job, said he missed cycling, and, of course, the Luca Sbisa extension was re-litigated for the billionth time this summer.

By the end of the conversation Linden seemed a bit testy, and fair enough. He mostly spent two hours dealing with the same furious questions and fan rants that have permeated around the Vancouver sports market all summer. Still, it was a revealing segment, and bears some unpacking.

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Canucks will wear the old skate logo jersey vs. Maple Leafs on February 13

Thomas Drance
August 13 2015 12:49PM


Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden spent the prime of his career wearing the mid-90s 'flying skate' jersey, and has repeatedly made no secret of his affection for the sweater, even pushing for the sweater to be worn for the game last season that honoured Pat Quinn. And now he's succeeded in bringing it back, for real.

As part of the 20th anniversary festivities for the Rogers Arena, the Canucks will sport the sweater that they wore during the 1994 Stanley Cup Final this coming year. They'll do in a nationally broadcast game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 13th, the club's president announced during an appearance on TSN 1040 on Thursday afternoon.


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