January 12 2013 01:48PM
As the Chicago Wolves roll into Abbotsford to play the Heat this weekend, five of their best players were held out of the lineup and will be with the Canucks when the club's training camp opens this weekend (pending ratification of the new CBA by the NHLPA sometime on Saturday afternoon). In addition, "Six or Seven" other Wolves may join them after Saturday's game.
On the one hand, the Canucks' reluctance to "experiment" with young players in a shortened season makes sense. On the other hand, four young, possible Canucks roster players have been playing regular competitive hockey games at the professional level while the majority of Vancouver's aging roster have been skating with the UBC Thunderbirds and gathering cobwebs in the endowment lands. Those four players and their accompanying fresh legs could concievably help the Canucks mitigate their recent propensity for slow starts, which might be key in a forty-eight game season.
To get a better handle on how the likes of Chris Tanev, Kevin Connauton, Zack Kassian and Jordan Schroeder have performed with the Wolves so far this season, we spoke with Wolves beat writer Paul La Tour of the Chicago Tribune and play-by-play announcer Jason Shaver this week. Read more on the other side of the jump.
January 12 2013 12:16PM
(Editor's Note: To think that a week ago we were sitting around worrying about whether pettiness might prevail and cancel the 2013 NHL season. How quickly our mood has shifted after a flurry of a week gave us everything from a Luongo to Philadelphia rumour to a short-lived Twitter beef between Roberto Luongo and the Iron Sheik...
Anyway, in anticipation of the start of the shortened 2013 season, I figured I'd reach out to a handful of Canucks fans who I like on Twitter and get their take on the upcoming season. So I got at the likes of original shapper @mariomontega, Ritch Winter's bane @taj1944, hard hitting sports analyst @socialassassin2, our old pal @tinfoiltuque, long-term Canucks blogger and funny lady @alixiswright37, the streaky @kesrows and smart dude @ryanbiech; and asked all of them them five pertinent Canucks related questions headed into this season:
- The Canucks are seen as contenders going into this season, but are you confident they can live up to expectations? Should the city hold off on planning the President's Trophy parade? Why or why not?
- How much do the Canucks need to acquire in a Luongo trade for you to be satisfied with the return?
- Which Canucks player is the most important to the team's chances this season? Least important?
- Finish this sentence: if the Canucks fall short again this year they should ______?
- If you were giving advice to a Canucks fan who was considering joining Twitter, what are the five accounts you would recommend as "must follows"?
Big thanks to the "Group of Seven" who participated in this post (and all got their answers to me on time). Hopefully their take on Canucks issues is a refreshing change of pace from the long-winded, Vigneault-apologist nonsense that you're used to reading around these parts. Click past the jump for some quality shap, some comedy and a quick, unscientific gauge of what Canucks fans are expecting from their team going into a lockout shortened season.)
January 12 2013 08:53AM
Together again, Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo shared the ice practice in UBC on Friday.
Photo Credit: David Ebner.
Mike Gillis might trade Roberto Luongo this weekend and with the market heating up, I'm beginning to suspect that Gillis' patient approach to dealing Luongo will ultimately be vindicated (at times I was admittedly doubtful). There's one area in particular, however, where Mike Gillis and the Canucks front office deserves particular credit in this story, and that credit can be doled out regardless of what the return ultimately looks like. It belongs to the realm of "relationship management." Allow me to elaborate on the other side of the jump.
January 11 2013 03:17PM
Every player skating at UBC this week has a spring in their step and a visible relief that hockey is back etched on their faces. It's training camp all over again, that burst of excitement that everyone feels - fan, player and writer alike - (usually in the later Summer) about new beginnings and a chance to do something special. Just ask Jordan Schroeder and Andrew Ebbett.
The news has come down: Alain Vigneault said in his Friday morning press conference that those two will be going head-to-head for the second line centre job.
For Schroeder, with Ryan Kesler still out and timetable-less for a return, the young Minnesotan's time is clearly now. Only Andrew Ebbett stands between him and starting the season in Vancouver's top-six. Despite concerns about his size, Schroeder has always been known as a two-way player, with strong puck sense and powerful skating.
Ebbet spent a lot of time last year out injured. But when he was in the lineup, he was a positive possession player and could be a serious darkhorse contributor in this lockout-shortened season.
Click past the jump for a Q&A with Schroeder and Ebbett on their own seasons so far, what they've been working on and their paths forward.
January 11 2013 12:53PM
"If you stop looking maybe they'll stop beating us so badly!"
After you see something happen time and again right in front of your very eyes, you come to expect it. It's human nature. You simply stop thinking that there could possibly be any sort of other outcome.
And that's why you may have noticed that in Jeff Angus' preview of the 2013 season, where he answered questions from readers in a mailbag format, there was no one losing any sleep over where the Canucks would finish in the standings. Anything can happen in a 48 game season - pigs could fly, the Wild could manage to fight off regression, even - but Canucks fans have just come to expect a Division title and a seat atop the Western Conference standings.
I take issue with people who look to undermine the Canucks' accomplishments over the past two seasons. Obviously Presidents' Trophies aren't the ultimate goal, but there's a reason the regular season takes place. The Canucks have absolutely dominated it, leaving no real doubt as to who the best team was. Just because they fell 60 minutes short, and then ran into a juggernaut who was sipping on some special sort of health elixir, doesn't take away from the other 164 games over that span.
How have the Canucks managed to make it look so easy? Well, it doesn't hurt that their two leaders have been the most consistent players in the league over the years. But more than anything, they've been able to run wild all over the Northwest Division.
Read Past the Jump for More on their Dominance of the Northwest.