It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Who will be the recipient of the prestigious Fedor Fedorov Preseason Award this year?

Ah, how I love the smell of prospects in the morning..

OK, I probably could’ve worded that in a less creepy manner, but my point remains. After a long summer of inactivity and people trying to pretend to be interested in soccer, hockey is finally stumbling out of bed and starting to put its pants on. This process for most teams usually involves their younger players going out and playing in mini tournaments, such as the Young Stars Tournament that the Canucks, Flames, Jets, and Oilers are putting on this weekend.

The mere fact that hockey is back in any kind of form – I got so desperate for a hockey fix in August that I ended up watching the Australian hockey league. Go Mustangs! AIHL Champs! – is reason enough to be excited, but their is a particular kind of enjoyment I get out of hockey before the regular season starts. 

Read on past the jump to find out more, you know how this works.

Muscle = Production, That’s Easy Math

This is by far one of my favourite parts of the offseason, when reports proudly proclaim how much muscle mass a young player added. In most cases it doesn’t predict anything, it just shows that someone worked out very hard in the offseason. But it gets treated as if it is a sign that said player will increase their production in direct correlation to how much muscle they tacked on. 

“Did you hear Johnny Johnnyson put on 15 pounds of PURE MUSCLE this offseason?”

“No way! 15 pounds should equal to about 1.5 more points per pound, so he should put up 22.5 more points.”

“Do you round up or down?”

“I…I don’t know….”

Bonus points are awarded when reports talk about not only how much muscle someone added, but if they also worked with Gary Roberts in the offseason at any point. This raises the point prediction total by 2 points per pound.

Unbridled Enthusiasm; The Fedor Fedorov Award

Another fun part of the offseason is when one young player stands out amongst all the other young players and makes you think he is a lock to be an NHL star. This is named after Fedor Fedorov who head faked his way into our hearts when he put on a tour de force preseason showing many moons ago. It was wonderful; we had a guy coming from a great lineage, head faking the crap out of scrubs, scoring goals, and looking like a machine. We all thought he was going to make the team and that the sky was the limit! Steve Kariya couldn’t believe his eyes!

And then reality hit him like a right cross from Kevin Bieksa. Of course it was just preseason. Of course he was scoring goals against lower end talent. Of course it was a small sample size. We all knew in the back of our minds it couldn’t last, but for that one brief period of time? Fedor Fedorov was the Next Big Thing. 

Nowadays advanced stats make it harder for us to enjoy the Fedor Fedorov award – they are quick to point out why we should never get too excited about anything from the preseason – but it’s still fun for me. I know whoever wins the Fedor Fedorov Award still has a long climb ahead of him, but damn it, if Dane Fox gets a hat trick during a preseason game I’m still going to be leading that Dane Fox train as far as it goes! I already have my article title picked out. “Sedins get a Fox-y new look this year”. (He plays wing in my scenario, shhh, let me have this.)

The Numbers Game

An underrated part of watching preseason hockey — trying to figure out who the hell everyone is. Training camp numbers – the 56, 59, 72, 79, etc. of the world – make it quite a joy to figure out who exactly you’re watching on the ice. Number 53 will dangle down the ice and score a pretty goal and you’ll want to excitedly talk about it, but you’ll need to pause, google Canucks training camp roster, look up the numbers, and figure out who exactly you’re trying to be excited about.

By the time you’ve figured that out, number 79 just put a puck through the net, and your number 53 is old news. There should really be an app for this.

Gratuitous TV shots of executives 

This is a relatively new phenomenon, but I always get a kick out of the TV showing as many shots as possible of management watching the kids play. Oh, for those who just became Canucks fans last year this might be really strange because Torts never watched the young guys, but yes, some teams actually do this.

Actually, can we take a minute to applaud Torts on being the smartest guy in the room last year? Somehow he not only convinced a team to give him a long-term, high paying contract after just being fired from another team, but he also somehow convinced them that he would be better served watching some of the preseason games from upstairs, and not behind the bench. That is brilliant. It’s like me telling my boss at work that I’ll be letting my co-worker finish my reports while I go have some lunch and watch Netflix because it will really help give me some perspective on my filing skills. Bravo.

I do enjoy the shots of the executives watching the players because they are all the same. One guy is standing up, leaning forward on one knee. The other is sitting down, one hand on his chin. And the third guy, who is wearing glasses (he always wears glasses) is furiously writing down something. Then the guy with his hand on his knee whispers something to guy sitting down and they both chuckle.

Player biography videos

Since many people don’t really know a ton about these players, usually either the Canucks or the sports networks try and put out videos on some of them, to try and introduce fans to the new guys. I always get a kick out of these because they too follow certain rules:

  • They must have some music playing in the background quietly.
  • They must have one clip of the player skating hard in an empty rink.
  • They must show the player outside of the rink, usually walking a dog or throwing a frisbee, or jogging.
  • They must use the video for 3-4 years during a Sportsnet broadcast even when said prospect has already flamed out and is now playing in Switzerland. I still remember seeing prospect videos on Brandon Reid two years after he was clearly no longer a prospect.

“We’ve got nothing for the upcoming commercial Jim.”

“Run the Reid video again.”

“God damn it. Ok.”

They also like to play up the players home town because, well, I don’t know why. BRAMPTON ONTARIO’S OWN.. I just assume Pierre McGuire is behind this.