Forward March: A Welcoming Vancouver Introduction

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Hello there fellow loyal soldiers of Canucks
Army! Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Ashley March but you can call me
March or Marchy, but don’t call me late for dinner!

Great, a
corny lame joke to start off your introduction. Jesus Ashley, first impressions
are crucial.

Anyway, I write words about hockey on the interwebz for, well, what I hope is
more than my own enjoyment. I started my own blog, won an award for said blog,
and now I find myself here on the Pacific side of the hockey world, which is
something new for me considering I live an hour away from and in between Ottawa
and Montreal. I know. I can feel your pity already.

“But if she lives on the East Coast and gets stuffed with
more Habs, Sens and Leafs news than Miley Cyrus, how is she ever going to write
about our beloved Canucks?!”

Oh mama knows, child. Mama knows her hockey.

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(Pictured above: Not me. Photo: Steven Shalagan/TheProvince)

This column will feature my most likely hilarious
ramblings about the Canucks and I’ll follow that up with a few interesting
things in the hockey world that I think people should know and be aware of.
Because who doesn’t like more hockey things to read about and a good ol’
fashioned hockey brawl from the LNAH? (If you’re not aware of the LNAH and
looooove hockey fights, google it. I have season tickets to the Cornwall River
Kings. You’re welcome.)

ANYWAY. Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s get a move on!

CHANGE IS COMING

Alright, so this is the theme we’re going to roll with this
year eh? Nothing says “rebuilding mode” like a change. Of course we all knew this had to happen.
Taking an aging team and putting them in front of an insane head coach like John Tortorella wasn’t going to solve the case
of Lord Stanley, but none of the Canucks’ lucky stars lined up to give them a break either.
Usually, when I hear a team adopting a theme and promotional material with the
word “change” in it, I roll my eyes. Hard. Why? When it gets down to it, usually nothing really changes. But I feel like there’s something different about this
Vancouver team.

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(Nothing changes with these guys though. Ever.)

With canning Tortorella and bringing in Willie Desjardins, I already feel much better about the leadership that’s coming from the top. Desjardins is a guy who the
players won’t be afraid to talk to and most importantly, he’ll have their respect.
Desjardins has always been a guy that his players will play for night in and night out. This
is the third coach and the squad has seen in three years, but I believe
Desjardins has the tools to stick around for a bit and be able to mold a
formidable group. The man knows what it takes to win as a coach – hell he’s got
two WHL championships, a Memorial Cup appearance, and last year’s Calder Cup all
under his belt. 

Despite adding Linden Vey over the offseason, and expecting increased contributions from Zack Kassian, Frank Corrado, and Bo Horvat, Vancouver is still the second oldest team in the NHL. Are they going to win the Stanley Cup
this year? Probably not. Are they going to make a deep playoff run in a murderous Western Conference? Um, no. They likely aren’t. Based on the coaching change and fresh outlook alone though, this is going to be a very
exciting team to watch this year. They’re going to want to work hard and prove
to you that they have what it takes to make that playoff run.

WHO I’M KEEPING AN EYE ON

Alex Burrows

The poor guy just couldn’t catch a break last season, could he?  Burrows suffered Injuries galore, and John Tortorella wanted him gone
and probably would’ve traded him for a new washing machine (Fun fact: that actually did happen to Andy Bezeau. Remember him?). Reports are suggesting he’s going to start the year on the second line with Chris Higgins and Nick Bonino, which tells me that the Canucks expect Burrows to pitch in in a big way again this year. Not only that, but Willie Desjardins has already took him under his wing and solidified a bond if you will – something that John Tortorella never did until halfway through the season last year. His head is already going to be in the right place compared to last year, and that’s not even taking his broken jaw. Stay away from the damn injury bug and he’ll do alright.

Ryan Miller

Oh boy. I don’t know man, I just don’t know. I want to believe….

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While he managed to shut out the Flames, Miller is one of the goalies where now
that he’s past his prime, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat biting your
nails. Goalies tend to fall off a cliff around 35 years old, and, well, Miller is now 34. I want him to do well, I really do, but I think he’s going to be riding
the pine an awful lot this year, especially when Eddie Lack gets hot. You know
he will too. That damn feisty Swede has jumped all over his opportunity to claim the Canucks’ crease before, after spending a few years playing in the shadows of Luongo and Schneider. Who knows how this
saga is going to play out.

Luca Sbisa

The Swiss kid from Italy is going to be the Canucks’ wildcard. He’s spent the last few years of his career in Anaheim, and he’s one of those players
that could come out of nowhere given a better defense partner and more responsibility, shocking everyone. Despite struggling so far in his career, Sbisa could be able
to solidify himself as a top-six defenceman this year. He was
another one who felt the curse of an injury-laden 2013-14, and I think
that may have led to him being a part of the Ryan Kesler trade.  Anyhow, there’s just something about him that I like.

All in all, let’s get ready for what should be one heck of an interesting season. Let’s drop the puck.

In The Trenches: Around The Hockey World

The East Coast Hockey League has absorbed the seven teams as the Central league folds. The ECHL will now ice 28 teams. And this, my friend, is a blessing to minor league players.

CCM decided to make the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan McKinnon race Canadian Olympic short track speed skating Gold Medalist Charles Hamelin. Turns out lovely.


Who doesn’t like a good hockey fight? Here’s Cornwall River Kings Mario Joly coming to the aid of his teammate in an LNAH pre-season scrap. He got suspended one game for this.

Sony Pictures is coming out with a 1980’s documentary on the Russian Red Army team. Here’s the trailer.

An open conversation about mental illness and hockey helped save a player’s life. 


Come find me on twitter, I don’t bite. Hard. @MarchHockey