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Did the NHL make a Mistake with Rogers Media’s 12 yr Contract?

rogers_sportsnetI realize that the sample size  is still small, but what I have seen to-date, I would have to say that 12 years was to long for the NHL to commit to Rogers Media. The one thing that you can not do with knowledgable hockey fans – is try to fool them with smoke and glass mirrors.

The glitz of a studio does not mask the quality of the commentators and announcers, which Sportsnet does not have in abundance, in comparison to TSN or what used to be CBC HNIC. I totally understand that the majority of the NHL hockey teams are in the east, BUT to give the West, and by west I mean Winnipeg all the way to the west coast, the coverage that they do, is darn right criminal.

Now don’t get me wrong here, the TV coverage covers all those teams west of Winnipeg, it’s the quality of the commentators, announcers and post game chatter that are sub-par. Talk about uninspired. How many of those gentlemen on those SN panels even watch teams in the west, since most of them are based out of Toronto?

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The Importance of a Sprint from the Gates for the Canucks

ryan miller092614_672Although it has been said infinitum “the hockey season is a marathon not a sprint”, it is of great importance that the Canucks sprint out of the gate in the tough Pacific Division. Let’s face it – the Canucks are a bubble team this season just to make the playoffs, so trying to make up ground with a slow start after the poor showing last year, would play games with the psyche of this team.

Were the Canucks as bad as their record showed last season? I wrote a blog at the end of that fate full season which showed how close they were to being a playoff team. The addition of the total management/coaching group, along with the recognized view that you have to ice and play four lines is a good start.

GM Jim Benning recognized that and went about adding players that could fill those positions, along with more depth in the bottom six forwards, knowing that the Pacific Division is tough enough without the correct match-ups.

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Will Canucks’ GM Benning Stand by his Word about the Rookies?

Nashville Predators v Vancouver CanucksA number of weeks ago during an interview Canucks GM Jim Benning was asked about the plethora of rookies that were auditioning and their chances of sticking with the club. In condensing his response he said “if they deserve to be on the team then we’ll make room for them.”

Although last night was only the first pre-season game, a number of rookies showed that they have a strong case for remaining with the club when it starts the season. In no particular order Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Linden Vey had very promising nights against the San Jose Sharks in Vancouver.

Horvat has continued on his development as a strong two-way centre, scored a goal, but more importantly was 8 for 12 in the face-off circle. With the Canucks onus on puck possession entering the offensive zone, starting with it from the face-off will be a key. If Horvat can finish the pre-season with his strong two-way game, along with a face-off percentage around 55-60, then he will make a very strong case for remaining.

One other thing that the Canucks management will take into consideration, is that his birthday does not allow him to be sent down to the AHL. Being returned to Junior does not make any sense if he is at a point in his development that warrants competition at a higher level.

The only other choice besides the main team would have the Canucks send him to the Swedish Elite League –  where Nicklas Jensen spent some time.

Hinter Shinkaruk who finished with 1G, 1A and was a +2, is a stronger player this time around, but will he beat out the players ahead of him in the depth at LW or Centre? I would think it would have to be at LW because for once, the Canucks are starting to resemble strength down the middle. Realistically he will not supplant Daniel Sedin or Chris Higgins, but he may earn a spot on either the third or fourth line.

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Young Stars Tournament Means the Return of the Hockey Season

Bo+Horvat+Phoenix+Coyotes+v+Vancouver+Canucks+5vyqNKtucivl (1)
For many of us after no Canucks hockey for five months, the Young Stars Tournament with the Canucks, Oilers, Flames, and Jets prospects, means the NHL season can’t be far behind. This has been one of the better stages for the NHL teams to view their prospects in-game situations against other players of similar ages and talent, rather than the old “Rookie Camps” that were inter-squad scrimmages between each other.

It was not long ago (2010) that I watched the likes of Aaron Volpatti, Bill Sweatt, Chris Tanev, Eddie Lack, Jordan Schroeder, Kevin Connauton, Oilers –  Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle. Now, most of them are playing in the NHL.

The Canucks will once again ice some of their top picks such as Jared McCann, Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, Nicklas Jensen, Dane Fox, Cole Cassels, Frank Corrado and Mike Zalewski.

Not quite sure why Corrado is in with this group as he has been a pro since 2012/13 when he played three games for the Chicago Wolves (AHL), 59 games for the Utica Comets (AHL) and 18 games for the Canucks (NHL) in 2013/14. Mike Zalewski also played in a couple games for the Canucks last season, but he was far less noticeable.

All above, if they were deemed to be ready to make the move to the pros, would be eligible to play for the Canucks farm team in Utica except for McCann (18), Horvat (19), and Cassels (19) due to age restrictions.

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Good Riddance to Canucks Ryan Kesler and His Me First Attitude

Sharks Canucks HockeyI just couldn’t resist not writing this article after this whole escapade with Ryan Kesler – and the developments that went down up to yesterday.

Let me get this straight. Ryan Kesler decides around the time of the Winter Olympics that he wants out of Vancouver. It gets leaked out to the media and Canucks management leap into damage control.

Kesler and his agent emphatically deny the rumour as being just that, a rumour started by the media. As we find out later, from what has been divulged in the media, it is Kesler that goes to management, not the Canucks who want him to waive his No Trade Clause, and proceeds to give them a list of teams he would like to be moved to.

Former GM Mike Gillis is not able to move Kesler before the trade deadline and the Canucks fail to make the play-offs. Gillis is fired and then after the change, President, Trevor Linden and General Manger, Jim Benning, both go to Kesler to clarify and try to sell him on staying – which doesn’t work.

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Were the Canuck Players as Bad as the Season Ending Stats Indicate?

Canucks' - Sedins

Canucks’ – Sedins

Last season Canuck scoring stats were a mystery for a lot reasons and the first one would be how could so many players have a poor year at the same time? Usually on a team you see a couple of players that for health or performance reasons fail to attain their average scoring points.

The Canucks had four forwards of which two, the Sedins, are their top point getter and one D-man in Alex Edler, their usual top point man on D. This whole dilemma filtered down throughout all the lines in some capacity, but when you look at some of the Corsi and Fenwick stats, it doesn’t display the whole picture.

Obviously you must have top puck possession stats in order to afford yourself the opportunity to score and the Canucks were 24th in offensive zone face-offs and off course the offset would be defensive zone face-offs – 6th worse.

Okay that’s clear to me, but did the Canucks generate enough shots to be able to score. The stat for that is the Fenwick, which = Shots + shots attempts that missed the net. The support for the Fenwick is the Corsi (Shots + shots attempts that missed the net + shot attempts that were blocked).

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