Tag Archives: hockey

Those Lovable Canucks


Admit it, if you were playing a team

That had Burrows, Torres, Lapierre, Bieksa, Rome,

You’d hate them, too.

 

The defense are pricks

And all the Swedes are soft.

The goalie is a headcase

Swinging from shutout to shellshocked

Like a grease monkey during 80s night.

 

Their best player is an American

Who said, “I hate Canadians”

In the Canucks’ home rink

Before the gold medal game

Of the 2010 Olympics.

 

What’s not to like?

 

Their swarmy French-Canadian coach?

Their player agent cum GM?

Their refusal to play Cody Hodgson?

 

When I was six years old

I got a Bruins jersey and black hockey gloves

For Christmas and wore them all day

At my grandparent’s house singing,

“Janey Bainy was born in California…”

I don’t know why,

But with Orr in the house

It would have taken a miracle

For the Cup to be won in Beantown.

 

Oh wise and benevolent Hockey Gods,

I was a Canucks fan from the very first game

Forty years ago. I stayed up way past bedtime

Listening to so many losses

On a little red transistor radio

Hidden under my pillow in the farmhouse

Robson calling all the games

On the Hockey Nut Station.

 

I remember Don Lever

Hitting the post on Dryden with two minutes left,

And then again in overtime,

Before the Habs finally buried us.

 

When Smyl hit the post

In game one against the Islanders

I thought immediately

That our best hope to win

The game, the series,

Had just vanished.

 

Without fail, the wheels came off

The West Coast Express

Every springtime,

Or some stupid Euro scored

On his own goalie,

Or the New York Oilers

Stacked the odds against us

To break a slump longer than our own.

 

Oh Hockey Gods,

Have we, the faithful,

Not endured enough?

 

Is another game seven

Just one more torture

To test our worthiness,

The intensity of our desire

To see the city’s name etched

On an old silver mug?

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Demagogues Haunt Voting Day

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Royally betrothed, a fairytale that can only be convincing to pre-teen girls and stout old spinsters, as weak goals and lame efforts continue to dog this campaign, a scattershot one-eyed Jack hits precision targets in far-off lands, like a Khadafi playboy or Osama bin Laden, and another lifeless demagogue’s body is taken into custody. So we go to the polls to exercise democracy like it’s a meaningless power play against the people, watch the tide turned by youthful twits not intending to martyr a parliamentary dictatorship, but forcing the bastards into a minority position yet again – a governing coalition, a social network, a team. OK?

OMFG!

A Banner Year

My son’s home ice hockey rink this year was the PNE Agrodome, which has an odd collection of ancient banners, trophies and photographs of old horsemen, 4Hers, hockey teams, and figure skaters. I often strolled the concourse before games and gazed at the trophies and banners, and read the detailed biographies of the founding B.C. horsemen. Some were born on farms in the Lower Mainland in the 1880s and 1890s, when there were just a few pockets of civilization linked by dirt and skidder roads carved through the predominant forest.

The Hastings Hockey Association, which was originally located in the Forum circa 1930, was the forerunner to the Vancouver Minor Hockey Association that my son plays in now. Like most things in Vancouver, the City is divided into two hockey associations, with the VMHA representing the East Side and downtown, and the immeasurably better-funded Thunderbirds playing for the West Side.

Over the first few years of playing hockey, my son’s teams have often been trounced by the dreaded T-Birds. Teams from Richmond, Burnaby and New West often beat them too, but there always seemed to be a little extra frustration (especially among the parents) when they lost to the West Siders.

But this year, after 4 years of playing on hockey teams that lost far more games than they won, my son’s team had an impressive 18-2-2 record. They won every game against the T-Birds teams, and finished in first place out of 18 teams in their President’s League division. For the first time, my son’s team won a banner – a rare feat for the East Side kids.

The banner will be hung in Britannia Arena, just one of dozens that hang there from bygone eras. But, hopefully, in 20 years or so my son will take his own kids there and point up into the rafters, and tell them the story of his first banner year.

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Hart is Hank’s

At the NHL awards, Henrik Sedin scored another first for the Canucks franchise by becoming the first local player to win the Hart Trophy. He follows in the footsteps of many Hall of Famers who won both the Art Ross (scoring title) and the Hart (most valuable player to his team) in the same year, including each of the players from 1966-1970: Hull, Mikita, Esposito and Orr. Heady company!

Now, how about another first, a Cup! Since Chicago won this year (their last one was 1963), only the Leafs, Kings and Blues have waited longer than the Canucks to hoist the Stanley Cup.

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Hank, meet Art!

The Canucks have been in the NHL for 40 years, and for the first time in franchise history they have the league’s scoring champion. Henrik Sedin broke Pavel Bure’s old team mark of 110 points to claim the Art Ross Trophy this season, getting 112 points to beat out mega-stars Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin (both with 109) for the scoring title. Congratulations Hank!

Back in 1970, the Art Ross Trophy went to Bobby Orr, the first and only defenceman in league history to win the Art Ross Trophy. Check out the impressive list of Hall of Famers who won it in the years leading up to 1970. Check out also the incredibly lucrative prize money the NHL used to pay out to the trophy winners! Even in 1970 dollars, it’s pretty laughable…

1970 OPC hockey card #262.

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Sedins Work their Magic

It’s not often one gets to meet the NHL’s leading point scorer. But yesterday, my son went to a friend’s birthday party at Douglas Park and, when I went to pick him up, the birthday boy’s dad took me aside and, in a hushed voice, said, “Don’t tell anyone, but one of the Sedin kids is having a birthday here in an hour. You want to hang out and see if the kids can meet some Canucks?” We’re both hockey dads, so the answer was obvious.

About an hour later, Daniel Sedin and family pulled up, followed shortly by Henrik, Kevin Bieksa and Mikael Samuelson. They all had little kids in tow, and were all happy to sign autographs for the little group of kids who had gathered in the parking lot outside the gym. Needless to say, my son and the other kids were on speed wobble they were so excited, and the smiles were a mile wide. It was quite a thrill for them to meet these guys.

Interesting to note that, rather than play floor hockey for his kid’s party, the Sedin troupe were playing soccer in the gym. Ah, Europeans…

(Henrik’s auto at top — not even sure if it’s the right way up, the two squiggles are his number, 33. Next one is Bieksa, and below is Samuelson. We didn’t get Daniel’s, unfortunately.)

Anyway, this all reminded me of back when I was a wee tot and hockey-crazed youth about the same age as my son is now. My father was returning from a business trip in Toronto and, whenever he returned from a business trip, always brought us kids a little gift, usually some airport gift shop thing. This time, however, he handed me a sheet of paper with all the Boston Bruins’ signatures on it, including my (and every other kid’s) hero of that era, Bobby Orr. Wow, I was over the moon! He had happened to be on the same flight as the Boston Bruins on their way into town to play the Canucks and managed to get most of the team’s autographs, including, yes, Bobby Orr, as well as Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Carol Vadnais, Gary Doak, Al Sims, Andre Laval and Dave Forbes.

Of note, the year was 1975 and, for those who know hockey, that happened to be the same road trip when Phil Esposito, while in Vancouver, got told he had been traded to the New York Rangers in what was one of the biggest trades of all time. Bobby Orr went on to win the scoring title one last time that year, but his knees finally gave out and he never regained his magic, eventually getting signed by the Black Hawks (thanks to some shenangigans by his agent, the much-hated Alan Eagleson). Orr played a handful of games over the next two years and then was forced  to retire at the young age of 30. The Big Bad Bruins would never be the same without Orr and Esposito….