Last week, the Canucks unveiled their new AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, as well as the spiffy new duds that the club would be wearing, and I should say right up front that I love the look of it all. I think I prefer the Comets crest to the birthing whale, and I’ve always been a big fan of Vancouver’s blue and green palette. It’s my favourite colour combination in the world outside of green and yellow (which, sadly, died out with the Minnesota North Stars, and likely no NHL team will employ again until John Deere breaks into the hockey sponsorship game).
On one hand, the Canucks should be commended for doing their research and making a nod to Utica’s hockey history through their branding. According to Canucks.com, the crest “honours the Comets heritage by incorporating the classic Comets shield, honours the game of hockey by using the puck as a focal point and draws connection to Canucks master brand through colours, lines and shapes.”
That’s all well and good. But, while they did a good job of connecting to Utica’s past, I think they erred in their connection to Utica’s present. It’s all too Canucky, in my opinion. As much as I love seeing the blue and green, my biggest issue is that palette. Those are Canucks colours, and for a team planted on the other side of the continent, I don’t like the blatant and constant visual reminder that they’re not the city of Utica’s team so much as they’re a Vancouver Canucks affiliate.Continue Reading —›
Gerald Morton is a part-time Zamboni operator, PhD Candidate, occasional lecturer at Vancouver Island University and former hockey target. He’s also a prolific guest-poster, having written two guest posts for Puck Daddy and two guest posts for PITB. Today he has a heart-warming message for Father’s Day about loving hockey more than his children.Continue Reading —›
Assuming that Roberto Luongo does finally get traded this off-season, the Canucks will need a backup for Cory Schneider. They have a few different options for finding one: they could try to get a goaltender back in the Luongo deal, sign one of the older, veteran goaltenders in free agency, or let their goaltending prospects battle for the job.
The latter option isn’t particularly appealing, since the Canucks’ available goaltending prospects are Eddie Lack, Joe Cannata, and…nope, that’s it.
At least, that was it, as it appears that they have signed another goaltending prospect: Joacim Eriksson.Continue Reading —›
On Friday, the Canucks have finally announced a home for their wayward AHL franchise in Utica, New York, along with the name of the new club: the Comets.
The unveiling came complete with a logo and a jersey, but something very important was missing: a mascot. Every AHL team needs an excitement-inducing mascot, someone to connect with the kids who come out to watch the games, scare the younger ones who don’t understand to tears, and represent the team in the community.
Clearly, the only reason they didn’t introduce the mascot at the press conference is that they haven’t designed him yet. They must need help.
That’s where you come in. We are holding an entirely unofficial art contest to design the new Utica Comets mascot!Continue Reading —›
Considering how many sagas the Vancouver Canucks have been juggling in recent days, it’s entirely possible that you might have lost track of one or two, so let’s get you caught up on the AHL affiliate saga, which came to a merciful end this week with the introduction of the Utica Comets.
Ever since their sweet deal with the Manitoba Moose was killed by the return of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, the Canucks have been working to find an AHL partnership as cushy as that one. The two-year pact with the Chicago Wolves, which expired at the end of this season, wasn’t it. While the Moose were a somewhat accommodating franchise, willing to give big minutes to the Canucks’ developing prospects, the Wolves were as independent as Destiny’s Child.
It created obstacles, and at some point in the relationship, the Canucks began working on a plan to procure their own AHL team, which would be closer to home, both in terms of their interests and their proximity. They set their sights on Abbotsford.
The plan only half-worked. After purchasing the Peoria Rivermen from the St. Louis Blues, the Canucks couldn’t work out a deal with the Flames to move the Abbotsford Heat elsewhere. Thus, for the past month or so, the Canucks has been looking for a city to park their new affiliate.
They landed on Utica, New York, birthplace of Springfield school district Superintendent Gary Chalmers. On Friday, Laurence Gilman, Lorne Henning, and Tom Sestito (for some reason) were in upstate New York to formally announce the advent of their new affiliate, the Comets.Continue Reading —›
Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.Continue Reading —›
The 2013 NHL entry draft is less than three weeks away, which means that Mike Gillis and his crew will be doubly busy as they continue their search for a new head coach and prepare for the drafting table — the drafting table being where they will draft their list of potential draft picks prior to the draft. It’s a lot easier on the back than a desk.
Gillis has been criticized — quite fairly — for his struggles at the draft. Not a single Gillis pick played the full season with the Canucks in 2013. While Jordan Schroeder reached 31 games as a rookie, he was back in the AHL by the end of the season and didn’t play for the Canucks in the playoffs.
It’s worth noting, however, that Frank Corrado, drafted in the fifth round in 2011, played all four playoff games for the Canucks and looks set to make the team as a 20-year-old next season. Corrado’s success would seem to indicate that Gillis has improved at drafting in recent years, with prospects like Nicklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, and Patrick McNally bolstering that claim.
Meanwhile, he’s been able to add free agent prospects like Chris Tanev, Eddie Lack, and Kellan Lain. With that said, Gillis’s first couple years of drafting look rough in retrospect and the Canucks’ prospect pool is painfully shallow.
It’s been five years since Gillis’s first draft as Canucks’ GM in 2008, which gives us a fair span of time to judge a player’s development. Prospects drafted in 2008 are now 23 or so; at this point, if they haven’t already cracked an NHL lineup, they’re starting to reach their sell-by date. For the ones that have, after five years is when we can start to judge what kind of NHL player they have become.
So, just how bad was the 2008 draft for the Canucks? Was it as lacklustre as people think or has it been exaggerated?Continue Reading —›
Oilers’ General Manager Craig MacTavish originally went out shopping for an associate coach — a little first anniversary present for his man, Ralph Krueger. But, like a husband walking the mall in search of a gift for the wife, only to find himself drawn less to the jewelry stores and more to the family law offices on the second floor, MacTavish soon realized that what he really wanted was a divorce.
And so he fired up his Skype account and he fired Krueger in a flash. (It was a more fitting gift anyway. The first anniversary is the paper anniversary, so walking papers are more in line with the hierarchy than a shiny new associate.)
Now coachless, MacTavish did what any newly single man would do: he hit the market hard. Having keyed Dallas Eakins as his next target, and not long after hearing that Eakins had gone in for a second interview with the Vancouver Canucks and they might soon be getting serious, MacTavish sprung into action, got Eakins in the room, and made his best pitch.
When he left the room, Eakins was his. The next time Mike Gillis logged into Facebook, he saw that Eakins had changed his status to “in a relationship”, and then Eakins wouldn’t return any of his text messages, it was horrible.
Or something like that. In any case, if the Canucks were interested in Dallas Eakins to replace the recently-dismissed Alain Vigneault, he’s off the market. And now they have to look elsewhere.Continue Reading —›
Of all the quandaries facing the Canucks this off-season, the fourth line might seem to be the least pressing. It is, however, where the Canucks are likely to make the most changes and will have a major impact on the team’s success in 2013-14.
Consider this: of all the teams in the playoffs this season, the Canucks played their fourth line the least. Canucks’ fourth liners averaged just over 6-and-a-half minutes of ice time per game and were one of only two fourth lines that didn’t tally a single point. The performance of the fourth line certainly wasn’t the reason the Canucks got swept, by any means, but it is a major problem that the Canucks were unable to roll all four lines with any sort of effectiveness.
Moreover, the fourth line had no identity, like they were taken into the witness protection program and just hung out for a while. As Mike Gillis heads into free agency to take another stab at building a successful fourth line, he needs to decide what he wants it to be.
This is significant, since two players who played a major role on the fourth line in the past two seasons are on their way out the door, both of them centres: Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre. Potentially leaving as well are fringe fourth liners Steven Pinizzotto and Andrew Ebbett. Even Dale Weise is a restricted free agent, with his future up in the air. The only member of the fourth line from this season that has been re-signed is Tom Sestito, who is likely to spend more time in the press box than on the ice.
It’s possible that we’ll see an entirely new fourth line next season. So what kind of identity should the fourth line have?Continue Reading —›
I have to confess that I haven’t really been following the second and third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. After the Canucks made like the citizens of Springfield and dug themselves a hole they couldn’t get out of against the San Jose Sharks, I needed to take a break from hockey. I figured I’d tune back in for the finals, just in time to watch Pittsburgh roll over whatever hapless suckers made it out of the West. I even thought I could bring myself to feel good about watching Jarome Iginla win his first cup.
Imagine my surprise then, when I glanced at the scores on Saturday evening and discovered, to my horror, that Chicago had dispatched the Kings in five and Boston had somehow swept the Penguins. As a die-hard Canucks fan, this sets up a nightmare final.Continue Reading —›