On the heels of the third trip to the Stanley Cup Final and the second time in team history when the Canucks were one game away from hoisting the hardest trophy to win in all of sports, it’s easy to forget about round one. Sure, a few folks are pointing out now that the Canucks could have been ousted in the first round and never made that Cup run, but really, we all know the Canucks just lost those three games to the ‘Hawks so Jonathan Toews would feel extra crushed when they won.

Speaking of crushing the ‘Hawks, Dan Carcillo’s been kind enough to remind us of the rivalry between the Canucks and Blackhawks. He did it by condescendingly forgetting the names of the Canucks’ players. He dismissively said some Vancouver players needed to be taken down a notch, and when asked who he was referring to, said, “Laperriere, Glass and Torres. Just because.”

That’s right, he couldn’t be bothered to name a single Canuck.

Now, some members of the media have pointed out that Carcillo may have meant to refer to Maxim Lapierre, who currently plays for the Canucks and has a name similar to Laperriere. But why stop there? Why not assume he meant to say Tanev, instead of Torres? And by Glass, he meant Lassie, short for Carlton Lassiter, the gun-loving detective on USA’s Psych, which is filmed in B.C., home of the Canucks*? Would that be such a stretch?

The Canuck that really bothers Carcillo didn’t even come up in the interview. It’s Alex Burrows that Carcillo truly dislikes. He said so in a 2008 interview, back when he didn’t pretend not to know the names of the Canucks. “You know who I’m talking about,” Carcillo said last Monday. Yeah, Dan, I do.

Still, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at the rivalry as it stands right now. The Canucks lost to the Blackhawks in the second round two years in a row on their way to winning a Cup. They made the Canucks captain cry. Then, a much better Canucks team defeated a much weaker Blackhawks team in the first round on their way to not winning a Cup. They made the Blackhawks captain cry. If you’re a Canucks fan, now the teams are even. If you’re a Blackhawks fan, Chicago needs some payback.

The Canucks are a little worse on paper than they were last season, and the Blackhawks are a little better. Last season, Chicago’s biggest weakness was paying their entire bottom six a combined $15 for the whole season. After trading away Brian Campbell, whose inflated contract was the sole reason the United States government was forced to raise national the debt ceiling, the Blackhawks now have the cap space to fill that hole. They chose to spend that money, however, on Dan Carcillo. I’d call it a lateral move at best.

Really, both teams lost pretty much the same thing — an offensive-minded defenseman — and both teams have retooled their bottom-six. Both teams still have their core still intact, and both have great motivation to beat each other. For Chicago, it’s the pain of having to think all the way back to 2010 to remember the last time they hoisted the Cup. For Vancouver, it’s the reminder that Chicago was one goal away of humiliating the Canucks in a historically unprecedented fashion. Both teams have something to play for.

As far as villains go, the Canucks’ villains have apparently already departed (except Laperriere, who was never here), and the Blackhawks’ villains are notably tamer than Byfuglien and Eager. Carcillo might get into a scrap with Byron Bitz, but in general, it looks like the team’s days of line brawls are behind them. Expect the games to be hard-fought, but more on the scoresheet than anywhere else.

Either way, the Canucks-Blackhawks games look like they’ll be exciting, and we can all openly hope they meet in the playoffs (even if we secretly hope they don’t), so maybe the rivalry can have another new chapter. One where the Canucks win, and then actually do hoist the Cup, so then they really are even.

*Interesting Tidbit: Mark Donnelly, who sings the national anthem at Rogers Arena, was featured in the 48th episode of Psych, called “Extradition: British Columbia.” Carcillo’s association of the show with the Vancouver Canucks isn’t completely off the mark.

 

Who Doesn’t Like Lucic?

Seriously, people are trying to rain on Lucic’s personal Cup parade? There’s a difference between being passionate about the game and being jerks about it. Now someone has to go reset the sign that counts how many days Vancouver Canucks fans go without embarrassing themselves.

After all the work that the Canucks management team has gone to in effort to make Vancouver an attractive destination to free agents, bad press like this can still keep some folks away.

 

Again, it’s Nice to be Prima Donna Free

Both Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn made headlines by roasting their coaches — most notably Kostitsyn, who still has to play for Jacques Martin. The Canucks aren’t without their little squabbles. We may very well hear Keith Ballard someday echo a tune Shane O’Brien sang when he was traded: “I never got a chance.”

Still, the important thing about these squabbles is we don’t know about them. What Kostitsyn did (and what Kovalev did before, during the season), was put himself before the team by talking about his disagreement with the coach to the media. Doing so creates a distraction, and brings unwanted attention to parts of the hockey process that are better kept behind closed doors.

From TSN: “When asked by Goals.by if it would be better to switch teams, the elder Kostitsyn replied, ‘I am not thinking about it for now. My agent’s advice is to play hockey.’”

That’s great advice, and it’d be great if he followed it — stop whining to the media and just play hockey. How great is it that the Canucks don’t have to deal with that kind of nonsense?

 

A Brief Comment on Headshots

Since the headshot rule has been changed to reflect what everyone insisted it just a year ago it would never become — a blanket hit-to-the-head rule — I figure now’s a good time to go on a long rant about what actually needs to be done to fix the game.

Of course, in reality, now’s a terrible time to do that, so in lieu of that rant, here’s my take in brief.

Guys like Sidney Crosby and David Perron shouldn’t have to get hurt like they did for people to take this seriously. That said, no amount of rule rewrites are going to make the game safe. Concussions are increasing, not just because the game is getting faster, but also because players are losing respect for each other. I was raised to believe that hockey players know the objective is always to hurt the other team, but never to injure them. That idea seems to have gone away.

You can mess with the rules all you like, but as long as that’s the focus of the league, it’s going to be the focus of the players as well. They’re not going to be worried about what hits they should throw, because they’ll be too busy considering what hits they can get away with. If there’s going to be real change, there needs to be a shift in the culture of hockey, and that means celebrating those players who know where the line is and make sure never to cross it.

We’re not at a point where fans can revile their own players for even the most brutal of dirty hits. Some Vancouver fans still defend Bertuzzi. Lacking that, we should at least cheer on the heroes who manage to deliver hard-hitting hockey while still playing the game with a reasonable degree of safety. Maybe the game could use another rule or two, but there’s no doubt it could use another role model.

But, yeah, the rule’s good, too, cause guys are getting concussed out there.

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6 comments

  1. invisibleairwaves
    August 12, 2011

    ‘We may very well hear Keith Ballard someday echo a tune Shane O’Brien sang when he was traded: “I never got a chance.”’

    In his defense, they don’t even let him practice the shootout!

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  2. Trevor
    August 12, 2011

    I honestly think this whole Lucic thing got blown way out of proportion. From reading the article I got the vibe that he didn’t want to gloat, not that he felt threatened or anything. No one is actually stopping him from doing anything, he himself chose not to.

    I’ve never even heard of the Vancouver Courier, and only read about it on Puck Daddy. I would like to hear something from the man himself on this.

    Also doing the Cup tour is different when your from a big city as opposed to Smithers or Spuzzum. In the small town everyone knows who you are and probably had a hand in getting you to the top. As someone from the North Shore I don’t really feel attatched to Lucic in that way. I really thought that he would have done a smalltime thing in East Van, where people were actively cheering for him in the finals.

    I really hope that he does do some sort of public thing because a) he deserves it and b) it would be a great PR move for the city.

    All that said, the guy won the Stanley Cup, his dreams are achieved. If he does have a private party, then he gets to be with the only people in the city that were cheering for the Bruins. I don’t buy the we should be happy for him line, he got to have his cake and we’re still eating dirt.

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  3. StevenK
    August 13, 2011

    Deeeeeear Qris,

    This one made me giggle a few times. Solid 3rd man.

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  4. steviewire
    August 14, 2011

    How can you not like Lucic? He is a great example of a classic Canadian style hockey player. Hard working two way player that never takes a shift off.

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  5. Trevor
    August 14, 2011

    Being a life long nerd goonish hockey never really appealed to me. Lucic is a great player but I get the feeling he would rob me of my lunch money.

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  6. bergberg
    August 15, 2011

    I somewhat disagree with your take on the headshot issue. Bumps and bruises are part of playing hockey – hard hits and fights will always remain a part of hockey culture. I don’t think that ever will (or should) change. I don’t think that the goons and bullies become the icons of the NHL – it is the skilled playmakers and big time scorers that become household names. These are the players that are truly celebrated (at least in my head – maybe I give the rest of hockey fans too much credit). I’m just going to say it (don’t hate me): Don Cherry might have a point here in his many rants about the modern hockey equipment. Something has changed in hockey to lead to this many head injuries, and I think a number of changes need to be made to reduce them. But I don’t think that hockey culture is entirely to blame.

    Great article though – keep them coming.

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