Welcome to 2011 in review, PITB’s annual, exhaustive, retrospective compilation of all the major Canucks stories that held your attention in the year that was. It’s been a long and memorable year, and while not everything that happened was good, a lot happened, and that’s never bad.
Keep that in mind. You might have a bitter taste in your mouth over some of it, but it could be a whole lot worse: you could be a fan of a team whose most memorable moment of 2011 was when they unveiled an ugly third jersey. The Canucks may have lost the Stanley Cup Final, but at least they were in it.
There was other fun stuff too. Remember when Ryan Kesler posed for that nude photo? That’s in here. Remember Cody Hodgson’s first career goal? That’s in here. Remember when Alex Burrows allegedly bit that guy’s finger during that one series? Hey, remember that series? Oh, you’d better believe that’s in here.
My friends, it’s all here (except the stuff we forgot–feel free to jog our memory in the comments). What was your favourite moment of 2011?
– JANUARY –
Jan. 5 – Daniel Sedin scores the 10000th regular season goal in Canucks history in a 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
Jan. 5 – In a much bigger event, Roberto Luongo loses the shutout in that game with 11 seconds to go and doesn’t come out to acknowledge his first star selection and give his goalie stick away. “I’ll give two sticks away next time, he says, as though it’s not that big a deal. BUT IT’S A HUGE DEAL. THE CHILDREN AND SUCH.
Jan. 11 – Henrik Sedin is named an NHL all-star for the second time in his career, and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler are named to their first All-Star game. That night, Kesler scores a goal and pots the shootout winner in a game versus the New York Islanders. ”It was a pretty good day for me today,” Kesler said, because first all-star selections actually do matter to the players.
Jan. 16 – A photo surfaces of Keith Ballard in a hockey bag, in a trash can. Kevin Bieksa explains: ”He crawled into my hockey bag there and thought for whatever reason I wouldn’t notice my bag being three times the size it usually is. I came over and looked at it and I see that obviously it’s huge, so I start kicking him and then I tried to pick him up and throw him in the garbage can, but he’s a hefty boy so it was hard.”
Jan. 18 – Sergei Shirokov scores his first NHL goal. ”I had a few chances, I could have scored on three or four good chances, and finally Henrik touched my stick and I scored a goal,” Shirokov says.
Jan. 26 – Lee Sweatt becomes the 10th defenseman to play for the Canucks on the season after he is called up to fill in for Alex Edler, who is suffering from back pain. In his first NHL game, Sweatt scores his first NHL goal, the game-winner in a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators. He will retire the highest-scoring Sweatt in Sweatt family history.
Jan. 27 – The Canucks announce that Alex Edler will undergo micro discectomy surgery on his back, and will be out indefinitely.
– FEBRUARY –
Feb. 2 – Cody Hodgson scores his first NHL goal in a 6-0 rout of the Phoenix Coyotes. ”It just came loose in the slot,” Hodgson said. “To tell you the truth, once I got over there I just threw it with a hope and a prayer.”
Feb. 4 – Sami Salo plays his first hockey game since suffering a torn Achilles in the summer, suiting up for the Manitoba Moose while on a conditioning assignment. He scores two goals.
Feb. 12 – Sami Salo returns to the Canucks lineup. Alex Edler’s injury allows the Canucks to get him in the lineup, under the cap, without having to trade one of their six high-paid defensemen.
Feb. 17 – In the meantime, however, injuries to Kevin Bieksa, Keith Ballard, and Dan Hamhuis, Andrew Alberts and Lee Sweatt force Christian Ehrhoff to spearhead a defense corps that features raw rookies Chris Tanev, Evan Oberg, and Yann Sauve. The Canucks go 1-1 with this group.
Feb. 19 – The Canucks defeat the Dallas Stars 5-2. The win makes it 10 weeks, or 20 games, since Roberto Luongo has lost a game in regulation. No one will remember this.
Feb. 19 – Late in that game, Yann Sauve gets straight up robbed of his first NHL assist when he sends the Sedins away 3-on-1 and they make three passes.
Feb. 23 – Tanner Glass plays a game of Scrabble with a blogger for charity. This blogger, who will remain handsome, wins 344-314 on the strength of the word “DOUGHIER”, which means, “More like Harrison Mooney.” But the more important number is the dollar amount raised for the Canucks For Kids Fund. Like Goku’s power level, it’s over 9000.
Feb. 28 – On trade deadline day, the Canucks acquire Maxim Lapierre and Chris Higgins. Lapierre, a known yapper, says, “If they want me to shut up, I’ll do it. Later, in the Stanley Cup Final, he gets flack for wagging his finger at Patrice Bergeron and embellishing a Zdeno Chara spear despite saying nothing in either case. He can’t win.
– MARCH –
Mar. 5 – The Canucks open a five-game road swing through California with a win in Los Angeles. Buoyed by massive fan support in every city they visit, the Canucks sweep the trip.
Mar. 6 – The “Keslurking” meme begins when a Canucks.com video circulates in which Raffi Torres gives an interview while Ryan Kesler lurks topless behind him, eating a piece of pizza. ”Ryan’s always been considered serious — I wouldn’t want to use the word moody — but when things weren’t going well for our team he certainly wore it on his face,” says Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “I think he’s relaxed a little in that area and if he’s sharing that with his teammates and the public, then good [...] It keeps everybody loose.”
Mar. 8 – A bearded Rick Rypien returns from his leave of absence and heads to the AHL on a conditioning stint. It is learned that the Canucks have a special arrangement with the NHL that will allow Rypien to stay with the Manitoba Moose as long as he needs.
Mar. 10 – The Canucks play the best game of the 2010-11 regular-season, a 5-4 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks.
Mar. 14 – The Canucks for Kids Fund donates $5 million to BC Children’s Hospital.
Mar. 17 – Manny Malhotra takes a puck in the eye and leaves the game. The next day, the Canucks release a statement that he’ll be gone for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. He requires multiple surgeries and will never gain 100% of the vision back in that eye.
Mar. 23 – Daniel Sedin and Marinette Sedin welcome their third child, a daughter.
Mar. 29 – In a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators, the Canucks clinch the Western Conference. “It’s not really a huge deal right now,” says Kevin Bieksa.
Mar. 31 – The Canucks clinch their first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history and Daniel Sedin registers his 100th point in a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. When asked if the President’s trophy means anything, Daniel Sedin responds, “Nope, nothing. It means we have home-ice advantage, but other than that no.”
– APRIL –
Apr. 6 – In a meaningless 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Alain Vigneault, at the urging of fans and, eventually, Roberto Luongo, sends Cory Schneider out for the last 28 seconds of the game. This brief appearance guarantees that his final start on April 9th will be his 25th game, not 24th, making him eligible to share the Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender with the fewest goals allowed, with Roberto Luongo. In his final start, three days later, Roberto Luongo will warn him before the game, “You’ve got seven goals to work with. Don’t screw it up.”
Apr. 7 – Alex Edler returns to the Canucks lineup in a 5-0 blowout over the Minnesota Wild, which also features another Ryan Kesler hat trick and a Presidents’ Trophy presentation ceremony with a surprise appearance from Manny Malhotra.
Apr. 13 – The Canucks open the postseason with a 2-0 win over Chicago.
Apr. 17 – The Canucks take a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round series with a 3-2 victory. Daniel Sedin scores the game-winning goal.
Apr. 19 – On the verge of being swept, the Chicago Blackhawks stun the Canucks with a decisive 7-2 blowout. Dave Bolland’s return to the lineup, after missing the opening three games with a concussion, appears to reinvigorate them.
Apr. 24 – After two consecutive blowout losses, Alain Vigneault shocks everyone by starting Cory Schneider for game six. Schneider plays well, but makes a few puck-handling errors which lead to goals, then pulls a muscle trying to stop a Michael Frolik penalty shot. The game goes into overtime, where Ben Smith scores to send the series to a seventh and deciding game.
Apr. 26 – Roberto Luongo starts game 7, vowing to put the blowout games behind him. He does just that, shutting out the Hawks for 58 minutes. Then, Jonathan Toews scores a shorthanded goal to send the game into overtime. 45 minutes later, Alex Burrows scores on a Chris Campoli turnover to slay the dragon.
Apr. 27 – Alex and Nancy Burrows welcome their first child, Victoria, into the world.
Apr. 28 – The Canucks open their series versus the Nashville Predators with a 1-0 victory. After the game, Nashville allegedly files a complaint with the NHL about Rogers Arena’s popular green men, which has a similar effect to the attempted murder of 50 Cent: it gives them crazy street cred.
– MAY –
May 5 – Ryan Kesler puts in a dominant performance, scoring a goal and picking up two assists in a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators to give the Canucks a 3-1 series lead. His goal, a solo powerplay rush, is nothing short of remarkable.
May 9 – The Canucks close out the Nashville Predators with a 2-1 victory. Ryan Kesler has another multi-point game, finishing the series with 11 points on the Canucks’ 14 total goals. Nashville coach Barry Trotz raves, “He played six of the most incredible games you will ever see.”
May 15 – The Canucks open the Western Conference Finals versus the San Jose Sharks with a 3-2 victory.
May 18 – The Canucks win game 2 in a 7-3 blowout. Things get out of hand for San Jose after Kevin Bieksa wins an unlikely tilt with Patrick Marleau, and Sharks’ forward Ben Eager, taking exception, takes a run at Daniel Sedin. Eager spends much of the game taking trips to the penalty box.
May 18 – During one such trip, CBC cameras catch a woman flashing Eager at the glass where the Green Men usually sit. People talk about this for far too long.
May 19 – The Canucks announce that Mikael Samuelsson is done for the season after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia.
May 20 – The Canucks lose game three 4-3 and also lose Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome to legal and non-legal hits, respectively, by Jamie McGinn. The Canucks vaunted defensive depth immediately becomes the issue. “We have had a great defensive corps all year,” said Roberto Luongo. “Guys have stepped up and played big roles for us while we had some injuries, so hopefully those guys aren’t hurt seriously, but we’re not concerned because we know those guys can play.”
May 22 – After a regular season that took the Canucks 78 games to finally score a 5-on-3 goal, the Canucks score three in one period — two by Sami Salo, one by Ryan Kesler — to win game four and take a 3-1 series lead versus San Jose. Henrik Sedin picks up an assist on all four goals in the game, taking over the playoff scoring lead. He registers 12 total points in the series.
May 24 – The Canucks punch their ticket to the dance on two huge goals: a game-tying tip in by an injured Ryan Kesler with fourteen seconds in regulation, and a double overtime goal by Kevin Bieksa to win the contest and eliminate the Sharks in five games. The latter goal is a strange one, scored when the puck deflects off a stanchion right to Kevin Bieksa, unseen by anyone but him.
– JUNE –
June 1 – The Stanley Cup Final begins with the Vancouver Canucks facing off against the Boston Bruins for Lord Stanley’s mug. The Canucks win the opener, 1-0, on a goal by Raffi Torres. But it’s not all good news: Dan Hamhuis tears muscles in his abdomen attempting a hipcheck on Milan Lucic. Canuck fans suddenly sour on hipchecks. It won’t be the last time they overreact.
June 1 – In the same game, Alex Burrows “allegedly” bites Patrice Bergeron. Patrice Bergeron shows officials his cut finger, but they think he’s just trying to make a blood pact and ignore him.
June 4 – Manny Malhotra makes a miraculous return to the Canucks’ lineup in a game 2 the Canucks win after Alex Burrows scores the winner just 11 seconds into overtime. As the Canucks mob him, none of his teammates remember to collect the puck. Luckily, Fin snatches it from the Bruins net during the celebration.
June 6 – The Bruins get back into the series in a completely unexpected 8-1 rout. The series turns after Aaron Rome levels Nathan Horton in the neutral zone midway through the first period. It’s a late hit, and Horton convulses on the ice for several scary minutes. After the first intermission, the Bruins take over the game and, eventually, the series.
June 7 – Aaron Rome is suspended for a whopping four games, the longest suspension in postseason history. It is proof of why interim disciplinarian Mike Murphy was not offered the job full-time.
June 8 – The Bruins rout the Canucks a second time, winning 4-0 and evening the series at two.
June 10 – The Canucks win game 5 1-0 on a late goal by Maxim Lapierre, who does a happy dance all the way to the boards.
June 13 – The Canucks lose game six 5-2 in embarrassing fashion. Roberto Luongo is pulled. Daniel Sedin is rabbit-punched by Brad Marchand. Johnny Boychuk breaks Mason Raymond’s back. Game 7 goes June 15.
June 22 - At the NHL awards, Daniel Sedin wins the Lindsay, Ryan Kesler wins the Selke, and Mike Gillis wins GM of the year. Curiously, Daniel Sedin’s Lindsay is broken when he receives it. Did Brad Marchand get some time alone with it?
June 24 – The Canucks select Nicklas Jensen with their 1st round pick in the NHL entry draft, among other prospects.
June 27 – After losing their AHL affiliate in Winnipeg when the Jets returned, the Canucks announce a partnership with the Chicago Wolves.
June 27 – The Canucks sign Kevin Bieksa to a five-year deal worth $4.6 million per year. Mike Gillis then offers the exact same contract to Christian Ehrhoff.
June 29 – The Christian Ehrhoff era ends in Vancouver when he rejects the offer and the Canucks trade his rights to the New York Islanders, who have approximately one conversation with him, then promptly trade his rights to the Buffalo Sabres.
June 29 – The Canucks announce that they have re-signed Maxim Lapierre and Andrew Alberts to two-year deals. Lapierre’s is worth $2 million over two years. Alberts is worth $2.45.
June 30 - Two days before he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent and knowing full well the Canucks aren’t resigning him, Tanner Glass participates in a signing in support of the “Dear Vancouver, I Love You” restoration project, because he’s seriously just a quality guy.
– JULY –
July 1 - The Canucks resign Chris Higgins for two years at $3.8 million, Sami Salo for one year at $2 million, and make their big free agent splash: Marco Sturm, whom they sign to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. “Huh”, says Canuck nation.
July 3 – The Canucks sign fourth line hopefuls Steven Pinizzotto and Mark Mancari.
July 4 – Four days into free agency, the Canucks have said goodbye to nearly everyone from their 2010-11 fourth line. Alex Bolduc and Raffi Torres are in Phoenix, Guillaume Desbiens is in Calgary, Mario Bliznak and Jeff Tambellini opt for Europe, and Tanner Glass and Rick Rypien sign in Winnipeg.
July 7 - The Canucks.com message board thread of the year springs up. It’s called “There’s something incredibly wrong with the preseason schedule“, and it seeks to discover the why said schedule lists two games with the Calgary Flames at the same time. Turns out it’s a split-squad game, or a game in which the squads are split. Not sure which.
July 9 – Unwilling to lose an asset for nothing, the Canucks trade the rights of KHL-bound winger Sergei Shirokov to the Florida Panthers in exchange for feisty winger Mike Duco. In doing some research, we discover that Duco is on Twitter and come across a few tweets in which he disparages the Canucks’ playoff effort. Vancouver fans being the sensitive type that they are, this sets off something of a backlash. Duco initially tweets an apology, but when the vitriol only increase, he deletes his Twitter account.
July 15 – Anthony Stewart establishes “National Don’t Pass it to Bulis” Day in protest of our irresponsible blogging. It’s not quite Occupy Vancouver, but it’s lasted longer and it’s a Hell of a lot more focused.
July 26 – The Canucks sign Byron Bitz. Remember him? Me neither.
July 28 – The Canucks avoid arbitration with Jannik Hansen by agreeing to terms on a 3-year, $4.05 million deal.
– AUGUST –
Aug. 8 - Daniel Carcillo signs a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, and establishes his Canucks’ hit list: Torres, Glass, and Laperriere. Unfortunately, none of these players play for the Canucks.
Aug. 15 - Former Canuck Rick Rypien takes his own life. He continues to be missed and mourned.
Aug. 18 - Roberto Luongo is inducted into the Italian Walk of Fame. His bio includes the phrase, “Luongo is often referred to as the greatest goalie who ever lived,” which is not at all hyperbolic.
Sept. 6 – The Canucks release their official training camp roster.
Sept. 7 - Former Canuck Pavol Demitra perishes in the tragic Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash. Only one of the flight’s 45 passengers survives.
Sept. 9 – After a standoff that lasted the entire summer because Victor Oreskovich had no arbitration rights and therefore no leverage whatsoever, the big winger caves and agrees to a two-way contract.
Sept. 15 – The Penticton Young Stars tournament concludes with the Canucks’ prospects losing to the Winnipeg Jets’ prospects.
Sept. 18 – Kevin Bieksa joins Twitter, which is either due to Ryan Kesler’s persuasion or the effectiveness of PITB’s “Twitter Needs Juice” viral campaign. Probably the latter. We rule.
Sept. 21 – After announcing that the Canucks have signed a whopping six NHL veterans to tryout contracts, it becomes apparent that the team will be resting their veterans for most of the preseason and meeting the league’s preseason roster requirements by dressing the tryout players.
Sept. 22 – We learn that Johnny Boychuk apologized to Mason Raymond for breaking his back via text message. Because Raymond is a grown-up, he takes this apology at face value despite the medium.
Sept. 28 - After an interview with Global BC’s Chris Gailus on Raise-A-Reader day, Ryan Kesler slips behind him for a quick Keslurk. It’s not the only time Kesler makes the news that day: ESPN announces that he’ll be appearing nude in their upcoming Body Issue, and he gives fans a sneak peek by having an ab-off with with some random dude on the street.
Sept. 30 – After a training camp so impressive some (such as myself) wondered if he might get a nine-game tryout with the Canucks, Nicklas Jensen is returned to junior in the Canucks’ final round of training camp cuts.
– OCTOBER –
Oct. 4 – Two days before the season is set to open and the opening night lineup is supposedly set, the Canucks claim Dale Weise off waivers from the New York Rangers and waive Victor Oreskovich.
Oct. 5 - Ryan Kesler’s nude photo hits the Internet. So many people visit our blog that it crashes, which is embarrassing. What Internet site can’t handle one naked photo?
Oct. 6 - The Canucks open the season with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Oct. 7 - Mike Duco returns to Twitter. Anthony Stewart does not stop chirping us for chasing him off it in the summer.
Oct. 17 - The Canucks assign Chris Tanev to Chicago.
Oct. 18 - Ryan Kesler returns after offseason surgery to repair torn muscles in his hip and groin. His Twitter activity drops off exponentially.
Oct. 20 – Roberto Luongo gets a new mask. “It’s two weeks late,” he says, “Just like my game.” Though it’s only two weeks into the season, no one appreciates his gallows humour.
Oct. 20 – The Canucks debut a new goal song, “Electric Worry” by Clutch. It’s annoying, which is sort of the point.
Oct. 22 – The Canucks acquires winger David Booth from Florida in exchange for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm, both of whom have been questionable at best since returning to the lineup after offseason surgeries.
Nov. 1 – Roberto Luongo surrenders his first snack goal of the 2011-12 season.
Nov. 2 - In an interview on the Team 1040, Kevin Bieksa discloses that all the Canucks have animal nicknames. It’s huge news. Just huge.
Nov. 6 - In a 6-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Aaron Rome returns to the lineup after breaking his hand in the preseason and scores a goal. This sets off two weeks in which he is the story. In that time, he scores three goals in three complete games, has a fourth called off, gets tossed from a game for a clean hit, and proves the existence of the theorized Higgs-Boson particle.
Nov. 8 - Dale Weise joins Twiter. There are upsides and downsides to this.
Nov. 15 – The Canucks announce that offseason signee Steven Pinizzotto, who has yet to play a regular-season game for the Canucks, requires season-ending shoulder surgery.
Nov. 20 - After Maxim Lapierre checks Jesse Winchester through the Canucks’ unlatched bench door, controversy erupts over whether or not Alex Burrows, who made the mistake of being there when it happened, unlatched the door on purpose.
Nov. 22 – Fans learn that Chris Higgins doesn’t wear an undershirt after a photo surfaces in which the Canucks’ winger is photographed wiping his nose with his sweater. Fans also learn that the dude has crazy abs.
– DECEMBER –
Dec. 1 - Cory Schneider starts his seventh straight game, a 6-5 loss to the Nashville Predators.
Dec. 1 - After a bizarre paperwork error keeps Mason Raymond out of the same game, his announced return, Aaron Volpatti draws in, scores his first goal of the season, then tears a muscle in his shoulder and is pronounced done for the season. Did Raymond do this with his mind, Carrie-style?
Dec. 5 - Chris Higgins misses time with a mysterious infection that starts in his foot and then spreads to his hand. Despite showing all the signs of a zombie bite, he is neither beheaded nor properly quarantined. Were George A. Romero dead, he would roll in his grave. Then climb out of his grave while groaning Braaaaaains.
Dec. 6 – Kevin Bieksa loses a tooth during a game versus the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Arena. The next day, a guy tries to sell a tooth on Craigslist, claiming it’s Bieksa’s, but makes the crucial mistake of saying he found the tooth in the Pepsi Centre. So close.
Dec. 6 – In the same game, Avalanche defenseman Kevin Porter hangs a knee on David Booth, spraining the winger’s MCL and sidelining him for 4-6 weeks, just as a line of he, Chris Higgins, and Ryan Kesler are beginning to click.
Dec. 6 – In the same game, Daniel Sedin pots one of the prettiest hat tricks of his career.
Dec. 13 – Dave Bolland calls the Sedins’ sisters during a radio interview. Canuck nation goes absolutely ballistic.
Dec. 17 – Roberto Luongo makes a blatant stick pass to Jannik Hansen, who scores. He is not given an assist on this play. It is far and away the most egregious wrong the Canuck have suffered all year.
Dec. 29 - In a pregame interview with Dan Murphy, Kevin Bieksa says the San Jose Sharks have a couple “Milk hot dogs” on their team.
Dec. 31 - The Canucks lose their final game of 2011 to the Los Angeles Kings, who play like a bunch of milk hot dogs.
Pass it to Bulis is the hockey blog that knows who needs the puck. Without spaces, it's also our e-mail address. Have stuff to say? We want to hear from you. Talk to us at passittobulis [at] gmail.com.