This guy would have more to say if he had read the cheat sheet.
Two years ago, we introduced the inaugural Canucks Bandwagon cheat sheet to give aid to the less informed, less involved fan who wanted to feel a part of the Canucks’ success. Last year, we did the same, allowing a number of fair-weather fans to get into the team just in time for the Stanley Cup run. (Unfortunately, those fair-weather fans went on to riot. We can’t help but feel partly responsible for that.)
The Canucks are once again the talk of the town. They’re back on top of the Northwest division, they’re contending for the Western Conference title and the Presidents’ trophy, and they’re a Stanley Cup favourite. Safe to say, as more and more Vancouverites realize they’re still good, we’re going to have a fresh batch of bandwagoners.
If you’re one of those bandwagoners, we want to help you fit in. This year’s Bandwagon Canucks Fan Cheat Sheet–a geyser of valuable information–will tell you everything you need to know about the Vancouver Canucks roster. Today we introduce you to the defencemen and goalies. Tomorrow: forwards and coaches.
About: Alberts wears no. 41. He’s 6’5″ and, like the aliens in The Invasion, he loves to take the body. He’s especially strong on the penalty kill, where he blocks shots, clears pucks and makes up for penalties he took earlier. Unfortunately, he’s not as effective at even-strength. When the play isn’t limited to just one zone, his lumbering stride is a little more noticeable.
Nickname(s): AHLBerts, Andy Alby, A Minor, Barabbas
My wife thinks he looks like: Ben Affleck.
If he touches the puck, it was incidental contact during a bodycheck. He’ll get rid of it.
Expect to hear: “Big hit by Alberts in the corner.”
Don’t expect to hear: “Noted speedster Alberts stickhandles through the neutral zone…”
About: Ballard wears no. 4. He’s deployed primarily as a bottom pairing blueliner, although he’s paid like a top-four guy. He recently won fastest skater at Canucks Super Skills and he occasionally rushes the puck into the offensive zone all by himself. He makes remarkable hipchecks, although he can get a bit low. Unfortunately, despite his high skillset, he can’t seem to find his way out of AV’s dog house, which may have a hedge maze in it.
Nickname(s): Mallard, Howard the Duck, Wolf, Hips, Power Ballard, Pranky the Prankster
My wife thinks he looks like he could use a hug.
If he touches the puck, he could make a brutal turnover or he could orchestrate a dazzling end-to-end rush. Alain Vigneault is impressed by neither of these things.
Expect to hear: “What a hipcheck. Give Ballard more icetime!”
Don’t expect to hear: “What a turnover. Give Rome more icetime!”
About: Bieksa wears no. 3. He plays on the Canucks’ top shutdown pairing with Dan Hamhuis. He’s the team’s best quote. He is beloved in Vancouver these days, which is impressive since, at the beginning of last season, Canuck fans wanted to run him out of town.
Nickname(s): Juice, The Stanchion Whisperer, Francesco, Wolverine
My wife thinks he looks like: Marty Bieksa. Other than that, no one.
If he touches the puck: Hope it just deflected off a stanchion. He’s got crazy chemistry with stanchions.
Expect to hear: “Hahaha, Bieksa said milk hot dogs. What?”
Don’t expect to hear: “Bieksa should try being a little more forthcoming with the media.”
About: Edler wears no. 23. He is either the Canucks’ number one defenceman or their number three defenceman, depending on whom you ask. He’s certainly the most well-rounded, capable starting the rush, jumping into the rush, or finishing off the rush. He’s a Swede, but he’s always rushin’. (Heyo!) Speaking of being a Swede, Edler has a reputation for being quiet, unassuming, and relatively unemotional. Among Swedes.
Nickname(s): Eagle, Steady Eddy, Breadler, The Walking Deadler
My wife thinks he looks like: Daniel Stern.
If he touches the puck, his stick will shatter into a thousand tiny pieces. It may do that even if he doesn’t touch the puck.
Expect to hear: Nothing. No one has ever heard Edler speak.
Don’t expect to hear: “That Edler is one wild and crazy guy.”
About: Hamhuis wears no. 2 and is one half of the Canucks’ shutdown defensive pairing with Kevin Bieksa. He’s a stay-at-home type who makes smart, positional plays, and moves the puck out of the zone quickly. He’s noted for his faith and his charity work, not to mention his general niceness.
Nickname(s): Hammy, The Hammer, Community Man,
My wife thinks he looks like: a youth pastor.
If he touches the puck: no one will notice. If Hamhuis were a politician, he’d be in a constant state of scandal because his contributions are gravely under-reported.
Expect to hear: “Hamhuis pokes the puck away from his man, apologizes, and moves the puck up ice.”
Don’t expect to hear: “Selfish play by Hamhuis. Typical Hamhuis.”
About: Rome wears no. 29. He’s a depth defenceman for the Canucks, especially serviceable in that he can play on either side on any pairing with only a slight dropoff in efficiency. He plays primarily on the bottom pairing with or in place of Keith Ballard. His game, like Chutes n’ Ladders, is very simple. It involves little more than dumping the puck one zone ahead from whatever zone he’s in.
My wife thinks he looks like: Rocko from Undergrads.
If he touches the puck, it’s going off the glass and out into the neutral zone.
Expect to hear: “Aaron Rome clears the puck to centre.”
Don’t expect to hear: “Aaron Rome is in the lineup precisely for thrilling end-to-end rushes like that .”
About: Salo wears no. 6. He is the longest-serving member of the Canucks’ blueline corps. He plays primarily on a pairing with Alex Edler. Some say he’s the Canucks’ best defenceman when healthy, but this is a guy who has torn an Achilles tendon playing backgammon and once missed time after being bitten by a poisonous sparrow. He’s rarely healthy.
Nickname(s): Owl, The Fragile Finn, the Finnish MacInnis, Casper, Salpa, Hurtie McOuchie, Salo is your Pal-O
My wife thinks he looks like: Death (as conceptualized by Ingmar Bergman). Also Boo Radley.
If he touches the puck, he’s probably stepping into a massive slapper.
Expect to hear: “Salo gets hit by the shot and he’s hurt, which is remarkable, because he shot that puck.”
Don’t expect to hear: “I agree with Brad Marchand — there’s nothing more terrifying than the sight of Sami Salo coming down the boards. It’s like The Exorcist on ice.”
About: Sulzer wears no. 52. He’s a depth defenceman that was signed by the Canucks in the offseason, or at least that’s what he tells everyone. No one in the Canucks’ organization has any recollection of ever calling him. They say he just showed up one day with his luggage and said “I’m here!” He doesn’t get into a whole lot of games, but he’s there in case he’s needed.
Nickname(s): Who’s that guy?
My wife thinks he looks like: Henrik Sedin. Also, Josh Dallas from Once Upon a Time.
If he touches the puck, expect someone in the room to turn to you and ask, “Who’s that guy?”
Expect to hear: “No seriously, who’s that guy?”
Don’t expect to hear: “Sulzer is my favourite Canuck.”
About: Tanev wears no. 8. He made his Canuck debut last season and earned praise for his calm, cool, and collected play. He’s spent much of this season in the AHL, playing on a top pairing for the Canucks’ affiliate Chicago Wolves, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s back with the big club, especially since he’s a right-handed blueliner on a team that doesn’t have enough of those. His outlet passes are crisper than baked chips.
Nickname(s): Crisp Tanev, The Cucumber
My wife thinks he looks like: A very young Robert De Niro. Actually, this one’s uncanny.
If he touches the puck: he’s about to get nailed with a massive bodycheck, which won’t faze him in the slightest.
Expect to hear: “Tanev is so cool and calm with the puck. He’s like a young Paul Martin.”
Don’t expect to hear: “Tanev looks primed and ready for a political career. He’s like a young Paul Martin.”
About: Luongo is the Canucks’ number one goaltender, a fact of which he wears no. 1 to remind us. He was, at one time, the captain of the team, but it didn’t work out. When he’s amazing, fans tolerate him. When he’s inconsistent, the local Costco moves a lot of tar and feathers.
Nickname(s): Luuuuuuuu, Bobby Lu, Funny Bob
My wife thinks he looks like: Sacha Baron Cohen. And Lady Gaga.
If he touches the puck, hope it didn’t come from behind the net, or it’s banking off him and in.
Expect to hear: “Luongo is the best goaltender the Canucks have ever had.” Also, “Luongo is the worst goaltender in the NHL.”
Don’t expect to hear: “Tough to blame Luongo on that goal.”
About: Schneider wears no. 35. He’s the Canucks’ backup netminder. He has red hair. Many fans want him to be the starter.
Nickname(s): Gingerbricks, The C-Wall, Frecklesnoot, Schnoo
My wife thinks he looks like: Patrick Renna, of children’s sports movie classics The Sandlot and The Big Green.
If he touches the puck: he just ignited a goaltending controversy.
Expect to hear: “Tough to blame Schneider for that goal.”
Don’t expect to hear: “Personally, I find Luongo to be far less divisive and much more likable.”