Canucks, Abbotsford may be ideal match, but Flames happy with Heat

Did you hear? The Canucks are in talks to take over the AHL franchise in Abbotsford. At least, that’s been the rumour for the last four years or so.

If it’s true, nobody’s talking. Abbotsford Heat President Ryan Walter says no one has discussed it with him. Same for Abbotsford mayor Bruce Banman.

“As of yet, nobody’s knocking on my door,” Banman said. But he wasn’t shy about admitting that the city would be “fools not to be” interested if the Aquilini Group, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, did come around hoping to take the reigns of the franchise from the Northwest Division rival Calgary Flames. In fact, the rumours excite him like they excite anybody else. “I’m hoping where there’s smoke there’s fire,” Banman said.

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Spitballin’ on stolen ice time, charitable giving addict Dan Hamhuis, and snubbing Jan Bulis

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.

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Finisher Friday: The Canucks will win the Stanley Cup when…

Earlier this week, the Canucks Twitter account attempted to drum up a little enthusiasm, tweeting “I became a Vancouver Canucks fan because…” and asking their followers to finish the sentence. Because Canucks fans are generally given to self-loathing (either caused or explained by their fandom), most of the answers were hilarious snark.

We compiled them in a post on Wednesday, and as we chuckled at hockey’s grumpiest fanbase at work, we thought to ourselves, hey, we should do this more often. And thus, “Finisher Friday” was born. Each week, we’ll ask our Twitter followers to complete a sentence, and the best, snappiest, snarkiest answers will find their way into a Friday post.

In today’s debut, we asked fans to tell us when the Canucks might finally hoist the cup.

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Kevin Bieksa chats with the Jeff O’Neil show about the lockout, Rick Rypien, and Tweepers

With the NHL lockout in just-short-of-full-swing (bunt?), Canucks players are left with a lot of time on their hands. Some fill that time with hunting wildlife, angering animal lovers, and discussing the merits of sneezing, but Kevin Bieksa is apparently filling that time with silly interviews.

Bieksa once again appeared on 99.3 The Fox’s Jeff O’Neil Show and, knowing Bieksa and his tendency towards quotability, we knew it would be worth a listen. His last appearance on the show yielded such gems as Mason Raymond’s irritability when his face is damaged, tips on manscaping your chest (“It’s 2011, not 1973. You gotta keep things tight.”), and Bieksa flat out calling one of the host’s questions “stupid.”

What gifts did Bieksa have for us in Tuesday’s interview? Take a listen.

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Henrik Sedin, the best player born September 26th, and other Canucks that rule their birthdays

September 26th was a special day for Henrik Sedin. It’s the day on which his brother, Daniel, whom he loves very much, was born 32 years ago. (I guess he was too, since they’re twins.)

But the Sedins’ 33rd birthday will mean even more to Henrik. As Joe Pelletier points out, the eldest Sedin’s 747 career points mean he is very close to becoming the highest-scoring player in NHL history… born on September 26.

Okay, it’s not that impressive. But it’s more impressive than you think.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov demonstrates the best way to pass it to Bulis (VIDEO)

We don’t normally feature the exploits of Jan Bulis on this site — just his likeness and name, thank you very much — but occasionally something happens that a blog named “Pass it to Bulis” can’t ignore. Last week, it was when a Russian reporter made Bulis aware that we existed during an interview.

This week, it’s the best pass to Bulis you’re probably ever going to see.

Monday night, Traktor Chelyabinsk winger Evgeny Kuznetsov set Bulis by deking Salavat Yulaev defender Vitaly Atyushov with an inside-outside dangle, then circling around behind the net and feeding Bulis in the crease for a tap-in. It was amazing. This, my friends, is how you pass it to Bulis.

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Separating Dan Cloutier the player from Dan Cloutier the coach

When the news came out that Dan Cloutier had been hired by the Canucks as a goaltending coach, fans were quick with the jeers, jabs, and jokes. For most Canucks fans, the main memory they have of Cloutier comes from the first round of the 2002 playoffs, when Nicklas Lidstrom scored from centre ice.

That goal broke the 1-1 tie in game three with the Canucks up 2-0 in the series. Detroit would go on to win the game 3-1, the series 4-2, and the Stanley Cup.

In the 2003 playoffs, Cloutier lost his composure in the second round against the Minnesota Wild, going after Dwayne Roloson in a melee at the end of the second period of game five after giving up 6 goals already. The Canucks were up 3-1 in the series at that point; the Wild won that game and the next two to comeback and win the series, scoring 9 goals on Cloutier in the final two games.

In 2004, after the best season of his career, Cloutier was robbed of the chance to make amends for his previous playoff collapses with an ankle injury that took him out of the playoffs. The subsequent NHL lockout took away another opportunity for redemption and injuries ended his 2005-06 season. After that, the Canucks acquired Roberto Luongo and Cloutier was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, leaving his only legacy as a Canuck one of bitter disappointment.

None of that matters one bit when it comes to the Canucks hiring him as a goaltending coach.

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How Panini America turned Ryan Kesler’s game-used stick into a series of hockey cards (VIDEO)

Panini America is doing some cool things with hockey cards these days. Earlier this summer, for instance, they released a series that incorporated game-used jersey laces from guys like Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier. But now they’ve gone and taken it a step further. Not satisfied by simply working with bits of jersey, they’ve also decided to splice in bits of game-used stick, and Ryan Kesler was one of the players to donate his lumber to the cause.

Kesler met the Panini America crew for the handoff on February 26 in Dallas, after a 3-2 overtime defeat versus the Stars. “In the 213 days since,” Tracy Hackler writes over at the PA blog, “that stick has been de-taped, estimated, expedited, sliced, diced, embedded, autographed and, just last week, hand-inserted into random boxes of 2011-12 Dominion Hockey, which releases on Friday.”

In this video, you can watch the entire process, from the moment Kesler gives up the stick to the moment Panini America brings it back to him in a box to be signed. Amazing stuff.

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Valuable lesson: don’t ask Vancouver Canucks fans why they are the way they are

While many hockey fans are descending into despair and cynicism in the wake of this lockout, the Vancouver Canucks Twitter account gleefully soldiers on. If they weren’t being paid to be so optimistic, it would be downright admirable.

On Tuesday, they attempted to infect the rest of us with their sappy cheer, tweeting “I became a Canucks fan because…” in the hopes of filling us with the warm fuzzies of reminiscence.

But it didn’t quite work. For some, this was an opportunity to tell their moving conversion stories. I was riding my donkey on the road to Damascus when all of a sudden Trevor Linden appeared before me in a brilliant shaft of light… that sort of thing. But for others, it was merely an opportunity to be a smartass. After all, Canuck fans are grumpy gusses most of the time as it is, but in the midst of a lockout, they’re even gloomier than usual. “I became a Canucks fan because of their revolutionary social media strategy,” dour old Cam Charron tweeted, and he wasn’t the only one that met the optimism of @vancanucks with pure, unadulterated snark. Here are some of our favourites.

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David Booth is still tweeting photos of animals he killed

Some time ago, David Booth killed a bear. You probably remember.

It’s funny. Canuck fans had known since the day he arrived that Booth was an avid blueberry preservationist/hunter. No one batted an eye. Heck, when he announced he was embarking on a bear-hunting expedition, tweeting that he was in Alberta “hunting Bruins”, we chuckled. But then he tweeted a photo of the dead bear, followed closely by a documentary on how the bear became dead, and suddenly, the fact that he had, like, killed a bear became real.

Totally legal, not that uncommon. But it was just too much proof, especially for those of us who aren’t so into hunting and try to keep our timeline twitpic-of-dead-animal-free. The backlash was intense, and one got the impression Booth would think twice before sharing another shot of something he shot.

Nope.

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Help me destroy this Mark Messier hockey card

I love hockey cards. Back in the pre-internet days of the early nineties, hockey cards were my main source of information about the NHL. I used to pore over the back of my cards for hours, comparing players’ goals, assists, and points and wondering what in the world a “PIM” was. Since my family didn’t have cable, Hockey Night in Canada was the only time I could watch hockey on TV, so hockey cards were my window into a league that wasn’t just the Toronto Maple Leafs.

When I got a Vancouver Canucks card, I was thrilled. Hockey Night in Canada didn’t often feature the Canucks: I saw Doug Gilmour and the Leafs far more often than I saw Trevor Linden and the Canucks, except when one of the local channels carried a game or the playoffs rolled around. I treasured my Canucks hockey cards and for a long time they were my biggest connection to my favourite team.

On the weekend, I tried to relive my childhood by buying a grab box of over 200 random hockey cards. It was a lot of fun opening up the box and sorting through the cards. It brought me back to when I was a kid, particularly that little thrill of excitement when I discovered a few Canucks cards: a Henrik Sedin and a couple Roberto Luongos. The box even had a couple Luongo cards from when he was with the Florida Panthers.

I was getting to the end of the box when I found one more Canucks card, but instead of the thrill of excitement, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

It was a Mark Messier card.

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‘Lockout Man’ is a parody song for troubled times, by troubled men (VIDEO)

A few days ago, an acquaintance asked me how long the NHL lockout would last. I told him the same thing I’ve been telling a lot of people: in my mind, the Winter Classic is a drop dead date. The owners don’t want to miss it and they’ll work to make sure they don’t. Unfortunately, wanting something reduces your leverage, and Gary Bettman is too skilled a negotiator to lose a labour battle over one game. If the game threatens a deal he believes is fair, he’ll cancel it in a heartbeat, like those guys that say “I can quit smoking whenever I want,” then throw the pack in the garbage to prove the point.

“I think it’s gonna be a long, long time,” said my acquaintance.

In the sad, silent moment that followed, my mind immediately turned to Elton John’s “Rocket Man”, which features the same line. From there, the idea for “Lockout Man” was born. And, since there are no NHL preseason games eating into my free time, this video was born shortly thereafter:

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Watch four minutes of Alex Burrows scoring with the exact same flippin’ move (VIDEO)

Like Judy from “Family Matters”, Alex Burrows is best known for going upstairs. (Okay, maybe not best-known. You might remember him from such incidents as biting a guy, kneeing a guy in the groin, pulling a guy’s hair, getting revenged upon by an official, or taunting Mike Richards by miming a little recreational drug use. But after those things, Burrows’s forehand-backhand-roof deke totally has to be one of the first things that comes to mind.)

Burrows’s trusty forehand-backhand deke, which he uses so often we’ve taken to calling “Blue steel”, has resulted in some of the clutchiest clutch goals in Canucks’ history. Streak-breakers versus the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings come to mind, but those are just two of sixteen times Burrows has turned on the red light with blue steel in his NHL career, according to blogging newcomers Bure’s Triple Deke.

But the gents at BTD didn’t just count them up: they compiled them in your must-watch Youtube video of the day.

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The PITB Twitter 50: a starter pack of Canucks follows

Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated released their second annual Twitter 100, a countdown of the 100 most essential Twitter accounts in sports. Shortly thereafter, Deadspin released a rebuttal, a list of the 67 worst. With Twitter lists on our mind, we thought it might be worth creating something similar for Canucks fans. This is that: the Pass it to Bulis Twitter 50.

Now, this list — juried by myself, Daniel, and an anonymous third party who is to blame for any omission or selection that offends you — provides 50 accounts worth a follow if you’re a Canucks fan on Twitter: beat guys, radio stations, fans, bloggers and players. But, of course, the Canucks community is much larger than just 50 accounts, which is why we’ve avoided naming this “The Essential 50″ or “50 must-follows” or some such other nonsense that suggests you’re doing it wrong if you’re not following these accounts, or that other accounts are somehow not as good.

It’s for that same reason that they’re presented in no particular order. These are just 50 accounts we think Canuck fans will benefit from following. Effectively, think of the PITB Twitter 50 as a starter pack.

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The trade value of Henrik Sedin, the 10th best playmaker in NHL history

NHL.com recently ran a feature listing the 10 best playmakers in NHL history. As is the case with most of these lists, there’s plenty of room for debate. John Kreiser put together a pretty decent list, though it’s missing such luminaries as Ron Francis (second all time in assists) and Marcel Dionne (ninth all time). In place of these historically great playmakers, Kreiser put more recent stars, like Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton.

And Henrik Sedin.

Kreiser has Henrik ranked as the 10th best playmaker in the NHL all time, ahead of Francis, Dionne, and other great playmakers throughout NHL history, like Joe Sakic, Doug Gilmour, and Paul Coffey.

So here’s a question: would you trade Henrik Sedin for Ryan Getzlaf, straight up? Or Loui Eriksson? Or John Carlson?

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Is Ryan Kesler’s reputation for diving about to get him publicly shamed?

This probably won’t come as much of a shock to you, but Ryan Kesler has a reputation around the NHL as a diver. (I think it has something to do with the way he occasionally falls down by choice, but makes it look like someone else made him do it. Maybe. I don’t know.)

Fair or not, it would appear that he’s not just a suspected diver: he’s one of the best suspected divers. (Or worst, if you’re a real Debbie Downer, but we see the bright side of things here at Pass it to Bulis.) And, according to a report by Darren Dreger, Kesler’s reputation as a top-flight faller-downer could very well mean that his picture will soon be posted in every NHL dressing room around the league, like some sort of outlaw or dude banned from SeaWorld.

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Spitballin’ on Hansen to Denmark, Luongo to Toronto, and Higgins to Utah

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.

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It’s too late to apologize, according to Roberto Luongo fan video

Back in April, not long after the Canucks had been eliminated from the postseason by the Los Angeles Kings, it hit people that the Roberto Luongo era was truly over and fan tributes began to pop up. The best one was probably “Live Forever”, a moving, morose video exclamation on Luongo’s chapter in Vancouver that even Luongo himself claimed made him teary-eyed.

There two things that made that video so effective: the first was our relative certainty that Luongo was truly gone. He’ll be moved at the draft, we thought. Maybe August. It made it a lot easier to say goodbye when he was, you know, going. The second was song choice. Drew Holcomb’s “Live Forever” shaped the mood perfectly.

But let’s imagine that Luongo’s supposed trade had failed to materialize for so long that the whole ordeal had just gotten silly, and all our raw emotion and heartfelt goodbyes had curdled into jaded irony. And let’s imagine the tribute video featured a less effective, slightly cheesier tune, like, say, One Republic and Timbaland’s “Apologize”

Actually, let’s not imagine. That video exists now.

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Pavel Bure’s “Lost Shifts” are incredible

On November 12th, Pavel Bure will be officially inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was a long time coming for the Russian Rocket, who was in his 6th year of eligibility. As one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of the NHL, it was about time that Bure got into the HHOF, but right now I want to remember more than just his goalscoring.

Bure’s electrifying speed combined with his incredible hands made him arguably the most exciting player in the NHL and definitely the most exciting player in Canucks history. Every time he came flying through the neutral zone or even just touched the puck, fans inched to the edge of their seats and held their breath. It wasn’t just that he scored a lot of goals, it’s that he always seemed like he was just about to score a goal whenever he was on the ice.

That is why he was thrilling to watch night in and night out. But while Bure’s stupendous goalscoring is well documented, there’s not a lot of footage available online of Bure when he wasn’t scoring.

In stepped YouTube user WeatherWiseCDC to fill the void. WeatherWiseCDC took six games from Bure’s career as a Vancouver Canuck where he didn’t score and edited together two highlight reels. He called them “The Lost Shifts.” I call them awesome.

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Kevin Bieksa gets a ticket, and other great moments in Canucks automotive history

In case you haven’t heard, the NHL collective bargaining agreement expired at 9pm PST on Saturday night, meaning the second work stoppage in seven years is officially upon us. (Alert status: complete despair.) No games have been canceled yet, but the lockout is already beginning to affect things. On Monday, a handful of Canucks skated at UBC with their practice jerseys turned inside-out. After all, they aren’t employees of the Canucks right now. Horrifying.

And that wasn’t the only tangible impact the lockout had on the Canucks’ unemployed hockey players. With no training staff around to keep an eye on the clock, Kevin Bieksa’s parking meter expired. He returned to his car to discover he’d been busted by officer 300, the Judge Dredd of parking services officers. Bieksa now has until the end of the month to pay the $30 ticket before it doubles to $60. Will this wreak havoc on his lockout preparation fund?

Yeah, he can probably afford it, which means there isn’t much of a story here. It’s a shame his violation was 11b (expired meter), and not, say, violation 13g (nuisance) or violation 7k (counterfeit pass). I mean, that would have at least made things interesting.

But what we lack in one quality parking story we can more than make up for in quantity. This is, after all, just the latest in a long line of parking incidents for members of the Vancouver Canucks. Come with us as we park multiple times on memory lane.

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What the Canucks will be doing during the lockout

It’s official: the NHL owners have locked out the players. While there’s still time to get a new CBA worked out before the start of the regular season, it’s extremely unlikely that this will happen, meaning that loyal readers of PITB are bound to miss out on a few I Watched This Games.

As a result, numerous NHLers have signed contracts or made commitments with teams overseas. Many Russian players are already signed to temporary contracts in the KHL, while many Europeans are committing to their respective country’s leagues. Even a few North American players are heading across the Atlantic, with Joe Thornton and Logan Couture both signing in Switzerland.

No Canucks have signed in Europe yet, so I looked into it. It turns out that each member of the Canucks already has plans in place during the lockout. In this PITB exclusive, we look at what each of them is planning to do.

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PITB is famous: Oh crap, Jan Bulis knows about us now

Well, it took two and a half years, but PITB has finally broken through in Russia. It may be time to launch our KHL site, “Pass it to Borscht”.

There is, however, a downside to our international renown: Jan Bulis is in Russia. And now he knows about us.

On Saturday, PITB’s patron saint led Traktor Chelyabinsk to a 4-1 win over Dynamo Moscow, picking up 2 goals and an assist in the victory, and in the postgame presser, Semyon Galkevich of Sovetsky Sport asked the KHL star if he was aware of this blog. Puck Daddy’s Dmitri Chesnokov was kind enough to warn us, as well as give us a real translation of the pertinent section.

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Ryan Kesler and Maxim Lapierre star in: drive-by spanking (VIDEO)

The Vancouver Canucks were back in town last week for the Jake Milford Invitational charity golf tournament, an annual event at Surrey’s Northview Golf Course. For many, the story of this tournament was the return of Roberto Luongo, who has been traded away by the city of Vancouver, but had to come back anyway because Mike Gillis has yet to follow suit.

But the reassembling of the Canucks also meant the return of Ryan Kesler, who has a tendency to get up to shenanigans. And, considering charity golf tournaments are practically a breeding ground for shenanigans, it was a certainty that Kesler would get up to shenanigans at this charity golf tournament. Knowing this, Canucks.com wisely gave him a camera and a microphone and set him loose.

Somewhere along the way, Kesler also obtained a golf cart, and the result was the first ever drive-by spanking in Canucks.com history. Kesler’s first victim: Maxim Lapierre.

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Twenty-five alternate explanations for why Shane Doan chose Phoenix over Vancouver

Despite flirting all summer like Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko in Grease, Shane Doan and the Vancouver Canucks simply weren’t meant to be. The Phoenix Coyotes captain opted for an 18th year in Arizona instead, re-signing with the embattled and permanently ownerless Phoenix Coyotes for $21.2 million over four years.

I’ll admit I don’t understand it. I’ve been to Phoenix. It’s a nice place, and the fact that it has a freeway through the downtown core is a marked improvement on Vancouver’s gridlocked, nigh unnavigable streets. But I can’t imagine loving the city so much that I would put up with what Doan has put up with, let alone make the concessions Doan has made to stay there. Come on, no one loves Phoenix that much.

That in mind, it must be something else. Here are 25 alternate explanations for why Doan chose Phoenix over Vancouver.

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Shane Doan re-signs with Phoenix, because he’s as loyal as Alex Burrows

Back in the middle of July, the Vancouver Canucks offered UFA Shane Doan a contract. So did almost every other team in the NHL, as well as a few AHL teams, the Bikini Hockey League, and a confused NBA franchise. I’m pretty sure it was the Charlotte Bobcats, but the rumours remain unconfirmed. Doan’s agent insisted to anyone who would listen that there was “mutual interest” in every single offer.

I didn’t buy it. Doan has played for the same franchise for 17 years. The only season he didn’t play in Phoenix was his rookie year in Winnipeg. He’s laid down roots in Phoenix and has no interest in leaving the city. The only reason he entertained the option was because of the ownership turmoil, which finally looks like it’s settling down (maybe) with Greg Jamison.

With that said, the ownership issues in Phoenix are far from ironed out and Doan indicated that he wouldn’t re-sign with the Coyotes until they were. That’s why the report that Doan’s decision was down to Phoenix and Vancouver got everyone all worked up. Even my steady confidence that Doan was absolutely staying in Phoenix started getting a little shaky. Would Doan jump ship and join the Canucks?

Nope. Turns out that Doan is just as loyal to his team as Burrows is to Vancouver, as he re-signed with the Coyotes for 4 years and $21.2 million.

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