Earlier today, Chris Higgins took over the Canucks official Twitter account to answer some questions from fans. Apparently, he received a lot of questions about his abs, for which I feel I should take some of the blame. After all, PITB is the internet’s go-to source for Chris Higgins’ abs.
To Higgins’ credit, he’s always been good-natured about the attention. Some of his teammates, and potential future teammates, might not be.Continue Reading —›
The September 15th expiration of the collective bargaining agreement is coming up quickly, and as the owners and the players go another day without talking, it’s become quite clear that the phrase “post-lockout” will refer to a much smaller portion of time by this weekend. That is, unless you’re among the sunniest optimists in hockey (like whoever’s running the Canucks’ Twitter account right now, for instance).
There are a few such optimists among the NHLPA. “I’m still optimistic that we’ll all be able to figure it out with the amount of time that we have left,” said Zach Parise. “I’m optimistic by nature,” said Zenon Konopka. “I think there’s enough time to get a deal done by September 15.” Even Canuck goaltender Cory Schneider showed the audacity of hope: “I think most guys are optimistic,” he said.
But optimism is a young man’s game, and in hockey terms, Daniel Sedin is an old-timer. His take on CBA negotiations was much more sobering.Continue Reading —›
For a brief, fleeting moment, centre was a position of strength for the Canucks. With the acquisition of Maxim Lapierre at the 2011 trade deadline, the Canucks were perfectly structured down the middle of the ice: Henrik Sedin, the super-skilled all-star Art Ross winner, on the top line; Ryan Kesler, the two-way power forward coming into his own as a sniper, on the second line; Manny Malhotra, the defence-first enabler, on the third line; Lapierre, the defensively-responsible agitator, on the fourth.
The Canucks even had Cody Hodgson, full of promise, waiting in the wings. Life was good in Centresville.
That’s when a malfeasant puck made a beeline for Malhotra’s eye, ruined everything, then went on to a starring role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When Malhotra returned in the playoffs, he wasn’t the same player and that continued in the 2011-12 season. While he still played a vital defensive role, Malhotra’s ice time was much-diminished and it was apparent that he simply wasn’t as effective as he had been prior to the injury.
Hodgson, for his part, made good on several elements of his promise, but left Alain Vigneault and Mike Gillis wanting on the defensive side of the puck (and the patriarchal side of Hodgson’s family), leading to a trade out of town. In his place came Samme Pahlsson, who came with defensive acclaim, but didn’t live up it. Now he’s gone back to Sweden, leaving the position unoccupied.
When you add the fact that Ryan Kesler is definitely, totally injured and absolutely still recovering, no question about it, to the mix, the middle of the ice looks positively capacious for the Canucks. Utility forward Andrew Ebbett might be a stopgap, but what are the Canucks’ options for a season-long solution? Here are 5 of them:Continue Reading —›