Thursday night was supposed to be game 1 of 82 for the Vancouver Canucks, a welcome end to an offseason that, thanks to a five-game postseason, began far, far earlier than anyone expected it to. Unfortunately, thanks to the owners (represented by Gary Bettman, lockout champion), and the players (represented by Donald Fehr, the expert negotiator hired by the players to expertly not negotiate), that game was cancelled. As the two sides continue to meet without discussing the core economic issues, preferring instead to stage fiddling contests in the city square of a burning Rome, the long offseason grows ever longer.
Thus, rather than convening in Calgary to officially signal the beginning of the 2011-12 season, the Canucks and Flames stayed home — with the exceptions of a select few, such as Anton Babchuk, who is playing for Ukrainian KHL team Donbass Donetsk, Dale Weise, off to the land of the Dutch, and David Booth, who stepped into the wardrobe and has been hunting the mythical creatures of Narnia and eating Turkish delight since the moment the lockout began.
There was no season-opener because there is no season. And since there was no game to watch, I didn’t watch this game.
Canucks 0 – 0 Flames
Since there’s no game from which to feature the best goal, you get this video of a kid in a snuggie recreating Beyonce’s “Countdown” video shot-for-shot. That’s dedication.
The most depressing thing about losing Game 1 is that we lose all the talking points that would have come packaged with it. I probably don’t need to tell you that Roberto Luongo has not yet been traded, so if there were a hockey game last night, that would have meant one of two things. Either a) he played, or b) he sat, and either decision would have sent Canucks fans into an uproar. Had he played, some would have said that it wasn’t fair for Cory Schneider, who signed a big extension in the offseason and finished last year as the number one, to return to the bench. Had he sat, some would have said that Gillis and Vigneault are depreciating an asset they’re attempting to move by turning him into a backup, and an overpriced one at that. Granted, the preseason would have provided valuable context to this debate, but either way, someone would have been calling for someone’s firing yesterday.
Another controversial roster move that went un-raged-against? Alain Vigneault’s inevitable decision to play Mason Raymond somewhere in the middle six instead of throwing him into the pit of no return. Chances are he’d have played on the third line, which would have led to unease, and chances are, at some point, he’d have fallen down, which would have led to cacophony. The moment he hit the ice — otherwise known as sundown for the vampires of the “Fire Vigneault” crowd — the Raymond-haters would have emerged from their coffins with an insatiable thirst for blood. This would have also roused Thomas Drance, the Van Helsing of advanced stats, with his knapsack full of charts and chance data, garlic and wood stakes to these people.
Additionally, I’d hazard a guess that the cancellation of Thursday’s game also meant the cancellation of Chris Tanev’s first NHL goal. Not because I think he’s going to score every night or anything (we’ll save that level of optimism for Cam Charron), but because game 1 is always the game where the most unexpected guy scores a goal and gets everybody’s hopes up for the year. Oh my gosh, Chris Tanev scored! Give him more icetime! This is definitely not an isolated incident!
Another guy who got screwed by the lockout: Jordan Schroeder. With Ryan Kesler opting for the deluxe surgery package, which comes with a second surgery, no charge, as well as two tickets to Jersey Boys, Schroeder would have been the logical choice to earn a shot in the middle in Kesler’s absence. Instead, Schroeder will open the season in Chicago Saturday night versus the Rockford Ice Hogs. Granted, the Ice Hogs are probably a more competitive opponent than the Flames, so it’s not the end of the world.
No offense to Wyatt Arndt of the Legion of Blog, who is doing a fabulous job with his fake Canucks season, but hey, remember when hockey fans claimed they’d boycott the NHL if there was a lockout? Now many are getting their hockey fix with a simulation. Of a simulation. You addicts. There’s almost no crack in that crack.
We’ll be doing IDWTGs for every game we miss. The comments section is for complaining about the game that wasn’t, ranting, venting, and raging against the dying of the light. Flame away.
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