Okay. Canucks versus Stars. But first some real talk (NSFW link).
I was really hoping that we would only be writing the “I Didn’t Watch This Game” feature until the end of October, but while I was putting this one together, the NHL cancelled all games through November 30. Granted, I’ve expected this since the last offer came in, since I suspected all along that the last two weeks have had nothing to do with real, meaningful negotiations. You can’t even say that at least the two sides found a middle ground at 50/50, as some are saying, because the NHL’s offer was hardly a real offer. Here’s what I believe happened: the NHL’s 50/50, 82-game-saving offer was a Trojan horse. They knew full well that it would be rejected. But it looked good on paper and online; it made them look conciliatory and helpful and, a day after their focus group had been leaked and two weeks after they cancelled the first block of games, this was necessary way to get inside the players’ P.R. fortress.
By setting up a situation where the league looked interested in saving the full schedule, then letting the players inevitably reject it, the NHL effectively restaged the cancellation of that first block of games and had people re-experience the frustration, this time with animosity directed towards the unyielding union. In short, nothing happened these last two weeks except a perfectly orchestrated ploy to win the P.R. tug of war ahead of today’s batch of cancellations. Here’s Bill Daly’s statement on the cancellations, which basically gives the whole plan away:
“The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action. By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to Player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have preserved an 82-game Regular Season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur.”
I suspect that, if Bill Daly’s son was Max from Liar, Liar and today was the day after Max’s fifth birthday, this statement would be very different. If I weren’t such a diehard, these last two weeks would be enough for me to walk away from the game forever. Unfortunately, I am a diehard, so it pains me to no end to say that I didn’t watch this game.
Canucks 0 – 0 Stars
No game, no highlights. So instead, here’s the only Gangnam Style response video to which you should give four minutes of your life.
This game would have been the end of the Canucks’ five-game road trip, which took them through Nashville, Columbus, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and finally Dallas in the span of a week and I suspect was scheduled just to give fans something to panic over right from the outset. Considering that it came with two back-to-backs and closed off with 3 games in 4 nights, not to mention three major pieces of Vancouver’s core would have missed the whole thing, I simply couldn’t imagine the Canucks emerging from their first seven games with a record above .500. And, after how last season ended, that would have been enough for the knives to come out. Alain Vigneault should never have been extended! Mike Gillis did nothing to address team toughness! The Sedins are in decline! Cory Schneider is Corey Hirsch!
Of course, since hockey is extremely random at its core, there’s also a remote possibility that the Canucks could fly back to Vancouver over the weekend 8-0. That would have been even more fun. The Sedins are gods! Alain Vigneault is the best regular-season coach in existence! Jordan Schroeder is the second coming of Paul Kariya! Keith Ballard is Duncan Keith!
I’m a bit bummed we didn’t get to watch the Canucks face the Stars last night, and not just because I missed the return of Vernon Fiddler, he of the face that launched 1000 giggles. I was also excited to see the new-look Stars, who spent over $9 million dollars in the offseason to quadragenarians Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr. Apparently, in Dallas, 40 is the new 20. Who knows exactly how Whitney and Jagr will fare in Dallas, but it would have been interesting to see them in Stars’ jerseys, especially early, when their old man strength was as yet unmitigated by their diminishing old man stamina.
If there’s a bright side, there’s a good chance that this game would have been boring. A well-rested Canucks team should combine with a Dallas Stars team for a very exciting game, since both teams are capable of scoring and the Stars’ defence is so abysmal that the loss of Sheldon Souray will probably make it noticeably worse. But the Canucks would have been playing on sea legs, which usually means clogging up the neutral zone and trying for the low-scoring victory. That said, if you’re a fan of dumping, chasing, chipping pucks off glass, and skating backwards between the blue lines, you got absolutely robbed last night. Sorry, Alain Vigneault.
Dale Weise update: Weise’s next game actually goes in just a few hours, when the Destil Trappers face off against the defending Dutch league champion Geleen Eaters. That’s right, they’re called the Eaters. Talk about a name that strikes the minimum possible amount of fear into an opponent. We are the Geleen Eaters! Tremble at our ability to have lunch, and sometimes brunch, with gusto! Apparently, the Eaters are also called the Smoke Eaters and they’re named after the equally unintimidating Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL. What’s a smoke eater? Is it an air filter? Or, say, just someone who smokes? Smokers can be intimidating, I guess, especially in high school when they’re usually the bad kids. But that’s grasping at straws. A person that eats smoke doesn’t concern me. They’ll die of smoke inhalation pretty quickly, no?
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