One of my favourite events during the Canucks’ season is the Canucks for Kids Fund Superskills Competition. It’s fun to see the Canucks in a loose, carefree setting, and the lower price point is great for families that might not be able to get out to Rogers Arena to see the team otherwise. It also helps raise money for a fantastic cause. The work that the Canucks for Kids Fund does in British Columbia is invaluable, doing everything from supporting BC Children’s Hospital to launching Mindcheck.ca in memory of Rick Rypien.
I’ve been to several of these events and the Canucks tend to put on a good show, as it’s one of the few times when the Canucks can really let their personalities and fun side show on the ice. While I wasn’t able to make it out to Rogers Arena on Sunday for the 2013 edition, the Canucks were kind enough to stream the event live on YouTube and, sure enough, it provided plenty of fun and surprises.
For instance, did you know that Cam Barker is actually on the Canucks? That’s right, his signing wasn’t a hoax. But that was just the first of many surprises to come. Here are 10 of my favourite moments:
1 | Henrik Sedin hasn’t scored a goal yet this season, but he scored the very first goal of the event when his pass deflected off Jason Garrison’s skate and through Roberto Luongo’s legs. He immediately grinned, raised his arms, and fist-pumped like he’d actually scored his first goal of the regular season. It’s possible that he was actually lifting the invisible monkey off his back and throwing it away.
2 | The biggest surprise of the afternoon, according to the incredulous reactions on Twitter, was Dale Weise winning the fastest skater competition. It’s pretty clear that Canucks fans have an image of Weise in their heads as a fourth-line enforcer, which has never really been who he is. In reality, Weise is more of an energy-line guy, a big, quick player who can get in on the forecheck.
If we had paid attention last year, however, we wouldn’t have been surprised at Weise’s victory. In 2012, he finished fourth in the fastest skater competition, but was only 3/10ths of a second behind Keith Ballard, who won. In-between were Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond. This time around, Weise was absolutely flying, which means his nickname must be “The Flying Dutchman.” He beat out all of the Canucks’ speedsters: Ballard, Schroeder, Raymond, and Hansen, and also Zack “Not Known For Speed” Kassian.
The best part was Weise’s interview immediately afterwards with Joey Kenward: What’s your secret? I dunno, I’m just really fast.
3 | If he grows tired of flipping a coin, Alain Vigneault has a new option for choosing the starting goaltender: hardest shot competition. After the usual suspects lined up to blast slapshots on net, with Jason Garrison taking top prize with a 101.8 mph drive, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider lined up for their turn, getting a big response from the crowd:
Quite frankly, if Luongo wants to get his share of starts this season, he’s going to need to get some pointers from Garrison and Edler. His form was terrible. Also, he was using Chris Tanev’s stick, which seems counter-productive.
4 | Maxim Lapierre has scored a grand total of 11 goals in 112 games as a Canuck, but he can still shoot the puck with some impressive precision, surprisingly taking the accuracy contest by hitting 4 targets with 4 shots. This accomplishment overshadowed poor Mason Raymond, who also went 4-for-4, but in a slightly slower time as he had to settle down a puck that went up on end.
Alex Burrows also hit 4 straight, but he missed 3 first, so he’s terrible. Put Cam Barker, who went 4-for-5, on the top line with the Sedins.
5 | In the best unintentional comedy of the afternoon, Zack Kassian, Andrew Ebbett, and Chris Tanev demonstrated that they have no idea how a slingshot works. Henrik Sedin, showing the leadership ability that makes him a great captain, stepped in to let them know what to do, otherwise a lot of sad fans would have been going home t-shirt-less.
6 | By the time the Powerplay Contest rolled around, the players were starting to get a little silly. Facing Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows, and Chris Higgins with just Kevin Bieksa in front of him, Luongo decided his best course of action would be to get the puck along the boards and hold it there, so he skated into the corner. Henrik, however, was having none of that, crunching him into the glass, then holding him down on the ice while Burrows and Higgins scored.
Then, with Henrik and Burrows alone in the slot on a 2-on-0, Luongo skated out of the crease into the slot to take away the passing lane, because, y’know, it’s Henrik. Fortunately, time ran out before Henrik could score into the empty net.
Schneider got in on the shenanigans as well, snatching a puck with his blocker hand, biting out the “pin,” and throwing it out to the neutral zone. Yes, he handled the puck like it was a grenade, which is sadly appropriate for Schneider
7 | The shootout contest usually leads to some fun as many of the players will experiment with goofier attempts, but this time it also led to one of the biggest surprises, as Aaron “Rat Burger” Volpatti scored a beautiful goal on Cory Schneider with his first attempt, pulling off a Datsyukian deke before tucking the puck past Schneider’s outstretched pad.
I mean, I wouldn’t recommend that Volpatti actually be used in the shootout, as most goaltenders will put a little more effort into it than Schneider did, but it was still one of the most impressive displays of skill in the entire competition.
8 | There was still plenty of goofing around during the shootout relay, however, with most of the comedy provided by Zack Kassian and Dale Weise. Kassian kicked it off by sliding on his belly and trying to poke the puck in using his stick as a pool cue. Then Weise pulled his jersey over his head and tried to score on Schneider blind. Schneider responded by throwing his blocker at him. For his second attempt, Weise grabbed a kid’s left-handed stick. Like Wesley and Inigo Montoya, Weise is not left-handed, and it showed.
9 | My favourite moment of the event was on Henrik Sedin’s second shootout attempt. On his first, Henrik shot the puck into the empty net while Luongo retrieved his stick. That was hilarious, but Luongo got the better of him the second time around. Luongo had his back turned to Henrik and was about 10 feet out of his net. Henrik decided to cheekily loft it over Luongo’s head into the net, but Luongo saw it at the last second and batted it out of the air with his goalie stick. It was legitimately amazing.
It was nice to see the tradition continue after no one got pied at the last Superskills. Both Cody Hodgson and Dale Weise were rookies at the time, but managed to escape a pie attack. Maybe one of them has a deathly allergy to shaving cream and they didn’t want to pie just one of them?
In any case, Schroeder looks funny with shaving cream all over his face. Whee!
Do you have a spare two hours and want to watch the whole thing from start to finish? You can absolutely do that, but be prepared for an onslaught of “Gangnam Style”:
Tags: Canucks For Kids Fund, Dale Weise is just really fast, Kassian has too many nicknames, Put Cam Barker with the Sedins, Rat Burger, Superskills