Kesler trade shows Benning isn’t afraid to win a deal by losing it

Shortly after the Canucks announced the Ryan Kesler trade, I received a text from an NHL employee.

“Three quarters for a dollar,” it said.

That’s a fair assessment of a trade that saw the Canucks receive Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and the Anaheim Ducks’ other first-round pick for former Selke winner Ryan Kesler. Even admitting that Kesler’s not the guy who destroyed everyone and everything in the 2011 playoffs — first the Nashville Predators, then the San Jose Sharks, then, finally, himself — he’s still worth more than the sum of those spare parts. No offence to Nick Bonino, who is likely to replace Kesler as the Canucks’ second line pivot, but he’s no Ryan Kesler replacement. (Say what you will about Bonino’s points, but he was playing for a team committed to scoring goals, not a team allergic to it. And he’s not the same shutdown corner.)

But the Canucks don’t care. This wasn’t about who they got. It was about who they got rid of. This wasn’t a hockey trade. It was a Tylenol trade.

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Guest Post: In Praise of Gino Odjick

As you may already know, Gino Odjick is in a fight for his life right now, battling a terminal illness. As he told fans in a letter posted on the Canucks website, he may only have weeks to live. Suffice it to say, this touched a lot of people, because Gino touched a lot of people — something that was abundantly clear as fans rallied outside Vancouver General Hospital this weekend, chanting “Gino! Gino!”

One fan who wanted to say a few words about Odjick on the blog. Gerald Morton is a part-time Zamboni operator, PhD Candidate, occasional lecturer at Vancouver Island University, former hockey target and sporadic blogger at

If you want to write a guest post for PITB, by all means, reach out to us at We’re always happy to showcase other writers.

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The newest Canuck insider: this guy eavesdropping on a phone call at JJ Bean

It was a big Friday for the new Vancouver Canucks regime, with three trades in very short order, just hours before the draft. And it was also a big day for Michael Falcon, who went from undersized customer experience blogger to hockey insider in the span of an afternoon.

Falcon knew about Jason Garrison before it happened. He was on Derek Dorsett a half hour before that surprise deal. He even knew that the Canucks would draft Jake Virtanen. But how? How does a guy go from zero to legitimate NHL source, with connections deep in the know, as they say, in the span of an afternoon?

Simply, he walked into the JJ Bean in Yaletown and happened to overhear a telephone conversation.

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Jason Garrison traded to Lightning, as Canucks part with fifth-best defenceman

Jason Garrison came to the Canucks after spending the first four years of his professional career in Florida. And now, after two seasons in the blue and green, he’ll be going back whence he came, like those boots Cletus found on the telephone wire.

Well. Not precisely whence. Garrison came from Sunrise, Florida. He’ll be returning a little northwest of there, as the Canucks have traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 5oth pick in Friday’s NHL draft.

It’s not an unexpected move. Garrison had four years remaining on a deal that paid him $4.6 million annually, and it was pretty clear from his play last year that he’s descending into the “not worth that kind of money” zone.

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Five can-miss Canucks games in 2014-15

Suppose you’re in a committed relationship, and you have but one television. That’s a recipe for conflict. If you made the grave mistake of falling in love with a non-Canucks fan, for instance, your need to monopolize the TV during primetime three nights a week probably isn’t going to sit well with your partner — or you, for that matter, since, as much as it pains me to say it, occasionally, as a show of good faith, you’re going to have to skip a game. Sorry.

But don’t fret! Some games are more skippable than others. We marked the can’t-miss games on Tuesday, and today, just as we did last year, we’re going to take you through the can-miss games, so that your two loves — hockey, and that dude or lady who sleeps in your bed — can live in harmony. Here are five games you can probably do without:

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Stick in Link: Canucks could make biggest trade and second-biggest trade at The Draft

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Five can’t-miss Canucks games in 2014-15 (plus a bonus sixth)

There’s a lot to like about the Canucks’ 2014-15 NHL schedule. Their total miles traveled is the lowest it’s been in seven years. They get a bunch of teams on back-to-backs, which means tired visitors. Plus, they don’t play a single California team in October. Considering how badly visits to and from the California three went last year, it was nice of the league to spare us those guresome sights for at least the first month. Gives us time to get our hopes up.

But enough about the overall schedule. Let’s talk individual games. Which one should you most be looking forward to? Granted, if you’re a true fan or whatever, you’re looking forward to all of them, we know, but let’s not be silly. We’re sure you’re going to try to catch them all, like Pokemon, but in a pinch, we all know some games rise to the top while others sink to the bottom.

Are you honestly going to sit there and tell me the 11am road game versus the Detroit Red Wings slated to air on CityTV has you excited? Yeah. I didn’t think so. Here are five standouts.

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Make Way for Willie: Desjardins in as coach, rounding out Canucks’ Three Greenhorns

It seems weird to feature John Tortorella and “succeed” in the same sentence, but alas, time (and John Tortorella) makes fools of us all. The Canucks announced Monday that Willie Desjardins, formerly of the Texas Stars, would be the man to succeed Tortorella behind the bench.

Who’s to say the Canucks don’t have any prospects? Their front-office is all prospects now. That makes it a clean sweep in terms of NHL front-office rookies, as Desjardins shares Benning and Linden’s inexperience in his new role. All hail the second coming of The Three Greenhorns, who built this city, and will now be tasked with rebuilding its hockey team.

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Seven reasons for Willie Desjardins to choose the Canucks over the Penguins

After spending much of the offseason courting the season ticketholders, the Vancouver Canucks finally did something this week for another important section of their fanbase, the puerile Internet commenters, by reportedly landing Willie Desjardins.

Think about it: they just hired a guy named Willie, who comes from an organization based in “The Big D” and was raised in the small-town of Climax, Saskatchewan. Climax! That sound you hear is hundreds of childish Canuck fans tittering while they Twitter (and then Twitter-tittering again upon hearing the word “titter”). I mean, come on. A Willie from Climax? That’s almost too good to be true. (Granted, the other way around, it’s usually too good to be true, too.)

This is also a dream come true for those of us that cater to the puerile Internet commenters. While coachspeak already tends to lend itself to double entendres, having a guy named Willie behind the bench — hopefully coaxing a bigger PP out of his team and helping his scorers rediscover their stroke — provides a whole new tool, as it were.

But the Canucks almost failed to get their hands on Willie. Reports as recently as Thursday night had him going to Pittsburgh before something changed. What was it? Did the Penguins pull a boner? Or did Willie simply feel Vancouver was a better city in which to show his stuff? Here are seven potential explanations for why he might have chosen Vancouver over Pittsburgh:

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Willie Desjardins joins Canucks, as Penguins resume coach hunt

We’ll likely have to wait for the Canucks to spend a few days whispering it to the season ticket-holders before it’s announced, since that’s what they do now, but it would appear the club has found their new head coach in Willie Desjardins.

This is according to reports from Kevin Weekes, and the always-trustworthy Bob McKenzie.

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Why the Canucks will move heaven and earth (and their 1st) to get Sam Reinhart

It’s hardly breaking news that the Vancouver Canucks covet local boy Sam Reinhart something fierce, since every team covets Reinhart, who currently captains the WHL’s Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook. This in mind, he’s sure to be off the board well before the sixth pick in next week’s NHL Draft, which currently belongs to Vancouver.

But I’m of the mind that no team in the league is more motivated to move up than the Canucks are, and not just because they’d hate to see Reinhart have to leave the province unnecessarily: the centre fits with their offseason plan perfectly.

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Stick in Link: Canucks have Fin, so they don’t need Thornton; coach hunt continues

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Canucks’ wedding gift to David Booth: cash (in the form of a buyout)

David Booth is set to get married later this month at the field in Montana where he bagged his biggest deer. (He’s a weird dude. This has been established.)

So what do you get as a wedding present for a dude this wacky? Coonskin cap? Bearskin rug? A something-skin something, most definitely, unless you want to go the route the Canucks have reportedly opted to go, and just give him cash.

It’s a pretty impersonal gift, granted, but the Canucks probably don’t mind, since this one doubles as compliance buyout. Late Monday evening, new Canucks GM Jim Benning called Booth’s agent Mike Liut to inform him that the left winger would be bought out.

The David Booth era in Vancouver is, sadly, over.

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Did Alain Vigneault really say the 2014 Rangers were closer than the 2011 Canucks?

After watching his opponent hoist the Stanley Cup right in front of him for the second time in his pro career, Alain Vigneault returned to Madison Square Garden with his Rangers not to play a Game 6, as hoped, but to clean out their lockers for the summer.

Naturally, with two Final losses now weighing heavily on his mind, the head coach couldn’t help but conflate both experiences, and in trying to explain a Stanley Cup Final series that felt a great deal more competitive than most that end in five, he took the approach of contrasting it with the Canucks’ loss.

Then, according to Rangers beat writer Andrew Gross, he said a truly wacko thing: that the 2014 Rangers were closer.

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Why Ryan Kesler’s trade demand could be a blessing for the Canucks

The above photo was snapped by Jeff Vinnick for Getty Images, and here’s what you’re looking at, according to the caption: “Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks steps off the ice for the last time in the season during their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena April 13, 2014.”

Be assured that Vinnick arrived at Rogers Arena that night intending to get this exact photo. Why? Because he knew, just as many of us knew, that it was possible Kesler wasn’t just heading off for the last time in the season. If the Selke-winning centre gets his wish, this will soon be a photo of him stepping off the ice for the last time as a Canuck.

The regime change in Vancouver didn’t lead to a mind change for Kesler, as TSN’s Darren Dreger said last week. “He wants a fresh start and to move on from Vancouver; he met with Benning earlier this week to talk about that. It’s believed that Kesler still has six teams on his list that he’s willing to be traded to.”

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Hear the Canucks’ lost 1975 theme song, “We’re With You” [VIDEO]

When it became clear that the 2013-14 Vancouver Canucks weren’t playoff-bound, the team launched a concerted effort to focus on the past. 1994, to be specific. But let’s overshoot 1994 by a couple of decades, and go a little further back, to the halcyon days of 1975.

Back then, the Canucks’ goaltender was a guy by the name of Gary “Suitcase” Smith, so named, during this era when hockey players were better at nicknames, because he was an NHL journeyman. It was the year of the Canucks’ playoff debut, as the team won the Smythe Division in its first season after realignment. And it was the only year in Canucks’ history in which they played without a team captain.

They didn’t need a captain, you see, because they got all the inspiration and motivation necessary to win the big games from their new theme song, “We’re With You”. Yes, the Canucks have a theme song, and to my mind, it rivals “Here come the Hawks”. But I’m biased.

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Breaking news: David Booth takes a slackline to the groin [Video]

It seems like we’re always talking about David Booth’s groin.

It’s been a problem area for him ever since he arrived in Vancouver — something many fans feel is partly Booth’s own doing. The winger has come under fire in recent years for his offseason training regimen, which involves a lot of dry land stuff — weight training, hunting, hiking — and not enough stuff that would get his groin ready for the rigours of a intense sport played on ice.

We’ve scoffed at this notion in the past. But on Wednesday, Booth uploaded irrefutable evidence on his Instagram that some of his groin troubles are self-inflicted:

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Stick in Link: Canucks not trading Edler; Alberts mad as Hell, likely to retire

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Canucks fan wins the World Shin-Kicking Championship [Video]

With no Canucks playoff games to watch this spring, Vancouver hockey fans have been left to their own devices, tasked with finding something else to do.

Most just went outside. (The weather’s been pretty nice.) But Ross Langill headed to Chipping Campden, in the Cotswolds of England, to take part in the Cotswold Olimpick Games, and not just any event. Not the tug of war. Not something called dwile flonking. Not piano-smashing. No sir. Langill signed himself up for the main event: the World Shin-Kicking Championships.

Yes, shin-kicking, where two combatants fill their pants with straw, then face each other, lock shoulders, and kick one another in the shins while trying to score takedowns. Langill signed up for this, proving once again that the Venn diagram of Canucks fans and insane people is a perfect circle.

But Langill didn’t just participate. Sporting a blue Canucks’ home jersey, he won the 400-year-old competition.

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Four ways the 2014 NHL postseason could have been worse to the Canucks

The NHL playoffs have been unkind to the Vancouver Canucks this year.

It seems downright ungrateful when you consider all the Canucks have done for the NHL playoffs. Three years ago, they teamed up with the Bruins to give us one of the most memorable and controversial Stanley Cup Finals in hockey history. The next year, the Canucks lit the Kings on fire and sent them into the second round that way. The rest is history. And last season, the Canucks played the all-important supporting role in The Annual San Jose Sharks’ Postseason Collapse™ as the team that gets crushed in Round 1 to make people think it might actually be San Jose’s year. (The Kings, meanwhile, were tapped to play that same role this season, but refused to see it through to the end, because they’ve been spoiled by their own success. Unprofessional scene-stealers, the lot of them.)

Anyway. Despite all the Canucks have done to make the postseason compelling in previous years, this year, they weren’t even on the guest list. A classless gesture by the NHL playoffs, in our opinion.

But this goes beyond the unceremonious snub. The playoffs also paved a path for Alain Vigneault, fired by the Canucks for failing to make it back to the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive years, to do exactly that in his first year with the New York Rangers.

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Alex Burrows still getting injured, sucks at buying popcorn in new Visa ads (Video)

Alex Burrows didn’t do much this year. He spent much of the season recovering from various broken parts, and when he was in the lineup, he struggled to score, thanks to a combination of rotten luck, John Tortorella’s “goals are death” system, and a carousel of injuries that set back his conditioning and threw off his groove.

The offseason came earlier than expected, too, so it’s understandable that the Canucks’ winger would have a lot of unexpended energy. It might explain why he’s been busy this offseason, heading to Europe for the World Championships, and still finding time to film a couple new commercials for Visa.

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Eddie Lack should pick the sparkly pony mask (and frankly, he might)

David Booth got a lot of attention early last season when John Tortorella went on record as saying the winger was “a weird dude”. But he’s hardly the only one of those the Canucks have.

Starting netminder Eddie Lack is an equally weird dude, as evidenced by the video introducing his latest mask design contest, in which he’s unashamedly holding an adorable Fin plushie:

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The Boston Model is a myth, but Jim Benning may still know how to follow it

The Canucks confirmed Wednesday what many had been suspecting ever since Trevor Linden was brought in to preside over the Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning was the guy he was told to hire. “There were moments of clarity for me in speaking with Jim that we just really connected on a hockey level,” Linden said of the personnel [...]

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Stick in Link: Scouting issues; Canucks real happy Vigneault’s doing well and they’re in Europe

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Wednesday during the offseason. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Jim Benning reportedly close to Canucks’ GM job, because it looks difficult, and he’s into that

It’s hardly a secret that the Canucks have been after Jim Benning, presently an assistant GM with the Boston Bruins, to replace Mike Gillis as the General Manager in Vancouver, and it’s easy to see why they want him: for the last five years, the Canucks have been led by the one-two of Gillis and still-employed AGM Laurence Gilman, two men whose surnames sound very similar. No doubt they’ve keyed wordplay as the secret to success, and very quickly landed on Jim Benning, whose surname rhymes with that of Lorne Henning, their other AGM.

Expect to hear a lot more of Lorne Henning, then, simply because “Benning and Henning” sounds so good together, now that the Canucks are expected to announce Benning’s hiring in the coming days, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

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