I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks vs Colorado Avalanche, November 1, 2012

Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche would have been the 11th game of the 2012-13 schedule for the Vancouver Canucks. What that really means, however, is that 10 games would have already passed prior to the game with the Avalanche and Canucks fans would have been finally allowed to pass judgement on the team thus far.

For some reason, 10 games is held up as the standard. Early in the season, as fans fly off the handle with pronouncements of doom if their team loses a few, or jubilation and parades if their team gets off to a hot start, people caution fans to “wait 10 games” before freaking out. That means that we were due for a good old-fashioned Canucks fan freakout prior to their game against the Avalanche.

The truth is, we don’t even know that much after 10 games. Teams can very easily be first place in their division, then crash and burn through the rest of the season and miss the playoffs, like the Minnesota Wild. Other teams can get off to terrible starts and do just fine during the rest of the season, like the Bruins starting last season 3-7 then winning their division.

We’ll never know how those first 10 games would have gone for the Canucks, but hopefully we’ll catch a glimpse of the remainder of the season. I didn’t watch this game.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks vs Tampa Bay Lightning, October 28, 2012

That’s it: now I’m mad. Up until now, I’ve been remarkably blasé about the lockout. I mean, it’s upsetting that the games have been cancelled, but I’ve been filling my time with Abbotsford Heat games, more time spent with my family, and the baseball playoffs. As long as the entire season isn’t cancelled, I told myself, I could live with it.

But now? Now the lockout has taken away Sami Salo. And that’s just too much to handle.

While I was fine with Salo signing with the Lightning from a rational perspective, from an emotional perspective, it was a kick in the teeth. Salo, with his humble attitude and continual persistence in coming back from injury after injury, was one of my favourite Canucks of the last decade.

I didn’t get to see his return to Vancouver, because I didn’t watch this game.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks at Dallas Stars, October 25, 2012

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.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks at Pittsburgh Penguins, October 23, 2012

Tuesday night would have been the seventh game of the Canucks’s 2012-13 season, and already their fifth on the road and their fourth road game in six nights. It would have been the second night of a back-to-back after a tilt versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. It would have been against a Pittsburgh Penguins team represented by both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the first time since November 17, 2010, an offensive powerhouse that the roadworn and weary Canucks would have had to face without Jason Garrison, Alex Edler or Ryan Kesler, who are all still injured. That’s one third of their defence and their best defensive centre out of the lineup for a matchup with Crosby and Malkin.

In short, the Canucks probably would have lost. But, because of the lockout, they didn’t lose, because there was no game. Thanks for looking out for us, lockout! Because of you, I didn’t watch this game.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks at Detroit Red Wings, October 22, 2012

On Monday night, the Canucks didn’t have their first meeting of the season with the Detroit Red Wings. Last season the two teams finished with identical 2-1-1 records against each other thanks to each team picking up a win after regulation. This means, of course, that the two teams are so evenly matched that absolutely nothing would have happened in this game, which, incidentally, is exactly what actually happened.

It would have been a complete stalemate, which would have been avoidable if the Canucks hadn’t traded Cody Hodgson, chess master, away. Way to go, Gillis.

I didn’t watch this game.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets, October 19, 2012

It’s remarkably easy to forget about a game that didn’t happen, particularly when your thoughts are occupied with games that did happen. On Friday and Saturday, the Canucks’ prospects were back in BC to play the Abbotsford Heat. Harrison was busy doing colour commentary, while I was busy taking notes and writing game recaps. We both completely missed the game that the Canucks didn’t play in Columbus on Friday.

We both panicked. How could we have forgotten? How could we write an I Didn’t Watch This Game post when we didn’t actually watch the game? Wait, hang on…

I didn’t watch this game.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks at Nashville Predators, October 18, 2012

On Thursday, the Vancouver Canucks didn’t travel to Nashville to face the Suter-less Predators. They didn’t dole out the usual clichés about playing a simple road game and getting in on the forecheck. They didn’t show the game on TSN, Sportsnet Pacific, or Sportsnet One.

On the plus side, Henrik Sedin didn’t suffer a career-ending injury, Zack Kassian didn’t get suspended for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs for roundhouse-kicking Ryan Ellis in the face, and Cory Schneider didn’t come to blows with Alain Vigneault in the dressing room, leading to Schneider being traded to the Blackhawks just one day after Luongo was traded to the Leafs, leaving the Canucks with just Eddie Lack between the pipes.

All of those things would have surely happened during this game, if not for the lockout. I didn’t watch this game.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks vs Carolina Hurricanes, October 15, 2012

With the 2012-13 season in a coma (perhaps wandering about the world of The Odyssey, where no one reaches the age of 16 and tyrannical club The Tower rules over all), Monday night’s tilt between the Canucks and the Carolina Hurricanes was lost to us.

It’s a shame, too. Not only would this game have given Canuck fans an early glimpse of the new-look Carolina Hurricanes, who acquired Jordan Staal and Alex Semin over the offseason, but it would have given Canuck fans a chance to see the Sedins face off against perhaps the only pair of siblings in the NHL that could have possibly rivalled them.

That’s right: had there been a game to watch, it would have featured a full-blown clan war. But there wasn’t a game to watch, and thus, I didn’t watch this game.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, October 13, 2012

The start of the NHL season is a magical time: hope springs eternal, as even the worst teams in the NHL can put together a couple early victories and leave their fans convinced that this is the year the turn-around begins. Speaking of the worst teams in the NHL, the Canucks were scheduled to play the Oilers on Saturday night.

It was also set to be the first Hockey Night in Canada of the year, with eager fans tuning in to see Don Cherry not mention the Canucks at all. It would also be the first Don Cherry suit of the season and, perhaps more importantly, the first Kevin Weekes suit of the season. I suspect it would have been baby blue, with a smidge of dark brown.

Fans were deprived of such glorious sights by the NHL lockout. Instead of watching the Canucks take on the Oilers, I played road hockey for hours in the pouring rain and now I have a cold. Thanks a lot, lockout. I didn’t watch this game.

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I Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks at Calgary Flames, October 11, 2012

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.

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