When I asked how long the current Canucks’ defence pairings would last on Tuesday, I didn’t expect the answer to be “less than a day.” But I did suggest that at the first sign of trouble, Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa would be immediately reunited, and Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks was trouble (with a capital T, which rhymes with D and that stands for Defence).
The sheer number of breakaways and odd-man rushes given up by the Canucks ensured that something would change on the backend and, sure enough, word came out of practice Wednesday morning that all three defence pairings had been switched up.
As expected, Hamhuis and Bieksa were reunited — tearfully, probably — but the Canucks didn’t just reset everything back to the way it was at the start of the season. Jason Garrison, the Canucks’ biggest free agent acquisition, was moved down to the third pairing with Keith Ballard, while Chris Tanev was promoted to the second pairing with Alex Edler.
Since Garrison is being paid a lot of money, seeing him on the third pairing is causing some consternation in Canucks nation. Has he joined Keith Ballard in a lavish, $8 million doghouse, a dog mansion, if you will? Not exactly. His demotion isn’t just about how he’s been playing, but how the entire defence corps has been playing.Continue Reading —›
Alain Vigneault has the tendency to shuffle his forward lines like a magician shuffles cards: most of it is sleight-of-hand and nothing really changes in the end. He and Rick Bowness have frequently done the same with defence pairings in the past over the last couple seasons, but certain pairings tended to stick together and avoid the juggling.
When Christian Ehrhoff was with the Canucks, he was all-but-inseparable from Alex Edler. At one point, Kevin Bieksa only hit the ice when Willie Mitchell was at his side. Over the last couple seasons, it’s been Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis who have been attached at the hip. Other pairings were malleable, but those pairings were, at the very least, semi-permanent.
Heading into this season, the pairing of Bieksa and Hamhuis, affectionately and disgustingly known as HamJuice, were a given. Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev, who performed well when paired together in the previous season, were assumed to be the bottom pairing. That left the newly-arrive Jason Garrison to play with Edler, something I had been anticipating ever since he signed with the Canucks.
It looked like the defence pairings were about as set in stone as they could possibly be. But it took just 5 games for those stones to be thrown to the ground and broken up like the Ten Commandments.Continue Reading —›
A couple weeks ago, Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler teamed up with Cabral “Cabbie” Richards for an impromptu street hockey game under the Cambrie Bridge (site of one of the great music videos of our time).
Also, Jason Garrison was there.
TSN waited until last Friday to put up Cabbie’s segment on the game and, this weekend, it finally made it to YouTube.. I’ve been a big fan of Cabbie since his days on The Score. He seems to always be able to get athletes to let down their guard, leading to great interviews and a lot of humour.
This time around, however, Cabbie doesn’t say a word through the entire segment, letting Kesler and Bieksa take the reins. That was either a horrible, horrible mistake or one of the best things he’s ever done, depending on how much you like the unintentional humour of terrible acting. We like it a lot.Continue Reading —›
The Canucks have had a very conservative 2012, and I don’t mean in terms of their transaction history. Between Passion Vancouver praying over Daniel Sedin’s helmet, David Booth bringing that blueberry-hogging bear to justice, and Mark Donnelly singing at the launch of the New Abortion Caravan, the team has been aligned with some very right-wing ideals over the last few months.
Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with any of these ideals (and frankly, praying shouldn’t be considered right-wing, although it is, thanks to bad politics). But they’re often associated, fairly or unfairly, with some uninclusive ways of thinking, and the Canucks organization has always strived to be as inclusive and embracing of the community as possible.
The presence of Manny Malhotra, Jason Garrison, and mascot Fin alongside the Vancouver Cutting Edge and You Can Play at Vancouver’s 34th annual Pride Parade was a great way to remind people of this.Continue Reading —›
Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.Continue Reading —›
When Sami Salo signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Canucks fans collectively freaked out for about two-and-a-half hours. I saw many cursing Mike Gillis’s name, calling for him to be fired, and lamenting in the streets in sackcloth and ashes. Then Aaron Rome signed with the Dallas Stars and some fans began to wonder if the Canucks would have any defencemen at all next season or whether the plan was to keep Roberto Luongo not as a backup to Cory Schneider but as a shot-blocking specialist on defence.
That’s the problem with the frenzy of July 1st: everyone expects something instantaneous. When the Canucks didn’t sign any free agents as soon as the sun rose and the rooster crowed, the impatience of the social media generation shone through. Not only was the sky falling, but dogs were also marrying cats. The Fraser River turned to blood, frogs rained down from the sky, and a swarm of locusts invaded downtown Vancouver and immediately began complaining about the bike lanes.
It was pandemonium. It was chaos. It was the apocalypse.
Then the Canucks signed Jason Garrison and everyone calmed the heck down.Continue Reading —›