Is a lack of lockout activity to blame for the Canucks’ slow start?

On Saturday against the Ducks, the Canucks looked flat-footed, ill-prepared, and lethargic. They looked, in fact, like they hadn’t played a hockey game in 8 months. Sunday was better, but only slightly, as the Canucks still made numerous uncharacteristic errors.Still, we’re just two games into the season. It feels odd to say that the Canucks have had a slow start; they’ve barely started at all.

With that said, the Canucks certainly haven’t been their usual selves, even taking into account the lack of Ryan Kesler and David Booth. They also had very few players active during the lockout, with only Dale Weise, Jannik Hansen, and Cory Schneider playing in Europe for any significant length of time. Beyond those three, Zack Kassian and Chris Tanev played in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves, and Mason Raymond played a grand total of two games for Örebro in the Swedish Elite League.

The rest of the Canucks skated on their own, with the largest group the one that stayed in Vancouver and practised with the UBC Thunderbirds. Is the lack of game action to blame for the Canucks’ lacklustre performance on the weekend?

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Dale Weise and girlfriend Lauren Raban have become a Dutch ice hockey power couple

When the Tilburg Trappers decided to hold an auction to raise money for the financially struggling Amsterdam G’s, they went with the most valuable item they could find: a Dale Weise jersey.

That should give an indication of just how big a star Weise is becoming in the Netherlands during the lockout, as he continues to rack up the points in the Dutch Eredivisie. But while Weise is the only NHL player in the Netherlands right now, he’s not the only lockout import looking to become a hockey star.

Weise’s girlfriend, Lauren Raban, has joined the Tilsburg Trappers women’s team and is dominating at almost the same level as Weise.

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Cory Schneider signs with Ambri-Piotta of Switzerland’s National League A

Cory Schneider has played a large role in the ongoing CBA negotiations as a member of the NHLPA’s bargaining committee, putting his three years of studying finance at Boston College to good use. Last Monday, however, he began voicing his frustration with the process and discussed heading overseas to play in Europe if negotiations didn’t progress.

Apparently Schneider doesn’t see bringing in mediators as progression, as he signed today with Ambrì-Piotta of the National League A, the top tier of hockey in Switzerland.

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5 more things we would probably know by now if it weren’t for this flipping lockout

On Monday, we mourned the absence of 10 answers that we’d already have.

See, if Stupidface McGee and that other jerk weren’t so hell-bent on getting their way, we’d be two months into the 2012-13 season by now. We wouldn’t be sitting around wondering whether and where Roberto Luongo was going to get traded. We’d likely be sitting around wondering if he should have, as well as embroiled in other silly new controversies. Alas, we’re still where we were.

However, the can of what-ifs is a bottomless pit of despair, and once I started rattling off a few, I couldn’t stop. Thus, here are 5 more things we would probably know by now if it weren’t for this flipping lockout.

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10 things we would probably know by now if it weren’t for this flipping lockout

PITB is a family blog (the “P” stands for “PG”), which is why the title of this post features the adjective “flipping” instead of something saltier. But rest assured this lockout has us on the verge of some high-level swears. It’s an infuriating slog during this gosh darn labour stoppage, both because we are full-blown Canucks addicts in dire need of a fix and because we’re left tending the grounds around here without any grass seed.

(If only we could just sit smugly back like a certain appropriately named Canucks blog and wait for this whole thing to blow over!)

But that’s not to say we’re out of ideas. (We would never admit to that, even if it were true!) It’s just that the lockout has left us in hockey blog purgatory, a place utterly devoid of motivation and stakes, where the topics of debate and the areas of concern for the team we write about never seem to change. Had the season started on time, we’d be nearly two months into it by now, and we’d be able to start forming new answers to some of the questions surrounding Vancouver’s 2012-13 group.

Instead, we’re left answering questions to which we would already know the answer, if we lived in the parallel universe where the league and the union aren’t strangling the life out of the game in an attempt to get more out of it. Questions like:

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Harrison made the NHL lockout parody nobody wanted, but everyone needed [VIDEO]

I could have stopped him. Instead, I helped him. I am so, so sorry.

When Harrison called me a couple weeks ago asking me to help him with a parody song about the NHL lockout, I was expecting something similar to “Lockout Man,” the “Rocket Man” parody we did at the end of September. I thought he had in mind a silly riff on a popular song and that would be the end of it. I was wrong.

I had no idea that his idea for a parody of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” would result in too-tight yoga pants and floor-humping. But really, given how long I’ve known Harrison, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I hadn’t even heard “Call Your Girlfriend” before Harrison played me the music video, which shows the eponymous Robyn dancing alone in a warehouse, with her only accompaniment being a series of flashing lights. It’s pretty amazing to watch if only because the dancing isn’t exactly phenomenal – just very, very enthusiastic.

So when Harrison told me that part of his plan was to recreate the music video for his parody “Call the Union,” I was a little worried. Suffice it to say he nailed the video: his dancing is very, very enthusiastic.

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Jannik Hansen touches down in Finland, does an interview, is accosted by advertisers

Jannik Hansen officially became the second Vancouver Canuck playing in Europe when, as expected, he made his debut in Finland’s SM-liiga Thursday. It didn’t take long for him to shake off the rust of the long offseason, either: he contributed 2 assists and the 3-1 goal in a 5-1 Tappara win over KalPa.

The disparity between Hansen’s skill and the rest of the league isn’t quite as vast as Dale Weise’s turn as the Mario Lemieux of the Dutch league, but Hansen is still among the best players currently playing in Finland. And, like Weise, his arrival to his new team necessitated a video interview. Unfortunately, we don’t follow Hansen as he makes his breakfast and pontificates on the cosmic comedy that everyone everywhere eats peanut butter and jelly. Neither does he tell us he couldn’t find the country on a map until he arrived.

But we do get to hear Hansen talk, and if you missed the Great Dane’s quaintly high-pitched, monotone speaking voice, this video’s got the goods:

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Adorable Campbell River kid wants hockey back, thinks the owners and players should stop fighting (VIDEO)

Mackinley is a six-year-old girl from Campbell River, British Columbia and she loves hockey. Despite both her parents being huge fans of the Montreal Canadiens, Mackinley has chosen the much more potentially heartbreaking path of cheering for the Vancouver Canucks. When she found out that she might not be able to watch her beloved Canucks this season, or any other NHL hockey for that matter, she was devastated.

You see, hockey holds a special place in Mackinley’s life. Her father works in a mining camp and is away from home for up to four weeks at a time, with only a two week break in between to be at home. During those times, one of the main things he and Mackinley like to do together is watch the NHL.

So Mackinley decided to do something about it. She decided that she needed to talk to the NHL and get everything sorted out.

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Jannik Hansen learns nothing from Dale Weise, opts to challenge himself in Finland

Good news and bad news, friends.

The good news is that the content of this blog, which has been Dale Weise-centric for the last week or so, will finally see some sweet variety: Jannik Hansen has become the second Vancouver Canuck to say “nuts to this noise” and opt to play out the lockout overseas.

The bad news is that Hansen has signed not with a team in the Danish league as some had expected, but with Tappara of SM-liiga, the Finnish Elite League.

Now, maybe this isn’t bad news to you, but when you run a super-juvenile hockey blog, the news that Hansen’s jersey won’t feature any advertising from the amusingly-named, Danish government-owned DONG Energy company (shown above) is a disappointment.

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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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Canucks may need both Luongo and Schneider for compressed schedule

After the NHL faced the PR disaster of their market research focus group documents going public on Monday, they needed to do something quick to fix their image among hockey fans. The announcement of a new, seemingly reasonable CBA proposal with the aim of saving full 82-game season? That ought to do it.

While there is still a lot of work to be done in negotiations and time will tell how truly reasonable the offer is, the fact remains that this is the first real glimmer of hope that a deal could get done in time to save the 2012-13 season. The key for the owners, however, is that this offer is contingent on a deal being reached within the next 9-10 days, as they want a full 82-game season and all the revenue that entails.

In order to cram all those games in, the NHL schedule would need to get a lot more compressed, meaning more back-to-back games, more fatigue, and more risk of injuries.

Which means Mike Gillis might not want to trade Roberto Luongo after all.

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Dale Weise is first Canuck heading to Europe, according to his Facebook page

According to a report from Jon Keen, long-time WHL play-by-play man, Dale Weise is the first Canucks heading overseas during the lockout. He’s not heading to any of the usual suspects, like Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, or Switzerland. Instead, he’s heading to the Netherlands to play for the Tilburg Trappers of the Eredivisie.

Weise wouldn’t be the first NHL player to commit to the Dutch league during the lockout, but he would be the first to actually play. The Trappers previously signed Pittsburgh Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey, only to see him bail on his commitment and head to Austria to play for Medvescak Zagreb. The Trappers manager indicated that the club would be looking for a replacement for Jeffrey and appear to have found that replacement in Weise.

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Ask it to Bulis! on no European Canucks, knifing Cory Schneider, and Wonder Woman

It’s time once more for Ask it to Bulis, where two incredibly intelligent, witty, handsome, and humble bloggers answer your questions about life, the universe, and everything, but mostly the Vancouver Canucks. Side effects include enlightenment, rationality, and gangrene.

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Spitballin’ on Pavel Bure’s German hockey card, Lockout Kesler, and the return of Tanner Glass

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.

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‘Lockout Man’ is a parody song for troubled times, by troubled men (VIDEO)

A few days ago, an acquaintance asked me how long the NHL lockout would last. I told him the same thing I’ve been telling a lot of people: in my mind, the Winter Classic is a drop dead date. The owners don’t want to miss it and they’ll work to make sure they don’t. Unfortunately, wanting something reduces your leverage, and Gary Bettman is too skilled a negotiator to lose a labour battle over one game. If the game threatens a deal he believes is fair, he’ll cancel it in a heartbeat, like those guys that say “I can quit smoking whenever I want,” then throw the pack in the garbage to prove the point.

“I think it’s gonna be a long, long time,” said my acquaintance.

In the sad, silent moment that followed, my mind immediately turned to Elton John’s “Rocket Man”, which features the same line. From there, the idea for “Lockout Man” was born. And, since there are no NHL preseason games eating into my free time, this video was born shortly thereafter:

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What the Canucks will be doing during the lockout

It’s official: the NHL owners have locked out the players. While there’s still time to get a new CBA worked out before the start of the regular season, it’s extremely unlikely that this will happen, meaning that loyal readers of PITB are bound to miss out on a few I Watched This Games.

As a result, numerous NHLers have signed contracts or made commitments with teams overseas. Many Russian players are already signed to temporary contracts in the KHL, while many Europeans are committing to their respective country’s leagues. Even a few North American players are heading across the Atlantic, with Joe Thornton and Logan Couture both signing in Switzerland.

No Canucks have signed in Europe yet, so I looked into it. It turns out that each member of the Canucks already has plans in place during the lockout. In this PITB exclusive, we look at what each of them is planning to do.

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Almost every Canuck would be eligible to play in the KHL during NHL lockout

If the NHL and NHLPA were playing Street Fighter, they would still be arguing over which location they should choose to host their brawl. An announcement of a lockout on Saturday seems to be inevitable. The KHL knows this, which is why they announced an amendment to their regulations that would allow for up to three NHL players to be signed to contracts that last only as long as the lockout continues.

Of those three, only one is allowed to be non-Russian, and those players have to fit certain criteria to be eligible. While those criteria are basically a joke, it seems worth checking to see what members of the Vancouver Canucks would qualify, as some of them might see the KHL as an opportunity to get back up to game-speed before the actual start of the NHL season.

Dirk Hoag over at On the Forecheck has already done this with the Nashville Predators and discovered that the majority of the roster would qualify. For the Canucks, however, all but one player who isn’t on a two-way contract would qualify.

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At its core there was an illegal operation taking place within the walls of Penn State University.  It happened to be crimes of child molestation that were allegedly being perpetrated by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky who supposedly used his Second Mile youth charity to recruit children for his own purposes.  This story will only grow as more information is [...]

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