A proposal to change the Draft Lottery

This year’s race to the #1 draft pick has underlined the fact that teams do their best to improve their chances at getting the #1 pick. Case in point- Tampa Bay lightning icing Vincent Lecavalier with an eighth of the season to go. With the playoffs out of reach, Tampa decided it was best to schedule their best player for surgery so that he has time to rehab for next season. I don’t see it as that, I see it as a way to improve their chances to the #1 draft pick. I think this tanking of your team is against the idea of sport, a slap in the face to your fanbase and just generally uncool and square.

What do I propose? A playdown for draft seeding. This would happen immediately after the regular season and involve the teams that missed the playoffs. It would take a week to complete and allow the playoff bound teams some rest before the grind of the playoffs.  Seeding would be based on how teams performed in the regular season and home ice advantage would always default to the team with the worst  record.  When everything is said and done the draft positions would be based on how far teams made it in the playdown.

The bracket would set up in an eastern and western bracket and teams would be reverse seeded based on how they finished in the regular season. This is what I propose with teams for the 2009 season to show the seeding (click on image for larger view):

NHL DRAFT BRACKET

NHL DRAFT BRACKET

A draft playdown has some great possibilities:

  • Gives fan bases of poor teams something to cheer for
  • Opens up hockey to a fanbase that loves brackets
  • Reduces the risk of teams tanking it and resting their best players to get a good draft seed
  • Gives all non playoff bound teams a chance at the # 1 pick
  • Generate more revenue for non-playoff bound teams
  • Allows teams to try-out prospects in their farm system
  • Gambling potential!!!

I like it and I hope you do to.

Rock on.

Canucks Goalies

From the province:

…the Canucks have dressed 27 stoppers since Jan. 2, 1998 when Kirk McLean was traded.

So lets let the naming game start…

1) Alex Auld
2) Dan Cloutier
3) Bob Essensa
4) Peter Skudra
5) Artrus Irbe
6) Roberto Luongo
7) Garth Snow
8 ) Cory Schenider
9) Curtis Sanford
10) Jason Labarberra
11) Johan Hedberg
12) Kevin Weekes
13) Danny Sabourin
14) Martin Brochu
15) Sean Burke
16) Chris McIntyre (UBC guy)
17) Felix Potvin

Give me a little help with the remaining ten please…

Jesus! That is a lot of goalies.

Guess which is Daniel Sedin and which is Henrik?

I have always thought the Sedins are good to great hockey players with bad to poor support from the fans.

Instead of a picture of the Sedins and trying to guess which is which, lets change the game a bit and put some stats of some top players and now match the stat lines to Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin:

Ready? And try not to look at a stats page for the answers… that is just lazy. (Answers in the comment section)

GP G A PTS +/- PIM ATOI HT BS SOG SPCT PPG PPA SHG SHA
a) 47 17 43 60 3 61 22:13 48 23 142 12 3 20 0 1
b) 48 8 36 44 6 30 19:55 12 13 80 10 2 14 0 0
c) 46 19 34 53 1 25 21:22 41 10 163 11.7 9 14 0 0
d) 49 20 29 49 -10 31 21:26 20 9 163 12.3 5 16 0 0
e) 48 22 24 46 6 33 19:59 70 17 182 12.1 7 7 1 1
f) 46 26 26 52 22 10 21:32 47 7 164 15.9 6 5 3 1
g) 44 22 24 46 12 36 21:03 45 20 143 15.4 4 6 3 1
h) 48 28 28 56 22 20 19:01 38 7 197 14.2 7 7 0 3
i) 46 16 28 44 7 66 18:21 75 9 165 9.7 6 11 0 0
j) 46 11 30 41 -5 18 20:49 52 18 88 12.5 4 9 0 0
k) 45 12 27 39 -6 4 21:02 9 20 142 8.5 4 11 0 1
l) 48 22 26 48 11 22 19:16 5 9 168 13.1 4 11 0 0

The players whose stats are included above are as follows:

Crosby
D Sedin
H Sedin
Iginla
Kovalchuk
Lecavalier
Marleau
Nash
Parise
Perry
Ribero
Richards

Some pretty heavy hitters in that list and I don’t think that the Sedins stats stand out as anomolies on that list. So why all the hate on for the Sedins?

I believe that they are top players in the NHL and I think once bias is removed it is clear that statiscally this is the case. If only they weren’t swedish twins…

From snowy Toronto to, er…snowy Vancouver?

I am going to take a brief blogging hiatus for the next week or so, as I am heading home to Vancouver for the holidays.

Among other activities planned, H and I – the proprietors of this infrequently visited blog – will be attending the Canucks-Oilers game on Boxing Day.  If we’re not too drunk by the time we get to the game, we might take some pictures.

Sadly, now that I work and live full-time in Toronto, I don’t get home to Vancouver much anymore.  And I get the opportunity to attend Canucks games at GM Place even less.   Needless to say, the trip has me excited.

Well, I was excited; now I am nervously analyzing worst-case scenarios.  Rather unsurprisingly, Toronto has been buried by a relentless winter storm over the past few days, wreaking havoc on travel arrangements in-and-out of the city.  Considerably more shocking is that Vancouver, too, is being blanketed by a deluge of snow, making travel in-and-out of the city similarly challenging.

I trust that with my flight scheduled for Monday night, I’ll make it by Boxing Day for the game.  I’d like to make it back for Christmas and all, but as long as I’m sat in my seat at the Garage on Friday, I’ll be happy.

Mats Sundin is coming…to town

As you are no doubt already aware, Mats Sundin has signed with the Canucks for the remainder of the 2008-2009 season.

Unfortunately, I was tied up playing Santa Claus for these lovely ladies at their show in Toronto last night and the co-author of this blog was happily celebrating his anniversary.  Neither of us is equipped with BlackBerries or anything, so suffice it to say that we are a little late on the draw when it comes to Sundin.

Since a lot of people have already weighed in on the transaction, let me get down to business and identify what I think are the positives and potential negatives associated with Sundin coming to Vancouver.

Positives 

  • The addition of a proven point-a-game player like Sundin, even at his age, gives the Canucks two bona fide scoring lines.  As I have been at pains to point out, the Canucks have had no trouble scoring this season (the team is currently ninth overall in goals-per-game, with a ratio of 3.03).  Sundin, you would imagine, will only further solidify the Canucks’ scoring credentials.
  • One area of glaring weakness for the Canucks this season has been the power play.  Currently 16th overall at 18.6 per cent, the Canucks will be helped immensely by a player such as Sundin, who is a proven power play producer.
  • The addition of Sundin gives the Canucks the top-line centre the team has sorely lacked in recent years.
  • With fellow Swedes Mattias Ohlund, the Sedin twins, and Alexander Edler already on the roster, and former Leaf teammate – and linemate – Kyle Wellwood playing in Vancouver, Sundin should integrate into the dressing room well (see below for my caveat).
  • Mike Gillis’s resolve to wait for the player he thought would make this team a legitimate contender further persuades me that the man has a fully considered plan in place that he is unwaveringly committed to, and that he is not going to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants GM.

Potential Negatives

  • I can’t help but wonder, notwithstanding Gillis’s stoic claims to the contrary, that Sundin chose to come to Vancouver ultimately because his preferred team, the New York Rangers, could not make room for him.  The fact he only signed a one-year deal – and not the two-year deal on the table from the Canucks initially – lends some credence to this notion.
  • If my concern about Sundin’s motivation is valid, then I also wonder how committed he will be to the cause in Vancouver.  Admittedly, I don’t have the impression (based on Sundin’s history) that he is a man out to collect paycheques, but the possibility exists that he might be here mainly for the money.
  • I wonder how well the dressing room will adjust to a player walking into the team as the putative ‘star’ player, especially since it appears that the Canucks are such a tight-knit team this season.  (Let’s not forget that the last time the Canucks tried something like this – cough – it was a spectacular failure and wreaked havoc in the dressing room.)

Mitigating Factors

  • The Sundin deal is only for the remainder of this season.  If it doesn’t work out, no harm done – Sundin leaves after the season and the Canucks have given up nothing except cap space.
  • Sundinhas a reputation for being an amiable – if sometimes quiet – member of the dressing room with the Leafs.  I can’t imagine that his personality could unleash the terror that, say, Messier’s did after he arrived.
  • Sundin wears the label of someone who ‘hasn’t won anything’ (in the NHL) around his neck like an anchor.  That may be motivation enough to ensure that Sundin is a valuable asset come playoff time.

On the whole, I think the positives outweigh the potential negatives by a significant margin.

I, for one, can’t wait to see Sundin in a Canucks uniform.  (I also have all the more reason now to find myself some tickets on Ebay for the Canucks’ visit to the Air Canada Centre in February.)

A personal memory of Trevor

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To celebrate the retirement of Trevor Linden’s #16 sweater on Wednesday night at GM Place prior to the game against the Edmonton Oilers, I want to re-state something I said in a post about his impending retirement from the NHL at the end of last season.

Trevor Linden may not be judged a superstar over the course of his career but one thing he was unfailingly is a leader. He took this team to within two goals of winning that elusive Stanley Cup in 1994, a year no one who has ever followed the Canucks will forget. (The picture above really does say it all.) He stood accountable for everything this team did and did not accomplish during his time in the city. Most of all, he took this team into the community and made fans feel like the team meant something to the city. (Trust me, growing up in the 1980s in Vancouver the team had little to no marked presence in the city.)

I would like to share a personal memory of Trevor Linden, as my own tribute to the man and what he means to the city of Vancouver and Canucks fans in particular. When I was about 11 years old (this is 1991), Trevor made an appearance at the local Safeway in Coquitlam and my mum took me and my brother to go see him. After waiting in line for a solid hour, we eventually walked up to the table where Trevor was seated. To this day I remember vividly how young he looked (he was 21 or so at that time). I remember also being completely in awe. I asked him to sign my Trevor Linden rookie card and a copy of Breakaway (the old Canucks program) with his photo on the cover. Trevor happily obliged, of course, but he also asked me whether I played, who my favourite player was, etc. He was, as he is now and always has been, a genuinely niceman, even as a 21 year old kid. I asked him if he could make sure the Canucks would finally win the Stanley Cup. He said he would do his best.

It makes me profoundly sad–and I mean this with the most sincerity and feeling I can muster–that Trevor never did and now never will (at least not as a player) lift the Stanley Cup wearing a Canucks sweater. As much as you can say this, he deserved it. We deserved it.

I hope one day, when the day finally comes for Vancouver fans to celebrate a Stanley Cup, Trevor Linden is there to experience and share in that victory.

So long, Trevor.

When people here in Toronto (where I live now) ask me why Trevor Linden’s sweater is worthy of retirement, I recount this particular story from my childhood growing up in the Lower Mainland.

Prior to Linden, my Canucks hero was Patrik Sundstrom.  With all due respect to Sundstrom (and Orland Kurtenbach and Stan Smyl), that simply highlights how utterly bereft of hockey heroes this city was before his arrival on the scene in 1989.

What ultimately matters most is the impact the man had on hockey and the relationship between the city of Vancouver (and the province of British Columbia, more generally) and the Vancouver Canucks.

He made the fans proud to be Canucks fans.  And for anyone that grew up in and around the city in the 1980s, that is no small feat.

Dear Canucks, thanks for listening

First off, let’s forget that this happened. Alain Vigneault summed up my feelings succinctly with his summation of the debacle at Rexall Place on Saturday night:

I really don’t have one positive thing to say about this game. We got outplayed, we got out everything-ed in all areas. They deserved to win hands-down.

With that said, let’s talk about tonight’s game. In particular, I want to highlight how impressed I was with the Canucks. Two aspects of the performance stand out: first, the Canucks’ resilience after going down 2-0 early in the first period; second, burying the Panthers when they had the opportunity.

As to the first point, I will admit that when the Panthers scored twice off-the-bat, I thought the game was effectively over. In my defence, I’ll offer up as an excuse some carried over frustration, on my part, after the embarrassing non-effort in Edmonton. Coming out of the gate as flat as the Canucks did after that performance, on home ice no less, made me think the Canucks were not going to have it tonight. Thankfully, I was wrong.

As to the second point, I have repeatedly called attention to the Canucks profligacy when it comes to chances to put teams to the sword this season, resulting in a window of opportunity for the opposition that is too often exploited for my liking. Tonight, with the game tied 2-2 in the second period, the Canucks on the power play, and a delayed call against Shawn Matthias, Pavol Demitra scored his second of the game off of Jay Bouwmeester’s skate to put the Canucks ahead. Then, with Matthias in the box, Kyle Wellwood batted a pass from Daniel Sedin cleanly out of the air at the side of the net to put the Canucks ahead 4-2. Finally, for good measure, Ryan Kesler took a Kevin Bieksa pass off the boards for a breakaway, while short-handed, and buried a backhand into the roof of the net to put a final point of emphasis on an explosive second period.

Nice to see the Canucks addressing what I think has been the most disconcerting weakness of the team thus far this season.



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