It might not be the easiest trade in reality but the Vancouver Canucks making a move for Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic this offseason is a deal that seems almost perfect in theory. While general manager Jim Benning would have to pull off a number of sub-deals in order to achieve the deal, bringing Lucic back to Vancouver could be just what both parties need. The 27-year-old became a hero in the city during his time as a junior with the Vancouver Giants, and a return to Canada might be just what Lucic needs at this stage of his career. On the back of a disappointing season for both the Bruins and Lucic, the 235-pound winger has been linked with a move away from Boston, with a host of NHL teams ready to try snap the eight-season veteran.
It certainly won't be easy for the Canucks, though, who are currently juggling a relatively modest $5.03 million budget with which to sign five players. While the Bruins have a little more in the bank, they aren't really in a position to take on the additional salary involved in a swap deal. Lucic is set to make $6 million next season, just one year away from entering the unrestricted free agency. Despite his modest season, Lucic would be on the list of a host of NHL sides if the Bruins do decide to try and move on the left wing during the summer.
The Canucks, who have a number of areas that need strengthening over the next few months, could certainly do with some size on the flanks, and bringing home a prodigal son would be a huge boost to the fans on the back of last season. Lucic may have not helped Vancouver from losing to Calgary in the first round of the postseason, but it would be hard to argue the Canucks wouldn't have been a lot more dangerous with the powerful wing on the ice. Currently around 18/1 in the betting odds next season, signing a player like Lucic would be a huge statement to the rest of the Eastern Conference.
The Canucks have been without a player in the mould of Lucic for some time, a left wing with the size and strength to add something to any team in the league. While the Vancouver native has had some things to say about the Canucks fans over the years, there is little doubt the former Giants star wouldn't be welcomed to B.C by the same fans who cheered him on when he was a child. Benning already has a relationship with the 50th overall pick in the 2006 draft from his time as an assistant with the Bruins, and the Canucks general manager attended Lucic's dad, Dobro's, funeral earlier this year. Coming home to Vancouver would definitely have a lot of plus points for Lucic. The question is just whether or not all parties involved can come together and make a deal happen.
As the Vancouver Canucks look to cling on to their play-off place, the form of goaltender Ryan Miller certainly hasn't gone unnoticed. The 34-year-old proved just how important he is to the franchise with 31 saves in the 5-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Miller has been one of the Canucks’ standout players this season. His shutout against the Penguins was his sixth of the regular season, and 35th of the goalie's career. With betting fans deciding whether the Canucks are worth a gamble in the play-offs, having an in-form Miller could be an important factor for those looking to back Vancouver.
On the back of a disappointing 5-1 defeat at the hands of San Jose, Vancouver's play-off charge got back on track with a comprehensive victory over Pittsburgh, with goals from Alexandre Burrows, Bo Horvat, Shawn Matthias, Zack Kassian and Daniel Sedin. But while the offensive lines made much of the headlines, it was another solid display from Miller between the posts that was the platform for what could turn out to be a big win in the story of this season. And it wasn't the first time Miller caught the eye this season, and the goalie has wasted little time in establishing himself as a firm favourite with the Vancouver fans since his arrival from the St. Louis Blues last year.
After being selected in the fifth round of the 1999 NHL Draft, Miller went on to spend 12 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. He played 540 games for the franchise and built up a record of 284-186-57 with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage during his time in New York. And the veteran showed what he can do in the play-offs, going 25-22 in the postseason and making it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final in 2006, winning the Vezina Trophy after being named the NHL's top goaltender in 2010. After calling time on his Buffalo stay, Miller now finds himself at a franchise seemingly set for the play-offs and playing some of the best hockey of his career.
While Miller's Vancouver career might not have started as impressively as it could have, the goalie has improved his save percentage from around .900 to around the .916 it is now. That increase has been a fair reflection of the work he has put in since the opening two months of the season. The Michigan native is one of a number of Canucks players who could have a massive say on any chance Vancouver have of making an impression in the postseason. While Miller has been performing admirably at the back, Daniel and Henrik Sedin continue to lead the team with a combined 86 points while Radim Vrbata tops the scoring charts with 20 goals. If the Canucks are going to achieve anything this season, they are going to need to be firing in all areas. At the moment, the signs are certainly fairly positive that Vancouver are really hitting their stride.
St. Louis Blues fans haven't had a playoff game in their stadium in 5 years. They were pumped, great crowd, I expected nothing less out of the fans. Whoever was singing 'O Canada' tried to be fancy, but instead his attempt at being fancy was a FAIL.
Mats Sundin was injured with a lower body injury, and Kariya may have drawn in to the lineup. That would have meant two things:
1. The RPM line/powerplay of the Canucks was going to suffer missing the big body and faceoff wins from Sundin.
2. With Kariya in, the Blues might actually score on a powerplay
None of this happened. Vancouver still won faceoffs and were able to score. Kariya didn't play, and the Blues didn't capitalize on their numerous powerplays.
In the opening few minutes it was a little nerve wracking watching the game. The Blues looked good. Three minutes in, Backes gets a goal and it's the first time the Blues have led a game so far in the series. Ohlund takes an unnecessary penalty that the Canucks kill off. A few minutes later Daniel takes a penalty, then Mitchell gets a double minor. The Blues are on a 5 on 3 but the Canucks look good and also kill that off. It was penalty city for the Canucks with a few more handed out to them in the 1st period. The team escapes down only 1-0.
In the second, Vancouver starts fresh and look like they've adjusted to the St. Louis crowd. The refs during their little pow wow between periods must have decided to call nothing but Blues penalties in the 2nd period. McClement takes a slashing call and just like that Ohlund puts one in. McClement takes another, and Daniel puts it in, 2-1! McDonald finally figures out Luongo and gets a goal to tie up the game 2-2. Crombeen is a bit of a loose cannon tonight and takes three stupid penalties, the last one at the end of the period will start off the Canucks on the powerplay in the 3rd.
The unsung hero of the Canucks, gets his first goal of the series on the powerplay right at the beginning of the period. That's 3 freaking goals on the powerplay! But the refs decide to start calling the Canucks, and the Blues get their second 5 on 3. The Canucks and Luongo would have none of it and just SHUT THEM DOWN. Scottrade Center is relatively quiet for the rest of the period. Backes takes a cross checking call late in the 3rd and to make it worth his while to go to the box, Backes decides to also get a roughing call. Game Over. The Vancouver Canucks are poised to make a deep playoff run this season after missing out on making it into the playoffs just a season ago. Maybe it was the Canucks visit to a Seahawks game earlier this season that gave them post season luck.
The Blues, who were very good on the powerplay in the regular season (ranked 8th), were not able to capitalize once in the game tonight. They had two 5 on 3's and still no dice. They are now 1 for 17 in the series, which is a little worrisome if you are a Blues fan. Kariya may have helped on the PP, so as a Vancouver fan, I was quite glad he didn't play tonight. Maybe he would ruin the chemistry on the team but if he's healthy for game 4 they may as well give him a shot, because whatever they have right now, isn't working.
Last thought: Ryan Johnson was a beast in the faceoff circle tonight. 11 out of 14.
3 wins down. 13 to go.
So everyone and their mom has written a post about the Canuck ticket renewals that went out last week. Like many other bloggers, I am a Canucks ticket holder. Me and some of my friends (I know my grammar is atrocious some days), share a pack of tickets.
It is great fun of during the summer, usually sometime in July or August, where I have had to pay, in full, for a pack of tickets. This ties up the money for a couple months until the friends that I share the tickets with, pays me back for the tickets they will take. It's like a cash advance loan to the the Canucks, and makes it incredibly tricky when I was back in university trying to come up with enough money to pay for tuition, book and beer. This years was particularly humorous calling in from Florence while on vacation, half drunk at 12am, costing $3.50 cents a minute to make my call in time. The account rep that I spoke to thought I was a little crazy picking a pack of tickets without even seeing which teams were in the schedule.
This year things are a little different.
Playoff tickets are being bought, well, now. And you also have to decide to renew your next season at the same time. They gave you about a week to think about it. And as of some e-mail I just received, looks like they are giving you a couple extra days, but that may be because the packages were, most likely sent out late.
2 years ago, I remember getting a reminder e-mail to call to renew the night before my allotted call in. Only to call the next day asking, where was all the info packages, apparently they sent it late, so no one received it. Yeah, fantastic.
Anyways, this year, you pay for both your playoffs and your next years packages at the same time. We haven't even made the playoffs, and they are already asking me about next season. I don't even know what my team will look like next year roster wise, and already I have to commit.
They are also raising some of the ticket prices. Yes, mine went up. Not a huge increase, but an increase. Apparently 55% of the tickets will have an increase of up to 3%. Now, 3% is not a huge amount, but, given we are in a recession, it seems like a bad marketing move. Are we trying to copy Toronto?
But then I think about the 4000 people PAYING to be on a wait list for my tickets. They pay to be on the wait list? It's that damn supply and demand theory.
Now if we all collectively NOT renew, maybe the prices will drop like they did in rinks like in Tampa. Did you know that you can pay $20, for a ticket, a beer, a hot dog and a parking pass? No joke. I'm pretty sure you are making money on this deal by the end of it.
So would I give up my tickets now?
Nope. I like other ticket holders, are still holding out hoping that next year (I'm not completely sold on the team this year) will be the year that we win the cup. If you are as convinced as I am, you should definitely head over to Royal Vegas and put some hard-earned dollars down on our boys! And I will be there cheering my team on. Planning the parade route. Wooooo!
They are changing this year's seat selection by making people go to GM Place to physically choose their seats. They say the "glass, netting and rink boards (will) still (be) in place for proper viewing". As if I don't know what the ice from the seats in GM Place look like.
I don't fully understand how this seat selection thing will work. When does this occur? Does this require me take time off of work?
So I renewed, not knowing what the team will look like. Maybe it will get blown up, repeatedly, and keep getting crappy trades, and end up like Atlanta (not likely). Or maybe I just signed on to another contract of the Sedins to cycle the puck for god knows how many more years.
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Sorry to start the weekend off with a depressing article kids...but next week maybe we'll come up with things to do with all that extra time we'll have on our hands? no comments
So the question then becomes, 'Where does this part of the debate go? After asking some people on the NHL side, none of whom will talk for the record (big fines), my sense is that a new agreement can be done without the proposed changes.
"If HRR has to be re-done ... we're talking about a long process," said one executive.
To the surprise of no one, the NHL is in another lockout. Instead of me being back to blogging about being excited for a new season, I am not excited about the lack of hockey and instead am looking for other things to fill my time for the next couple of weeks (months?).
About a week ago while on a walk along the seawall, the buddy I was walking with asked me if I could explain the lockout, if there was going to be one and my thoughts on it. My buddy who lives in Vancouver is originally from England and although he has lived here for three years now, had no idea why the NHL and NHLPA would consider going into a lockout.
My answers to him were as follows:
1. The lockout is essentially a bunch of billionaires arguing with a bunch of millionaires about money, specifically hockey related revenue (HRR). The NHL wants a similar deal like the one the NBA negotiated at 50/50 between owners/players
3. I don't care much for the squabbling between the two sides. I understand their respective stances on the issues and the moves that they have made in their negotiations and PR campaigns but in the end there is a lack of caring from myself for either side. I feel that in the end, it sucks for the fans who enjoy the sport and is hurting the momentum of growing the game/fanbases in certain cities (for example, Los Angeles)
If the lockout has gotten you down, Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 will be one of the biggest betting days of the year. We will be privy to Floyd "Money" Mayweather going up against Manny Pacquiao and earlier in the day we will get to see the first leg of the Triple Crown, the 2015 Kentucky Derby. The issues that are being discusses in the CBA negotiations are much more detailed than my answer to my friend but I thought I got at the heart of why there is a lockout. If you have been following it on TSN or Puck Daddy or any sports media outlet, you probably know the issues better than I do, in fact I know you do. I admit that my lack of understanding of the details of what is being negotiated over has fully to do with my lack of caring of the issues, the players and the owners.
Here is a video that the NHLPA released on the weekend:
Oh the fans! The fans will be hurt! It's not us! This is an NHL Owners Lockout.
Also, hello Gabriel Landeskog.
Well, I guess the effort in the video was better (from a PR standpoint) than the statement that the NHL released:
Despite the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Hockey League has been, and remains, committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the Players and to the 30 NHL teams.
Thanks to the conditions fostered by seven seasons under the previous CBA, competitive balance has created arguably the most meaningful regular season in pro sports; a different team has won the Stanley Cup every year; fans and sponsors have agreed the game is at its best, and the League has generated remarkable growth and momentum. While our last CBA negotiation resulted in a seismic change in the League's economic system, and produced corresponding on-ice benefits, our current negotiation is focused on a fairer and more sustainable division of revenues with the Players -- as well as other necessary adjustments consistent with the objectives of the economic system we developed jointly with the NHL Players' Association seven years ago. Those adjustments are attainable through sensible, focused negotiation -- not through rhetoric.
This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, not on a meeting room. The League, the Clubs and the Players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans.
Yeah...Not quite the same effect as having Landeskog in a video looking dreamily into the viewer. NHLPA wins this PR round.