Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Could have been Henrik's day

Several weeks ago, The Province's feature sports story depressingly reminded Vancouver that October 11 "Could have been Schneider's day".  It would have marked the Canucks' 2012-13 season opener against the Flames and, consequently, Schneider's official christening as Vancouver's new endless scapegoat undisputed starter.

Fast forward later in the month and yesterday marks what would have been Vancouver's tenth game of the regular season.  Preparing for a matchup against the Detroit Red Wings, our theories by now would have been confirmed as to whether or not the Canucks' lacklustre Octobers have been entirely Luongo's fault all these years.  But in the grander scheme of Canucks hockey lore, the city would most likely be focused on something far more significant.

At 747 points in 892 games, Henrik Sedin currently stands nine points behind Markus Naslund for the Canucks' all-time lead.  Assuming he and Daniel's near-robotic point-a-game pace, Henrik would have hypothetically broken Naslund's record yesterday with his 10th point in the 10th game of the season and 757th all-time.  Would have happened at Rogers Arena on national television to boot.  Maybe a one-timer to Jason Garrison?  Probably a tap-in to Burrows.

Realistically, you give or take a couple games for Henrik to pass Naslund in this scenario.  Point is, in this now-cancelled stage in the season, we would either be celebrating or anticipating something truly great.  And within another three months or so, Daniel, too, would be within reach of his former captain, statistically solidifying the twins as the Canucks' best players in team history.

Cue the standing ovations.  The headlines.  The city's love affair with the Sedins and, by extension, the game of hockey as a whole.

Moments such as the Sedins' pending milestones have that rare capacity to capture a city's brief attention and a rabid fan's entire consciousness.  They turn even the most jaded Canucks followers rosy-eyed for but a few moments – about the length of a pre-game ceremony or a well-produced YouTube montage.

But with this feel-good storyline delayed – reduced in the present time to a mere hypothetical – Canucks fans can add it to the increasing pile of reasons to curse the league's powers-that-be.  As exciting as the displaced-NHLer-makes-news-in Europe routine can be these days, yesterday was ultimately for Bettman and Fehr to continue hogging the league's dulling spotlight.  Shame to imagine that the day could have been Henrik's.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Jason Garrison: Top 5 Career Goals

A little over a month ago, someone on the forums came to me with a suggestion for my next Top 5 video countdown.  So because I should never take for granted that there are interested people out there actually reading this blog...

When Garrison first expressed interest in signing with Vancouver, quick YouTube searches city-wide determined that, simply put, the guy's got a shot.  In fact, 13 of his 16 goals last season (or 81%) were scored à la Sami Salo (making the loss of said player to free agency a much easier pill to swallow). Without that particular asset, you can guarantee Gillis would not have made him the highest-paid defenceman on the team

But as exciting as a howitzer from the point can be, no one seems to be paying any credence to his ability to jump into the rush, which is why I purposefully omitted any cut-and-dry slapshots from these five goals.  This set of highlights showcases an underrated and doubtlessly valuable ability of Garrison's that should be fun to watch once his groin and the lockout have both resolved themselves.

Number five and four are both milestone goals and uncanny carbon copies of each other, while the last three coincidentally feature some sort of Canucks-related cameo appearance (no surprise, given that the Panthers and Canucks have a seemingly exclusive trading partnership with each other).  In number three, Garrison takes a page out of the Sedins' book, deflecting a pseudo-slap pass into the slot while on a power play.¹  Number two sees him on a two-on-one with David Booth, while his buzzer-beating OT winner against Tampa Bay begins with a defensive play from former Canuck Mike Weaver.

A lot has been said about Brian Campbell playing a significant role in Garrison's breakout year.  But whether he's pinching in or hanging back at the blueline, you can bet he'll have just as much space to work with on shifts with, oh let's say...the Sedins?  That said, it'll be exciting to see what he'll be capable of as a Canuck. 


¹ Though the goal was announced in the play-by-play as a record-breaker for powerplay goals by a Florida defenceman, if you pay close attention, the penalty had ended by just a second.  Rather than 10 powerplay goals, Garrison was left with 9 on the season, tying him with former Panthers Jay Bouwmeester (2008-09) and Gord Murphy (1993-94).

*See the online discussion regarding this article on the forums here.

The moral dilemma with Bieksa's Buddies (Part 2)

Just to prove that I did, indeed, attend the game and am not $400 richer...
I fully realize that I could have simply taken these pictures off the internet, but...take my word for it? At the very least, you should be able to appreciate the grainy stunning quality of these iPhone pictures, no?
To actually comment on the game, the Thunderbirds showcased a lot more skill than I anticipated, while Bieksa's Buddies were gracious enough to let them.  Give or take a Tanner Glass bodycheck along the boards.
Good time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The moral dilemma with Bieksa's Buddies

In lieu of the past month's lockout, Kevin Bieksa has rapidly assumed the position of Vancouver's off-season darling.  He skates alongside the city's young and aspiring hockey players.  He gives us near-NHL-calibre hockey in the name of charity.  He even admonishes the local scalper community for driving up the ticket prices.  It's as if Captain Planet died and was born again as an NHL defenceman.

That said, I hope you'll forgive my reservations about that third act of valour.  For those out of the loop or who need refreshing, Bieksa was featured on the front page of Wednesday's Province for lashing out at scalpers reselling his game's tickets for as much as five times the original value – a healthy $100 per seat!  My first reaction when reading the article was, alongside all similarly honest and hard-working folk (of course), "Good on ya, Juice!"  About time someone publicly called out the black-hearted among us, no?

But somehow I found myself magnetically drawn back to that inflated figure: $100 per seat.  I have four tickets.  (Open my calculator app...)  Well that takes care of half the month's rent for a lot of people.

Here we see Bieksa considering what he
might actually do to someone he caught
scalping his tickets...
Do I dare incur Bieksa's wrath?  Don't get me wrong.  I don't find it a morally thrilling endeavor to scalp, but is it really the evil he makes it out to be?  First things first, is Bieksa or anyone else particularly surprised that this is happening?  Surely he knows how much actual Canucks tickets can go for on Craigslist.  And I'm pretty sure anyone within a square mile can hear the scalpers outside Rogers Arena on a game night.  Obviously Bieksa takes special offense here as this is his event, but if it's on moral grounds that he disagrees with scalping, where has his outrage been all these years?

Most importantly, however, what exactly is the moral dilemma presented by scalping?  I ask the question out of genuine curiosity, because the situation at hand puts me between an easy paycheck and a code of conduct that Bieksa likely shares with many others.  His objections stem mostly from the fact that the tickets are for charity.  I understand the stigma associated with making a profit in that context and I do question the morality of it myself, but objectively speaking, there are zero proceeds being lost here due to scalping.  The maximum amount of money has already been made for the organizations in question.  For that reason, I struggle to see how the charities are relevant in this situation.  What we have, I believe, is a discussion in the morality of business.

Never in my life as a liberal arts student did I think I would be an advocate for capitalism, but let's consider other comparable scenarios here.  In the business of real estate, you might buy a house and sell it for profit as the market turns in your favour.  In the business of living out of your parents' basement, you might do the same with a well-packaged action figure or hockey card.  No ethical dilemmas there, I would imagine.

Or say, for example, in another completely random scenario, that you're a professional hockey player and the commodity you possess is your athletic ability.  Take the value of your ability on any given year.  Due to a wealth of factors, including market demand, free agency, salary inflation and the  terms of the era's (yikes) collective bargaining agreement, can you possibly imagine a situation in which you might be paid more than what your same athletic ability was worth at an earlier time?  If you can't, then you clearly do not follow NHL hockey or any professional sport, for that matter.

Here's the thing: In this current lockout and all the frustration surrounding it, does anyone ever blame the players for accepting the money thrown at them all these years?  No.  And nor should they.  Surely, when the opportunity arises, you sell to the highest possible bidder.  At the very least, you sell according to the given market value.  For that reason, I fail to see why I should be morally prevented from re-selling my tickets.

I speak mostly as the devil's advocate, because you won't actually see my tickets on Craigslist.  I will be happily going to the game in place of a student's fortune.  And for the record, Bieksa deserves a tremendous amount of respect for what he's been doing in the community.  I simply think his comments regarding scalping could be understood differently with an alternate perspective.

So here's to watching one-half of an NHL scrimmage tomorrow.  And here's to those making an exorbitant profit on them, too.


*See the online discussion regarding this article on the forums here.