Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hockey Orphan: Yankee Canuck on the Vancouver Canucks

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(Thanks to Yankee Canuck for another great contribution. YC is part of the gang at Nucks Misconduct, a great SB Nation blog that covers Captain Lou and the Vancouver Canucks. Some people might think that CLS is a place to go for 'Nucks stuff, but follow NM instead. They actually know what they're talking about.)

So the NFL is out of season, the XFL is defunct, baseball bores you to tears, basketball doesn't make sense and, for some reason, no one has opened a worthwhile Roman gladiator league in ages. But, hark, you found hockey. Welcome friend.

Now there's 30 punk ass teams in the league (that's not fair...28 punk ass teams with Calgary and the NY Rangers being just thoroughly reprehensible) and you need help picking one? Easy enough, come with me while I explain the delight of being part of the Canucks Nation (free booze!).

Alex Burrows - Oh you haven't heard? An undrafted ball hockey player used his love of the game and NHL-approved moxie to not just make the starting roster for Vancouver but help spark the team's top line (those Sedin guys...I understand they cycle most excellently) in the process of helping his team post a 20-5-1 run over two months of wonderful winter hockey. Not enough? He takes a hometown discount and makes $2 million a year for the next four years. Still not enough? When he's not scoring, he's pissing off the entire opposition and, unlike former Canuck Matt Cooke, will drop the gloves and even hair pull during line brawls. Simply said, Burrows is the type of player every fan wants on his or her team.

Ryan Kesler - If a man crush on Burrows isn't enough, let's try KesLORD. A first round pick that Bob Clarke (*spits*) tried to make a Flyer a few years back via the RFA route, Kes hit his stride at the exact same time as Burrows did this season. Just like Burrows, he is the spark on his line (playing alongside some clown named Sundin) and drops the gloves when things get chippy. He sacrifices his body every game and has been the recipient of a Jesse Boulerice stick to the skull and a Chris Pronger blade to the leg as proof of his art. If Burrows won't get to you, Kesler is right behind him. They're twins of an entirely different cut.

Roberto Luongo - Best. Goalie. In. The. Conference. And he missed 25 games this year and is still third in shutouts. And I won't even mention the Floridian rape of 2007 that brought him to the team because poor Florida has been through enough.

Genetic Superiority - Twins who always know where the other one is at all times on the ice, often without even looking? This is clearly the future of mankind. The X-Men couldn't stop the Sedins. And the scariest part? They know I am writing this right now and deciding whether to choke me like Darth Vader if I get out of hand. So...yeah...they're wonderful humans.

A Little Swedish Delight - D. Sedin, H. Sedin, M. Sundin, A. Edler, M. Ohlund. If one scores, you can say "Bork, bork, bork! outloud and the hot chicks in the stands behind you won't question it for a second. In fact, that may be your in. You're welcome.

You talkin' to me? - For some reason you'd think a team from a pot-happy city would be a bit more mellow. Nope. Throughout recent history - from Bertuzzi to Rypien, Brashear to Hordichuk (who admits he "blacks out" when he fights) and all the Shane O'Brien meltdowns you can handle - the Canucks will chuck rocks with zero provocation. But afterwards they'll all friends again (I assume). This year they're currently tied for fourth in fights and the third highest penalized team overall.

Backasswards - Firing the GM but keeping his coach? Making the new GM a former player agent with zero NHL management experience? Making the goalie captain? Saluting the fans by retiring the #7? Have your mascot make out with celebrities on camera? Sleep deprivation studies and biorhythm bracelets? Scott Mellanby?! See you could go watch VH1 for some trashy reality show, but the Canucks give it to you on ice and in the back office. Take that Bret f'ing Michaels.

Now all of these wonderful accolades (and don't forget the free booze) don't come without some causes for concern. They're basically 0-39 in terms of Stanley Cup relevancy. They've made the final dance only twice and neither went well. In fact post season success has been somewhat elusive altogether. So temper your parade route dreams accordingly.

Also you should probably be aware that the team is often cited forbeing cursed: they've sported an unusually long line of piss poor goaltenders and, so yeah, a few years ago one of their wingers almost killed a guy during a game. In fact their ex-captain said they choked a few years ago and that was to the entire audience of a home game prior to the fan friendly "give them the shirts off you back" event.

Their scouts have drafted a depressing amount of busts; their 2000 first round pick Nathan Smith played four games for the team over the course of five seasons but did make a name for himself by streaking the Dunder Mifflin branch in Scranton last year. So when they suck, they set the bar pretty far down there.

In addition, Vancouver changes their uniform every third game and are the proud owners, with little dispute, of some of the ugliest sports designs that the human eye has ever had the misfortune of interpreting. Lastly, being from Vancouver as they are, it really helps if you're in the PST. Otherwise, like me, you spend far too many nights awake until past 1:00 AM watching you team cough up a loss on their home ice, then you can't sleep and end up inadvertently cursing in a business meeting the next morning at 8:00 AM (and don't try blaming hockey because they'll just never understand. Just walk across the room, pick up the coffee you flung at the guy's head and apologize nicely).

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