Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Ramblings of a Bus Person

I am sitting on a bus right now, headed toward one of my favorite cities, Vancouver. Its only my second time being in the city, the first was 5 years and 1 day ago. Granted until November of 2013 I always lived most of a continent away. However, the last two years I have had no excuse for not visiting. Its a two hour flight, just over a six hour drive, and an eight hour bus ride, so my claim of "being busy" is rather hollow.

The reason this trip was a necessity is because I am moving to London in mid January, and wanted to get in a visit before I left. When you think about it though, that's pretty messed up. Its one of my favorite places, IN THE WORLD, and yet me living so close for two years has not garnered one visit. I had planned on coming last year, but that was canceled due to me trusting someone who was less than reliable. I scoured the Canucks schedule, this year and last, searching for the best weekend. Part of the reason was I needed as much vacation time as I could because I was going to travel to Europe. Well here we are and I don't need that time-off as I am moving there, which is great, but it made me realize: don't wait for things to happen, make them happen.

I am a stubborn jackass sometimes, and I have to wait to see/experience something before I completely believe it or hold it to be true. So if you're reading this thinking "No crap," I apologize. However, I spent two years and change within an easy drive of my second favorite place in the world and never went, because I was "waiting." Waiting for what I have no clue. The perfect time? Doesn't exist. The perfect weather? Its the Pacific Northwest, it'll change in 10 minutes. If I had lived this close to Sydney, Australia, you bet your ass I would be there every other weekend, even if I had to hitchhike.

I booked a bus ticket, and four nights in downtown Vancouver for under $400, which is not bad at all. When I felt the absolute need to go, it was one of the easiest things in the world. I am notoriously cheap and am a big believer in if you watch your spending on everyday staples (food mainly), you can really save significant money. I am all for making sacrifices when the goal is a greater experience, or getting ahead in life. But I just spent two years of it for something that disappeared in a matter of a month.

I am incredibly excited to be moving to London. The personal and professional experience is going to be priceless. However, I made that two year sacrifice under the guise of when I returned I would spend a lot more time hiking, camping, snow-shoeing and snowboarding all over the PNW, especially BC. Well that ain't happening anymore, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit upset about it, and it has added a bittersweet tinge to my move. I guess I am regretting not being on this bus last year, or saying "$400 would be a big step toward Europe," and spending my weekend doing hikes close to Portland instead. But what about the now?

I guess my point is having long term goals is great, but don't completely sacrifice your immediate mental/physical wellbeing. I heard a quote from Benjamin Franklin and always loved it, but rarely follow it enough: "You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again."

Friday, November 20, 2015

It's Not Goodbye, It's See You Later

This is going to sound pretty corny and stupid, but I tried to keep it brief ("brief" is a subjective term).

I joined Twitter in 2011 shortly after I had moved to Ohio, from my home state of Michigan. I joined, because I wanted to start a Canucks blog, as a way of keeping up with the team. It started off fairly well, and I was able to get on a writing/posting schedule. It was a good outlet for my free time as well, because for those of you who have followed me for awhile know of my disdain for that state. However, as it does, life/work got in the way and my posts became less and less frequent.

I was hoping upon my move to the "State of Hockey," Minnesota, I would get back on track. While it was much easier to find games, willing conversationalists and all the ancillary things you get (radio shows, coworkers who are into it, local interest, etc.) it just didn't work. I was driving all over Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas for work and I barely had time to watch the games, let alone follow the story lines. Plus everyone there was more into the Wild, obviously.

While my move to Portland got me off the road, I had set other priorities for my time, energy, and money. My personal life actually came into being, I started to hike and camp, and take more road trips. I also began saving for a European trip. It just wasn't in the cards for me to try and keep up a blog on my own.

I have seen the Canucks play a home game once in my 31 years. I have always watched them play live in enemy territory, and that was only when I could afford it, or I got tickets as a present. Not to go crotchety old man, but I became a fan well before the internet, so my main sources of information started as box scores in the newspaper, and Saturday nights on the CBC Windsor feed we were lucky enough to get. Even when we got internet, it wasn't nearly what it is today. By the way, my first AOL login? N10PBVC, which stood for: Number 10 Pavel Bure Vancouver Canucks.

For years I begged my parents for a Canucks jersey, and finally got one in 1999 for my birthday, almost ten years after I started following them. To their credit, where could they find one in Michigan?! It was a blank one and there was no doubt who I was going to put on the back: Pavel Bure. Except he was traded...the day before my birthday...yup, that's the kind of luck I had. Instead I put Alexander Mogilny on the back. No real regret, as its the late 90s jersey, and I would rather own a flying skate Bure anyway.

Through 24 years of following this team it has always been at a distance. I would freak out when we would go on a family road trip and someone would see my Mogilny jersey and yell "Go Canucks!" or "Yeah! Canucks!" I would never get that back home. Hell, most of the time I had to explain to people what team it was, let alone why I was wearing it. To give you an idea of how rare seeing Canucks gears was, when I went to my only Canucks game in Vancouver in 2010, it took me an entire day to get used to seeing Canucks gear around the city. Every time I would see something I'd think "Holy shit, a Canucks hat!" then have to tell myself "That's because you're in Vancouver idiot." However, Twitter changed all that.

All of a sudden I didn't need coworkers, fellow bar patrons, radio shows, or any of it. I had literally thousands of fellow Canucks fans to watch games with, and discuss topics relating to the team. I had a ton of blogs to read about rumors, behind the scenes stories, and who was partying where, stuff I never got before. I now have people creating Canucks related songs! Looking at you Clay Imoo. Even now I have to remind myself how awesome it is that something like this came along. I know its not the same as being there in person. I would love to be able to sit down and watch games with all you guys and have a beer, or 12.

Now that I am so close to Vancouver and our Canucks, I have the opportunity to move across the world to London at the end of January. Its my fault for not making it up there for a game the last two years. I love the PNW so much, I never thought I would be leaving so soon, but I felt like I couldn't pass this opportunity up. I think I would be regretting it in the near future, not just the aspect of living in London, but what it could do for my resume and my future. Who knows, it could lead to being able to get a job in Vancouver one day.

I am not deactivating my account, or giving it up. Its just with an eight hour time difference, and a new role, which will keep me very busy, I am not sure my new schedule will sync up with being able to watch games. The good news is I will be flying back to HQ a few times and the typical path is through Vancouver, so you best believe I will be putting my new, expanded vacation time to use.

Through all this rambling I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for keeping me up to date on the team I love. Thank you for putting up with my drunken rants. Thank you for putting up with my absurd takes/opinions. Thank you for the banter, debates, and arguments. Thank you for being you. And most importantly, thank you for being Canucks fans.

I love you guys!

Embrace the hate and forever, GO CANUCKS GO!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

McCann and Virtanen Make The Team

The video of Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen making the team has made its rounds a thousand times over by now, but you haven't seen it, here it is: McCann and Virtanen. One thing I kept hearing from Trevor Linden and Jim Benning was how they want to create a culture at the organization, well I think this is a step in the right direction. As you will remember they did the same thing last year with Bo Horvat.

Now I wouldn't want my boss announcing a promotion or raise in this manner, however, I think its perfect for an NHL team. It combines a bit of hazing and some constructive criticism, which athletes are used to, but it doesn't go too far. I always love the interview with them afterwards as well, it proves how this tactic works so well. Congrats on making the team guys!

About Last Night: November 2, 2015 vs Philadelphia

(Virtanen after his first NHL goal)

This was about as complete a game as you can get. I know the Flyers aren't exactly the best team in the league, but this is what the Canucks should be doing consistently with teams in the Flyers position. Dominate possession and chances, and generally dictate play. Jake Virtanen could have scored about six times (at least it felt that way) and Bo Horvat continues to look incredible.

Jannik Hansen's goal was such a nice move, which can be frustrating. Again, I know its the Flyers, but every now and then he shows some really smart play, and I just wish he could be more consistent. A great feed from Horvat, who waited for the defenceman to make the first move, then made a great pass to Hansen, who chose to hold it rather than just throw it at the net. It looked smooth and was created from a turnover, can't argue with that.

The tying goal didn't even make me mad, I was too impressed. Claude Giroux put on a clinic with that goal. Even though he was smaller than the defender, which is almost always the case, he got position, used his strength and made an incredible move. His quickness still amazes me, but I guess it shouldn't since he consistently puts up great numbers on below average teams.

I thought Alex Burrows played the pest role great. Did the little things to unnerve the opposition but nothing major to hurt the team. Chris Tanev made a great move pinching in and taking advantage of a defensive lapse in the third, and Ben Hutton continued to look good. Virtanen finally got that first NHL goal after a lot of chances, on a great rush with Burrows, Nice back hand, and subsequent celebration.   

Hansen almost notched another goal, as did Virtanen. Matt Bartkowski got the empty-netter for his second of the year, after Radim Vrbata decided to hold the puck and look for a more sure thing, which was Bartkowski sneaking into the offensive zone. Ryan Miller played well, with a few helpers from the post, but also some great saves, which capped off a great night: Virtanen's first NHL goal, Henrik Sedin secured his 1,000th NHL point and Burrows played in his 700th NHL game. However, I saved the best for last.

Horvat continues to show flashes of a superstar. His goal go-ahead, wrap-around goal in the second showcased his strength, and also came after he won the face off. His setup for the Hansen goal was a great example of patience and waiting for the other guy to blink. Now I'm not going to demand we trade the Sedins, well not for this reason, but he has shown some real brilliance. He has two goals and two assists in 12 games, so not setting the world on fire, but he is 20 years old, and is showing great promise. I think its safe to say he is my new Canucks man-crush. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

About Last Night: October 30, 2015 vs Arizona

Jared McCann has continued to impress, which even saying that might be an understatement. Its still very early but so far he has done nothing but impress. Nice to see Gaunce grab his first NHL goal, even if it wasn't a pretty one. He was in the right place at the right time though, and that counts for something. I thought Bachman looked pretty good as well. I'm not going to jump on the Sbisa bashing bandwagon, but he was right out in front watching two of those go in, so the scoresheet says he gave up three, but he played better than that.

The team looked good as a whole, especially on back-to-back road games, plus Dallas and Phoenix aren't exactly close to one another. Back-to-backs are tough enough, but on the road they can be killers. This was also the first of 12 back-to-backs the Canucks have this season. Another advantage to having younger guys in the lineup. However, if you think I am going to be all compliments, you're dead wrong.

Once again a big lead withered away to (almost) nothing. One of my favorite things looking at my Twitter timeline last night were the "Where are all the Willie haters now?!" So having the ability to turn your three goal lead into a one goal lead should be applauded? What planet is this. Yes they won in regulation, but they also lead 3-0 at one point and won the game 4-3. This means from roughly nine minutes left in the first period until the final horn they scored once, while their opponent scored three times. This made people gloat?

As far as I am concerned this was the exact same game as in Dallas, They were just able to stop the bleeding sooner, most likely because Dallas is a more talented offensive team. But when it mattered most the defence wilted away and the opposition was able to claw back to make it a game. This trend continues to baffle me, and concern me quite frankly. Blowing leads at any time of the year is not a good trend, and winning despite blowing a lead means they think they're still on the right path.

Friday, October 30, 2015

About Last Night: October 29, 2015 vs Dallas

(How I feel as of late)

Two goal lead with just under 10 minutes left in the third, and lost in OT. Sound familiar? I am almost happy I missed the last few game recaps, because it would be insanely repetitive at this point. Its not so much whats happening so much as how its being received by management, on and off the ice.

Whats the quote, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result." Well at this point Willie Desjardins is insane. Every game he stops playing the younger guys in the 3rd period to hold onto a lead and every time they lose. So what's Willie's solution? Keep limiting young guy's minutes and sit on a lead in the third AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Then in the post-game interview he says "Oh well they had some chances." Apparently he missed Vrbata and Weber's chances in the 3rd, or perhaps Burrows semi-breakaway chance. My problem is not with what's happening, my problem is with how its being received.

I realize Horvat, Gaunce, and McCann were all negatives last night, but here's a thought Willie, you're blowing leads anyway, so whats the worst that can happen? You play the young guys more in the 3rd and you blow the lead?! Oh wait, you're doing that every game already. It's not just Willie either, I am sick and tired of hearing the on-ice "leaders" saying "Oh we played real good." Oh really Daniel? Continually shitting the bed in the 3rd period is "playing real good" in your mind? Weird, your definition of "good" seems to be different from everyone else's, but thats what the Sedins have been their entire time here: just good enough works!

I am sick and tired of hearing "We played good," and "Well we got a point," out of guys who are supposed to be leaders. If we lost out on a large bid at work at the last second because of a massive brain fart by someone, then the team leader told us all "Well at least we tried," he would get fired on the spot. This whole attitude of "Well we continue to shit the bed, but at least we got a point," has been by far the most frustrating time for me as a Canucks fan. We're mired in the "Just be good enough" era of Canucks Hockey, and it fucking sucks.

Monday, October 19, 2015

About Last Night: October 18, 2015 vs Edmonton

If the last game was frustrating, this was down right rage inducing. Despite "at least still getting a point," which is an attitude I am growing tired of, the result was they lost to an inferior team. The loss to the Blues two days ago was rough, at least the Blues have been a consistent playoff team the last few years. This was the Oilers, you know, the team that has consistently gotten a top five pick for about the last decade. However, the way the Canucks played they didn't even deserve a point.

This game wasn't so much about the lack of defence, but rather the utter waste of chance after chance. Two breakaways which were not capitalized on, with both Sedins not scoring on the same one. I will get into this later, as they will be the first entry for my "Good Cop, Bad Cop," recurring entries, but you are the highest paid guy on the team, and wear an "A" you HAVE to bury that puck, zero excuses. 

One thing which has baffled me early in this young season is the shuffling of lines. Seems like a guy will have a decent game, then next game they are out, or lines are changed. I get you're trying to figure out who plays best with who, but isn't that what the preseason is for Willie? Radim Vrbata, who is still without a goal, seems to have new line-mates every game. From what I hear consistency helps with a guy in a slump, especially six games into the season.

My point is this game was winnable, very winnable, but yet again we were subjected to scoring chances being as good as goals, at least thats the way it seems from the postgame show. Also, while I am rambling here, at about 9:20 of that video we get the "Hey did you know your record against the Oilers????" Really, this is sports "journalism" now? Miller has been in the league since my old ass was still in college, and the Oilers have been down for a good majority of that time, so to bring that up is so stupid.

I know I am being Debbie Downer right now, but this loss was inexcusable in my book, especially with the chances they had. When your highest paid duo can't score on a breakaway and a wide open net, this is a game you gave away, and if you're giving away games this early in the season, don't whine when you finish lower than you wanted to. *Ranting done*