Understanding who Trevor Linden is and was

It’s really no secret, but I’ll say it again. In 1994, I was cheering for the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals[wiki].

Goal number one

I know that might sound hard to believe, but it was only about six or nine months prior to that when I really sank my teeth into hockey, all because of NHL ’93 on the Sega CD. I was 15, growing up where football rules the fall, basketball is king of winter, and baseball consumes summer. That video game taught me a lot, especially about this Patrick Roy[wiki] guy that played for that Montreal team. I couldn’t score against those freaking Canadiens[wiki], so I started playing as the Habs. I was nearly unstoppable.

That June of 1994, I remember watching Pavel Bure[wiki] more than I recall Trevor Linden. However, the thing I recall more was how incredible of a battle that series was. I sat and watched the games in the kitchen, enthralled with ESPN’s coverage, wanting so badly for the Rangers to win only because of Chris Farley’s sketch on SNL where he portrayed the annoying, drunk, baseball fan in the stands of Yankee Stadium, crying out, “Go Yannnkkkeeeeess!”

I’d find that clip on YouTube, but it’s nowhere to be found. Needless to say, I sat there with my best impression, “Go Raaaannngggerrrss”. At the same time, I remember a dislike for Brian Leetch and Mark Messier that remains to this day. I was more of a Mike Richter fan, and goalies were the thing that dragged me into an interest for hockey, even if I have only played roller hockey, in the first place.

Still, the crowds in Pacific Coliseum[wiki] were insane, and it made sense to me as to why the Canucks held such an advantage over the Rangers when they played in Vancouver. The players had heart. They had support. There was a love for the game that only New York could try to buy into. It was mesmerizing. On top of that, I had no idea that I’d be working at that place nearly 13 years later.

Naslund, Linden, and Ritchie

Ten years after that cup run, I recall hearing a little bit here and there about the Canucks. Once Rebecca became apart of my life, I was taught a lot about the legacy of what came before and after that time, and that was enough for me to finally shed my years of wandering for a team to follow. The Rangers were just a one time thing, Chicago never really appealed to me, and Colorado was pretty cool during those Roy years.

But how does this all tie into Trevor Linden? I can’t really be sure, but all of that history came back to me when I watched him on the ice this past Saturday. It was in that moment at the start of the third period where you understand how amazing, beyond just being a hockey player, this guy is. He’s not the greatest to play the game as much as he is one of the best, true men among men that only comes along once and a while.

Yes, he has dazzled with the way he has played the game over the past 19 years. Some days have been better than others, and he didn’t get the brilliant send off that he deserved in a 7-1 loss for the, potentially, last game of his career. Even though I have only had the chance to really pay attention to him in the last three years, I still get it.

It’s not that he was the greatest hockey player to have ever lived. It’s simple character and class that I have a lot of respect for, and that is hard to come by these days. That was the chill that I felt when they players backed off the red line at the start of the third period on Saturday night. Trevor just wanted them to get the period started, but the crowd won out, forcing him to acknowledge the noise of 12,000+ who would stick it out to the end of the game.

And if this story plays out like the media expects it to, Trevor Linden will retire this year, and Markus Naslund will move on from Vancouver. What a huge void to fill in this city.

My shot with Trevor Linden

Yes, that’s me

Zanstorm posted about this on Waiting for Stanley some time back when he saw me in the background during the Nashville game, and he asked if I knew I was on TV. I honestly didn’t know if I made it on the TV, but it didn’t surprise me. We’re all down there doing our sports coverage thing.

It was when I got an email from faithful TCC listener GZ Expat that it was kind of fun to acknowledge that yes, that’s me in the background… the really short guy with Brad Isbister, #27. That guy is huge.

"Is that you??"

If you’re wondering why it’s been so long since I’ve posted, this is apart of that. It’s been quite the month with my day job. After Northern Voice, the pace has gone nonstop, even if we did make a weekend for ourselves on Salt Spring Island. The toughest part is coming home and wanting to do much of anything except relax.

I hope to do more soon, but the season isn’t over for the Canucks just yet (which could be an entire other post for another time). One more regular season game, then, I hope, things will slow down. Hope is the key word there.

Photos from the Canucks Open Practice 2008

In light of the recent episode #61 of The Crazy Canucks at the 2008 Open Practice at GM Place, I thought I would post a few of my favorite photos from the event that I took. J.J. had some great, extra seats that we took turns checking out from behind the bench, and Rebecca scored some good shots here as well.

Never afraid to pose
Rebecca poses as an Ultimate Canucks fan.
J.J. tapes the jumbotron interview with Rintoul
J.J. took the reigns on a 30 second shot with Scott Rintoul from TEAM 1040 on the jumbotron in GM Place. The rest of us got in on it as well in the background, including Alanah.
Dave poses with the true, but strangely missing, MVP of the day
DaveO poses with the real MVP of the day, who was strangely missing from the event…

Blocker save

Skating with the troops

Meeting at center ice 2

I have to say that it was a pretty cool day. We didn’t get to see as much of the practice as we did from press row last year, but it was a lot of fun to hang out with the guys behind the Ultimate Canucks Search, who are absolutely hilarious guys. They’re also pretty damn good at what they are trying to do.

One thing worth mentioning was the shootout competition that they had at the end of practice. Willie Mitchell pulled his jersey over his head in a headless horsemen-like fashion, skated all the way from center ice like that, and scored on Luongo. It was priceless. What a guy.

The Crazy Canucks #61 – Searching for Ultimate Canucks at the 2008 Open Practice

We had an amazing opportunity with The Crazy Canucks to officially be apart of the 2008 Open Practice at GM Place about a week ago. In the midst of the forced down time with strep throat, I was able to get the audio turned around pretty quickly. I think it turned out alright.

Aside from covering the usual episode topics, we hung out with and interviewed the guys from the Ultimate Canucks Search, as well as one of the Ultimate Fans, Richard Loat (of Facebook application fame).

JJ got on the microphone to interview passers-by, while we also got the chance to sit down with Kent – the voice behind the We Are All Canuckleheads podcast.

We had a blast, and it was great to have the entire gang together to record one of those rare “face to face” episodes.

45:53 minutes
The Crazy Canucks

Check out the link to the post to get pictures and more details from TCC of the event.

Getting excited for Northern Voice 2008

Northern Voice kicks off tomorrow night with the super spectacular dinner, followed by MooseCamp and then the main event on Saturday. This week has turned out to be a lot more hectic that I imagined it to be, and it’s going to be non-stop all the way through Sunday.

The Crazy Canucks will have a fairly major part in all of this madness. I’ll be leading a session for an introduction to podcasting on Friday, our session on sports blogging and podcasting is Saturday afternoon, and then Sunday has our podcast crew front and center at GM Place for the Canucks Open Practice. We’ll be on the concourse raising a ruckus and having lots of fun with fellow Canucks fans at the event, media passes and our own location on the concourse included. All brought to you by those super cool folks at the Ultimate Canucks Search.

I hope to have more time to make more detailed posts about each of these things. In case I don’t find the time, you can’t say that I didn’t mention it.

Filling in for Rebecca at Skate for a Cure 2008

Silent Auction While Rebecca was in Toronto for her major TV appearance on Quiz The Nation, Skate for a Cure 2008 was going on back here in Vancouver. As the website can tell you, “Skate for a Cure is a fundraising event providing participants of all ages the chance to skate on the home ice of the Vancouver Canucks at General Motors Place, helping raise funds to find a cure for childhood cancer.”

Basically, if you help raise money, you get to participate in the group skate on the ice at GM Place on January 20, 2008 (I know I’m late to post about it, but better late than never). Even more, you get to meet a player if you raise past a certain level. There is also a silent auction for lots of cool things like air hockey tables, memorabilia, and other assorted prizes.

J.J. crashes the boards Since Rebecca was out of town, I took her place for the event. I didn’t have any skates, so my plan was to just hang out with Tracey and, fellow Crazy Canucker, J.J. With my new camera, I figured I just shoot some photos, get a little free swag, and enjoy the atmosphere. Imagine my surprise, and more so Rebecca’s later on, when I was told that we’d be meeting Trevor Linden[wiki] that day.

Apparently Beck raised beyond the $250 dollars, all through her blog, to get a picture taken with her favorite, all time Canuck player. Which is amazingly great… if she wasn’t in Toronto being on a nationwide, CBC television show at the exact same time.

"Don't worry, you won't fall..."

J.J. and Tracey on the ice. You can hear him saying, “Don’t worry, you won’t fall.” They both skated beautifully, no matter if J.J. did almost run into the motor for the big, inflatable thing when crashing into the boards to spoke me out.

Nothing says love more

Not sure who this couple was, but this is what I expected to see more of on the ice. Couples skating hand in hand, Endless Love playing on the speakers, etc. Instead, there was a creepy version of Ronald McDonald on skates with Moj from TEAM 1040 telling people on the P.A. how much time they had left on the ice. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun, but just a touch on the less romantic side.

My shot with Trevor Linden

Not to rub it in, but this was a pretty cool five minutes. I almost missed the opportunity simply because we didn’t know that Rebecca raised the money for this to happen. With some slight encouragement from Tracey, J.J., and the volunteers, I ran up the stairs to see if it was too late. As I went to shake his hand, one of the umbrella light stands of the photographer’s setup crashed into me. Trevor had just put his hand out and said, “How you doing?” All I could say, falling just shy of connecting that handshake, “I’m under attack!”

As we take the photo, I tell him that my wife is going to kill me. “Aw man, she wouldn’t do that, would she?” Yeah… yeah she would. I explained how she was in Toronto and couldn’t be here today. I also said how she would be really bummed about missing out on this opportunity, and I was pretty spot on. “There’s always next year, right?” Absolutely.

You can see all the pictures that I took from the event on Flickr.

Impromptu adventure to Canucks Superskills

The white team lines up So I got ahold of some tickets for the Canucks Superskills event, and the fact that Rebecca’s birthday is coming up was going to line up perfectly. I thought I would put them in a birthday card and surprise her with them. After all, it was something that she had asked for, so I thought I was rocking the birthday.

All was going according to plan until I was listening to the radio while in the shower this morning. Apparently someone moved the event to today and not next weekend like I had planned on working out perfectly for Rebecca’s birthday. Or maybe it was actually today and I failed to really double check that date and time.

Regardless, I surprised her when I got out of the shower with second row tickets, which were actually a surprise to me as well (I really need to be better about checking these things), so we grabbed our things and rushed out the door.

Ronning chases the puck

The Canucks Alumni played a game before the festivities kicked off. Cliff Ronning, Dave Babych, Gary Valk, and a wide cast of others were on the ice just ahead of the Superskills getting under way.

"Captain Mike Weaver, thank you."

Just minutes before the competition, Mike Weaver was taped… er, tapped with the captaincy of the white team. He wore it proudly.

"In Sweden, we call them up pushes!"

Losers had to do push ups. Henrik looks a little too happy to be on the losing end of the stick, but you have to applaud his enthusiasm.

Mitchell chats up the junior players

The North Island Silvertips came over from the island for the festivities. They got to participate in each of the events as well. I could only imagine what it would be for a young kid like that and having these NHL guys around you. It would definitely be a boost to work harder to get to the big time.

Mason Raymond wins fastest skater, gets pie in face

Mason Raymond won the fastest skater competition, beating out last year’s winner, Ryan Kesler. You can see his reward above. An extra note, Alexander Edler won hardest shot, dethroning Sami Salo from his four year reign.

Luongo chats with the junior goalie

Once again, you’re a young goalie and you get to share the ice with the likes of Roberto Luongo. How cool is that? Intimidating and encouraging, all at the same time.

Slingshot swag to the crowd 3

The whole place was full with fans, and I can’t remember going to a game, which I haven’t been to a lot nor are we talking about playoffs, where there is so much enthusiasm combined with blue and green in the seats. From row one at ice level to the last row up top, I think it’s safe to say that some of the best fans in the NHL really is in Vancouver. For some, this is the cheapest way into GM Place to take the entire family, so it’s great to see a good turnout as well as a well done event, very deserving to the fans.

Happiness in a stick

Willie Mitchell, a true fan’s player, gave his stick to this youngster. It’s those things that stick with you as a little kid like that. If you don’t believe me, check out The Crazy Canucks #48 where we tell you the story of one guy’s effort to get a broken stick signed that he got as a young boy from Cliff Ronning during his days with the New Westminster Bruins[wiki].

Have nothing but good things to say about the event today, especially for being such a last minute thing for us to go check out. Our seats were amazing, and I had way too much fun with my new camera. You can see all 107 pictures in my Superskills set that I put on Flickr, and most of that was learning what my camera can do. I’m far from mastering it, but it keeps surprising me with what it can do.

NHL schedule to change for the 2008-2009 season

Pittsburgh during pre-gram warm ups One topic that comes up between a lot of NHL fans is the schedule.

For the most part, it currently sucks. It’s nice to have a lot of battles going on between the divisional teams, but the fact that the current setup only allows games between certain teams once every three years, it can be annoying.

For instance, Sidney Crosby[wiki], the league’s number one guy, has been in the league for nearly three years now, and he finally made it all the way out to Vancouver for his first game ever just a week ago. It was hugely anticipated and lived up to the hype, but it took a long time before we got the chance to face the Penguins, a team that is chalk full of some amazing talent.

As fans, that’s tough, and it goes beyond Crosby. There are others that we want to see on a regular basis, and that’s going to change. It might not be the best setup, but it will be good to know that at least once a season, we’ll see every team in the league.

The NHL board of governors meeting Thursday didn’t go that far, but did decide to change the schedule so teams will play each other at least once next year.

A concession the players will welcome, for sure. New faces, new uniforms and, more importantly for fans, new battles to wage. […]

Colorado’s Andrew Brunette, who’s played in Minnesota and Atlanta, is tired of seeing Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson – even if he’s a buddy from their Wild days.

“I’m really against eight games with teams in your division. And fans want to see players on the other side of the league every year, in their building. Not every two or three years, that’s just not right. It would be more travel for us, but that’s OK with me.” [edmonton journal]

So this is a great step in a better direction, but nothing is completely perfect yet. There are some teams that will only be played once, so it will place certain match ups in one team’s rink, then the following year will place the same teams in the other team’s arena. Not the most perfect setup that fans would like to see, but it’s better than waiting three years to see said team again.

Fans waiting for Sidney Crosby One thing that desperately needs examination is the structure of the schedule. The Canucks have had a very strange go so far, especially at the beginning of the season where there were nearly a week between games, and that happened about twice. Now there are numerous, back to back nights on the road where the team is in one city and in another for the next night. On top of that, there are weeks with four games in seven nights. Or it’s eleven games in fifteen nights. Either way, that’s a lot of travel, bouncing around time zones in some situations.

What happens when that occurs? Playing that often on the road wears a player down, and the team is suffering from it. The flu is making its way around, and it goes beyond just players. Recycled air on the charter flights spread the illness, and I’ve heard from friends that people working at the games inside GM Place have been getting sick as well. True that it is flu season, but I find the coincidence fairly interesting.

To go even further, players want the schedule to change just a little bit more.

Paul Kelly, the new executive director of the NHL Players Association, also addressed the league’s owners during a late-afternoon session to open the board’s two-day meeting at an elite resort on the Northern California coast. […]

Kelly even said the players would entertain the notion of an 84-game season — allowing every team to play a home-and-home series against one division in the other conference each year — if owners agreed to reduce the number of preseason games. Bettman said the owners could be open to the notion, but it hasn’t been formally proposed yet. [si]

I’m down for that. The idea calls for shaving off some pre-season games, and that wouldn’t be horrible either. As long as the players are up for it, I think it’s a good idea. Just don’t extend the season any further into the spring than it already has. As a fan, I’m always up for more hockey.

Now you can watch lacking Canucks PPV on an even bigger screen

Hold on to your hats, the Canucks are coming to a big screen near you.

Forget Hockey Night in Canada, how about Hockey Night on the big screen? Cineplex Entertainment is bringing back Canucks pay-per-view games as a regular feature in select theatres across BC.

The idea was first tried out last year, and Cineplex says it’s been successful enough to warrant a sequel. The next “big screen” game is on Sunday, when the boys take on the Blue Jackets. [news1130]

As incredibly cool and nonintoxicating as that sounds, why would you want to watch a standard definition broadcast of a hockey game on a huge screen? Changes are coming to Canucks Pay-Per-View, but it’s still the same, over priced dribble that we have watched for the past two seasons. It could be longer than that, but I haven’t watched it for that long.

Come on, PPV people! I get that we don’t have to watch commercials, but what else do we get besides that? John Shorthouse and Tom Larschied? Yeah, that’s cool, but there could be a whole lot more.

Dare I say it, but TSN does some cool stuff by having their guys down on ice level, smack dab in between the benches. Or how about cameras on ice level? Give me a Fin cam or something more than just your standard Sportsnet broadcast with static cameras.

It’s not about being flashy or bells and whistles. I’m just saying that you could make a lot more money if people really got primo content from PPV. I don’t mind visiting our friends on the north shore to watch the game on their huge DLP TV, but if we couldn’t make it over, we’d live with listening to the radio.

The green graphics and the in between period set where Dan Murphy hangs out is nice, but that’s it? Should have spent more money on going HD, and that’s a whole other gripe.

Just a boy among men

Over the past week, I’ve had some really cool things happen. Besides getting onto an elevator with Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace this past Friday, the other event to blow my mind was getting the brief opportunity to meet some NHL legends at Standard Building Supplies in North Vancouver during their customer appreciation day on Saturday. I think I can still taste the free, fresh, and incredible vegetable samosas.

Gino Odjick and Dave Babych

Gino Odjick[wiki] and Dave Babych[wiki] are famed men among long time Vancouver Canucks fans. Were they the greatest players to grace the game? That might be a stretch, but they are often referenced by my Crazy Canucks partners in crime, making them all the more legendary. Gino is notorious for his off ice scrapping as much as he was noted for his fist fights inside the rink, and Babych’s facial hair precedes everything before anyone starts mentioning his contributions to the ’94 run for the Stanley Cup.

Bobby Baun

It wasn’t until we were driving away that I realized exactly who Bobby Baun[wiki] was. When I talked to him, I made sure to shake his hand because I noted two things. One, he was a Toronto Maple Leafs player during one point in his career, and two, the Leafs, one of the oldest teams in the NHL, haven’t won the cup in 40 years.

As Rebecca and I talked about it(and you can read her post about the day as well), we put more and more to the story. Baun played with the likes of Tim Horton[wiki], yes, the guy who started the Tim Horton’s coffee and donut chain. Still, he was apart of the power house that was the team in Toronto to win the cup in 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1967. That also made him apart of the last Leafs team to win the cup 40 years ago, and I shook his hand.

Richard Brodeur and Bobby Hull chat with fans

Even though my knowledge of hockey is growing with every passing CBC documentary, I’ve known who Bobby Hull[wiki] is for a long time. Let me just say, he is hilarious. We recorded some audio that we’ll put into a Crazy Canucks episode soon with the full story, but the banter we had with him and Richard Brodeur is something I’ll long remember.

Not to pass by “King” Richard Brodeur[wiki], he was the Roberto Luongo of his day, guiding the Canucks to, but falling short in, the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Islanders. Still, a genuine man, and the atmosphere that he generated by just sitting next to Bobby Hull in conversation made me forget that there were a ton of people waiting for two or more hours behind me in line, just like we did.

I still made the point to shake all their hands, knowing full well that opportunities like this don’t present themselves all that often. I even brought the recorder along and snagged some liners for TCC, so listen for them in the near future.

Cliff Ronning[wiki] was there as well, but the time was up for him before we got to his place at the table. Being the classy guy that he is, he autographed a bunch of photos and went all the way down the line to hand them out to people that had been standing there just to see him. He got held up by some fans right in front of us, and I asked him about seeing him on Canucks Pay-Per-View again this season. The response he gave me was a little depressed, saying someone there apparently didn’t like him enough that he didn’t even get a phone call about it either way.

“Maybe I stuttered too much, I don’t know.” Aw Cliff, I was a fan.

Bobby Baun, Gino Odjick, and Dave Babych

In times like these, I’m not one to get overly crazed about getting autographs. It’s the experience that draws me in. It sucks that there is no way that I could talk hockey like Dave or even Rebecca can, growing up with or having stories of these individuals passed down to them over the years. What I do know is that these guys worked hard to pursue a passion for a game, and there is a lot to respect for their efforts.

That and Gino was walking around the grounds a little bit after our meeting, spotted us, and gave a nice smile and wave because he remembered us coming through the line. We did the same back and had the same reaction to each other. “Gino!”