RadioZoom Episode #108 – Hockey Talk:

A very special episode because this episode was a very fun one to record.

A Skype interview with blogger Alanah Downie from Vancouver Canucks Op Ed, Rebecca and I find out more about the history of the blog, thoughts on the coming hockey season, and plenty about our favorite team, the Vancouver Canucks. It’s one of our daily stops for the latest news and discussions about the team, so having Alanah on the podcast was a lot of fun and a real treat. We hope it won’t be the last time.

This is another venture using Ubercaster, as well as the first Skype interview in the history of the podcast.

47:36 minutes

Bring the Salmon Kings under the Canucks

Aside from the news about next season’s schedule being released[vancouversun] for the Canucks, the other news of interest about the team is that we are in the business of finding a new ECHL affiliate after cutting ties with the Columbia Inferno in South Carolina.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (CP) – The Columbia Inferno of the ECHL announced Monday that the team is no longer affiliated with the Vancouver Canucks and Manitoba Moose.

The Inferno had been linked to the organization for the past five years. Goaltender Alex Auld and forward Alex Burrows are among the players who spent time in Columbia before playing for the Canucks. [cbc]

A story I caught the other day[vancouversun] painted the likely picture of the Victoria Salmon Kings becoming the new choice. The idea was being tossed around prior to the seperation with the Inferno, but the deal is far from being final for the team in B.C.’s capitol.

I’m all for it. It’d be wonderful for the folks on the island and a great marketing move for the team. On top of that, it brings the kids coming up to the NHL much closer to the parent organization that they are working so hard to get to. It’d be great for folks in Victoria to see the team grow and move on to GM Place. That might make them want to hop a boat and check out more games in Vancouver, not that there is any weakness in drawing fans to the games around here at all.

Bottom line, I just like the idea a lot. I would even go as far as saying that I’d be more interested in checking out a Salmon Kings game while vacationing in Victoria if I knew that they were linked with the Canucks.

The off-season has some excitement to it

The last time I updated anything about the Canucks, it was about the contract with Luongo. Lots have happened since then. Let’s see if I can sum up who else has come and gone from the organization.

Vancouver Canucks – Acquired right wing Tommi Santala and a 2007 fifth-round pick from the Atlanta Thrashers for a 2007 fourth-round pick; signed center Brandon Reid, who had been in Switzerland; signed center Brad Moran, who had been in Switzerland; acquired goaltender Roberto Luongo, defenseman Lukas Krajicek and a 2006 sixth-round pick from the Florida Panthers for right wing Todd Bertuzzi, defenseman Bryan Allen and goaltender Alex Auld; signed defenseman Willie Mitchell, who had been with the Dallas Stars, to a four-year contract; acquired a 2007 second-round pick and a 2009 conditional pick from the Los Angeles Kings for goaltender Dan Cloutier. [allsports]

Other changes to note, Ed Jovonoski found a new home in Phoenix with Gretzky and Roenick. Baumgartner headed east with the Flyers, and Keith Carney found a multi-year deal with the Minnesota Wild. Jarkko Ruutu (sadly) grabbed a nice deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Anson Carter at the game we went to against the Chicago Blackhawks last seasonFor the most part, that brings us up to date. If it seems like a core of the team is no longer with the Canucks, then you’re not alone in feeling that way. One name that hasn’t been mentioned, and is still, as of this post, a free agent, is Anson Carter. The salary cap says that there is no room in the inn for him, and we most likely won’t see him return. It’s a damn shame, too. Not only is he my favorite player on the team, but he was the key to, what I like to refer to as, “The Brother Line.”

A 33 goal season just didn’t happen for Carter. He fit the mold. After trying so many combinations with the Sedin twins, those three clicked. That type of teamwork led to a great season for that line. For the most part, everyone expects Carter to take a deal somewhere else.

After that, it’s really unknown as to what to expect this coming season. The guys coming in have promise, we’re already in love with Luongo (or so it seems), and the kids coming up through the ranks are starting to make some noise. Some of the Canuck’s top prospects were in town recently to strut their stuff, but nothing to really be said of them until the pre-season gets going. Once again, there is promise, but I’m still scratching my head over what’s up at top to work with.

The national anthems at the game we went to against the Chicago Blackhawks last seasonGM Nonis says he isn’t done shaking up the team, but I could have swore that we just got a new head coach. Not a lot has been said by the new guy, and I have yet to really discover a whole lot about what to expect. Vigneault had some success down in Manitoba, and if you are coaching a team that had Ouellet in goal, that means you must be something good. I was never impressed with that guy protecting the net instead of Auld.

Speaking of goalies, with Auld gone, that puts our trade from Buffalo, Mika Noronen, in at back-up for Luongo. This sounds great, but Noronen wants to be a starter in the NHL. As much as they are paying for Mr. Roberto, it’s not likely to happen. We only got the very best of Mika Noronen in the final game of last season. I’ve heard lots of good things about him, so it makes sense. Dude’s in a really tough spot though.

So, even though we are in the off-season, there is a crap load of stuff going on that is exciting to keep tabs on. I’m keeping close track of my RSS feeds, but if you really wanna know what’s going on with the Canucks, check out Vancouver Canucks Op Ed and I love this stuff, but these folks live, eat, and breathe it.

I can’t fail to mention that Rebecca can talk the talk a hell of a lot better than I can.

We’ve got Luongo locked in for four years

I like that we’ve got some one to answer our goalie prayers, and this is good news by all means.

Goaltender Roberto Luongo signed a $27 million, four-year deal with the Canucks on Thursday, less than a week after he was acquired in a trade from Florida.

“Roberto has proven himself to be an elite goaltender,” Vancouver general manager Dave Nonis said in a statement. “His international experience, Vezina Trophy nomination and ability to consistently play at the highest level are tremendous assets that we believe will make the Vancouver Canucks competitive each and every night.”

The new deal will pay Luongo $6 million in the first year, $6.5 million in the second year, $7 million in the third year, and $7.5 million in the final year. The contract also contains a no-trade clause for the final three years. [espn]

That’s a chunk of change for some one we just grabbed a week ago today. I think Luongo[canucks] is a good goalie, but there is something to be said about seeing how he handles Vancouver and the Canucks as a team. A “no-trade clause” means he’s our main man in the net for the next few years. Makes me curious about what’s going through Cloutier’s head right now.

The Canucks world continues to turn

We are through one season of the “new NHL,” and adjustments to the way the league is structured has nearly every team scrambling to rethink how to tackle next season. Perhaps I’m wrong, but this rings true for the Canucks.

Bertuzzi is gone to Florida along with Auld and Allen, but Jovanovski appears anxious to join the trio there.

Ed Jovanovski is in Florida, waiting to see how many free agent offers come pouring in when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on Saturday.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the all-star defenceman would love to stay in the Sunshine State. The signs are certainly good for the Florida Panthers, who are expected to bid on his services. [tsn]

The NHL raised the salary cap to $44 million per team for the coming season, so Florida could comfortably bring Jovo on board. This adds to the holes that are opening up for Vancouver’s bench. Nonis has said that he’s not done making his changes to the team, and I expect to see a different look to the Canucks come this fall.

I also caught an interview with Bertuzzi on Sportsnet today about his trade, and, you guessed it, it popped up on YouTube. You always kind of knew that the Moore fallout was weighing on him during last season, and he finally admits it.

Time well spent at the 2006 NHL draft

NHL 2006 Draft - behind the benchWe had a pretty jam packed weekend go by, so I’m just getting around to my thoughts on the 2006 NHL Draft that took place in Vancouver on Saturday. In a sense, I think we were milking the very last ounce of hockey goodness before summer takes full effect. Regardless, for $5, this event was well worth the time and very little money it took to get in. The frosty beverages were still outrageously over priced.

Granted that I could have really used my binoculars to see him, but I saw Gretzky[wiki]. He came on stage to announce their pick in the first round, and that’s when it hit me. All the way up in the second level of GM Place, I realized that all these guys walking around in suits were not just the business of hockey, but very important people in the history of the game.

NHL 2006 Draft - Scottie!Gary Bettman[wiki] is a real human being, not just some CGI character that the NHL brings on the TV from time to time. The same goes for Wayne Gretzky. He’s real, too, albeit from a distance. And Ovechkin[wiki] is really from Russia because his accent made it really difficult to understand the name he announced when the Capitols sent him up on stage to do the honors. Without all his hockey gear on, he seemed just like a happy go lucky kid, just bouncing around from corner to corner of floor. The trophies the players get are very, very real, and are some of the most impressive pieces of hockey history that I have come into contact with yet.

After the Canucks made their pick in the first round, over half of the place cleared out. It made sense being that the next pick for the local favorites wouldn’t be coming again until the third round. We made our way towards some seats closer to the floor until we were directly behind one of the benches. We were just off to the side from the families of these young players that were being swept off to their dreams.

NHL 2006 Draft - On the way there; the Bertuzzi era is overIt was really exciting to hear when players were being traded along with swapping draft picks. People were screaming for some teams to pick this guy, trade some one from this team to that team, etc. It made the announcements of teams swapping fourth round picks for sixth round picks seem boring.

I did quite a bit of recording for the podcast, so I don’t want to get into too much detail. There’s a lot more that speaks for itself there that documents the experience. Rebecca already made her post and you can check out some pics on my Flickr as well as hers. Might be some duplicates, but oh well, that happens.

Overall, it was a really good time. There were high points and long points. By the end of the night, the die hards were all that were left. I don’t know if that includes us, but we stuck it out till the very end.

Bertuzzi, Auld, and Allen are heading south

Big news for Canucks fans.

The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have completed a multi-player trade involving some big names on the eve of the NHL Draft.

The Panthers have confirmed that they acquired Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alexander Auld from the Canucks in exchange for Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek and a 2006 sixth round pick.  [tsn]

Personally, I am sad to see Auld go.  That is my initial reaction at least.  I’m a goalie nerd and wannabe, but his filling in for Cloutier last season made me a fan.  Bertuzzi?  You kinda knew that it was coming, but replacing such a player won’t be easy.  Sure, his performance has slacked from the Bert that fans got accustomed to, but the strength he brought to the ice is not something that comes with filling in another body in his slot on the roster.

Luongo fills in that gap in the net that we’ve been looking for, and that makes this a pretty spectacular grab for the Canucks.  Krajicek is young, not to mention that he is yet another man to add to the defence.  With Bertuzzi off to the sunshine state, where does that put the team in terms of forwards, not to mention the big line?

I like to call him Viggy

Alain VigneaultMeet the new man behind the bench[canucks]. The Vancouver Canucks did what most people thought would happen in the first place by bringing up Alain Vigneault[wiki] from the team’s AHL affiliate, Manitoba Moose. Coming off of that pretty good, first season with that team, his previous experience, in the NHL and junior hockey leagues, is respectable as well.

So what’s next? Can we all breathe a collective sigh of relief and look forward to the coming season? The draft is just days away, and I would like to think that this is a guy who is going to have a good idea of what’s going on through the majority of the Canuck’s system. I had a feeling that they would wait until the finals were over to make the announcement, so maybe with a new guy in place and free agents looking around for next season’s contender, it’ll be an interesting next couple of months.

Rebecca got us tickets for the 2006 draft coming up this weekend at GM Place. This is going to really try my knowledge about who is who in the up and coming world of hockey. And when I say world, I mean world. I barely know anyone that plays in the WHL in the immediate area, so when Europe comes into play, I’m beyond clueless. Who knows though. Maybe I’ll surprise myself at how much I do know. I’ll bring the recording gear along and see what I can capture.

And by the way, Hurricanes won the cup last night[nhl]. Good for them, great game, incredible series, and a shame the cup couldn’t belong to Canada. Have to give credit to the Carolina fans. Yes, hockey can work in Raleigh, but I hope it keeps up when their team ain’t doing so hot. With hope, these finals have brewed some lifelong hockey fans for years to come.

They Are 50%, Absolutely Correct

Doghouse sign in downtown Vancouver, BCThe Vancouver Canucks have asked Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment for permission to speak to Mr. Quinn about coming back to the west coast. We’ll just have to wait and see. Some people around the city seem to think, or know, otherwise.

I snapped this shot just today while taking care of some details regarding my status here. Will post more on my flickr later. Right now I’m pretty beat. Lots of sun, warmth, walking, and ice caps from TimHo’s. Must… drink… water…

So Let It Begin…

Crow’s gone!

Update: Just so I do my best to not leave this hanging for those who are uninformed, here’s a brief update. Marc Crawford[wiki], or Crow, is now the former head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. Follow these links and get more info for yourself.

Crawford is the first of more to come in terms of really shaking up the team. The next question for me is if management will wait until they name a new head coach before they pluck more feathers from the bird. I heard there are five possibles for the job. Pat Quinn[wiki], but who else?

Update: TSN published this story about the potentials for the head coach job.