Monday, June 26, 2006
It was a big week in hockey and in Canuckville. Very big.
-- Not exactly Canuck-related, but I had a playoff beard growing that I vowed not to shave off until the Stanley Cup was awarded. I was miffed when Carolina didn't take Game 6, and I had to wait until Monday to finally hack it off because it was getting a little bit crazy. Still, I wanted to grow the playoff beard just once so I know what I'll be dealing with if/when the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. I did it as well in 2003-04, but the Canucks didn't get past Game 7 of the first round, so that beard only lasted about two weeks.
-- Speaking of Monday's Game 7, there should be some sort of law on the books mandating that any network that shows the Stanley Cup being awarded has to show every player hoisting the Cup in the postgame celebration. The fact that NBC ended the broadcast before I got the chance to see Erik Cole lift up the Cup is absolute blasphemy. The dude came back from broken neck vertebrae to play in the Finals, for goodness' sake. The crowd probably erupted, but hell if I know since NBC didn't show it.
-- The Canucks canned coach Marc Crawford right after the season and finally filled the vacancy on Tuesday by promoting Manitoba Moose (AHL) coach Alain Vigneault to the big club. The Moose went 44-24-7 this past season and lost Game 7 of the second round to the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit). In the lockout season, the Moose were swept in the conference finals by the Chicago Wolves (Atlanta) and the incredible goalie Kari Lehtonen (side note: Chicago was swept by the incredible Antero Niittymaki and the Philadelphia Phantoms for the Calder Cup). The point is, the coach of that team was Randy Carlyle. After Brian Burke was hired as GM of the Anaheim then-Mighty Ducks, he brought Carlyle along to coach the Anaheim team that got to the Western Conference finals. I guess my point is that if whoever coaches the Moose next year gets hired to be an NHL head coach the year after, that would be very crazy. I know about as much as Vigneault that the press release tells me.
-- The unquestionably huge news came on Friday. Yes, 'twas a big trade. The core was finally shaken up one year after I thought it'd be. The Canucks got goalie Roberto Luongo, defenseman Lukas Krajicek, and a sixth-round pick in Saturday's draft for defenseman Bryan Allen, goalie Alex Auld, and much-maligned hulking right-winger Todd Bertuzzi. Funny how after the season ended, some people were saying that one of either Marc Crawford or Bertuzzi had to go in the offseason. Now they're both gone. What sticks out about the move, of course, is that the Canucks after years of shaky goaltending now have an undisputed #1 goalie, though he's never played in an NHL playoff game. However, this game in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey was a pretty big one for Luongo. The other end of bringing on Luongo is that it's all about over for Dan Cloutier in Vancouver. Cloutier won thirty games for three straight seasons in the three full seasons he played as a Canuck, but ultimately it was about the playoffs, or namely the long softie that Nicklas Lidstrom got past him. As for Auld, he deserves a starting job in the NHL after last year, and it appears Florida will give him one. I don't know much about Krajicek, other than that they're pretty high on him. Even if it's a straight swap of Allen for Krajicek, though, Nonis has to get way more on defense, so he'd better get some blueline help in exchange for Cloutier. It looks as if last year's deadline goalie acquisition, Mika Noronen, will be the backup. Still, the Canucks have to figure out who plays right wing on the top line. That's unless they re-sign Anson Carter (which I hope like hell they do) and move him and the Sedins to the top line. There's lots of questions still left to be answered between now and opening night in October when the next installment of the Canucks takes the ice.
-- I no longer have to get that weird feeling I had when I realize I'm rooting for a team with Todd Bertuzzi on it. I've said it before, but it felt like I was rooting for a team with Ray Lewis or, God forbid, Leonard Little on it.
-- The Canucks drafted five times in Saturday's draft, including the sixth-rounder that came in the Luongo/Bertuzzi trade. They took Austrian Michael Grabner of the Spokane Chiefs at 14th of the first round, Daniel Rahimi from Sweden at 82nd (third round), Sergei Shirokov of Russia with the 163rd pick (sixth round), Slovakian-born Juraj Simek who played with a Swiss team last year at 167 (sixth round), and Evan Fuller of the Prince George Cougars at 197th (seventh round). OLN amazingly piped in the TSN feed of the NHL Draft, at least for most of the first round. Hey, it's better than nothing.
-- The draft was the first time I learned that the Anaheim Ducks now have their new logo and duds out. It took me a few seconds to realize that the letter D is the webbed foot of a duck instead of a stingray or a comet. Still, not a bad color scheme, and I was waiting for the day that the team finally cut the final tie with their Disney past. Since I'm picky about uniforms, I'm surprised they'll actually go with the word "Ducks" across the front as opposed to just a logo, which seems like the usual these days. I personally would prefer just the D on the front, but oh well.
Yes, it was a busy week in hockey.
[as with most hockey posts I do here, this one was fed through the HockeyDB.com Player Encoder]