Canucks Hockey, Pulling Triggers, Teams Needs, Hockey vs. Sports

Canucks hockey is becoming dramatic; some fans blaming General Manager Nonis. Who is to blame and what could have been done?

Am I the only one pulling the trigger? I think every general manager in the NHL should have an icon representing them. See, I have the gun ready to fire. Why can’t any other general manager have it? Nonetheless, you name a general manager and you can tell me what their icon/image/avatar/ whataveryoucallit they should have. Could be fun. But, more important is the question “why no trades?!”

What do teams needs? No, I am not going team by team and mentioning scoring and defense, stuff like that. It’s more like, what teams LACK. It’s just one word and you are one click away from finding that out.

What does the NHL need to do to get the attention in the US? It’s all so simple yet not done.

The Vancouver Canucks were my favorite team to watch in the past few seasons late at night. Ever since Center Ice came out, my ideal night during the week was to watch the Canucks, and the Oilers as well, at 10-10,30 pm. That was fun hockey, with speed, excitement. Now, the Canucks are one of the most boring teams to watch. Their record is not bad, due to a good start, but lately the flaws and weaknesses are showing. People are starting to speak out against General Manager Dave Nonis, and is he to blame?

Yes, and no. That’s right, the excellent saying of Van Helsing, played by Mel Brooks in Dracula: Dead an Loving It, of the Theory of Yes, or No. Anyone remember that?

————————————–
Jonathan Harker: Are you saying that Count Dracula is our vampire?
Van Helsing: Yes!… and no…
Jonathan Harker: Then what are you saying?
Van Helsing: I’m saying no. But I’m leeeeaning towards yes.
Dr. Steward: Then you’re saying yes.
Van Helsing: No.
Dr. Steward: Then you’re saying no.
Van Helsing: Not necessarily.
Jonathan Harker: You sound dubious.
Van Helsing: No -I’m positive!
Jonathan Harker: Of what?
Van Helsing: Of my theory!
Jonathan Harker: And that would be?
Van Helsing: The theory of Yes- or no
—————————————–

Genius, is it not? So that’s the way I feel about Vancouver’s general manager. Why not? He had to make some very tough decisions that could have dramatically changed the franchise. Let’s hit the rewind button and go back in time when Scott Niedermeyer was a free agent. The Canucks were pusruing the top NHL defenseman, but with the salary cap being $39M back then, Dave Nonis had to make a decision of whether or not to spend the money on Marcus Naslund, the captain and the face of the franchise, or let him go and sign Niedermeyer. The majority wanted Naslund to stay, me too, and no one was really expecting chaos to occur with the Canucks missing the playoffs. But, the guy did not get much slack as fans called in MOJO of Vancouver to blast Dave Nonis on declinining to sign Niedermeyer. He had to as it was either Naslund or the defenseman.

Now, if he didn’t re-sign Naslund, British Columbia would have banned him. Yet now, many fans, and the media, are discussing the possibility of dumping Naslund and cleaning up the house. Well, that would be stupid. Nonis was put under all that pressure and if he is pressured to trade Naslund, then imagine that he completely missed out on signing Scott Niedermeyer. Nonis was trying to do the right thing and keeping Naslund was the right thing. He is the Canucks identity, especially ever since the Todd Bertuzzi trade.

His second big decision was the Bertuzzi for Luongo deal. Bertuzzi was losing support from many Canucks fans, yet he still had a strong fan base, whom many of them criticized the trade. So Nonis had to think about the idea of another dramatic change except this time he went for it. The Vancouver Canucks finally have a franchise goalie. That’s great, even though he hasn’t played his best yet.

So, he has managed this team for two active seasons and had to make two big decisions already. I applaud him for that, it takes guts; however, there is no doubt in my mind that Dave Nonis completely screwed up this season. He lost Todd Bertuzzi, Ed Jovanovski, and Anson Carter. Three key players that contributed offensively. What happened, Mr. Nonis? You forgot to make up for the lost offense!!! No Canucks fan, journalist, player, staff member, or whoever, could tell me that the final roster was going to perform well. Mark Chouinard? Taylor Pyatt? Sure, nice project but don’t depend your offense on him. Tommi Santala? Who?

General Manager Dave Nonis completely screwed up the team for this season and it makes him look horrible after the Bertuzzi trade and the reason why it makes him look horrible is because not only is Luongo not playing his best after scoring huge on his new contract, but the Canucks are the worst offensive team in the NHL. DEAD LAST, #30! Just two goals a game? How can you expect a team to win in today’s new NHL where the game opened up to offense with a team scoring just two goals a game?

GM Dave Nonis made some huge mistakes with this roster as he could have given a more worthy chance to second tier low profile players who would have provided more scoring potential. “Like who?” says the hard thinking Nonis. How about….

Oleg Kvasha. He is a mediocre player, but one who fills holes nicely, occasionally on the second line, but better fit for the third. He has great size that still allows him to skate so efficiently. He has scoring potential with his skills. He scored 11 points in 15 games last season with the Phoenix Coyotes. Oh, but Marc Chouinard is better? I would have signed Kvasha over him any day.

Why not Yannic Perreault? Why did teams lacking depth hesitate to sign this guy? His skating issues? Who cares!!! How is that a factor when he wins face offs and knows how to net 20 goals in a season? Was he not signed around the $700,000 margin? So it would not have been an issue for Dave Nonis either.

Why did Nonis let go of Richard Park? Sure, he was not that good under former head coach Marc Crawford last season (ppffttt…., who was?), but he is speedy and can net the occasional goals. He is doing that with the Islanders as he is projected to post career highs this season.

Okay, Josh Green or Radek Dvorak? Josh Green is a career minor leaguer, why is he on that roster? Dvorak is a declining player, but he can skate so well, be so useful with his speed and definitely has more scoring potential than that Josh Green guy…. I remembered he played with the Rangers for a little bit and while he showed some nice strength, he is not good enough to play at the NHL level. Two seasons ago Radek Dvorak scored 50 points.

You are fishing in a river full of trout (yum, I love trout) and you catch a gold fish. That little fish is Tommi Santala. Is this guy the Finnish version of Carlos Santana or something? That’s all I think about everytime I read his name. Oye como va el ritmo? Va muy mal! What’s this guy’s story? Forty-two career NHL games scoring four points. He is still looking for his second career NHL goal at 27 years of age. I mean….is this guy even worth discussing about? There was this other Finn who was a free agent. He is small, has not had much success in the NHL yet, but he’s been hot in the past four games. He’s had success in Finland and in the AHL. His mind is set on offense and scoring goals. He is currently playing for the second NHL team of his career in the Western Conference. Good for you if you guessed his name by now. Tony Salmelainen. At least I got no issues with his name. He would not have made the Canucks any worse instead of SeƱor Santala, ole`! In fact, he could have been useful to throw on the power play, or on the 1s
t, 2nd line during in-game line shuffling to find offense.

I think in the end, Dave Nonis will have to give up and either make a trade, or sign Jason Allison. Perreault’s skating has been criticized, but he’s scoring the points! Allison’s skating was criticized last season yet he scored the points! So, if Nonis needs to shed some salary, he ought to trade Brandon Morrison (he should have last season) for a player who can log ice time and play a solid two-way game. If not, just sign the darn guy if you are so afraid of trading! Allison could push forward the Canucks offense. Of course, the more Nonis waits, the less affective Allison could be. He’s been working hard every day, this guy is ready to help anyone who will offer him a job.

Pulling Triggers

BANG BANG! Well, I am the only one pulling the trigger and the 30 NHL general managers are not. Saaaaayyyyyyyy, what’s the big idea!? Teams have obvious, clear weaknesses and they are not making any moves? You’d figure by now a team would have made a good trade, kinda like last year’s Joe Thornton trade.

So, why is it that general managers are not making trades? Some say the reason is the salary cap. I say BS, the general managers are just being wimps. If you noticed one of my last statements in the Nonis talk, I said the word afraid. That’s right, these general managers are afraid to make a trade because they don’t want to make mistakes and for that reason, both general managers that ask and offer are making ridiculous negotiations that are no-brainer rejected. They all want to win a trade instead of making a trade that fits right for them. Jacques Martin stated that the offers are of players who are underachieving and overpaid. So to me, that tells me that BS negotiating has been going on around the league.

Some people may say it’s the salary cap. I think the salary cap is affecting the big market teams more so than the middle to low market teams. We have $44M dollar budgets to look at, that’s more than plenty to make a team work and win. The reason, in my opinion, that there are no trades as of yet (watch, I’ll jinx that as soon there will be one) is tied with the Trade Deadline. These general managers feel confident (I think way too confident) that the trade deadline being 20 games before season’s end will be enough time to make trades and get their teams to work. And in a way they could be correct as we’re looking at a possible 40 points to gain and lose. That’s a lot of points. So, that is a logical reason, but it still does not satisfy me. I really think that general managers are too afraid to make a trade right now and for that reason I am calling them a bunch of wimps. You are too afraid to screw it up? Guess what! If your team is not working now, wasting time to make an attempt to improve is still screwing up!

Teams lack….

Just because I said you were one click away from finding out what that word is, it did not mean I would have given it to you immediately! So, here is that word:

CHARACTER

I had a thread dicussion with a Blue Jacket fan in my previous column where he mentioned the lack of character the team had. He was right. I have more teams in mind that lack character.

The Florida Panthers started to roll in last season’s second half with the very big help from energetic annoying player Jon Sim. He added a lot of life to the roster on the ice. Why was he allowed to walk away? Guess what is one of the problems for the Panthers this season? CHARACTER! That’s why I would have loved a Mike Van Ryn for Raffi Torres trade. The guy may just score 15 goals in one season, but he gives so much more than that as well. Jacques Martin, find a Jon Sim look-alike player soon.

A great example is Philadelphia. People like to point out Bob Clarke’s mistakes about not getting a better goaltender, or not getting a better defense, a winger, whatever. What did Jeremy Roenick, Keith Primeau, Eric Desjardins, John LeClair, Mark Recchi, and Donald Brashear bring to the Philadelphia Flyers? You guessed it, character. And Clarke failed to replace that character. You know who should have topped Clarke’s list for free agency? Brandon Shanahan.

Speaking of Shanahan as a Ranger, I like how the New York Rangers emphasize on character via trades, free agency, and especially the draft. The Rangers could have kept their tradtitional way of spending big money, but for the second year in a row, they sought the right players instead of the best players. Brandon Shanahan, Matt Cullen, and Aaron Ward. Ryan Hollweg is priceless as of now with his energy on the ice. Sure, they are still not playing well enough, but after a horrific first period against the Islanders on Sunday, where the defense seized to exist for 60 minutes, the Rangers responded by dominating the second in all aspects of the game and came back with the scoreboard saying 4-3. That’s character.

Too many teams just do not have that character of tenacity. That anger where losing is just not an option and you give it your all for just two points in possible 164 point season. The Vancouver Canucks could use some of that as Matt Cooke appears to be ineffective. The Minnesota Wild, no one is stepping up with the team’s recent slump. You need character to win.

The NHL is still not finding much popularity in the USA. The main problem is the competition with the other big sports. I can’t blame Americans for this, they have every right for their preferences. A sport like basketball is starting to get popular in Italy (unbelievable how the first overall pick was Italian), but try feeding hockey, baseball, and NFL football to an Italian instead of soccer (football) and you got no chance. It’s just the way the sport culture is down here.

Still, it does not mean the NHL can do better. So far, the TV commercials have been good, but the NHL has to do much more than just funny stuff on TV to get the attention. Here is one of my bizarre, wild, out of this world, yet possibly genius ideas.

One issue with hockey not being watched on TV is that people cannot stand it on TV. They cannot see the puck, the vision is too far away, or it just seems boring. The part that I love about hockey games when attending them are the sounds. Yes, you can hear the sticks, the posts, and the skates shredding the ice surface, but it’s more like background noise. So, why not insert new technology? First of all, get a high tech camera to get the best angle of the game with enough good zoom. A sky cam that rolls back and forth up and down the middle of the ice that follows the play. Why don’t TV stations use the camera on top of the glass behind the net? I only see replays from that, I want to see a whole power play with that camera; get a goalie’s view kind of thing. Or, using that sky cam I just mentioned and get a view from the blueline. As far as sounds go, how about giving the viewer the choice of enhanced on ice sounds over the announcers? Like, add microphones ineserted in the boards, that way you really hear the skates, the sounds of the sticks, etc…

Basically, the objective of this idea is to get a TV viewer to experience watching the game as close as actually being there at the stadium. I think it can be done and it’s worth a shot. What do you people say?

Now, let’s also play some sport political games here. The NHL should market itself to children. Forget the average 30 year old Joe, you’re not going to gain his interest. Go for the kids, they are the future and no, I am not saying use Michael Jackson for PR; that would be poopie work. But, get them involved with the sport and make families view hockey as a family sport that actually has good role models. I mean seriously, what’s the latest hockey scandal to hit national headlines? Wayne Gretzky’s wife making
bets; big friggin deal.

Hockey does not have a hot headed jerk making pathetic public statements on TV and trying to kill himself, coughcoughTerrelOwenscoughcough. Nowadays, football and basketball are filled with such horrible role models. It’s almost as if NBA players are required to be bad azz from the ghetto and listening to rap and it would be a bonus if they have a criminal record. Almost the same thing in football, and as if there are no steroids going on in football? Not only do you see many of these players acting as if they are evolving from being neanderthals, but they seem too hyper active; steroids have that side effect.

Don’t get me started on baseball. I used to be a fan of baseball, I still enjoy watching the Minnesota Twins (the team I root for), but it is just sickening with the ridiculous amount of money. All you need to be in baseball is a mediocre player to become a millionare earning like $5M a season. It has gotten out of hand and to me it just separates the players more from the fans. Do you really need like $15M a year to live? What a joke. For just hitting a ball, catching it, and scratching your private parts on the bench?

Hockey is so much more rewarding. There is so much dedication, discipline, respect, and class. That is what the NHL should market. Set up more scholarship programs, stuff like that. Make more use of the players too. I know many are very generous, but too much of the general public does not know that. And you know, in a way that is the classy thing to do; stay anonymous and low profile when doing charity. But, let the people know! And the one big fault about hockey players in the NHL compared to other athletes, not enough interaction with the fans. A kid is sticking out his hand hoping the players would give him/her a high five, yet they pass right through. Make the moment special for fans.

I was nine years old when I came to the US. The first game I attended was in, possibly 1989, or 90, when the Rangers beat the Hartford Whalers 9-4. It was a great experience and I never forgot about it; however, I was still into soccer and looking at the big popular sports in America. My dad being a Rangers fan and a baseball fan showed me how to play basketball, football, and baseball. Yet that one day that he put me between two baseball gloves acting as posts, gave me one normal hockey stick, a baseball glove for my hand and told me to stop that street hockey ball, that’s when I knew this was it for me.

That’s all it takes to get a hockey fan, show the greatness of the sport and prove it to people.

That’s it for now and I hope you enjoyed this very short article I wrote. It only took me two days to write it, but hey….keeps you busy if your are bored, and it’s always great to talk hockey.

Thanks for reading,

Micki Peroni
Vice-Administator