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Did your NHL team take a dip in the Free Agency Pool? If so...did you approve of the splash?? Lisa Ovens takes a look at the Vancouver Canucks pool side antics which ultimately leads her straight to the laundry room!


Canuck Laundry Part One


Lisa Ovens
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Game One

Lisa Ovens
Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Have you ever had a relationship and reached a point where you were fighting and misunderstanding each other more often than you were not? And when you weren’t at odds with each other, you both felt so vulnerable because at any moment something would be taken the wrong way and boom, the fighting and misunderstanding would take over yet again? It drives you to over analyze, under sleep and eat bad food.  It’s the inevitable relationship rough patch peppered with the “what have you done for me latelys”. For couples it’s the rough patch you somehow endure, and either end up sticking together, or falling apart.

This is what the fan’s relationship with the Canucks is all about. The rough patches have been going on for years. To sum up the latest rough patch using the recent marketing slogan... we went from being “We are all Canuck” to “We WERE all Canuck” and, after the Pavol Demitra signing, “We are sort of all Canuck?”

It’s funny, but after July 1st, I received several emails from hockey friends around the continent asking me... “What’s going on with the Canucks?” “What’s happening up there with your team?”  After Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison signed elsewhere, Marie in Nashville said “you’ve lost your team... a prayer to St. Anthony might help. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items.” And then she followed up that with... “There is always St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.”

Wow, is that what its like on the outside looking in?

For those who don’t know, here's the short version: local Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini was so unhappy with not making the playoffs that he fired GM Dave Nonis, declared he wanted the team to play “the winning style” of hockey, and was looking for an experienced GM. “Someone who can step into the big shoes and set out a strategic plan. Someone who has experience and who can get the job done. That’s really what it comes down to.” Less than two weeks later he hired Mike Gillis, a player agent with no GM experience.

Ever since the draft, many of us have been trying to figure out what exactly Mike Gillis is doing. He says “moving forward” a lot and he has a fascination with the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning in an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis . Doesn’t really matter what Gillis says or reads, he’s viewed to be on a hot seat by at least half of the city, and the seat will get hotter should Mats Sundin choose to decline Gillis’s “bold move” $20 million, two year offer. Right now all the fans want from Mike is a fighting chance in the Northwest division.

I think everyone will agree signing Darcy Hordichuk is a definite plus. He’s gearing up for the battle, training with UFC fighters. This makes Canucks fans happy. But the more you look at Pavol Demitra, the more he looks like a bald version of Markus Naslund. Add a few of question marks with the signings of Bernier, Krog, Wellwood and Davison …and we could still be considered a dog’s breakfast at this point in time.

And what about the Canucks season ticket holders. How many of them are asking that age old rough patch question…what have you done for me lately?

Now this one makes fans in the South scratch their heads. “Okay, you didn’t make the playoffs, your version of Mr. Hockey, Trevor Linden retires, you hire an inexperienced GM, some of your core players, including the highest scoring Canuck of all time (Naslund) were not asked to stay, and the ticket prices actually increased?”

For example, two seats in the lower bowl for the season (plaza corner) went from last season price of $95 per seat, to $104 (inc. GST).  The damage for the two seats, 45 games: CDN $9300.00, just under $900 increase over last year for these seats. According to the letter from Canucks President and CEO, Chris Zimmerman, the Canucks are renovating the dressing room and players lounge, “...recognizing that a first class dressing room is an important factor when attracting players.” 

I guess a two year, $20 million dollar contract isn’t enough to attract a quality player to Vancouver. However a swanky new dressing room could be the ticket...

Stay tuned for another Load of Canuck Laundry....

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