Wednesday 26 Oct 2016

Canucks Win Cup
Bob Stark

Victory is a fleeting thing in the gambling business. Today's winners are tomorrow's blinking toads, dumb beasts with no hope., 

Dr Hunter S Thompson
Gonzo Journalist

Apparently, there is a newspaper column out there pontificating that despite their current woes the Canucks are still the most likely Canadian team to win a Cup in the near future. I assume that the author was talking about the Stanley Cup, which is my first clue that someone is off his meds.

The reasoning, the team still had the necessary pieces to be a contender; this year was just an off one for the Vancouver Orcas. Supposedly they will turn it around and,” right' the ship, which had me thinking that the writer may be related to, or the ghost of, Herman Melville.

The season certainly has been one of magnificent failure for a team allegedly on the brink of bringing home the famous mug to Canadian shores. Right now, the good ship Loli-flop looks like our navy vessel in the Pacific, an old re-fitted hulk, hauled into port by American tugs and rescue boats. All's well that ends well, the fire is out, none of the crew are injured, but the ship is not likely to see the choppy seas any time soon, if ever. Sailing to Byzantium is out of the question in this country not fit for old men. As T S Eliot once opined for us hockey addicts, April can be the cruelest month.

Putin and his Tsarists cronies also suggested that those heavily armed dudes in Crimea were not Russian soldiers. The Canucks Gm used a similar spin-tactic by declaring, in subtext, that the players on the ice ponds were not actually the Canucks but some local beer league guys who had stolen our team's equipment.

The record broken record' if you prefer, of our riverboat gambler GM here would indicate not the,” bold moves' he promised when he landed the job and then parlayed that into a rather ridiculous extension, while picking up the additional outpost command of being team President.

To be fair, I can point to a few additions to the team that worked: Dan Hamhuis, Eddie Lack and perhaps, though I not sure Gillis was directly responsible, Chris Tanev. Alas, with extremely mixed results at the trade deadline, Higgins, Lapierre, Paulson, Roy and more so at the draft, where it seems he's more intent on trading away players, Schneider obviously comes to mind, for unproven prospects, short people that would make Randy Newman embarrassed, or slugs. Add his penchant for dumpster diving, we even offered a contract for Vinnie Prospal; our scoring was so dreadful. Vinnie made the correct decision and retired from hockey altogether! Gillis has given try-outs to every former NHLer looking for a job and even to those who once thought they had played in the NHL but had only sat at the Shark Club pretending they were putting the puck in the net, while having one too many Buds.

To make matters worse, it appears the only team that we can make deals with is that Stanley Cup winning juggernaut, the Florida Panthers. Of course most recently one such deal was to send our resurrected number one goalie there for a third-string goalie and another Panther the Florida brain trust had finally decided may not turn out to be a top six forward after-all. Ergo, in less than a year, Gillis traded away his top two goalies for chump hopes that Eddie Lack and his Swedish cohorts in nets, can become a bona fide stopper long enough to rebuild and rejig the rest of the sailing equipment.

I believe, at last count, we, have five or six ex-Panthers on the roster, plus some already long gone and toiling elsewhere.

It's gotten to the point that with the rain coming down here last week and my friend. Norm, in Edmonton, for business freezing his butt off, I suggested that we move to Florida, cheer for the Panthers and wait for the next ex-Canuck to arrive. In conclusion, Gillis has gone from learning the ropes to coming close to hanging from them.

As for the coach, my other hockey bud, Dave, suggested Torterella had no idea what it takes to win in the Western Conference; the travel is murder, especially for West Coast teams. Yet, he was playing, riding, our “stars' 5-10 minutes longer than their usual playing time, each and every game and now is surprised or doesn't buy into the theory that some of the older dudes might be a little tired. When you're tired, doing anything, you're more prone to injury and more so making mistakes. He has also introduced, “shot blocking.” How many injuries has that led to, I ask?

It's not the strategy per se, but it's like the coal trains and the oil tankers. You don't speed up the process and try to get all the oil and gas and coal or whatever to market in one week, every week: kaboom. That is especially true when the shipping compartments are a little fragile to begin with.

Of course then,” Torts' himself, pushing too strongly on his own non-fail-proof buttons, exploded, earning himself a six game suspension in the middle of a losing streak. Then, he decides not to play Roberto at the Heritage Classic, the outdoor indoor money grab by the NHL, but a marquee game on the schedule. Chicago and Pittsburgh played the night before in a raging snow storm; here we closed the roof due to a little rain and any snow the viewers saw in the stadium was manufactured, like the whole freaking event, since the 100 year celebration isn't till next year.

Nor, it must be said, to reiterate what CBC's Jim Houston or some other hockey guru correctly concluded, did management nix that coaching decision, apparently with none of them realizing the implications, not completely to the team or even Louie BUT to the fan base. If the reaction of Luongo or his agent to that sporting crime would be enough to get most GMs surprised Gillis fired on the spot.

One fan suggested that our GM and his owners have been channeling old Leafs owner Harold Ballard, notorious for wild and weird hirings and firings and other doings.

Years ago here in WTF land, circa 1979 and 1980, when I first became a Canucks fan, we had such ex-Leaf,” greats' as Tiger Williams and Gerry Butler, each of whom had their tales to tell about treatment at the hands of one HB.

During those years, The Canucks traded away, among others, Cam Nealy and Rick Vaive, who, as a rookie, went to Toronto in that Tiger Williams and Butler trade and promptly became the Leafs first-ever 50-goal scorer. A couple of years ago here, we sent Michael Grabner to, you guessed it, Florida. He ended in Islanders territory, where he blossomed into a legitimate scoring threat.

Meanwhile, in our current goal-less malaise, last week we brought up a fourth-line grinder from the farm instead of our leading scorer, on a streak, in Utica, who they brought in on Saturday, but maybe due to fan outrage and in a home game, in a home game, no less.

The only goal we got on the road last week in two,” must-win' games was by a fourth-liner. The winning goal on Saturday, against the Flames who had 8 rookies in the line-up, including their goalie, was by 6th or 7th tiered Yannick Weber who got to play due to an injury to another D-man.

These then are the stuff of dreams about winning the Stanley Cup.

As I watched the Canucks versus Dallas last week, where we got shellacked 5-1, I thought to myself,” Clobber, everyone else will be setting their clocks ahead on Saturday, the Canucks seem bent on turning theirs back”!.

For those whom are not Canucks fans, ya have to understand the true workings, historically and moving forward, of the team here. Maybe it's a mental disease impacted by the tides, or the rain, where it gets very wet for awhile and then quickly evaporates. I don’t know. Maybe it hearkens back to their first draft when Buffalo Sabres GM Punch Imlach challenged the tossing of the coin, got a redo and the Sabres got Gilbert Perrault and we got Dave Tallon, by the way, currently the GM of the afore-mentioned Florida Panthers.

Fast-forward to 2014. In another bonehead move by the promotion department, the,” we are all Canucks' guys and gals opted to celebrate, at the Heritage Classic, the 1994,” almost' Stanley Cup team. Okay, so that was 20 years ago, a more legitimate anniversary than the game on the ice that day. Most of the current team watched the proceedings, the players who had almost won the Cup in 2011. Not sure what the textbooks on advertising campaigns say but how'd ya feel about that if you sit on the bench? There's no doubt that the 94 team left an undeniable legacy here but, as even Trevor Linden said, they lost!

In this town, ya don't need Roger Neilson to wave a white towel. Roger coached the 82 team that also went to the Cup and lost, but did so with precision, in four games. After a brutal game in Chicago during the semi-finals, Roger, who thought the refs were giving it to us, put a white towel on stick and raised it; the idea was to signal surrender. When the team returned to Vancouver the fans got white towels to wave in support of this noble group of losers who went on to win the series. The rest is history. White towel waving carries on in every arena in the NHL in the play-offs.

Well, the final,” read' on the true situation here is in today's newspaper's lead Sports story which was about the Vancouver Whitecaps first soccer game of the season, also this past Saturday. The Canucks were one Page 3 of the Sports section, just before the Weather, the Obits and the Funnies.

Draw your own conclusions.

For this pundit, I'm waiting, patiently, again, for the next,” bold' move by our current GM. Failing any significant changes in the off-season, I will be calling for his relocation to be the head honcho at,” Ice Follies'. Until then, I'm hoping gambler Mike is listening to and learning from Kenny Rogers’ old chestnut, “Ya gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.”

Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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