Yes Vancouver There Will Be Hockey
September normally brings salivation across Canada as the end of summer is offset by the start of hockey. This year, well, not so much.
With the league and the player’s association cruising towards the September 15 deadline for a lockout and both sides refusing to blink, it seems inevitable that the 2012/2013 season won’t start on time.
When the puck will drop is anyone’s guess, but a good comparable might be last year’s NBA season which saw labour strife lead towards a modified 60 game season.
For now, teams are on hold in anticipation of Armageddon which means you probably won’t be seeing any Canucks signings or trades before the new CBA is agreed upon and teams know the landscape of the league going forward.
But there will be hockey
While the last strike took down an entire season, it was also the process of the messy birth of the salary cap era the league now exists in. This time around, the two sides don’t need to create an entirely new framework but rather tweak the existing system.
Don’t expect this to last into 2013.
The Leafs will be back on the ice before the leaves have fallen from the trees.
So throw away the strike doom and gloom and let’s get excited about another year in the golden age of Vancouver Canucks hockey.
After all, those back-to-back President’s Trophies won’t defend themselves and who can wait to see what new and creative way they break our hearts this playoffs.
So here are five fearless predictions for the upcoming Canucks season to get you excited about the actual game of hockey and not all those pesky business aspects.
1. Roberto Luongo will be a Canuck on opening day
Mike Gillis has come out and said that league transactions will be non-existent until the labour confusion subsides, and that includes Roberto Luongo. Florida is probably still the safe bet for the eventual trade, and Luongo all but moved into Jose Theodore’s locker stall this week, but this is a transaction that is still very up in the air.
When the new CBA is agreed upon the season will most likely start as soon as possible after that date.
Given the delicate nature of the Luongo situation this means that it shouldn’t be all that surprising to see Luongo in a Canucks uniform wherever Vancouver opens their season. Considering he’s been invited to the annual Canucks charity golf tournament, the organization clearly sees him as still part of the team.
How long he remains in that uniform is another question entirely.
Mike Gillis has said he has a few interesting offers on the table but he’s clearly holding out to attempt a home run, and with no hockey in sight it’s probably not a bad move. What you have to remember however is that the Canucks acquired Luongo for pennies on the dime from Florida originally, sending back only a busted Todd Bertuzzi.
What goes around may come around when they eventually find their receipt and return him to the Panthers.
2. The Sedins will end the season as the franchise’s all-time leading scorers
With Henrik Sedin trailing Markus Naslund for the franchise lead by just nine points and Daniel Sedin 38 points back, this is a very safe prediction unless the labour strife does eat the entire season.
It will be however a watershed moment for the twins who have been Vancouver Canucks seemingly forever and will finally take their place in history as the undisputed greatest Canucks of all-time.
The evolution of the Sedins over their 11 seasons has been remarkable to watch. They simply get better with age, building on every season to produce a year greater than the last (although neither won an Art Ross last year so maybe they’re starting to slack).
The only question now is if 33 and 22 go up to the rafters separately or as a package deal.
Whatever you think of Brian Burke, his moves to land the Sedins on draft day ’99 were perhaps the most critical transactions in franchise history, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
3. The Canucks will cruise to another Northwest crown
There’s been a lot of hype in the Northwest Division this summer. Ryan Suter and Zac Parise decided to bro-down in Minnesota, while the Oilers added two more key young pieces in Justin Schultz (traitor) and Nail Yakupov.
The Avalanche re-tooled by signing P.A. Parenteau and naming Gabriel Landeskog the youngest captain in league history and are a lurking bubbling pot of young talent.
The Flames….well who cares frankly. Just label them ‘mostly harmless’.
But none of those teams will touch the Canucks this year.
- Here is why!
- For every other club in the division, just reaching the playoffs would be a success.
- The Canucks still exist another level or two above as cup contenders.
- The Oilers will be a danger very very soon but not this year.
- The Wild will be better but the additions of Suter and Parise won’t make up the 30 point difference between the Canucks and Wild this year.
- It will be a tougher division but if the Canucks don’t finish on top the wounds will be probably be self-inflicted rather than from a burgeoning rival.
4. The Canucks will trade for a centre
Jordan Schroeder could be a solution if he can make the leap to the NHL, but the diminutive offensively-minded centre doesn’t fit the mounting evidence we’ve seen of what Alain Vigneault wants from his bottom six centres.
Gillis, being the proactive GM he is, is certainly aware of this and is working towards a solution.
Considering the glut of talented wingers the Canucks possess let’s go ahead and drive Mason Raymond to the airport right now.
Wasn’t that easy?
5. The Canucks will win the cup
Hey I said fearless right?