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Canucks eulogy: a series of unfortunate events

March 31, 2014
Disappointed Canucks look on as they suffer a 5-1 defeat against the Anaheim Ducks on Mar. 29 (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Disappointed Canucks look on as they suffer a 5-1 defeat against the Anaheim Ducks on Mar. 29 (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks have a 0.5 per cent chance of making the playoffs, but most fans are looking at missing the playoffs as a series of unfortunate events that happened the entire season.

Since losing to the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs last season, the Canucks made Vancouver wonder what was going to happen to the goaltending tandem of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, arguably the best one-two punch in goalies the past several years.

Luongo was disgruntled and wanted out, even saying “my contract sucks,” last season. Schneider just wanted to play.

At the NHL Entry Draft in June, Schneider was traded to the New Jersey Devils, leaving the disappointed Luongo in Vancouver.

A new season began, and there were some highs. The Canucks started the season with nine wins in October. Luongo wanted to prove that he’s still a professional, and also wanted a spot in the Canadian Olympic team in February.

In November, the Canucks began to struggle, at one point losing eight in 10 games. Their stars can’t score, and that became one of the ongoing themes this season.

December was the one bright spot for the Canucks this season, as they won seven straight games to start the month. The highlight of the month was thrashing the hated Boston Bruins 6-2 at home.

However, since January, the Canucks just couldn’t find their stride, losing game after game, frustrating Canucks fans left and right.

On Jan. 15, they lost to the Anaheim Ducks 9-1 at home, one of the worst losses in Canucks history.

From a respectable seventh place in December, the Canucks dropped out to 10th by March.

 After Luongo was benched for the Heritage Classic, he was extremely disappointed. That was also the last game fans saw him in a Canucks uniform. He was then traded to the Florida Panthers on Mar. 4, two days after the game.

From two of the top 10 goalies in the NHL, the Canucks now have two goalies that have played fewer than 100 NHL career games.

In return for two world-class goaltenders, the Canucks received a promising player, a goalie who may have potential to succeed, and a third-line centre.

Their playoff hopes continued to drift away.

“Are we going to get in? It’s very slim, and we’ve known that,” said Canucks head coach John Tortorella in a press conference yesterday. “But it still doesn’t stop you from working at your business, with your team.”

Well, at least the Canucks are still giving it their all, and that’s the message you want to send to the kids, right?

Profile: I love Vancouver – Mike Santorelli

February 28, 2014
Mike Santorelli (VAN) - Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Vancouver Canucks

Mike Santorelli (VAN) – Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks’ Mike Santorelli was on pace for having his best season in his NHL career until he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, ending his season. 

In an interview with Santorelli, he explained playing in his hometown was his dream.

“I love Vancouver,” said Santorelli. “I think every kid dreams of getting a chance one day to possibly play for the Canucks.”

Growing up in Burnaby, Santorelli was a Canucks fan, and looked up to Pavel Bure and Markus Naslund.

However, in his long road to the NHL, he experienced disappointments, to the point where giving up hockey was an option.

“I think in Bantam, minor hockey,” he said. “My first year Bantam was such a big year. You have the WHL draft and I didn’t make the ‘A’ team. I actually got cut, and I didn’t get drafted. So I was in the crossroads there and I had to make a decision if I really wanted to do this or not.”

His journey didn’t end, as the Nashville Predators drafted Santorelli in the 6th round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

“I just realize that I needed to start putting in the time and sacrificing things if I wanted to succeed.”

After a couple of seasons with Nashville’s affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, he made his NHL debut on January 8, 2009. After being picked up by the Florida Panthers, he had his best season as a pro, scoring 20 goals with 41 points in 2011.

“You learn so much each and every year, each and every day,” said Santorelli of his career path. “My mindset is to keep improving, keep getting better. You can never be satisfied. You always got to keep working.”

Back in Vancouver, fans believe he’s doing a good job as an extra offensive presence for the Canucks. One fan believes playing for his hometown helps with his play.

Mike Santorelli (VAN) - Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Vancouver Canucks

Mike Santorelli (VAN) – Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Vancouver Canucks

“It helps having friends and family from when he was younger,” said Tristen Birch, a political science student at Langara College. “Not only do they cheer for their favourite team being the Canucks, but they’ve got their favourite player there too. That’s got to be a big mental boost for him.”

What’s life after hockey for Santorelli?

“[Hockey] pretty much takes the majority of my time,” said Santorelli with a smile. “But real estate. The real estate side of Vancouver kind of intrigues me.”

Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Last season is not a disappointment

December 23, 2013
Camilo (VAN) with a goal against Portland Timbers - (Ben Frid - Vancouver Whitecaps)

Camilo (VAN) with a goal against Portland Timbers – (Ben Frid – Vancouver Whitecaps)

The Vancouver Whitecaps finished last season missing the playoffs. For most fans, that may be considered a disappointment, as just a season ago, the Whitecaps were a goal away making it to the semi-finals. However, there were plenty of positives to take away from this season.

Watching the goal-scoring race this year was a thrill. Whitecaps’ striker Camilo Sanvezzo won the Golden Boot, leading the league in goals, scoring 22 goals in 32 games. What made it even better was heading into the last game of the season, he was still two goals away from the lead. By scoring a hat trick, he was the sole leader, and doing it at home made it special. This man also won Goal of the Year with this spectacular goal.

The Whitecaps didn’t go trophy-less either. Winning the Cascadia Cup is a big deal in the northwest. Especially when the team has to face teams like Portland and Seattle, it’s tough competition.

The Vancouver Whitecaps were also the home of Y.P. Lee’s last year. The decorated Korean is internationally known, being one of the best Korean soccer players Korea’s ever produced. It was a great sendoff by Vancouver fans and players, and Camilo dedicated his last couple of goals to the defender.

Ups and downs are a routine in the sports industry. You can’t avoid losses, so when Vancouver Whitecaps fired their head coach after the season, fans thought it was a relief, but in truth, was former head coach Martin Rennie at fault to the point where he had to get axed?

Let’s be clear, all teams in the MLS were a lot better this year compared to last year. The Whitecaps won the most games in their young history, winning 13 games in 34 games, scoring 48 points. The Whitecaps only won 11 games last season but still qualified for the playoffs with 43 points. With a five-point improvement, you can’t say the Whitecaps suck. They were just… unlucky?

With the season a couple of months away, and a new coach in promoting from within (Hi Carl Robinson!), maybe a fresh start is what the Whitecaps need. Robinson has his connections with the European clubs, so possibly, he may even bring in a designated player or two. He is coming from the organization, so the player are already comfortable with him. His lack of experience as a manager may hurt, but as fans, just wish him all the best. We all know even coaches with experience can struggle with a new club. Just look at Manchester United…

Canucks… Please score!

November 25, 2013
Brad Richardson (VAN) tries to jam the puck by goalie Kari Lehtonen (DAL) - (AP Photo/Canadian Press - Jonathan Hayward)

Brad Richardson (VAN) tries to jam the puck by goalie Kari Lehtonen (DAL) – (AP Photo/Canadian Press – Jonathan Hayward)

The Vancouver Canucks are struggling to hit their stride, and scoring goals seems to be the problem.

Their out-of-the-blue win on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets notwithstanding, the Canucks have only been able to score seven goals in six games since their impressive 4-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 7.

The Canucks can’t score, and it’s on paper. It’s frustrating for the players and it’s frustrating for the fans. The line combinations don’t seem to work, to the point where last Thursday, head coach John Tortorella admitted that he’s just “throwing it at the wall here a little bit and we’ll see what sticks. I’m being honest with you.”

Hang on. Does Tortorella not know what he’s doing? Well, it seemed to work, since after that practice the Canucks were able to score six goals against the Blue Jackets Friday. Too bad they followed it up with another disappointing game on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Captain Henrik Sedin started the season on fire, scoring 20 points in 17 games. Since then, he has scored only four points over the course of eight games.

His twin brother Daniel hasn’t been much help either, at one point, going six games without a point, his longest pointless drought in 10 years.

The Canucks’ other star player, Ryan Kesler, was supposed to be the sniper of the team. For a while, Kesler was scoring goals at will, with five goals in four games during the end of the eastern road-trip late October. Before Chicago’s game on Saturday, he hadn’t scored any goals in seven games.

There is a bright spot for the Canucks – goaltender Roberto Luongo’s play in net is keeping the Canucks close each game. His statistics shows he’s more than capable of winning games. Now if only the Canucks could score more goals…

With November coming to an end, people may say it’s too early to talk about playoffs. But is it? If the playoffs were to start today, the Canucks wouldn’t be playing. And if they continue to lose at this rate, it will translate into a disappointing season for your Vancouver Canucks.

Trouble – Is Manchester United in deep waters?

October 1, 2013
David Moyes (MU) - (AFP)

David Moyes (MU) – (AFP)

Manchester United fans are having the same feeling Liverpool fans felt last year when Liverpool had a poor start to the 12/13 season. Even the jokes are the same. “Where is Man U in the table? I can’t see it on my phone… oh 12th? Bottom of the table I see.”

Yes Man Utd fans, your beloved Reds are closer to the relegation zone than in top four contention. They are currently experiencing their worst start in 20 years. Who is to blame?

When the great Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement last December, every fan in the football world was wondering who would be the successor? Jose Mourinho’s name came up multiple times. Pep Guardiola was rumoured as well until he took the job in Bayern Munich. David Moyes was soon anointed as “The Chosen One” by media and fans. His success at Everton was seen when they were consistently in the top half of the table. Man Utd had high hopes, signing him to a six year contract.

Then came the summer, when the transfer windows open. He managed to get Wayne Rooney to stay at Old Trafford, even after countless rumours saying Rooney handed in a transfer request after their bust-up in Everton nine years ago. But the big names aren’t coming in. Every team in Europe had at least one major signing this summer, especially the teams in contention for top four in the Premier League.

Chelsea: Willian (Anzhi Makhachkala, £30m), André Schürrle (Bayer Leverkusen, £18m), Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse Arnhem, £9m), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham, Free),  Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi Makhachkala, Free), Jack Powell (West Ham, Free)

Arsenal: Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid, £42m), Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre, Free), Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan, Free),

Liverpool: Mamadou Sakho (Paris St-Germain, £18m), , Simon Mignolet (Sunderland, £9m), Kolo Touré (Manchester City, Free), Aly Cissokho (Valencia, Loan), Victor Moses (Chelsea, loan)

Manchester City: Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk, £30m), Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina, £22m), Jésus Navas (Seville, £17m rising to £22.9m), Alvaro Negredo (Seville, £16.4m rising to £20.6m), Martin Demichelis (Atletico Madrid, £3.5m)

Tottenham Hotspurs: Erik Lamela (Roma, £30m), Roberto Soldado (Valencia, £26m), Paulinho (Corinthians, £17m), Christian Eriksen (Ajaz, £11.5m), Vlad Chiriches (Steaua Bucharest, £8.5m), Nacer Chadli (FC Twente, £7m), Étienne Capoue (Toulouse, £9m)

Now let’s look at Manchester United’s transfer window.

Manchester United: Marouane Fellaini (Everton, £27.5m), Guillermo Varela (Penarol, £2.4m)

Disagree all you want, Manchester United got a good player in Fellaini (even though they could have gotten him £4m cheaper had they bought him earlier). He’s gritty, he’s a beast in the air, and he’s entering his prime at only 25 years old. But it looks like Moyes only made one signing the entire two months the transfer window was opened for. Varela was basically a Ferguson signing, as they agreed to terms before the transfer window.

Shinji Kagawa (MU) continues to sit out

Shinji Kagawa (MU) continues to sit out

The problem with Moyes is that he was too comfortable with his 4-4-2 style in Everton. He was successful with his crosses and had strikers head the ball in. A long ball from the midfield or Leighton Baines, and a Fellaini or Jelavić header is how Moyes like to play. Unfortunately, once he go to Manchester United, he is given a squad full of skilled players. Nani loves dribbling down the flank before cutting in to the middle and drive a shot towards goal. Shinji Kagawa is a creative midfielder that plays just behind the forwards. Moyes have never been given the luxury to use these players in Everton, hence the struggle to start the two players.

On Saturday, when Manchester United lost their third game of the season at home to West Brom, many fans were screaming for a Moyes exit.

Give it some time Manchester United fans. Moyes is still getting used to the system. Expect them to lose a couple of more games this year, and pray Moyes will get his team figured out by Christmas.

Football’s Back!

September 19, 2013

Forgive me please! I know I’m two weeks late, but going through an internship along with school does that to you.

Regardless, after a summer being bored from Food Network and the occasional baseball highlight, I’m pleased to say FOOTBALLS BACK!

(I’m here to say a small preview of what teams I have going to the playoffs and to the Super Bowl in 2014)

Favourites

AFC

Peyton Manning (DEN)

Peyton Manning (DEN)

Denver Broncos

If you have Peyton Manning as your quarterback, you’ll be fine offensively. Add in the summer signing of Wes Welker to the receiving core that already has Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Andre Caldwell, and Jacob Tamme, that’s a lot of weapons Peyton can throw to. For defense, they may have lost Elvis Dumervil to Baltimore, but they still have Von Miller and Champ Bailey. Add in a Dominique Rogers-Cromartie to man the corners, that’s a well-rounded defensive core.

Houston Texans

Arian Foster was the best running back in the league just two years ago. (Adrian Peterson was also injured… but regardless…) Andre Johnson is top five Wide Receiver in the NFL. And their defence is one of the best in the league. J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing leads Houston in the sacks category, and by signing veteran Ed Reed from Baltimore, they found a safety that only improves their already stacked defence.

New England Patriots

Tom Brady may be the classiest man in the NFL, but he also has a bullet of an arm. Bill Belichick has led the Patriots to the playoffs for four straight years. They lost a lot of targets for Brady to throw to, as Wes Welker went to Manning and the Broncos, Rob Gronkowski is always injured, and Aaron Hernandez… well… is in jail. But Brady will find himself new targets, and they’ll still be a threat in the AFC.

NFC

Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson is now one of the underrated quarterbacks in the league. The sophomore QB can somehow make things happen out of nothing. Add in the beast in Marshawn Lynch. Their offence is solid.
Let me remind you what happens when Marshawn Lynch turns his “Beast Mode” on…

Oh, and their defence is probably the best in the league. Having Richard Sherman picking off passes from opposing QBs can only benefit Seattle.

San Francisco 49ers

Colin Kaepernick was the story of last season. The backup who stole the job from then-starter Alex Smith led the 49ers to the Super Bowl before bowing down to Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. Their defence is again solid with Patrick Willis leading the charge. Don’t be surprised if they go far in the playoffs once again.

Anthony Dixon (SF) dives for a touchdown - (Harry How - Getty Images)

Anthony Dixon (SF) dives for a touchdown – (Harry How – Getty Images)

New Orleans Saints

Coach Sean Payton is back! After a year suspended for a bounty scandal, he will lead the Saints to victory. Drew Brees is arguably the best quarterback in the league, as he has thrown seven straight seasons over 4000+ yards. It doesn’t matter if the Saints’ defence is mediocre. They just need to outscore you to win.

Darkhorse

AFC

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck showed signs that Peyton Manning will soon be forgotten in Indianapolis last season. What was expected to be a horrible season last year turned into a playoff contending team. Led by the ever-so-inspiring Chuck Pagano, the coach who battled cancer, is ready to lead the Colts back to the playoffs again this season. (UPDATE: Colts just traded for Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns. That means they have both a passing game AND a running game!)

NFC

Philadelphia Eagles

Bash me all you want! I’m a believer of the Eagles sick, sick offence. New coach Chip Kelly had one of the best offences in NCAA with the Oregon Ducks, and proved that it can work in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins. Michael Vick seems to have found his groove again, and DeSean Jackson seems to be less cocky after a less productive season last year. LeSean McCoy is proving he is a top-5 running back in the league, so that offence is extremely fun to watch. Defence-wise… well, they can outscore you!

Predictions

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks

I love how Manning uses his receivers. Adding Welker in the already deep receiving core is a plus. Seattle has defence many teams are jealous by. Russell Wilson needs to prove that he’s worth to be an “elite” quaterback to get there, but I think they will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JKL

Where in the World did Anthony Bennett come from to be Drafted 1st Overall?

June 28, 2013
Anthony Bennett (CLE) - (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Craig Ruttle)

Anthony Bennett (CLE) – (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Craig Ruttle)

If you don’t know by now, Anthony Bennett from Toronto, ON, and not Andrew Wiggins, became the first ever Canadian to be drafted 1st overall in a NBA Entry Draft. The UNLV star jumped over projected number 1 Nerlens Noel from Kentucky to get the first overall pick title.

But now this is puzzling. I know this year’s draft could be one of the weakest in recent years. But Cleveland right now has a defensive minded coach in Mike Brown. Anderson Varejão has only one year left in his contract, and is most likely asking for a hefty raise after what he did last season before he got injured with a blood clot in his lung. He was leading the league with 14.4 rebounds per game prior to his injury. The Cavs could have used Nerlens Noel, a lanky but defensive minded center that can both block and steal. Heck, they could have even used Alex Len, a solid center from Maryland that can put up a double-double every game if he was given the workload. If Cleveland didn’t choose a center, fine! They still have Varejão in the middle, and can hope Dan Gilbert can convince him to stay long term if he doesn’t get injured again.  

Let’s take a look at the Cavs starting line-up to see what their need was…

At point, they have one of the most exciting players in the NBA. Kyrie irving is going to be a superstar. He’s one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, and dribble like a streetballer in an And1 mixtape. Oh and he’s Uncle Drew.  Just take a look and you’ll see why…

Shooting guard they have Dion Walters. 4th pick of last year draft, and was quite effective, averaging 14.7 ppg in his rookie year. He’s showing some potential to be a great shooter in the league.

Small forward  is where they are weak. Tristan Thompson is a power forward, not a small forward. Alonzo Gee is not a starter. He can come on and log on some minutes, but he can’t start.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a power forward in fellow Canadian Tristan Thompson. Thompson was drafted 2nd overall in the draft the previous year, and posted decent numbers, almost averaging a double-double in his first season.

At center, they have  Anderson Varejão who can work both PF and Center. Before shutting him down with the injury, he was a beast in the middle, and was considered to be the biggest trade bait before the trade deadline last season.

So does Anthony Bennett fit the Cavs at all? Honestly, I’ve seen Bennett play and he’s a solid basketball player. He can dunk, and has a shot. He’ll get a lot of fans on his side with his character and charisma. Bennett loves to have fun, and is even compared to Larry Johnson. But his position seems somewhat confusing. He seems to be too big to be a Small Forward, but he’s also too small to be a Power Forward. He’s more of a offensive player rather than a defensive one, and he’ll be playing under Mike Brown.

This is where I think Cleveland could’ve traded down and tried to get Otto Porter, the star SF from Georgetown. He can shoot, and was a great leader for Georgetown until they were upsetted by the Cinderella story of Florida Gulf Coast in March Madness 2013. Porter would have been a solid pick for Cleveland, and they could’ve gotten other assets had they traded down to get that pick.

If Cleveland winds up getting a Larry Johnson type player, I’m happy for them. Anthony Bennett is a great kid, and deserves lots of attention. He’ll get a lot of highlights on Sportscenter as he loves to show off. He’ll also get a lot of alley-oops from Uncle Drew as well. I’m proud to say I’m Canadian, and I’m happy a fellow Canadian was selected first overall in one of the biggest sports leagues in the world. But when this draft was compared to the 2006 NBA draft, a draft where it only produced three all-stars, you have to worry that Anthony Bennett MAY end up being a bust.

JKL

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