*Sigh* - Rich Lam
There was a point not very long ago where I didn't think I would be able to write this. Somehow the NHL and NHLPA managed to get this deal done and end the 3rd lockout of Gary Bettman's tenure. The Brunch looks at how to detox after this bitter pill they forced us to swallow, and why it's okay to be excited again. Think about it: in less than one week, this column will be previewing an actual game!
'Heartfelt' apologies aside, it really is damn good to be back writing about hockey again. Yes there's been other forms of hockey going on out there, and if the lockout made you follow them a little closer, that's great! At the end of the day though, the great majority of us have been waiting for NHL hockey, waiting for our teams to take the ice. And with the MOU signed as of last night, free agent signings and trades can now be made. And that's where the elation of having the game we love so much turns to ashes in our mouth.
It's definitely a problem other teams would love to have, despite what some uninformed fans would tell you. The fact that we're in a situation here in Canuckville to see our team trade away a goalie like Roberto Luongo and it has nothing to do with a rebuild or dire financial straights is a sign of how strong the team is. It does not make it any easier to swallow however. And despite the lunacy of last year, when so many Canucks fans brought out the knives for Lu in their bitterness over the loss to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, he has handled the situation with class, dignity and quite frankly the best athlete-run Twitter account there is. I do not want him to go. Even if they ran with 2 goalies in the manic sprint that will be this 48 game season, I would love to see Lu and Cory Schneider split the duties. It's not gonna happen. Lu will likely be heading to Toronto. Or maybe Philadelphia.
And the goaltending situation is far from the only unknown for the Canucks as they open training camp today. There's a handful of Chicago Wolves who will be getting a shot at cracking the lineup, and some injuries to key players, most notably Ryan Kesler, who in the best case scenario is at least a couple months away from returning. We will also be paying attention to players who underwhelmed us last year: David Booth, Mason Raymond and Manny Malhotra up front, Alexander Edler and Keith Ballard on the back end. Will Zack Kassian show us more of the potential that the Canucks see in him? Is Jason Garrison that missing link on D that we've been looking for?
The Luongo trade is going to have an impact on all of this because of what pieces will be coming back. There are some prospects on the Leafs that would look damn good in Blue and Green, and if the Flyers are truly involved, one wonders what they'd be willing to give up to give themselves an actual goaltender. We could be hours away from finding out, and it's exciting to say the least, even if some of us would rather it didn't happen.
There's already lots of interesting stuff happening around the league as camps open, most notably Montreal GM (and one-time Canuck) Marc Bergevin putting a comical first stamp on his tenure by telling Scott Gomez to go home for the season. The Habs will be buying out Gomez's $7.3 Million cap hit in the summer in the biggest non-shock of the season so far. Restricted free agent and good Victoria, BC boy Jamie Benn is not at the Dallas Stars camp today. Ahem, Mike Gillis. Get on that, please. The Los Angeles Kings sent Kevin Westgarth to Carolina for Anthony Stewart and picks. Michael Del Zotto resigned with the Rangers on a 2 year $5.1 Million deal.
The news will be coming fast and furious this week, so make sure you keep an eye on the training camp story stream for all the latest updates. Finally, I just want to say how happy we are to be back bringing you Canucks hockey insight and discussion again this season. We have an amazing community of fans from around the globe, and dammit we have missed this. I can't wait for Saturday!
Kickass Metal Tune Of The Day: NUCLEAR TORMENT- 8 Bit Death
Old-school Swedish thrash metal songs about possessed Nintendo consoles? Yes please! Snagged this album recently and there's a butt-load of crunchy thrash goodness to be found here, and the NES fans out there will love the references found in this track.
Oh, and before I forget... GO SEAHAWKS!!!