In case you are maudlin over the Malhotra news, its good to be reminded of the words of the Canucks team resident sage, Kevin Bieksa.
After a good day between games ""I just beat half the forwards out there on faceoffs after practice."and my personal fave from a few years ago, "Roberto`s a goalie, Markus is a winger." ( in fact, check out this list the guys at Canucks,com message boards put together and try not to smile...) - on the difference between Luongo and Naslund as Captains. Its good to have a little perspective. I am positive that Manny Malhotra will be a wonderful member of the team no matter what his role is. As hard as this must be for the highly respected man, there is still many positive contributions he can and will make.
One thing I have always been proud of as a Canucks fan is that there are "good people" on the team as a rule. Sure, Burr and Lappy make some silly list ( a bit of negativity from me here, of all the sports Sports Illustrated does well, hockey is one they simply do not. Its like they troll the sport as an editorial rule! ) of the "most hated" players, but thats just window dressing. Myself, I enjoy cheering for a team that makes your hockey talent an important aspect of your future employment, but not the only aspect.
There is simply no more perfect example of that than the captain and his brother. Through the early years after they were drafted ( thank you Brian Burke ), both men endured slings and arrows that would have had lesser beings begging for a trade out of town. Both had talked of going back to Sweden in those early years. We are very happy that Trevor Linden and others supported them and made that just a thought. Because they have grown into two of the most respected players in the NHL.
There are many moments I could go to here as an example of Sedinery, but this one seems right. How loud was the Rog' for this moment as well...
Speaking of highly respected, in honour of the fact that Henrik Sedin will soon be the leading scorer for the Vancouver Canucks, don't be surprised if there are more than a few mentions of the current captain in the numbers below.
0.0 is what comes up when you look up Henrik's shooting percentage right now. He is not alone in that statistical number in the NHL. Its just what comes up when you have not twinkled the twine yet. But fret not. In eleven seasons previous, Hank has only shot below 10% three times. Two of those seasons were on his first three seasons, when he show 9.2% in his rookie season and just missed at 9.9% in his third. He scored 9 and 16 goals respectively those last two years. The Captain has a career 12.8%, which is certainly respectable ( for a comparison, there are 24 pages and 692 positions on the NHL.com stats list for shooting % this year. Henrik's career % number is on page six. ) .
1,339 - Over the eleven and a bit seasons for the soon to be scoring leader, thats how many shots he took to score 171 goals. From a high in that magical '10 season of 29 goals on 166 shots ( he shot 17.5% that year ), I have kind of always wondered why people say he can't score, dismissing it as he piles up all those assists "because his brother got the scoring hands and he got the passing ones". Of course he can. Maybe he does not have Kesler's wrister, but then again, few do. That 1,339 puts the 3rd overall pick in 1999 at 9th on the team all time list of attempts to score ( 24 behind Don Lever, and an even 50 over Todd Bertuzzi ) , a list his brother is 2nd on at 2,254 shots ( to score 282 goals ). According to Canucks.com, that makes Daniel Sedin's career number 12.5%. Imagine that. Henrik will score, there will be an empty netter here, a couple off the foot there, and those hands that are so magic at servicing his teammate's success will service his own as well.
17 - There is no special credence or meaning to this one. I am just happy Ryan Kesler may ( or may not, we'll find out when they hit the ice tomorrow ) be playing his first game in a while against Dallas.
65.3 - Is Manny Malhotra's face off percentage that will no longer be in the Canuck lineup this year, at the least. That leads the NHL. Manny has won 64 draws, and lost 34. Compare that to the NHL leader in face off wins, Claude Giroux (197 ), who wins 57.1% of his draws, or Toews, who is 4th on that list with 163 wins, and an impressive 60.1%. That is not to belittle the contribution of one of my favorite people on the team. I am sure about 95 of those draws were in the defensive end. With the team currently 16th in the league at 49.6%, taking away your best guy on the draw is never a good thing. But when your next best ( and a guy that takes a lot more draws traditionally ) is coming back, that helps. Besides, while the numbers are starting to make sense, these rankings and ratings are based on most teams having played 12-13-14 games so far. ( There are going to be a lot of comparisons, ratings and judging of any random player that will be off, weird, or incomplete this year. Whether you compare a stat to this year from last year, or next year looking back, there is one integral difference to remember in all of that as we go forward. 48 games is not 82 games. ) Suffice it to say the Canucks lost a great guy that is still one of the best in the NHL on the draw.
1.45 - This is the leading GAA in the NHL right now. It is the number of one Roberto Luongo. Now, the rule is, I think, 6 starts minimum, and Luongo has 7 as the games played number for the now admitted @strombone1 . For comparison, Friday's starter is 15th overall in GAA at 2.36. That is also impressive when you factor in the five goals in the home opener. Both are reasons why the Canucks are tied with Chicago in 3rd overall at only 1.92 GA a game. Only Nashville at 1.64, and Ottawa at 1.86 goals against per game are better than, right now, the two best teams in the Western Conference. Oh yeah, and Luongo is only .006 behind Craig Anderson's league leading .949 save % in second, and Cory Schneider has rebounded to now sit 12th at .921. I think what we are saying is that the Canucks are really solid in goal.
These Olde Guys Were Good
1 - Way way before Luongo donned this goaltender's number ( has anyone not in net EVER worn the #1? ), one of my favorite goaltenders of the 70's was Gary "Suitcase" Smith. As a kid, you like players for different reasons, and with Suitcase, it was simply that huge head of curly hair atop this huge goalie filling the net. He has such style, both on and off the ice. Check some of the stories here on video. Or here for some insight on his love of horses. His best season in Vancouver was when he led them to a division title in 1974-75, going 32-24-9 ( thats ties for you kids ) with a 3.09 ( bygone era kids, that was actually pretty good! ) with 6 shutouts. That was excellent for that era. In fact, it was so good that after Suitcase finished a measly 5th in Hart Trophy balloting, the eventual winner Bobby Clarke spent a good portion of his speech saying why "Gary Smith should have won this".
One of my favorite stories about Suitcase is one I could not find video of, but have heard several times over the years on the radio and paper. It seems that with his love of horses, while at a party at his owner's house, he compared the man's daughter's appearance unfavorably to one of the horses he and a few teammates owned. Unfortunately for Gary, it was to the wrong person. Even though he was a star and a great goalie that was helping the team, he was gone soon after.
There have been a ton of characters on this team over the years, but Suitcase may be close to the top of the list. The man once, as a member of the Golden Seals, took off and tried to skate the puck up ice to try and score. ( detailed by Jim Robson in the video linked above ) In addition to some of the exploits on and off the ice, there was just something about the larger than life persona that won me over as a kid. Here's some ( and part 2 here , sorry if some of the dated video is crappy ) wonderful video of the Canucks versus the Hawks in 1974-75. For all you kids loitering around my lawn that think the teams only recently became rivals.
He was definitely a character, and a damn fine goaltender as well.
In the end, while I disagree a bit with Mr Wolf, in that I think a "character" can still have character, I leave you with some gold from Pulp Fiction...
The Wolf: You see that, young lady? Respect. Respect for one's elders gives character.
Raquel: I have character.
The Wolf: Just because you are a character doesn't mean that you have character.