What a week, eh? 3 of the worst games I've ever had the misfortune as a Canucks fan to sit through. From the ridiculous 'moral victory' in Los Angeles, to Paul Devorski's Tour De Farce in Anaheim, to Martin Hanzel's free pass the next night in Glendale, this was a week that should have you seething with rage. Seething at this team for doing one thing consistently all month: let down good goaltending performances. Seething at GM Mike Gillis for putting together a team that cannot even come close to handling the one true issue that anyone with even a passing interest could identify as the key to success: being able to ice a team that can beat the Legion Of Scum down in California. Seething that officiating in the NHL has become such a joke that we simply accept guys like Paul Devorski Auger'ing their way through games, and making it the fault of the team they're clearly punishing, instead of decrying the lack of fair, impartial officiating that is needed to make the game function. And seething at the Department of 'Player Safety' for once again proving itself to be hypocritical in it's rulings.
I've not been writing much, the dark clouds of depression swirling around me yet again, and I am quite sure part of it is because of the sheer frustration of being a fan of this team in general and the state of hockey in particular. I am well aware of the fact that there are ebbs and flows in the success of teams. I had no delusions about this team's chances heading into this year. And when they were playing well, it looked as though maybe they would be alright. What this week has proven, is that unless Mike Gillis makes an actual 'bold move' or three, this team starts playing the kind of defence we've been led to believe they actually are capable of, and the team's goal scorers actually score, they're not going anywhere.
Between bad luck and blatant attempts to injure, this team is in worse shape than the one that hobbled into the finals against the Bruins in 2011. Injuries happen to every team. But it's who you lose and what they do that is the real determining factor on how it affects your team. Look at the possible list for scratches tonight due to injury: Henrik Sedin (bruised ribs), David Booth (facial laceration), Mike Santorelli (sprained right shoulder), G Roberto Luongo (ankle), Andrew Alberts (head), D Ryan Stanton (high left ankle sprain), F Alex Burrows (broken jaw) and Jordan Schroeder (sprained ankle). We MIGHT see Burrows and the Canucks' iron man Hank tonight. Might. Some teams can deal with these kinds of injuries. It's becoming clear that the Canucks simply cannot, and that blame falls on the shoulders of Gillis. For a while it looked like the Canucks had their depth issues addressed. Problem was, we didn't really realize how bad it was til we had to call on that depth.
The Booth injury stands out for sure. Now, we are all well versed on the enigmatic Booth, but the real issue here is how the league's Department of Player Safety once again served up a double standard. When you look at the play, Hanzel pretty blatantly cross checks an unsuspecting David Booth in the head. Booth has suffered a facial laceration, yet Hanzel only received a 2 minute minor on the play. And for all the talk about removing hits that target the head out of the game, Brendan Shanahan slaps a fine and no suspension on a hit that was quite clearly served up on a platter by a player with a reputation for dirty play. Incompetence is becoming an unacceptable way to write off these types of decisions, in a month where we've seen players going out of their way to injure Canucks with what appears to be the consent of on ice officials.
And let's not forget the hypocritical hand-wringing of those outside this market, wagging their fingers at a Canucks team doing what every team in the NHL does when it's players are the victims of these types of incidents. A couple years ago, the Canucks were chastised for being weak, passive and simply unable to compete against thugs like the Bruins, who used the playoff officiating standard to pummel the Canucks in that 7 game series. Now that the Canucks have a team that appeared to be ready to stand up to this kind of nonsense, there has been so much hypocritical garbage written about the Canucks being dirty, it's laughable. Then again, when you consider the double standards that the hockey media apply to this team, it should hardly come as a shock. On paper, on the net or on the ice, the Canucks are always in the wrong, and if they're the victims of something, it's clearly their own fault for bringing it upon themselves.
Not that the state of the Nation's hockey program is any better. Feeling good about Canada's chances in Sochi? I'm not. While there's a decent team put together, it just feels like they've put together a team that mirrors what's been happening with the junior program: trying to put together a team using role players and taking chemistry into play rather than doing what other countries do and ice their best players in a short tournament where a single loss can destroy your chances at success. The junior program was once a source of great national pride, now it seems like they mirror the Canucks approach to the game: Look good and come through the round robin great. but when the pressure is on in the games that matter, they are simply not good enough. Each year we see a handful of players we wonder why they were cut, or not even selected. And with each passing year Canada comes up short in a tournament where the goal is Gold, every year, it makes me wonder why exactly the people entrusted to run this program continue to be rewarded for failure. Canada is being passed by other countries in developing skilled players, and it's frustrating because it smacks of the willful ignorance that almost saw Canada lose the 72 Summit series. They refused to believe the Soviets were in the same league as them, and it nearly cost them. These countries don't just run their programs to produce good hockey players, they train them to be able to beat teams like Canada at their own game. Sounds familiar, right? Teams in the West have been slapped together with being able to beat the Canucks in mind. And the fact that the Canucks, and Hockey Canada continue to keep their heads in the sand it would seem is why I feel there's so little to celebrate today.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
With the Canucks taking on the Flames tonight, we turn to a Calgary band for today's KMTOTD. Kataplexis are a grind-tinged technical death metal band that have been ripping this country a new one for a few years now, and their hard work has paid off as the band recently signed a deal with Quebec's Galy Records (one of my favorite labels for showcasing awesome Canadian metal). And their drummer Dave Callahan is a HUGE Canucklehead, not to mention a good friend of Laurie and I. From their new album 'Downpour', this is Nobody Lives Here Now.