The long summer is over at last, the Canucks are GMMG free, and the Tortorella experiment is nothing more than a bad memory we can now put behind us. And while there's a long road back to respectability for the Vancouver Canucks, it's reasonable to expect them to at least be more entertaining than the abomination that Torts and crew iced last year.
For the fans, it's a chance to see the progress of some previous draft picks as well as our first look at the most recent ones is game situations. For GM Jim Benning and new head coach Willie Desjardins, it allows them to see which of the kids can be sent on to their junior/college/minor pro camps and which ones can get another look at the main camp. I'm looking forward to seeing Hunter Shinkaruk and Bo Horvat light it up, as well as our first look at Dane Fox.
Unfortunately, at least one player's tournament is already over before it began, as 1st round pick Jared McCann has been sent home by team doctors, diagnosed with mononucleosis. While he's been skating with the team, Cole Cassels, who had his own bout of mono over the summer, won't be cleared for contact during the tournament. We also won't see Jake Virtanen, still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
One thing you notice about this year's lineup, is a definite Western Hockey League presence, with 9 WHL'ers on the roster, including goaltenders Austin Lotz (Everett) and Jackson Whistle (Kelowna), both invitees to the tournament by the Canucks as are Josh Thrower (Calgary), Matt Revel and Matthieu Bellerive (Kamloops), Klarc Wilson (Prince George) and Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat).
For the Oilers, Darnell Nurse and the 4th overall pick from the 2014 draft, Leon Draisaitl will be putting on Oilers jerseys for the first time. The Oilers will have 4 goaltenders with them at the tournament, whereas the Canucks are just rolling with Lotz & Whistle. The game goes tonight at 7:30 on CDC and TSN1040 (boy that's still weird to type, isn't it?). We should get our first taste of new Canucks play by play guy Jon Abbott, who replaces Rick Ball on the radio after Ball left for Calgary.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
The only good thing to come out of St Louis since the almighty Anacrusis, weed and beer addled thrashbastards Cross Examination are back with a brand new EP. You can listen to the whole thing hereWhile it's not the real thing per se, the annual Young Stars tournament in Penticton is the sign that we can latch onto and breathe that collective sigh of relief knowing that hockey's back. Tonight we get a look at some of the future Canucks as they take on the Oilers hopefuls., but in the meantime, here's the title track for 'Dawn Of The Dude'