Tis the season to play hockey! Fa La La La La La La La…NOPE. Yes, much to our discontent, the NHL has yet to agree to a CBA with the players union that would get the games going again, and they seem to be farther and farther from a resolution with each day that passes. Having said that, we do have a lot to be excited for during this special time of year: long endless dinners with smelly relatives as well as the privilege of wrestling our ways through the metro town walkways searching for that perfectly returnable special something. But we often forget about one of winter’s greatest gifts, the tournament of dreams that stands resolute unlike any other of its kind. A frivolous collection of the world’s best young hockey players all amassed into one 11 day tournament for international junior hockey supremacy. That’s right folks; an NHL absence causes the eyes of the hockey world to turn unto the classic, unlike-any-other, tournament of stars, The World Junior Hockey Championship.
For those of you for whom to all hockey means is a couple of red headed twins and a riot, then allow me to shed a little light on one of the most dramatic and exciting tournaments in all of sport. Every year on Boxing Day a 10 team tournament opens featuring the best 16-19 year olds of the world’s top hockey nations that will last until January 5th of the New Year. The venue of this tournament changes every year much like that of the super bowl or grey cup with this year’s host being the Russian city of Ufa. But prior to the beginning of the tournament on Boxing Day, scouting and evaluation of potential players is done well in advance.
After Hockey Canada announces the coach of the team, the scouting and evaluation process begins instantaneously. With several pre-tournaments such as the summer’s Canada-Russia Challenge and the recently played Subway Super Series Hockey Canada extensively evaluates Canada’s top prospects to make the National Team come Christmas. Specific players are immediately earmarked as shoo-ins, while others are being looked at on a trial basis and some players not being noticed until a few weeks before the final cuts. A pre-mature idea can be given about the roster, however it is subject to spontaneous alteration.
Canada finished with a disappointing bronze medal at last year’s tournament, defeating Finland 4-0 in the bronze medal game. Mika Zibanejad, armed with one of hockey’s most tantalizing surnames, scored the overtime winner against Russia to win the Gold medal for Sweden by a score of 1-0. Although hard to take, Canada was not expected to place higher than third in the tournament.
But this year brings a new batch of fresh talent. A cornucopia of Canadian Junior hockey
players lies on the table of Team Canada’s selection board for this year’s tournament, complete with dynamic offensive ability as well as some of the best defensemen that junior hockey has to offer. Forwards include offensive machines Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Strome and Ty Rattie, with headlining defensemen such as Matt Dumba, Griffin Reinhart and Morgan Rielly. The names go on and on, full of potential heroes for Canada come the New Year. Canucks prospect Brendan Gaunce participated in the Subway Super Series as a member of team OHL and is projected to have a serious shot at making the national team.
With a lack of progress by the NHL, the World Junior Championship serves as a theoretical hockey stew for our starving hockey stomachs. Boxing Day brings more than great sales and endless lines; it puts to stage the hopes and dreams of the devoted and passionate. There is no guarantee that the players in this tournament will go on to play in the NHL one day, which just adds to the excitement and drama of the event. So on the night before Christmas when all through the house, you’re crying because of no hockey and complaining to the mouse, hang in there and just wait a couple more days, because hockey’s best rookies are headed your way.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!!!
By Matthew Inouye
NHL LOCKOUT 2012
You know the type. That hockey crazed friend of yours who lives and breathes the NHL and all things puck. That friend of yours who “pretends” to shake off wise remarks about there being no hockey this year while in the meantime goes home to poke pins into their Gary Bettman voodoo doll and cry over Canucks re-runs that take up 50% of their PVR. Yes, because of corporate greed and middle aged preschoolers, there will be no NHL hockey played this year until an agreement can be made. And at the moment, the negotiations between the owners and players have been going just about as smoothly as your dads chin at around five o’clock. As heartbreaking as is it for Vancouver hockey fans, including myself, there is still hope towards watching some decent stick this year, although you may need subtitles.
At 12:01 on the morning of September 16, 2012 the current CBA (collective bargaining agreement) between the NHL and the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players Association) expired, and thus, the League and its owners decided to “lockout” the players and refuse to allow them to play in any scheduled games for the NHL. Since then, there has been little communication between the two parties and contract talks have been few and far between. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has stated on numerous occasions that the two groups are quote “still far apart” from meeting an amicable agreement.
As bothersome as this lack of hockey is for us fans, it has an even bigger, and more obvious effect on the players themselves. Now many may scowl at the idea of people making six figures to be grumbling over a couple months of missed pay, but with reality and fairness in mind it is all relative. The players are getting shortchanged out of money they were promised and have decided to take action. So as a solution to this very unique financial conundrum many of the NHL superstars are packing their bags and heading east to play in various European hockey leagues.
Although the quality of play is significantly lower in these leagues, it is not that big of an issue for the ahem…“monetarily constrained” NHL superstars who have headed east for the winter, because let’s face it folks, Ferraris don’t gas up themselves. Some names headlining this eastern exodus attendance list include Rick Nash (7.8 million/year with New York), Alex Ovechkin (9.5 million/year with Washington), and Evgeni Malkin (8.7 million/year with Pittsburgh). Keepin mind that the average salary in the KHL is 0.658 million/year and the average NHL contract sits at about 2.2 million/year.
Even though many players are scrambling to safety in Europe, currently no Canucks have decided to uproot their families and head east. Some of the leagues to which North American players have flocked to are the Russian KHL (Kontinental Hockey League), the Swiss National League, and The Czech Extraliga. Rick Nash and Joe Thornton decided to take the Alps by storm and both signed to the same team in the Swiss National League, while Ovechkin signed with his hometown club Dynamo Moscow.
For the Russian players going to play in their home country during the lockout it is a way to reconnect with their easterly roots, re-capturing the soul and spirit of the big red machine, while simultaneously going from crazy rich, to even crazier rich. At the same time, the Canadian players will have to adjust to the taste of borscht, reading a language that seems to be comprised of the Calculus 12 curriculum, and riding in something that isn’t lined in leather for once.
Even though the Mayans were apparently correct in their prediction about the world ending in 2012 with there being no NHL hockey this year, I suppose that we puck nuts can learn to appreciate the smaller things in life, the colour of the sky, or the sounds of birds welcoming the world in the morning, or even reading a book or doing some extra studying! Or we could do what we all know we will do and find that perfect spot in the house where we can get just enough reception to stream grainy KHL games. At least until the kids decide to grow up.
By Mike Chen, Grade 12
As the NHL regular season winds down, teams on the playoff bubble are battling for the final spots to compete at the most grueling and challenging level of the sport. On the other side of the spectrum, the top teams are playing out their final games with a clear goal in mind: to stay healthy and be fully prepared for the playoffs.
By Matthew Inouye, Grade 10
“This is the year!” This perennial statement of hope still stands strong after 41 years of Vancouver Canucks hockey, a statement of seemingly increasing validity with each passing season. But now, as the winter snow begins to melt and Mother Nature turns on the spring showerhead, the Canucks find themselves with just days left until the beginning of the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. But we need to take a closer look at the team in order to truly tell whether or not the this year’s Canucks have what it takes to fix a forty-year trend of “We’ll get’em next year!”
By Dickson Liong, Grade 10
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash will remain with the team for the rest of the 2011-12 National Hockey League (NHL) regular season.
There had been rumours upon rumours about the possibility of Rick Nash being shipped out of Columbus. Attention skyrocketed as the official 2012 NHL trade deadline approached. There was a rumour or an update about his trade status almost every single day, and we were all listening.
The hockey world had questions, and it wanted answers.
Rumours and reports of a potential trade involving the 27-year-old began in late January. But, at the time, nobody was certain whether the Blue Jackets organization asked Nash to waive the no-movement clause on his contract or the captain went to the management to personally request a trade.
When teachers donned their signs and students cheered as a strike-induced pseudo-vacation goes into effect, we found ourselves with quite a bit of free time on our hands. Now, we could have used this time to study for a big Social Studies test, finish up (or start) a gigantic English project that would be due on the class back to school, or get an interim report signed a week after the actual due date. But, we all knew that the smart thing to do was to cheer on the hottest team in town—the Vancouver Canucks. Continue reading here!
By Mike Chen, Grade 12
Hello, Warriors! The 2012 NHL trade deadline has just recently passed, and many teams have made some interesting trades in hopes of bolstering their lineups for the playoffs and building for the future. So, let’s take a look at some of the most notable trades!
The Nashville Predators acquired defenseman Hal Gill from Montreal in exchange for forwards Blake Geoffrion and Robert Slanley and a draft pick. Gill will provide some leadership and defensive stability on an already solid Predators defense. Heading to Montreal is Blake Geoffrion, who has a very interesting story. Geoffrion is a fourth-generation NHL player. (more…)
By Gurpreet Randhawa, Grade 10
When Cory Schneider was drafted in the 2004 NHL entry draft, not many people thought that he would’ve given Roberto Luongo some competition for the starting goaltender position.
On October 18th, 2011, Schneider made his first start of the 2010-2011 NHL regular season against the Carolina Hurricanes. He stopped 32 shots in the 5-1 victory. Schneider ended the season with a 2.23 GAA and a .992 save percentage over 25 games. His record was 16-4-2, and he finished his rookie season with the William M. Jennings Trophy. Schneider has started the 2011-2012 season with a 10-5-0 record and has a save percentage of 92.7% so far. The million-dollar question is: should the Canucks deal Schneider?
By Mike Chen, Grade 12
Hello, Warriors! I hope you all studied hard and did well on your midterms! It’s now officially halfway through the school year, and in the NHL it’s a similar situation. As the NHL trade deadline looms (February 27th at 12:00 PM PST), teams are preparing for the season’s home stretch. But before that happens, let’s take a look back at our home town Canucks’ season thus far, and since we’ve just had to go through midterms, it’s only fair to give one to the Canucks.
By Dickson Liong, Grade 10
Concussion has officially become the new “biggest problem” for athletes. Professionals who play high-contact sports are risking not only their careers but also their own lives.
Let’s use the National Hockey League as an example.
People are now debating over whether the National Hockey League should ban fighting, because people are finally paying attention to the fact that repeated shots to the head can cause concussion or, worse, severe brain damage.
By Dickson Liong, Grade 10
Whether you like it or not, education is an essential part of living. People have to go to school at one point or another in their life. This is the case for almost every Canadians, even for Evander Kane, a former student of John Oliver Secondary and a current team member of the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg.
David Stary is a student support worker currently working for the Vancouver School Board. He once spent 14 years at John Oliver Secondary School working with students with disabilities and was fortunate enough to work in some of the classes that Kane was in.
By Chris Tam and Mike Chen, Grade 12
Hello Warriors! As we are all settling back into school, the NHL is preparing for another great season. We here at the Word have assembled our “Power Rankings” for the top 5 NHL teams as a season preview, with special coverage on our Vancouver Canucks.
NHL Power Rankings
- Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are determined to get back to the finals and win it all this season! They may have a rough start to the season as winger Mason Raymond and MVP Ryan Kesler are both expected to miss at least a month of action due to injuries (back and hip, respectively). But, the Canucks have proven in the past that they have enough depth to keep playing without missing a beat. Their defence core is still strong despite the loss of Christian Ehrhoff. At the net, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider will share the crease, in the league’s top goaltending tandem. The team is a heavy favourite to return to the Cup Final.
- San Jose Sharks
Coming off two straight Western Conference Finals appearances with only one win out of nine games, the Sharks smelt blood. On draft day, the Sharks acquired defenseman Brent Burns, who can control the offensive tempo from the blue line. Up front, two-time fifty goal scorer Dany Heatly was dealt to the Wild for speedy winger Martin Havlat. Without a doubt, Captain Joe Thornton and the rest of the Sharks are hungry for the Stanley Cup.
- Los Angeles Kings
Being arguably the most improved team in the last season, the Kings took advantage of Philadelphia’s off-season hysteria by grabbing their captain, Mike Richards. They then signed sniper Simon Gagne, a former teammate of Richards in Philadelphia. The team’s concern is speed, but with two young puck-moving defensemen, Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson, no concerns have been raised so far. In the crease, Jonathan Quick has quickly developed into a reliable starting goaltender. The Kings, being young and skilled, will be a threat in the West for years to come.
- Pittsburgh Penguins
Although Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal were plagued with injuries last season, the Penguins still claimed the 5th spot in the East, based on their team-first mentality. With Malkin and Staal ready to start the season and Crosby just about set to play, this team is Chris’s pick to win the East this season. Backed by Marc-Andre Fleury and coached by Dan Bylsma, the Penguins are stacked. There is no doubt that they will be in the mix come playoff time.
- Washington Capitals
The Capitals have been a contender for the President’s Trophy in the past four seasons and we expect the same from them this time. With a top line of Ovechkin–Backstrom–Semin, Washington has the firepower… Do they have the willpower, though? This past off-season, they added some size and grit with the likes of Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer. If somebody other than Alex Ovechkin can start taking a leadership role with the team, look for the Capitals to be a tough team to beat this coming season.
The Canucks had a relatively quiet off-season, when GM Mike Gillis went and refined an already stellar team. Power forward Marco Sturm was the biggest name to sign in Vancouver this off-season. Although he has undergone two knee surgeries in the past, he has put up points in the past, so he does add some desperately needed grit to the roster. On the blue line, the void left by Christian Ehrhoff will be filled by Keith Ballard, Sami Salo, and rookie Chris Tanev. The forwards are led by the Sedin twins, who have risen to elite-player status. Ideally, Cody Hodgson will step up to play the second line center role, with Higgins and Samuelson flanking him. When healthy, the Canucks have the most depth in their forward positions of any team, which was a key part of their success from last season. And Vancouver’s favourite whipping boy, Roberto Luongo, is still a top five goaltender in the league and the franchise player. He will definitely be looking to prove his critics wrong this season and shed his unwanted (and undeserved) “chocker” label.
Mike’s Prediction: I believe this team will make it to the Western Conference Final, but that’s as far as they will go. Their depth in all three positions as well as their experience and motivation will make them a legitimate threat in the league, but I am picking the San Jose Sharks to win it all this season.
Chris’s Prediction: Keith Ballard, Cody Hodgson, and Marco Sturm will step up and become the players they were expected to be. The Canucks will go marching back to the Stanley Cup Finals in June….and NO WAY is San Jose making it past the second round, Mike!
By: Jasmin Gadey, Grade 8
Welcome back to Canucks hockey everyone! Now that the Winter Olympics have ended and we’ve proved to our neighbours below the border that hockey is truly Canada’s game, it’s time to get back to the NHL. The Canucks are back in action and ready for the month of March which begins with the team continuing the ridiculously long road trip. Last month our hometown boys had played fairly well, going 3-4 in the two weeks of road games they had. Although each game was on the road, the Canucks were playing solid and working hard each game. Speaking of games away from home, the Canucks will play another six games before returning to GM Place to take on the Senators on the 13th. Believe it or not Canucks fans, that’s one of the last ten home games left. In fact, there are only 21 games left in the regular season. If the Canucks keep up with the level of play they had just before their incredibly long road trip, they’ll stay high in the standings and most likely make the playoffs! Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Luongo is an Olympic Gold Medalist and Kesler and Salo also took home silver and bronze medals. The future is looking friendly for the Vancouver Canucks who have now made a name for themselves. Go Canucks Go!