The Year to hit the Mountains!

Do you find yourself looking for something to do in these gloomy winter months? Are you an active person that’s sick of the rain? If so, it might be time to hit the ski mountains this year. Whether you’re new to it or a veteran, young or old, athletic or not so much, the mountains can be a great day full of activity for anyone who goes up. Even if you’re not a huge fan of skiing or snowboarding, our 3 local mountains offer snow tubing and snowshoeing tours as well, which can be great options for bigger groups of families looking to try something new. 

As someone who only got into skiing a few years ago, there are so many reasons that I’m happy I did. First of all, it’s a lot of fun and was pretty easy to get comfortable with. Sure, you might wipe out a few times on your first few runs, but after that, you’ll find it gets a lot easier. Going up to the mountains is also usually a full day of sport with friends or family where there’s no competition and no stress. You can go at your own pace, stop to enjoy the beautiful views of Vancouver, and even spend some time in the bars or restaurants at lunch. One of the reasons it took me so long to get into skiing was that I don’t like being cold, but if you’re up there with a winter coat on a nice day, the last thing you’ll be worrying about is the temperature.

Another reason I now love to ski is because I see it as something that I can do with friends and family for a long time. Whether it’s ski trips on winter breaks, enjoying the odd day here and there each year, or even bringing my family up when I’m able to in the future, skiing is one of the ways I want to stay active as I grow older. 

So just as I was talked into going up a few years ago, I want to try and talk others into it now because with 3 mountains so close to us in Vancouver, why not? It’s a perfect way to let off some steam and enjoy nature for a day. If you’ve been contemplating it for the last few years, make sure this is the year that you grab some friends and head up to the mountains before the season ends!

Russell Wilson Finally Wants a Supporting Cast

Earlier this week, you may have heard that Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks made it apparent to management that he wants more stars in Seattle next year. For the first time in a while, the franchise will have quite a bit of money to work with during the offseason, and for a team that made it to the divisional round of the playoffs this year, adding one or two more big names might be what they need to get back to the Super Bowl. The first order of business should be resigning defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who played a very important role in his first season in Seattle’s blue and green. After that, general manager John Schneider needs to give Wilson exactly what he wants – stars. 

The main concern from Seattle fans over the last few years is that they haven’t taken full advantage of their future hall of fame quarterback’s prime years. Sure, they went to back to back Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014 when Wilson was still young, but these last few seasons there has been much less support for him, starting with the offensive line. Since Russ entered the league, he’s the only quarterback to face pressure on more than 40% of his dropbacks. Additionally, this season he saw pressure after 2.5 seconds on 26.7% of his dropbacks, which was only better than the bottom feeding Jets and Dolphins. Clearly, Russ needs a more competent offensive line, and he deserves one after years of running away from defensive lines and creating plays by himself. 

After the offensive line has been helped, you would hope that Schneider thinks about adding one more big name player to the defensive secondary. This year, the defence as a whole struggled, with their pass defence ranking 27th in the league. However, with linebackers like Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright, Clowney on the line, and a blossoming Shaquill Griffin at cornerback, they already have some important pieces in place. Quandre Diggs also showed promise at safety, so it’s not a stretch to think that if they can stay healthy next year, Seattle’s defence may only be one or two new faces away from a much more successful season. 

Even with the discouraging exit from the playoffs this year and the looming fact that Wilson is only getting older, us Seahawks fans have things to be excited for. Rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf could end up being a legitimate star in the league, running backs Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson could turn into a threatening backfield, and Russ wants to win now. Usually, when your franchise quarterback makes a request, it’s a good idea to listen up. So here’s to hoping that the Seahawks do exactly that, and make a few more great playoff runs in the 2020’s. 

Exciting Times for Canadian NHL Teams

If you were watching a Canadian hockey team last night, chances are you had yourself a very entertaining Wednesday night. In the first game, the Toronto Maple Leafs won a big contest in Dallas by a score of 5-3. Four Leafs had two points on the night, including Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. Another game featuring a Canadian team was played in San Jose, as the Canucks rallied in the third period to win 5-2. In the second period, Quinn Hughes scored the first road goal of his career with a rocket from the blue line, and Jacob Markstrom made a highlight reel save late in the same period to keep the team within striking distance. In the third, they looked like a different team and got a big win against the division rival Sharks to stay atop of the Pacific. 

While these games were going on however, most of the hockey world had their eyes on the Battle of Alberta. If you weren’t watching this highly anticipated matchup between the Oilers and Flames, it’s safe to say you missed out. Given the bad blood between these teams and the events that went on the last time they played, an aggressive and passionate tilt was fully expected. Although the first period started off a little tame, things eventually heated up as Edmonton’s Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Calgary’s Sean Monahan uncharacteristically dropped the gloves. 24 seconds later, everyone got what they were waiting for as Zack Kassian and Matt Tkachuk went at it. Besides the rough parts that everyone was excitedly waiting for, the actual game ended up being a great one. Matt Benning scored his first of the year for Edmonton to tie the game in the third period, and the teams stayed deadlocked through regulation and overtime, forcing a shootout. Calgary ended up clinching the game with a save from goaltender David Rittich, who then flipped his stick in the air like a baseball player who just hit a home run. This last act of celebration solidified the fact that this rivalry is as good and nasty as it’s been in a long time, and as hockey fans, we should be very excited about the very real possibility of a playoff series between them. 

Right now, 5 of the 7 Canadian teams are in a playoff spot or very close to one, which is a great thing for hockey in Canada. Although the NHL will always be the most popular league in our country, it’s always nice to see our teams having more success. Last year, only 3 Canadian teams made playoffs, and the year before that, there was only 2. It obviously helps that the most intriguing matchup of the regular season so far has been between two Canadian teams, but it’s very exciting to see Canada at the forefront of the NHL where it belongs.

Are the Maple Leafs Missing the Playoffs?

This NHL season has been a rollercoaster for the Toronto Maple Leafs. On paper, they look like they should be one of the best teams in the league, but they’re not even in a playoff spot right now. As of January 29th, they have a record of 26-17-7 and are only 2 points out of the picture. They could easily play themselves back in, but it won’t be easy. 

One of the issues Toronto faces is keeping the puck out of their net. So far this year, they’re in the bottom 5 in terms of goals allowed, but tied for second in goals for. As you probably know, games get more important and teams tighten up defensively down the stretch, and this makes scoring lots of goals in order to win games increasingly difficult. It’s not like they don’t have the personnel to make a change either. Tyson Barrie and Morgan Reilly lead a pretty decent defensive corps, and Frederik Anderson has proven in the past that he can be a competent NHL starter in net. The problem is, he’s not really playing like it this year. So far this season, his goals against average is higher than it’s ever been, and his save percentage is seven points lower than his career average. For the Leafs to be a legitimate playoff team they’ll need him to play better, because they don’t really have an option at the backup position.

The other big issue facing the Leafs is the level of competition in the Eastern conference and in the Atlantic division as well. Sure, if the Leafs were in the same division as the our hometown Canucks team they’d be looking a lot better, but with powerhouses like Boston and Tampa Bay in your division, there’s much less breathing room. Not to mention the other Eastern division, the Metropolitan is just as good or better, which means grabbing wild card spots is very competitive. The top 3 teams in this division are Washington, Pittsburgh and New York, but Columbus, Carolina and Philadelphia are all right there as well.

Although the Leafs will have to be very good in the last few months of the season, I still believe they’ll be in the playoffs. Over the next 30 games, you have to like their chances of being able to gain a few points on the Blue Jackets, Flyers, or even Panthers with everyone in their lineup. Times like this are the exact reason why Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares signed such big contracts, so they’ll be eager to prove themselves as well. After that, no one can say for sure what will happen because as we know, the NHL playoffs is never a predictable few months. One thing is for sure though, the Leafs need to start playing like every game is a playoff game, or they might not get to play one for real this year.

Kobe Bryant and the Mamba Mentality

On Sunday afternoon, the world was shocked by the news of sports icon Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing in a helicopter accident. Bryant was one of 9 people who perished in the crash, along with his 13 year old daughter Gianna. Kobe, who had just been passed by Lebron James for third place in NBA career points, was just beginning the second act of his life. He was writing books, enjoying retirement, and most importantly, being a very active coach and dad to his four daughters. 

In the hours after his death, thousands of posts honouring him on social media were made. It was clear that Kobe was more than just a basketball player, he was an athlete that all other athletes looked up to, and someone that even non-athletes were inspired by. He was a Los Angeles icon and a hero to so many. Whether it was basketball players dribbling the ball for 24 seconds to start games in his honour, a tribute video made by an NHL franchise, or soccer star Neymar honouring Kobe with a goal celebration, the sports world as a whole was severely damaged. Tributes for the fallen star and his daughter have ranged from Los Angeles to Vancouver to the Philippines and back again. Millions of people have signed a petition to make him the new logo of the NBA, and franchises are already retiring the numbers 8 and 24. There’s no argument that Sunday, January 26th, was one of the saddest and most impactful days in sports history.

 

The main reason Kobe garnered so much respect from all over the world was because for his whole career, he was known firstly as a competitor. He would tell stories of how he would get up at 4am to go to the gym and practice, have breakfast, and then get right back to the gym. In team practices, he pushed teammates past their limits and never took a day off. Kobe was the guy who tore his achilles, shot his free throws, and walked to the bench under his own power. This type of ferocious approach to life was ultimately coined the “mamba mentality”, and inspired the next generation of athletes who wanted to be just like him and taught them the importance of work ethic. However, mamba mentality is important to so much more than sports, and this way of thinking may be the most important piece to Kobe’s legacy. He famously said that “the most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” Mamba mentality wasn’t just about sports for him, it was how he lived his life. It’s how he made 18 all star games, won 5 NBA championships, and why he is widely regarded as one of the best to ever do it. It’s also how he gained success after retirement, and coached his daughter’s basketball teams to championships. 

So if there’s one thing we can thank Kobe for besides all of the great memories and triumphs, it’s for showing millions of kids like me that if you work hard enough for what you want, a dream can become reality. It’s for this reason that he inspired so many, was so important to the sporting community, and why he will continue to inspire long into the future. 

Rest in peace to a legend, his amazingly talented daughter, and everyone else aboard the helicopter that day. 

“Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.” – Kobe Bryant. 

NHL All Star Weekend Recap

This weekend, another NHL All-Star Weekend came and went in St.Louis. As usual, the skills competition kicked the weekend off on Friday night, and we saw some old favourites as well as some new additions to the competition. Canucks’ rookie Quinn Hughes competed in the fastest skater competition, while Elias Pettersson was the only forward in the hardest shot contest. The third Canuck all-star, goaltender Jacob Markstrom, represented the Pacific division in the shootout. In the new passing competition, players were placed above ice level in the stands and had to shoot down into nets worth different amount of points on the ice. Not surprisingly, Chicago superstar Patrick Kane won the event, much to the dismay of the Blues fans in the audience. Although it was a cool idea, the scoring was kind of confusing and rules had some grey areas, leading to a less than ideal product for those watching at home. 

However, the biggest new addition to the skills competition was the Elite Women’s 3 on 3 game, featuring 10 Canadian and 10 American athletes. The Canadian team won 2-1, supported by a fantastic performance from Ann-Renee Desbiens in net. The game was a great display of the talent in the women’s game, and will hopefully lead to more funding and interest into sustaining a professional women’s hockey league. 

In the actual All-Star games, the Pacific and Atlantic divisions faced off in the finals with one million dollars on the line. These games are always kind of a tough watch because players are certainly not taking it very seriously, but you can’t really blame them for not wanting to risk injury on a celebratory weekend where not much is at stake. At the end of the game, it was the Pacific division celebrating a 5-4 win, and three Canucks coming home with a bonus hundred thousand dollars. Although that kind of money isn’t a ton for everyone out there, for Quinn Hughes, it’s around 10 percent of his rookie contract salary. 

Like usual, the All-Star game faced some issues with star players choosing to not participate because of injuries or disinterest, but the league still managed to put together a memorable night. For the players, it may not be their favourite thing to participate in, but for the fans, All-Star weekend is much more than a few games. It’s the opportunity to see the best players in the world interact with each other and just have fun, showing a side of themselves that is not always visible from a fan’s perspective. For that reason, the All-Star game is still an important event in the year, even if the on-ice product sometimes can be disappointing.

Uber and Lyft in Vancouver!

If you live in Vancouver, you’ve probably heard by now that Lyft and Uber are both officially here, and have already begun business in the Lower Mainland. Although cab companies are obviously not very excited about this, it seems like everyone else is, including me. As someone who lives in South Delta, a trip to and from downtown Vancouver can be a pricey affair, and sometimes those trips can be hard to find. I’ve had numerous experiences with cab drivers that wouldn’t take a group of 5 home even though they were driving a van, or demanded a payment upfront that was substantially higher than what we would normally pay. Unfortunately, if you’re going late into the night, public transportation is no longer an option and you have no other choice besides paying the larger fee. On top of this, some cabs simply say no to longer trips out of Vancouver.

With Uber and Lyft arriving in the city, I don’t think cabs will be able to do this anymore, which is ultimately a good thing for people looking for rides. Also, it puts more cars on the road, which means less waiting time when you’re trying to go somewhere. However, maybe the most important positive is being able to compare prices and save some money. All three options will have different payment systems, so depending on the trip, using one over another could save you a substantial amount of money if you travel by cab a lot.

Overall, the positive reactions to this news are almost unanimous from Vancouver citizens. Everyone is excited to get what other cities have had for years now. We’re excited for cheaper and sometimes more fun rides. We’re excited for variety and convenience. I think I can speak for most people in Vancouver and say that we’re very excited for Lyft and Uber in our city.

The Zion Williamson Show is Here

The Zion Williamson show has officially started after the NBA rookie played his first regular season game last night against the San Antonio Spurs. It was a tough start and a great finish for Williamson, who has been in the national spotlight since before he graduated high school. The hype for Zion has been similar to that of Lebron James when he was coming into the league and although Zion needed to spend a year in college at Duke, he’s finally here, and he’s here to stay. 

New Orleans fans watched and cheered as Williamson scored 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to come back against San Antonio. He went 4/4 on three pointers and sent the basketball world into a frenzy after scoring only 5 points in the first 3 quarters of the game. Although New Orleans ultimately lost, Williamson showed everyone why he was the undisputed first overall pick in last year’s rookie draft, and why fans of the Pelicans have been so eagerly awaiting his return. 

Besides his unbelievable talent and draft choice, one of the reasons Zion’s debut was so highly anticipated is because Williamson is simply a different type of athlete. He only stands at 6’6, but weighs a monstrous 285 pounds. He has the speed of a smaller guard, hops that could challenge anyone else’s in the league, and the strength to bully opposing players in the paint. Oh and also, if you give him an open lane to the basket, there’s no scenario that ends with him not forcefully dunking the basketball and ending up on Sports Centre highlights that night. Ive included some highlights below from his days at Duke. Keep in mind that he was 18 years old at this time. 

Unfortunately, there is some risk that we’ve already seen with Zion Williamson. Because of his weight and explosiveness, the health of his knees are somewhat concerning. After he was injured in the preseason, reports initially came out that it was not a serious issue. However, he ended up needing knee surgery, and was out for 3 months. Unfortunately, the threat of continuous injury derailing a career is very real in high impact sports such as basketball, and although Zion will obviously do anything to avoid more injuries, sometimes players simply become victims of bad luck.

Even if there are some worries of injuries though, one thing is for certain. Zion Williamson is not an everyday player. He’s a generational talent. He makes the game more exciting and has a chance to be the newest face of the NBA. He has MVP and Hall of Fame potential. So please buckle up, because even though it was delayed, the Zion Williamson show has finally arrived.

The Biggest Game of the Year

Last Sunday marked the end of the NFL season for two more teams, and left only 2 remaining. In the AFC conference championship, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs eliminated the Tennessee Titans by a score of 35-24. For the second week in a row, Kansas City’s offence proved too hot to stop, and they have now scored 86 points in the last 7 quarters. In the NFC title game, the San Fransisco 49ers got off to a quick start against Green Bay and never looked back. Third string running back Raheem Mostert scored 4 touchdowns, and the defence did the rest of the work, giving quarterback Jimmy Garropolo a very stress free night. Now, the only game to be played is the biggest game of the year – the Super Bowl.

On the surface, these two teams match up very well against each other, and could give us a game that leads to a very close and entertaining finish. On one side, there’s Andy Reid’s high flying offence in Kansas City. On the other, we have probably the best defence in the league with San Fransisco, who are bolstered by a terrific pass rush. It’s a game where a top offence and a top defence will square up against each other, and it could go down in history. 

If the San Fransisco 49ers want to win the game, they’re going to have to slow down the pass attack of Kansas City, led by Pat Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. This has proven to be a very hard thing for teams to do because of Mahomes’ mobility as a quarterback, and because of the dominance that Hill and Kelce have shown. When one is being double teamed, it usually means that Mahomes is able to find the other one in the pass game. If Kansas City wants to win, they’re going to have to stop the 49ers defensive line from getting at Mahomes. If the line cannot hold up and give Patrick time to hold the ball for a few seconds, we could see a game very similar to the one we saw this past weekend, where San Fransisco got off to a big lead and coasted in. Both of these teams are very capable of making big plays on both sides of the ball, but I think whichever team can stick to their gameplay the most will have a better chance of coming out victorious. Betting lines are slightly favouring the Chiefs, but if you ask football fans anywhere about the outcome of the game, there seems to only be one consensus; Super Bowl 54 will be a good one.

Final prediction – Kansas City 28, San Fransisco 24.

Make or Break Time For Canucks’ Season

After beating the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena last night, the hometown Canucks are finding themselves right in the middle of a heated playoff race. From here on in, every game matters, especially ones against divisional rivals like last night. After playing 48 games this season, the Canucks can capture first place in the division with a win tomorrow night against San Jose, but can also fall to fifth after tomorrow with a loss.

As good as the Canucks have been lately (going 10-3-0 in their last 13 games and winning 7 straight at home), the slightly discouraging thing for the team is that they still have no cushion or room for error, and this will most likely be the case for the rest of the season. However, in the long run, this could prove to be a very good thing for the young team. There are a lot of guys in that dressing room who haven’t played a lot of playoff hockey, and even though there’s no guarantee to make it there this year, the Canucks will definitely be playing very important games that feel like playoffs. For a team looking to build around the young pieces they have right now and become a serious contender in a couple years, this is a very good learning experience. 

Still, it shouldn’t only be looked at as a building block season, because the Canucks seriously do have a good team this year. It will be very interesting to see if their young leaders like all-stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes will be able to lead this team into the postseason, and just what kind of damage they can do if they make it in. Although playoffs haven’t been a very fun time for Canucks fans in recent years, this season may be the start of many years in a row of playing in April and May again. As of right now, let’s just see how these guys handle these make or break games in the next few months, and if they can get hot at the right time, even better. 

Culture Changes in the NHL

This year has been one of the craziest in recent memory for the National Hockey League. We’ve seen a record number of coaches fired, a Canadian hockey mogul let go after making inappropriate and insensitive comments, and allegations of racism and abuse from former players. It’s been a season full of scandals and rumours that have separated fans everywhere, and there’s still 6 months of hockey yet to be played.

Earlier this week, the Vegas Golden Knights fired Gerard Gallant and became the 7th team to let their head coach go this year. Unfortunately for the league, not all of these firings have been hockey related. Jim Montgomery of the Dallas Stars was let go for inappropriate conduct, and has since checked into a rehabilitation centre for alcohol abuse. Although Mike Babcock’s firing was because of his team’s struggles, many stories and allegations of mental and physical abuse have come against him since he was let go. Johan Franzen, who played for Babcock in Detroit, called the coach the “worst person” he has ever met. However, most disturbing were the allegations that led to the firing of Babcock’s protege, Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters. A former player named Akim Aliu made it public that he had been on the receiving end of racial slurs from Peters more than once while playing for him 10 years ago. Peters was investigated and resigned soon after, acknowledging that the stories were in fact true, while apologizing to Aliu for the first time. More recently, Marc Crawford, a former Canucks coach, was also a subject of physical abuse allegations from former players, and served a two week suspension as assistant coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Even before all of the coaching allegations and firings, hockey icon Don Cherry was let go from Sportsnet after making comments about immigrants that many found to be inappropriate and racist. Although many fans came to his defence and believed that firing him was too severe of a punishment, Cherry has not been hired anywhere since. Don started coaching hockey in 1972, and had been part of the game in some way every year since then up until his firing from Sportsnet. 

If there’s one positive to take from all of these negative stories, it’s that the NHL is quickly changing for the better. Everyone is being held accountable for their actions in ways that we’ve never seen before in the league, and most importantly, a safer and more enjoyable space has been created for the ones who are most important to the success of the NHL – the players. Hockey will always be a large part of Canadian culture, but this year has proven that there are still many things that are simply more important than the game. 

Winning With an Asterisk

On Monday, the MLB world was shaken up well before news broke that Houston Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane had fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. It wasn’t the firings themselves that made the headlines, but the reason that the decision was made.

In November, a report was published in The Athletic about former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers telling his Oakland Athletic teammates to be wary of Houston’s outfield camera that was fixed on the opposing team’s catcher in an effort to steal pitching signs. Using electronic devices in this manner is not allowed in the MLB, so after the report came out, an investigation was launched by the league. This investigation found that the allegations were in fact true, and that it had went on for the entirety of the 2017 season. If you know anything about baseball, then you also know that the 2017 World Series was won by none other than the Houston Astros. To make a long story short, the Astros were cheating, and it worked. Now, the Astros have been caught, but the championship pennant still hangs, and the baseball world is very rightfully upset about it.

On top of being fired, Hinch and Luhnow have been suspended for one year without pay, and the organization has been fined 5 million dollars as well as forced to forfeit their first and second round draft picks for the next 2 years. Alex Cora, the Red Sox manager who was a coach for Houston at the time, will most likely face more severe punishment for being the bench coach most responsible for the system and even helping players develop it.

However, none of the players on the Astros championship team will be punished. They all knew about the cheating system, most of them actively participated in it, and they all obviously benefited from it the most. And if you’re wondering if that’s fair or not, just ask New York Yankees players, who were eliminated from contention in the seventh game of the American League Championship. Or you could ask the Los Angeles Dodgers, who also lost 7 games against the Astros, this time in the World Series. Sadly without knowing how much the cheating system actually helped batters for the Astros, you could never take their championship away from them, but its clear that they got off far too easily in this situation. For the players, the only thing that really comes out of this whole investigation is a figurative asterisk besides Houston’s name in the record books, and even then, it’s still there.

Snow Place Like Home!

Well Vancouver, we have our first snowfall of the year, and whether you love it or hate it, that’s big news for us. Even though it happens every year, the majority of people never seem to be quite ready for the bone-chilling cold and difficult driving conditions. The snow causes a lot of problems for us, but there are also positives that come from the annual change of weather. That’s why Evolution Radio has compiled the official pros and cons list of snow in Vancouver, and has decided to share our findings today. 

Let’s start with the cons. First and foremost, snow is terrible for drivers in Vancouver. We’re less than a day in to the snowfall and already videos of Audis and BMWs sliding down hills are popping up left, right and centre. Second of all, it’s cold and wet. For me, being cold and wet might just be the worst thing ever, so make sure you wear lots and lots of clothes and avoid this terrible fate. Lastly, the snowfall forces you to stay inside, most likely looking at your phone and reading more and more about how much it’s snowing in Vancouver. You’re locked in, your events are cancelled, and you still can’t get away from the weather. It sucks.

Fortunately, there are also pros to snow in Vancouver. Although this first one only concerns a certain amount of people, skiing and snowboarding seasons are officially kicked into full gear. If you’re into the mountain sports, it’s a perfect time to get out there and enjoy the fresh powder at one of Vancouver’s three mountains. Another positive is that snow (especially fresh and untouched) is a very nice aesthetic. This is not even an opinion, it’s just an objective fact, and the sheer amount of instagram pictures taken as well as the beautiful snap below and many others just like it will surely back me up. Finally, and most importantly for many Vancouverites, snow and cold weather mean outdoor rinks. When skating on frozen water, you’re reaching peak Canadian, so don’t be afraid to get the stick and gloves out, pick up a coffee from Tim’s, throw the touque on, and show your patriotic side this winter.

Whether you love it or hate the season though, don’t let it get you down! Seasonal depression can be a very real obstacle for many people around this time of year, even if you can’t tell by the way they present themselves. Spend time with friends and family and find something you love to get you through the stretch. Of course, whatever you do during this time of year, remember to stay safe as well.

The Last Quarter of 2019!

It’s October 4th, and that means we’re officially in the last quarter of 2019. As always, it feels like April was 2 weeks ago, but here we are. Where did the time go? What should we do with the remaining 11 and a half weeks? Sure it’s rainy and getting darker by the day and midterm stress is piling up, but thankfully, this time of year still holds many important annual dates of the calendar to get excited for. Plus, there’s always something to do in Vancouver if you look hard enough!

First off, Canadian Thanksgiving is only 2 Mondays away, and with that comes a long weekend to spend with friends and family.  If you’re a university student or around the age of one, this is an especially exciting weekend because all of your friends that go to school away from home come back for the first time since leaving in September. It’s always nice to get the gang back together with a fresh crop of stories to tell and things to talk about, and that’s exactly what a month of university gives you. Even if your friends stayed local or you’re not in that part of your life, who doesn’t love the food that comes with Thanksgiving dinner? Arguably the best meal of the year, its also one of the few times that most extended families get together.

A couple of weeks after Thanksgiving, Halloween hits. Unless you hate dressing up and having fun with friends either downtown or together at someone’s house, Halloween night and “Halloweekend” is a top notch time for college students. Haunted houses and halloween parties are a great way to forget about that midterm the you have during the next week, if only for a few hours. Although Halloween is a great time, it’s very important to make the most of it now before the night consists of handing out candy to 6 years olds, and then not being able to sleep because the older kids are making too much noise outside your house. So go celebrate another year of not having adult responsibilities, grab the gang, and get spooky this year!

Now, I won’t lie, usually November is pretty bleak. However, during most of the month, the anticipation of being done with another semester of tests, quizzes, and midterms is also rising. In November, the light at the end of the tunnel starts getting a little brighter, day by day. Next thing you know, the Americans are finally catching up to Canada and celebrating Thanksgiving, lights are being put on houses, and December is upon us. The weather is bad but spirits are high, because now, there’s only one more round of exams before a glorious 3 week break that gives us Christmas and New Years. Just like that, 2019 is wrapped, and so is another decade. Lots of things have changed since 2010, so enjoy these last 3 months before we enter the 2020’s and never look back. 

If the annual lineup of late-year celebrations and holidays still doesn’t have you at least a little excited, its ok. Vancouver has many things to do at this time of year, like going to a Canucks game for example. Yea, they’re still not the best team in the league, but it’s a much more exciting squad on the ice this year compared to the product from the past few seasons. Plus, if you’re a student, there’s a good chance that you can get some student prices for certain games, which gives you yet another great reason to get out of the house and enjoy some hockey. The Canucks just started a new season, so fan excitement will be high in the first few home games as well. If hockey isn’t your thing, another option that is open until October 11th is the Vancouver Film Festival. It’s one of North America’s biggest film festivals every year, with over 140 000 movie fans coming to watch films over the 16 day festival. Going to a show is pretty convenient too – just show up to the box office and pay at the door and you’re in! 

Although it’s a Halloween themed attraction, Fright Nights at the PNE is another great adventure in October. The annual takeover of PlayLand runs from today until Halloween night, and is always a favourite for all types of people. Fright Nights gives a new atmosphere to the classic PNE rides that we’ve all been on, with haunted houses, volunteers dressed up in costumes, and other Halloween themed surprises. 

Fright Nights (photo via Family Fun Canada)

If you’re not ready to commit to anything in the near future, the month of December brings on a whole new list of fun things to do with friends and family, because you might need to get off the couch for at least a few hours per a day as you relax with no school. Events like the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden, Bright Nights at Stanley Park, and the indoor Christmas Glow in Abbotsford and downtown are just some of the great Christmas options that are opened in December. Enjoying the most magical time of year surrounded by lights and holiday celebration is easy in Vancouver, it’s just up to you to brave the weather and get out there. 

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden (photo via Daily Hive)

Overall, this time of year can be a tough one for students. It’s always important to look forward to the good times in life, and fortunately for us, there are plenty of opportunities for great times to be had in the last quarter of the year. Hopefully this helped you remember that, or inspired a trip into the City to enjoy one of the many great things that Vancouver has to offer! Remember, it’ll be April in no time, so try to enjoy every day, even when school gets hectic. 

The NHL is Back!

Finally, after months of waiting, the NHL season comes back tomorrow. It’s been a long and eventful summer, with big moves being made by many teams, and excitement growing for the new class of NHL rookies. The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers picked the first two players in the draft, Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, and also added big free agents to their squads with P.K. Subban heading to New Jersey and Artemi Panarin going to the Rangers. Other contending teams like the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t change too much around, and are hoping for continued success with similar lineups. Thats always the big question in the off season for general managers. Do they keep their lineup together or shake it all up? The Vancouver Canucks managed something in between the two options this offseason, by signing mid level free agents and still keeping the core of the team together. 

Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s first move was to trade for top six forward J.T. Miller during draft weekend. During free agency, he signed the tough and skilled Michael Ferland, as well as defensemen Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn, and Oscar Fantenberg. Getting more depth on the blue line was a very smart move for the Canucks, as they have struggled with the depth of their defence for the last few years. Also, the signings of Ferland and Miller will hopefully help the likes of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat carry the load offensively.

Jim Benning (photo via Sportset)

On draft weekend, the Canucks selected Russian-born Vasily Podkolzin with the 10th overall pick. Although Podkolzin has stated that he will be staying in Russia for probably two more seasons, many draft experts believe that he had the talent to be a top 5 pick, and only dropped to tenth because of his commitment to staying in Russia for the last of his teenage years. With that being said, he’s still very young, and Benning said that whoever else they could have picked around that position probably wouldn’t be playing for the team this year anyways. In the second round, the Canucks picked up a talented Swedish forward named Nils Hoglander. Although Hoglander is also not expected to challenge for a roster spot in Vancouver for awhile, fans and management are very excited about the amount of talent and skill he possesses. It seems like the Canucks have been a home for talented Swedish forwards, as first it was the Sedin twins, and now last year’s rookie of the year, Elias Pettersson doing big things in Vancouver.

Speaking of Petterson, he’s going to have to shoulder some big expectations in a big market this season. Being a star player in Vancouver is different than being a star in other smaller markets because of the scrutiny from both media and fans that comes with it. Luckily, he doesn’t have to worry about any added pressure regarding the captaincy, as that will most likely fall into the hands of Bo Horvat, while the assistance duties will be put upon Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, and Brandon Sutter. This leaves the Canucks’ youngest and most exciting players like Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes to just go out there and worry about playing their game. 

So what should we expect from the team this year? Although they’re finally starting to gain some excitement from fans, the Canucks are still a very young team and most of their players are probably a few years away from their prime. However, it’s not unrealistic to think that they could challenge for a playoff spot this year, especially in the weaker of the two western conference divisions. Grabbing a top 3 position might be hard to do with Calgary, San Jose and Las Vegas in the mix, but a wild card spot is certainly not out of the picture if the team can stay healthy, and its probably safe to say that the franchise and the city would be disappointed if they weren’t at least in the race for the wild card. As we saw last year, once you make it into the NHL playoffs, anything can happen. One of the best regular season teams of all time got swept in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team who barely made it into the playoffs at all. The St. Louis Blues made history by winning the Stanley Cup after being dead last in the league in January, and clawing all the way back to eventually upset the Boston Bruins in the Cup Finals. So yes, truly anything can happen once you make it to the post season. 

(photo via CBC)

Around the league, we’re at the time of year where every team and every player is filled with optimism. Whether franchises are looking to make significant improvements, or put themselves in contention for the Cup once again, it’s a fresh start for all. The Tampa Bay Lightning are still most people’s favourites after their incredible season last year, and their incredibly disappointing exit from playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs will be hoping that this is finally the year that they can get past the first round of the playoffs, with their big new addition Tyson Barrie coming from Colorado. Other teams who weren’t even in the playoffs last year will be looking to make the jump, such as the revamped Devils, Rangers, and Florida Panthers. 

Overall, that’s the best part of this time of year for a hockey fan. Predictions can be made and bets can be laid, but we have no way of knowing how it will all pan out over the next 82 games and into playoffs. So get ready the ups and downs of supporting an NHL team, and get ready for yet another season of NHL hockey. 

Kanye West – The Artist and the Person

These days, music fans are no strangers to their favourite artists delaying album releases, but supporters of Chicago native Kanye West might be the most familiar with it. Over the last year, he’s had two separate albums with release dates that came and went, and his last actual release was a single featuring controversial rapper Lil Pump on September 6th of last year. So, it should come as no surprise that his latest project “Jesus is King” has been pushed back from releases more than once in the last week. Also, it’s worth noting that there has been nothing new heard about his other unreleased album “YANDHI”, which was originally supposed to drop on September 29, 2018. According to his team, the new album is close to being finished, but every time Kanye listens to it, he hears something that he wants to change. This type of perfectionism has allowed Kanye to create some of the most influential music to hip hop in the 21st century, but has also frustrated fans for more than a decade. Out of the 11 albums that he has released during his career, only 5 have been on time, and 6 have been delayed. His longest delay was releasing “The Life Of Pablo” 531 days after the initial release date. Kanye isn’t the only artist to delay releases of albums. Lil Wayne’s highly anticipated latest album “The Carter V” was released 4 years after its original date. However, it seems to be the most normal for Kanye, and fans basically take the rumours with a grain of salt these days. 

Kanye and Lil Pump in the “I Love It” music video (photo via ET Canada)

Yet, even with the release date frustration and his own antics raising questions about the state of his sanity, Kanye remains extremely popular. In 2019, Forbes reported that he was the third highest earning entertainer in the world, behind only Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner. This was mostly thanks to his clothing brand Yeezy, because of course, no new music has been released this year. Without Kanye’s music career though, it’s hard to know if the Yeezy brand would have ever been this popular, or if it would even be a brand today at all.

Time and time again, Kanye has proven that no publicity is bad publicity, and has remained one of pop culture’s biggest names for 15 years, thriving in a business where many have fizzled out after short periods of stardom. After publicly supporting Donald Trump, who is not a popular figure in the eyes of most fellow artists and fans in hip hop culture, West continued to raise eyebrows with concerning comments regarding slavery in America. He was confronted by a TMZ worker named Van Lathan after the interview, and you can watch that video below. However, he released the album “Ye” just a few weeks later and it became his eighth consecutive album to reach number 1 on the Billboard charts. One week after that, his collaborative album with Kid Cudi, “Kids See Ghosts” was put out, and debuted at #2 on the charts. Both albums were received well by both fans and critics alike.

So, what kind of success can we expect for Kanye’s newest album, if it ever comes out? Most likely, more of the same. Many people get tired of his polarizing behaviour and his release dates that come and go, but those same people will be some of the first ones to put their headphones on and play his music when it comes out. However, this new album could be the start of a new era for West, as the subject matter is almost exclusively religious, and he’s stated that he’s only making gospel music at this point in his career. Last week, he did shows in Chicago and New York where a few lucky fans were able to hear the new music, and one non-religious attendee told Complex magazine that “the album sounds really good, but I don’t know if I can get down with what he’s saying.” Although Kanye is probably not overly concerned with how the project is received by secular listeners, this could definitely pose a threat to the new album’s numbers as well as give some fans a feeling of alienation. Then again, we should know better than to doubt the popularity of Kanye West. 

As polarizing as he is, Kanye proves that society can still separate the music from the person. Even during his most turbulent times, West had an album go number 1. Listeners may not like the artist personally, but still enjoy their music, and there are also many other artists who can prove this much more than West. With very disturbing allegations coming to light against Michael Jackson last year, fans of the late King Of Pop reportedly could not bring themselves to watch the documentary detailing his personal life and relationship with underage kids as it would ruin their love of his music. It’s good to know that there is a threshold for what listeners can and cannot tolerate, but also interesting to see how important certain music can be for some people. 

When you reach the level of stardom that Kanye has, you’re detached from reality. You’re so famous you can’t do normal everyday things, and you have a team of people to do everything for you. It’s a very stressful life and it can be mentally exhausting. You can cross lines without realizing it or have things taken out of context and suddenly society and cancel culture is coming for your neck. However, at his level of popularity, you also have fans that will ride with you no matter what. Day one fans. People whose lives you’ve changed. With the release of “Jesus is King”, we will all see how powerful Kanye’s impact still is, and whether or not he’s at the tail end of his illustrious career. We will see if people can continue to give him a pass for a number of incidents during the last few years. We will see if he can make an exclusively religious album and still achieve mainstream success. Most importantly, whenever the album is released, we will once again be able to see Kanye the artist, instead of Kanye the person.

Problems in the NFL

The National Football League is in trouble. Although still the most popular of the four major American sports, we’ve seen many signs in the last 10 years of a league that is slowly deteriorating and losing supporters. After averaging 17.8 million viewers for a regular season game in 2010, numbers have been lower than that in every year except 2015, and in 2017, the NFL saw their average viewership drop to 14.8 million. Over this time, there seems to be three reasons as to why this might be happening. Politics, information on CTE and head trauma, and league rules that create a lot of grey area. 

The NFL’s worst year for ratings was in 2017, which was largely due to the fact that many players around the league were kneeling during the national anthem. This was started by San Fransisco quarterback Colin Kaerpernick in the 2016 preseason, and although a few other players participated, the protests didn’t catch on league wide until 2017. Kaepernick was doing this as a protest to the mistreatment of minorities in America, and although he wasn’t harming anyone, many people took offence to the demonstration and believed it was disrespectful to the country. American president Donald Trump even suggested that owners should fire players who were engaging in the protests. Although the players had every right to do this, the whole scenario proved that politics and sports don’t mix very well together, and although athletes do have a platform to encourage positive change, fans who don’t agree with them have the same right to turn them off, which eventually hurts the league. NFL viewership did move slightly back up in 2018, but it still was the second lowest since 2010.

Another issue that the NFL has had to face is the problems associated with CTE and head trauma coming more into the light. Over 95% of all former NFL players that have had their brains scanned have shown signs of some level of CTE after retirement. Furthermore, the public is more informed about these problems through media reports and movies like Will Smith’s “Concussion.” Former players have even gone so far as to to sue the NFL for the damage the league has done to their brains and the lack of information they had about the issues going into their careers. As time goes on, it’s likely that more and more of these cases may come up. 

Finally, the league has been having issues with grey areas around their penalties. Refereeing can be an issue in every sport, but no other league has had the same degree of problems surrounding officiating as the NFL. For example, Dez Bryant’s catch in the 2014 NFC divisional round playoffs that got reviewed and reversed virtually ended his team’s season. 3 years later, the NFL admitted it was a catch. Then, just last year, the New Orleans Saints got robbed of a probable trip to the Super Bowl because of a missed pass interference call. Immediately after the game, the NFL phoned head coach Sean Payton to apologize and admit that they had screwed up. 

photo via USA Today

The bottom line is that these kind of things just cannot be happening to the biggest sports league in North America. The NFL is trying to make adjustments to rules and now allows reviews on pass interference penalties, but the system is far from perfect. CTE issues will always plague the NFL, but covering up this information is not helping anyone. Lastly, the league needs to be more open to the thoughts and opinions of its players. Although no punishment was handed down directly from the league, Colin Kaepernick has not played another game of professional football since the end of the 2016 season. 

 

cites- https://www.businessinsider.com/nfl-ratings-faced-steeper-declines-in-2017-2018-1

What You Should Know About Vaping

 

Vaping. It’s one of the biggest issues in secondary schools across the province and country right now, and yet, almost nothing is known about it. Originally designed to be a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, it is now an introduction to nicotine for many high school aged kids. Vaping became more popular with older students in schools around three years ago, but the usage has continued to skyrocket over that time, and vapes have now made their way into grade eight and nine classrooms as well.

Although it is illegal for a minor in Canada to purchase a vape or nicotine device, the difficulty of getting one is clearly not high. There are many websites that sell these products, which makes it easy for minors to pretend that they are of legal age and buy these vapes.

(photo via Cnet)

The CEO of Juul, an American vape company, recently had to apologize to the public for the high number of teens getting addicted to the company’s products. There are also now stories from across the internet of kids being hospitalized and running into serious health issues because of vapes, but no change in usage has happened yet. A big reason for this is possibly that kids don’t think it could happen to them because, as of right now, the total number of vape-related hospitalizations is still very low in comparison to other health problems. Realistically, this is much more likely due to the fact that they haven’t been used for long enough for serious health issues to surface. As kids use vapes for longer and longer, the chances of health issues due to the vaping goes up as well.

However, there is a space for vaping in our communities. They do provide an alternative to smoking cigarettes, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, if you are not a previous smoker, it is clearly and unquestionably detrimental to your health to start using vapes, and you can still get addicted. It’s time for students to take their health into their own hands and make their own decisions on whether or not vaping is really worth the risk.

New Season, New Expectations for Canucks

 

The Vancouver Canucks’ pre-season begins tonight against the Calgary Flames with 2 games being played between the two franchises. Half the team has travelled into Alberta and will play at 6, while the other half are hosting the Flames in Victoria at 7. With hockey finally coming back and the season less than a month away, Canucks fans have a lot to be excited about in the new year, and it all revolves around their group of young star players. 

First and foremost, fans should be looking forward to watching reigning rookie of the year Elias Pettersson. The Swedish sensation tallied 66 points in 71 games last year and will be looking to improve on those numbers this season. All reports are that he has looked great in training camp so far, which is a great thing to hear for fans.

Outside of Pettersson, Vancouver will also be hoping for success from young players like Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser. Hughes will be playing in his first full year with the club, and after being called up from Michigan University at the end of last season, his rookie year is coming with a lot of excitement and expectation. Although Boeser is yet to be signed by the team, there doesn’t seem to be too much concern from Canucks management about the situation yet. Boeser has totalled 111 points in 131 games over his first two full years with the Canucks, and has established himself as a fan favourite over that time as well. 

via Vancouver Canucks twitter page

Obviously, the Vancouver Canucks have gone through a bit of a rough patch in recent times, with no playoff appearances in the last four years and no playoff rounds won in the last 8. However, the culture is changing and fans are ready to see the beginnings of hopefully a whole new dynasty in Vancouver, led by young stars who are more than capable of turning that to reality.