Wagnon Brings the Bears as Surrey tops Langley

Teddy Bear Toss nights are a Junior hockey tradition.  Every December, hockey teams all across North America host the annual Christmastime tradition, where after the home team scores their first goal of the game, the ice is littered with stuffed bears, dogs, horses and other creatures.  Sunday night at the South Surrey Arena was another chapter in the great history of this hockey tradition when they hosted the Langley Rivermen.  This year, the Eagles were raising money for Wigs for Kids BC and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, with all donations going towards play by play broadcaster Joey Pitt’s

500 fans were in attendance, plus Santa Claus, for the game between the next town over rivals.  The third matchup between the two teams this season, as Surrey took the first matchup 8-1 at South Surrey Arena on October 14th, and a 3-0 shutout win at George Preston Arena for “The Pulverizer” Eli Pulver and his Eagles compatriots.  Langley would be the team to strike first blood in the matchup, as Rivermen forward Vitaly Levvy gained the Surrey zone on the left wing, beat Eagles D-man Ross Roloson wide with speed, before he tucked one between the wickets on Michael Sochan to give the visiting team a 1-0 lead, and take a bit of the air out of The Nest in South Surrey.  The Eagles did have a close call immediately after Levvy opened the scoring for Langley.  Off the ensuing faceoff, the puck was won back to Ross Roloson, who skated the puck to the Rivermen blueline, and dumped the puck in high off the glass.  It would ricochet and take a Bieksa Bounce off the Stanchion and slip between the post and the pad of Langley netminder Ajeet Gundarah, but the goal would be waved off due to the referees losing sight of the puck, which honestly works out better for the Eagles, and their fans, as… Could you imagine the wet fart of a Teddy Bear Toss when the bears are thrown AFTER a referees discussion?

The goaltenders in this game were Ajeet Gundarah for Langley and Michael Sochan for Surrey, and both goalies were very good in the game.  Gundarah had an exceptional first period between the pipes for Langley, as he turned away all fifteen Surrey shots in the opening frame.  Michael Sochan, who was the quieter of the two, but still busy, stopped eight of nine in the opening frame.

The moment everyone was waiting for came in the second period of play on another classic Eagles two on one.  After Ryden Evers made a good play along the half wall to work the puck free for Zachary Wagnon, who came into the zone on an odd man rush with the newest edition to the Eagles, Conner Schneider.  Wagnon to Schneider, back to Wagnon, to the back of the net.  The Wagnon Wagon pulled into the station, and the teddy bears let fly.  It was a sea of colours as bears flew onto the ice from all sides of the ice, as the Eagles goal song, Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz, faded into Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Michael Bublé, and the 500 fans in attendance at the South Surrey Arena rejoiced in a bit of early Christmas cheer.

After the Eagles bench hopped onto the ice to help in the cleanup, which all in all only took about five minutes, which is pretty good time for a Teddy Bear Toss, the Eagles and Rivermen returned to the ice to resume the game.  After another thirteen minutes of back and forth action between the two teams, Tate Taylor got a “d to d” pass from Roloson, and Taylor walked his way to the far side of the right faceoff circle before he let go a rocket which beat Gundarah to give Surrey their first lead of the night.

In the third period, The Expo Line hit the track.  It’s the picture perfect Schwartz Bongo Galata shift, as the three gained the offensive zone with speed.  Galata found Schwartz on the far side, who carried it across the line, threw it for Galata at the left hashmarks, and Galata dished it to Jake Bongo, who buried the biscuit for his eleventh goal of the season, and first in four games for The League.  It’s the sign of good things happening for the team when The Expo Line is firing on all cylinders, and they certainly were on Sunday night at the South Surrey Arena, as they were buzzing around the offensive zone all night long leading up to the goal, so it was only natural that they’d be rewarded for their hard work throughout the game.

In the last five minutes of the third, Owen Kim got a breakaway against Michael Sochan, only to be hooked down by defenseman Landon Hilditch, drawing the ire of the official, and drawing the greatest play in hockey: The Penalty Shot.

Kim swung wide to start before working his way back towards the slot, attempted to go across Sochan and stuff it between his legs, but Sochan did a great job to seal off the bottom half of the net and prevent the goal from slipping through.  Michael Sochan is now one for one facing penalty shots in his BC Hockey League career.

In the late stages, with the Langley net empty, Jacob Bonkowski would collect the puck off a pass from Ethan Riesterer, walk his way into the attacking zone at a one on two disadvantage against the Langley defenders, and one hand the puck into the yawning cage for a four to one Surrey lead, and Bonkowski’s 10th goal of the season.

The Eagles skated to the 4-1 victory on Teddy Bear Toss night, as Michael Sochan stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced for his 6th win of the season.  Surrey is back in action Wednesday night when they travel to the Chilliwack Coliseum to take on the Chiefs, before they head to Poweel

Pulver Spectacular as Eagles take down Express in PoCo game.

For the second straight season, the  Coquitlam Express held their special PoCo Game, where the team heads down the hill into Port Coquitlam, to host a game for one of the other sides of the Tri-Cities.  The newly renovated “John Baillie Arena” at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre was the site, and for the second straight season, Coquitlam welcomed their cross river rivals, the Surrey Eagles for the latest edition of the BCHL’s Battle of the Port Mann Bridge.

Surrey has been dominant over Coquitlam this year, even dating back to the preseason, where the Eagles beat the Express four times.  It carried over into the regular season with a 5-2 win on October 2nd at Porier Sports and Leisure, and and followed up with a 6-0 shutout win on home ice at the South Surrey Arena on November 25th.

https://twitter.com/AdelGamar/status/1599260980453990400?s=20&t=hpruQb6yX12WGCLsk67PDg

Six hundred and ninety one fans packed into John Baillie Arena at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre for Saturday nights matchup, including members of council from the Tri-Cities, one of which being Port Coquitlam Councilor and former Global News anchor Steve Darling.

The game began with a breakneck pace between the two teams, as the Eagles and the Express went into this one guns a-blazin’.  Adam Manji got the start between the pipes for Coquitlam, while Surrey went with their All-Star goaltender, Eli Pulver.  Surrey got the ice breaker in the first five minutes, when freshly returned forward Trent Wilson, only in his forth game back, came in on a two on one with The Professor Ante Zlomislic.  Wilson fed a perfect saucer pass over the defenders stick, right onto Zlomislic’s tape, and Ante made no mistake ripping it high glove past Manji to give his team a 1-0 lead.

Coquitlam would answer back after the first period media timeout, as Jason Gallucci fed a pass along the blue line to fellow defender Cam Moger, and he let go a shot through a pile of bodies in front of the Surrey net, eluding Eli Pulver and finding the back of the net to tie the game at one goal a piece.

When in doubt, take the Expo Line.

One of the big lineup moves before this game from Eagles Head Coach Cam Keith was to reunite Surrey’s top line of Jake Bongo, Aaron Schwartz, and Cole Galata, AKA The Expo Line.  Surrey’s other All-Star and CanucksArmy’s favourite player Jake Bongo would dump the puck in to the Coquitlam zone for newly added defender Josh Wessels.  Wessels would bump it back up the wall for Aaron Schwartz, who walked his way off the wall, into the high slot, and let go a seeing eye shot which beat Adam Manji between the arm and the body to give Surrey the 2-1 lead.  It was the team leading 13th goal of the season for the “Dawg” Aaron Schwartz, as he got the monkey off his back after being held goalless for his previous four games.  It was also the third point in five games for Josh Wessels, since he joined the Eagles two weeks ago.

Shots on goal were even at fourteen a piece, but the second period was ALL EXPRESS in the shots department, but the Pulverizer had other plans.  Eli Pulver might’ve had his game of the season (so far) between the pipes for the Eagles on Saturday night in PoCo, which is really saying something when you realize that Pulver leads the BCHL in shutouts this season with four.  The Pulverizer provides strong, positional goaltending on a consistent basis, and he’s truly been the anchor for Surrey this season.  Pulver made thirteen saves in the first period of play, and added another fourteen stops in the second period, many of the spectacular variety.  His best of the period, and the game as a whole, was his stop on Drew Garzone, as Garzone and Colton Alexander came in on a partial two on one after the Eagles failed to clear the zone, Alexander dished across to Garzone who was robbed by the right pad of Eli Pulver.

The third period was much of the same as the rest of the game.  Coquitlam would gain the attacking zone, set up a play.  If it wasn’t thwarted by Tate Taylor, Ty Brassington, or one of Surrey’s other defensemen, the Express would work the puck around, open a lane for either a cross ice pass or a shot.  Either way, it would be stopped by Eli Pulver.  Pulver would add another fourteen saves in the third period, totaling at forty one saves in the victory.  Surrey just played a perfect road game, one which Head Coach Cam Keith and Assistant Coach Matt Dawson would probably dream of.  Grabbed an early lead, took the crowd out of it, and rode it to victory.  Although the game was far from low event, Surrey played a very strong game overall, but we’re definitely carried to victory by their goaltender on this night.  Eli Pulver was named as the game’s first star.

With the victory on Saturday night, Surrey increased their lead in the standings over third place Coquitlam to six points, but still trail the Nanaimo Clippers for top spot in the BC Hockey League’s Coastal Conference.  The Express are back in action at Porier Sports and Leisure Centre next Friday when they welcome the Victoria Grizzlies to town.  On the other side of the Port Mann Bridge, the Eagles are back on home ice on Sunday afternoon for a matchup with the Langley Rivermen, as it’s Teddy Bear Toss night at the South Surrey Arena, where the Eagles will be raising money for Wigs For Kids BC and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.  “Throw Bears” can be purchased by donation for $1, $2, or $5, with the donations going to Wigs For Kids.  The Eagles are also accepting toy and stuffed animal donations, where fans will be able to trade their new, clean toys in for a throw bear, and their traded in toy will be donated to BC Children’s Hospital.

 

The Ring of Honour vs Jersey Retirement Debate

“I know there’s a lot of debate about the Ring of Honour and the [retired number banner], but that stuff doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is moments like tonight and sharing it with you guys. So thank you very much. I look forward to seeing you next year.” – Roberto Luongo

Earlier this week, the Vancouver Canucks announced that Hall of Fame goaltender Roberto Luongo would be the eighth member of the team’s Ring of Honour at Rogers Arena.  This gesture from the Canucks organization to the greatest netminder the city has ever known has been seen as a slap in the face across Vancouver’s fanbase, and the league alike.

The belief across the National Hockey League seems to be that a Ring of Honour induction for Roberto Luongo doesn’t seem like enough for the goaltender who holds virtually every record between the pipes in franchise history, and people are really upset about it.  The only one who isn’t seems to be Roberto himself, who addressed the controversy with class and dignity during the Canucks Hall of Fame ceremony on Thursday night.  Saying that being honoured by the team, whether it be a jersey retirement or a spot in the Ring of Honour, is all that matters, as it gives him a chance to reconnect with the fans of Vanouver.

Roberto came to Vancouver in June of 2006, when the Canucks traded Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen, and Alex Auld to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Lukas Krajicek and Roberto Luongo.  This was heralded across the NHL as one of the biggest trades of the year, as the deal would theoretically give Vancouver their best goaltending since Kirk McLean’s nightly heroics in the early 1990s.  Luongo’s first season in Vancouver is the stuff of legends for goaltending aficionados and generally hockey fans alike, just due to his sheer work load.  Luongo started 76 games for the Canucks in 2006-07, winning forty seven of them, and spending nearly 4500 minutes in the crease that season.  He also got all of Vancouver’s wins that season, played every home game the team played, was voted to the NHL All-Star Game, and came second in voting for the Vezina Trophy for the league’s best goaltender, and came fifth in voting for the Hart Trophy for league MVP.

The standard of excellence that Luongo set in the Vancouver goal crease, and the Canucks dressing room as a whole over the next four years is virtually unmatched in franchise history.  The true face of the franchise, Luongo was named the team’s captain at the start of the 2008-09 season, the first goaltender to hold captaincy in the National Hockey League since Bill Durnan was the Captain of the Montreal Canadiens for one season in 1947-48.  Starting with him being named Captain on September 30, 2008, the Canucks would begin their most dominant run in franchise history, cruising to four Northwest Division Titles, two best in the Western Conference finishes, two President’s Trophies for the best regular season record in the National Hockey League, a Western Conference Championship, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.

Luongo’s tenure with the Canucks certainly wasn’t without it’s controversies.  Outside of the infamous “tire pumping” fiasco with Tim Thomas in the Stanley Cup Final, there’s also the equally infamous goaltending controversy with Cory Schneider.  Schneider, at the time, might’ve been the best young goaltender in the NHL, putting up great numbers for Vancouver in a backup role to Luongo, including the pair winning the William J. Jennings Trophy in 2011 for least goals allowed by a goaltending tandem in a season.  Coming into the lockout shortened 2013 season, there were calls from Canucks fan and fans around the League for Schneider to step out of Luongo’s shadow and become the Canucks starter.  The two handled the controversy with class and humour, even filming a tremendous piece with TSN about the “hidden truth” about the rivalry between the two.

The end of the road for Luongo in Vancouver came in 2014, but it wasn’t the way many fans expected it to go down.  It wasn’t Cory Schneider ousting Luongo from his crease (Schneider was actually traded the previous off-season for the draft pick used to select Bo Horvat), but a coach running him out of town.  After butting heads with new bench boss John Tortorella numerous times throughout the season, the final straw came when Torts started Eddie Lack over Lu to start the Heritage Classic outdoor game at BC Place against Ottawa.  Within a week, Luongo’s time in Vancouver was over.

So the question has to be raised, why wouldn’t you retire Luongo’s number?  He’s surely one of the all time legends of the franchise, and belongs in the same breath as Smyl, Linden, and Bure.  The Ring of Honour seems like a slap in the face to Luongo because the Ring of Honour was meant to honour the unsung heroes and fan favourites of the team, like Harold Snepts and Alex Burrows.  The only apparent thing keeping Luongo’s name and number out of the rafters at Rogers Arena is seemingly the legacy of Kirk McLean.

For those that don’t know, Kirk McLean previously held all the goaltending records in franchise history before Roberto Luongo’s run in Vancouver began.  McLean gave the Canucks ten and a half years of service between the pipes from 1987 until he was dealt in January of 1998.  McLean’s highlights include a pair of Division Titles, second goalie in team history to win a playoff round, first Canucks goalie to win a round in multiple years, first to win a game in the Stanley Cup Finals, a pair of Vezina nominations, and a Hart Trophy nomination in 1992.  All of this culminates with his incredible run in the 1994 playoffs.

McLean’s impact on the team is obviously massive, as he was the catalyst for the Canucks’ first period of sustained success, the very same thing that can be said about Roberto Luongo’s run with the team.  The answer?  Take a page out of the book of the hated New York Rangers and retire one number for two players.  Easy.

#Retire1

Panthers beat on Canucks on Hall of Fame Night

So the season has to be a wash now, right?

Thursday night at Rogers Arena had all the makings of a heart wrenching, feel good Canucks win, as they honoured three of the greatest players to ever wear a Canucks sweater.

To celebrate their induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto last month, the Canucks welcomed Henrik and Daniel Sedin, along with Roberto Luongo, back onto the ice at Rogers Arena, where they created so many lasting memories for generations of Canucks fans.

Bobby Lou and the Twins were greatest with massive applause and “LUUUUUUUU” chants as they made their way down the carpet to centre ice, after each was introduced with a separate video package, narrated by former Head Coach Alain Vigneault.  It was also the Hall of Fame netminder’s first chance to publicly address the Vancouver fans since being traded before the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline.  A glassy eyed Luongo spoke fondly of the City and organization that gave him the best eight years of his career, and how playing for the Canucks elevated him to be a better player on the ice, and a better person off of it.

“On a personal note, I really wanted to thank you guys for pushing me to be a better goaltender, pushing me to be a better person every single night.” -Roberto Luongo

The three newly minted Hall of Famers were then joined at centre ice by representatives from each of Vancouver’s three First Nations, and honoured with a traditional blanketing ceremony, symbolizing the highest form of respect and honor from the First Nations of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh.

If the night ended after Roberto Luongo dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff, this would go down in Canucks history as one of the best nights in the history of the franchise, as three heroes got their flowers.

Unfortunately, the Canucks still had a hockey game to play.

Vancouver welcomed the Florida Panthers for the “hockey” portion of Thursday night’s festivities.  The Panthers had been skidding as of late, losing six of their last seven games coming into last night’s game, which certainly wasn’t a great look for last season’s Presidents Trophy winners.  Thatcher Demko was back between the pipes for the Canucks, after riding the pine behind Spencer Martin for the better part of the past week.  Demko was tested early and often in the first period of play, as the Canucks has issues getting their legs underneath them for the second straight game, almost like they were dealing with jet lag, despite the fact that they’re at home.  The Panthers fired 12 shots at the Canucks goaltender in the first seventeen minutes of the first period, with Demko stopping all of them.  This was a welcome sight for Canucks fans, who have been desperate to see their world-class goaltender get back into world-class form.  Then came the most 2022-23 Canucks minute of the 2022-23 season, so far.

Luke Schenn picked up a loose puck in the corner, and just tried to chip it up to his winger at the point.  The only problem was this winger was nowhere to be found.  The puck, instead, found it’s way on to the tape of Panther Josh Mahura at the top of the right circle, who feathered a beauty saucer pass to Matthew Tkachuk, who waited out Thatcher Demko, as the netminder overcorrected and slid out of his net, and popped it in on the backhand to make it 1-0 Panthers.

Still in that same minute, Ethan Bear would be stripped of the puck in the defensive zone, giving Florida a chance to go back to work.  After Demko made a pretty nice right pad save off the initial shot from Sam Reinhart at the top of the right circle, Reinhart raced to his own rebound in the opposite corner, threw it up top to Gustav Forsling, who beamed one through traffic, beating Demko down low to make it two nothing for the Cats, thirty-five seconds after Tkachuk opened the scoring.

Once again, still in the same minute, the Panthers came back into the Canucks zone, with numbers.  Patric Hornqvist took the first shot, which Demko kicked out, Eric Staal was stopped on the rebound, Demko stopped that as well, Hornqvist got a third chance which Thatcher stopped, but hurt himself in the process, leaving a loose puck for Ryan Lomberg to knock home to make it three goals in fifty-nine seconds for the Florida Panthers.  This was also the end of the night for Thatcher Demko, as he was helped off the ice by the Canucks training staff following the play.  The goalie was seen grabbing at his right hamstring on the play, and Demko does have a history with hip injuries.  Demko’s evaluation has yet to be made public.

Spencer Martin would come in, in relief of the injured Demko, making twelve saves on fourteen shots in just over forty minutes of playing time.  The lone bright spot for the Vancouver fans at the Rog came in the second period, where Dakota Joshua and Brock Boeser gained the Florida zone on a two on one.  Joshua tried to throw a cross crease pass for Boeser, but the puck just ran off the end of his stick.  Luckily for Joshua and the Canucks, the puck ran off the stick and between the legs of Florida goaltender Spencer Knight, breaking his chances for the shutout bid.

After two more Panthers goals, both from Sam Bennett, the Canucks dropped their second straight game, both 5-1 losses on home ice.  Postgame, forward JT Miller equated the performance to “immaturity” and claims that it’s something the team “is working on”.

As for the Canucks fanbase, it seems like the loss has officially got the bandwagon looking towards the Draft Lottery, as opposed to the playoffs.  The allure of drafting hometown boy and WHL phenom, Connor Bedard, and putting him in the sweater of the team he grew up cheering for is pretty tempting.  Now with the apparent injury to goaltender Thatcher Demko, it seems like the fanbase is now fully embracing the tank.

 

Ranking the Expo Line Stations, From Worst to Best

Is there a more ingrained part of the fabric of Vancouver than the Skytrain?  Since it’s construction in the leadup to Expo86, the Skytrain has gone from a novelty of the future, to the main artery that pumps people in and out of the heart of the city.  Prompt and quick train service, generally clean cars, and above all else, convenient.

However, as a wise man once said; Not all train stations are created equal.

Today, we’re gonna rank the stations on the Skytrain’s Expo Line.  For simplicities sake, we’re not going to include the Coquitlam extension, nor the hypothetical Langley extensions, as they don’t exist yet.  Strictly King George to Waterfront here.  Let’s rank the stations on the bloodline of Vancouver culture, from worst to best.

#20. King George – There’s a phrase used in transit called “end of line syndrome”, where, due to the fact that it’s the last place the train stops, the station serves as a massive hub.  The problem with that is… King George has no parking.  In a situation where it’s the closest station for more that three quarters of the population of Surrey, with about 30 parking spots, it’s exclusively used by people getting dropped off by family, or transit users.  This could very well change in seven years when the Langley extension is finished, but as for now, it’s the worst station on the Expo Line.

#19. Nanaimo – Does anyone actually use Nanaimo?  It’s not on one of the major bus routes.  It’s not near anything of note.  It’s just a stop between Commercial-Broadway and 29th Avenue, which isn’t much better, but we’ll get to it.  Unless you live within three blocks of the station, you’ll probably never find yourself getting on or off at Nanaimo.

#18. 29th Avenue – Everything I said about Nanaimo applies here, except there’s a park across the street at least, so you might be able to play some pickup football with your buddies there.  Other than that, another low-event station.

#17. 22nd Street – People get on to the bus to go to across the Queensboro Bridge.  That’s why the station exists.

#16. Edmonds – You can still see the ties in the ground from the old BC Hydro Railway line that discontinued service in the 1990s.  That’s gotta be worth something, right?

#15. Joyce-Collingwood – It’s on the R4 Rapid Bus route.  That’s pretty well the only thing of note about Joyce-Collingwood.  Not a middle of nowhere station, but not a point of interest either.

#14. Surrey Central – It’s big.  It’s busy.  There’s tons of transit options.  But Surrey Central just feels… blah, ya know?  Located in the middle of Surrey’s crime territory, the area isn’t overly clean, but the buses all run there, so it makes it a better option than King George.  Certainly not a nice place to be though.

#13. Gateway – A bit of a redundant station, due to it’s proximity to Surrey Central, but it has a major advantage.  You can see the BC Lions Practice Field from the train.  It’s a pretty cool thing to see a professional football team practice while you’re on your commute, and that’s what puts it above Surrey Central.

#12. Royal Oak – One of the many stations carried over from the old Intraurban Rail Line, Royal Oak one of the quieter stations on the line, but doesn’t suffer from not being near anything like previous entries on this list.

#11. Columbia – The last station before you cross the river, or the first after you do, depending on how you look at it.  Columbia is the transfer station for people wanting to go out towards Production Way, so there’s constantly people getting on and off trains there.  Cold, damp, cool vibes.  Columbia lands juuuuuust outside the top 10.

#10. Commercial-Broadway – The spot where the Expo Line meets the Millennium Line, it’s always busy.  Always something going on.  But due to it’s proximity on two different lines, albeit separated by a hallway and some staircases, it sees constant traffic, basically seeing a train every minute and a half.

#9. Patterson – Patterson is a hilarious station, because it’s only 20 seconds away from Metrotown, there’s no businesses or anything of note around it, but it’s just fantastic.  Right on top of a massive park, down the street from a huge tennis court, it’s the “recreation station” of the Expo Line.  Plus, you can sometimes find free street parking, if you’re lucky.

#8. Granville – Two Words.  SCARY ESCALATOR.  Granville lets you out onto Granville Street, the home of Vancouver nightlife, but getting up to street level is a harrowing experience.  The escalators are so steep, you’re constantly convinced you’re going to fall backwards.  It’s a shock it hasn’t happened more.  But it’s still a very nice spot, and one of the few underground stations on the line.

#7 Main Street-Science World – The oldest station on the line, first built for the Skytrain’s public demonstrations in the mid 1980s, Main Street-Science World is in a great location, across the street from long distance rail and bus at Pacific Central Station, across the street from Science World, False Creek, and other great spots in one of the city best areas.  It would rank higher, but is held back by crime rates around the station.

View post on imgur.com

#6. Scott Road – The best of the four Surrey stations, Scott Road has the biggest Park-and-Ride on the line, so naturally, it sees some of the heaviest traffic on the line.  Basically, 60% of the transit users in Surrey use Scott Road, myself included.  There’s nothing like seeing the sea of people exit the Surrey bound train at Scott Road.  Pure madness.

View post on imgur.com

#5. Metrotown – The sheer amount of things to do at Metrotown makes it land a high spot on this list.  It’s also a bus hub, being the centre of transit down to BCIT, EA Sports, and much more.  The old skyway bridge connecting the station to the mall never being reconnected following the stations renovations brings it down a spot or two, but it’s still top five.

#4. Burrard  – The best of the “Underground” stations.  Burrard brings you out in the heart of Downtown, but doesn’t have an escalator that makes you think you’re gonna topple over backwards.  It’s a prime location, and it’s also quite pretty in the summertime.

#3. New Westminster – The original terminus station for the Skytrain.  New West is in a gorgeous location, right next to the New West Quay on the Fraser, there’s a nice little shopping district built in the station, so it’s a great one stop shop.  There’s also an Old Spaghetti Factory up the street, so it’s a winner of a station.  Top three easy.

View post on imgur.com

#2. Waterfront – It’s a 100 year old train station.  What’s not to love?  It’s absolutely gorgeous in there, connections to the Canada Line, West Coast Express and Sea Bus are right there, or you could walk outside into Gastown.

View post on imgur.com

#1. Stadium-Chinatown – Due to it’s location, Stadium-Chinatown is easily the best Skytrain Station on the Expo Line.  With exits leading either down to street level at Rogers Arena, or up to either Chinatown on the side exit, or right into the bustles of Downtown Vancouver if you go all the way to the top.  There’s also nothing like the train ride home from Stadium-Chinatown after a Canucks win or a concert.  Just jam packed with happy people, there’s not much like it.

Nothing symbolizes Vancouver Culture quite like the Skytrain, as it connects the people to the city.  But there’s clearly a hierarchy of the stations, and I’m glad I could share it with you.

The Spencer Martin Experience

Spencer Martin celebrates after a victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Arena. (twitter.com/canucks)

 

Spencer Martin is a different species.  A dawg as it were. This is something that Canucks fans have come to learn over the past 365+ days.  Although he’s not the most spectacular goaltender to ever come through Vancouver’s organization over the years, he’s provided something incredibly valuable for the Canucks, at both the National and American Hockey League levels; consistency.

In July of 2021, the Vancouver Canucks acquired the then twenty six year old netminder from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for future considerations.  The Canucks management system, at that time led by General Manager Jim Benning, brought Martin into the organization to be a fifth string goaltender, behind Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak for the big team in Vancouver, along with Michael DiPietro and Arturs Silovs with the American Hockey League in Abbotsford.

The journey began in Abbotsford on October 30, 2021, when the “Baby Canucks” hosted the San Jose Barracuda at Abbotsford Centre.  Martin got his first start in a Canucks sweater (Fun Fact: The writer of this article was actually the PA Announcer that night) there, and didn’t look back, going 5-0-2 in his first seven games with the Abby Canucks, with a 2.24 GAA, a .921% save percentage, and one shutout, effectively leapfrogging over Arturs Silovs in the depth chart.  Then came the fateful “Canucks COVID stretch” of January 2022, where nearly half the team tested positive for the Coronavirus.  This included both Thatcher Demko and Jaro Halak, basically eliminating Vancouver’s goal crease in one foul swoop.  The decision was made to call up and ride Spencer Martin until either Demko or Halak were available to return between the pipes.  His first start for the big club in Vancouver, and first start in the National Hockey league in nearly five years, came on January 21 against the first place Florida Panthers.  Vancouver lost two to one in a shootout, but Martin was named as the first star of the game, making thirty three saves in the defeat.  He followed that up with forty seven saves in the 3-2 Overtime defeat to Edmonton four days later, before finally picking up his first career NHL win on January 27th, making another thirty three saves in a 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets before being reassigned to Abbotsford.  This callup was the beginning of a crazy run which saw Spencer Martin go undefeated in regulation in the National Hockey League, going 9-0-4 in thirteen starts with Vancouver.

Martin’s great play in short stint in Vancouver, along with his consistently great play in the American Hockey League with the Abbotsford Canucks, helped further him up the depth chart, as he jumped over Mikey DiPietro on the charts, as Martin had firmly earned the starters net in Abbotsford, as well as the adoration of every fan that walked into Abbotsford Centre, cemented as one of the most popular players on the team.

During the off season this past summer, when General Manager Patrick Allvin and company were deliberating on what to do with certain positions, overlooking the defense in the process, but one of the decisions made was to promote Spencer Martin one more time, as he was basically placed in the back-up role behind Thatcher Demko with the main club in Vancouver.  This is where things truly get interesting.

Thatcher Demko did not have a good start to the 2022-23 National Hockey League season.  This is not a controversial opinion, he’d probably have it as well.  Struggling to find his game behind a porous Canucks defense through the first ten games, Demko stumbled out to a 1-8-2 start in the first month of the season, leading to coach Bruce Boudreau to start to turn towards the backup goaltender.  Martin began getting starts, and he was winning. Consistently.  And even in the games the Canucks didn’t win, he’d manage to drag them to Overtime so they could still salvage the “losers point”.  He’s not spectacularly flashy.  He’s not the second coming of Dominik Hasek.  But man, he can make the big save when you need it, he can hold down the fort for the Canucks, and he’s been the go to option for Bruce Boudreau and the Coaching Staff.

Martin has a fantastic 6-1-1 record in his eight starts this season, picking up two thirds of Vancouver’s wins so far this season.  Obviously, that’s Thatcher Demko’s net.  As soon as his game returns to form, to where both he and the Canucks want and need it to be, he’ll take back the crease and be Vancouver’s #1 goaltender, but until then… That’s Spencer Martin’s net.  You always want to play the players that give your team the best chance to win on any given night.  That includes your goaltender, and in a race back into the playoff race, the Vancouver Canucks need to ride the hot hand, and that is 100% without a shadow of a doubt Spencer Martin at the moment, and Boudreau’s choices have shown that.  Martin got the “difficult” starts on Vancouver’s last road trip, taking down formidable opponents in the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche, and the Pacific Division leading Vegas Golden Knights, while Demko got the lighter load, the second half of a weekend back to back which saw them take on the lowly San Jose Sharks.  The Canucks won all three games on the trip, but who was between the pipes for which game was certainly telling, even if only for the short term.

It’s truly been a wild sixteen month for Spencer Martin, not playing an NHL game in four years, coming from the system of back to back defending Stanley Cup Champions in the Tampa Bay Lightning to a lower to middle of the pack organization in the Vancouver Canucks.  Being acquired to be the 5th string goaltender, there just in case somebody got hurt.  Then he played his rear end off, took every opportunity that was given to him and ran with it, climbed the depth chart, and is now, even if only for a brief moment in time, a starting goaltender in the National Hockey League.

That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Kuzmenko Plays Hero, Canucks beat Sharks in OT

Last week, the Canucks blew another lead, and dropped a demoralizing game to the Vegas Golden Knights.  It seemed like Vancouver was destined for another year in the basement.  Then they went three for three on a road trip, and I don’t know how to feel anymore!

The road trip would start at Ball Arena in Denver, where the Canucks took on the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche.  Spencer Martin got the start between the pipes against the team that drafted him back in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry draft, and was instrumental in Vancouver’s 4-3 defeat of the Avs.  Two days later, Vancouver was in Las Vegas for a rematch with the same Golden Knights team that embarrassed them on home ice earlier in the week.  Vancouver responded with their most complete game of the season so far, as they were first on every puck, generated scoring chances, and were able to capitalize on them, as they skated to a 5-1 victory at T-Mobile Arena.  Spencer Martin was back between the pipes in that one, putting up another strong performance, including two great stops in the early parts of the first period, denying a pair of Vegas chances.

That sets the stage for what could have been perceived as a trap game for the Vancouver Canucks, as they squared off against the 7-12-4 San Jose Sharks.  That would’ve been classic Canucks hockey, overperform against two powerhouses before dropping the “easy one” to finish out the road trip, but that simply didn’t happen.  Thatcher Demko was back between the pipes for Vancouver for the first time since the Vegas debacle less than a week earlier at Rogers Arena.  Local Boy and fan favourite Kyle Burroughs got things going for the Canucks in the first period of play, rifling a shot from between the blue line and the top of the left faceoff circle, beating Kaapo Kahkonen low to the glove side to make it one to nothing for the visitors.  Bo Horvat and JT Miller registered the assists on the opening marker from Burroughs.

In the second period, it looked like the game would devolve into that “Classic Canucks Hockey” situation we discussed earlier.  Why? Listen to this score line.  Matt Benning, nephew of former Canucks General Manager and longtime media scapegoat Jim Benning, let go the shot from the far point, which was tipped by former Canuck Nick Bonino, into the back and shoulder of Sharks forward Luke Kunin, which sent the puck high into the air, achieving a picture perfect arch which sent the puck above Thatcher Demko’s shoulder and below the crossbar.  Canucks Hockey on Rogers Sportsnet. 

San Jose would take their first lead of the game early in the third period, as Sharks Captain Logan Couture let go a shot from the high slot, which changed direction via an attempted shot block from Canucks defenseman Ethan Bear, fooling Demko to make in 2-1.

Cue the heat to be turned on by THE LINE for the Canucks this season.  Andrey Kuzmenko, Elias Pettersson, and Ilya Mikayev.  There’s no better way to put this than to say that the Canucks went to work.  Pettersson and Mikheyev came in on a partial two on one, Petey took the shot which was stopped, Mikheyev threw the puck down low, where Pettersson like… warped to, and he tried a bank play off the back of the netminder, which Kahkonen stopped initially, but he couldn’t block Pettersson’s centering pass, as he found Mikheyev in the slot, he let it rip, and beat the goaltender.

The Canucks were not done there, as Elias Pettersson and the lads decided they wanted to do more damage.  After a great diving poke check from Ilya Mikheyev to get the puck back to the blue line and away from a Sharks defender, Oliver Ekman-Larsson let go a point shot, intentionally wide, right on to the tape of the Elias Pettersson, and Canucks Superstar made no mistake tipping it between the arm and the body of Kahkonen to give Vancouver their second lead of the night.

The Sharks would make it interesting, as they’d tie the game late.  Erik Karlsson dished a beautiful saucer pass through the goal mouth over a pair of Vancouver sticks right to Luke Kunin who beat Demko for his second goal of the night, and fifth of the season.  The final seconds would tick off the clock in the third period of play, and we were headed to Overtime.

On the Canucks radio broadcast on Sportsnet 650, Play by Play broadcaster Brendan Batchelor mentioned during the brief intermission that Vancouver had yet to pick up a victory in extra time so far this season, going zero for two in overtime and zero for one in the shootout.  This, apparently didn’t scare Andrey Kuzmenko and the Vancouver Canucks very much.  JT Miller reset things in his own zone, goading San Jose into an ill timed line change, which was eventually taken by Timo Mier, creating just a little bit of separation in the neutral zone, just enough room to launch a nasty stretch pass up for Andrey Kuzmenko who beamed it high to the glove side, beating Kaapo Kahkonen for his first overtime winner in his National Hockey League career, and his eleventh goal of the 22-23 campaign.

A perfect three for three on a short road trip could be exactly what the Canucks have needed.  After the victory over San Jose, Vancouver now sits just one point back of the St. Louis Blues for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.  The three game win streak, Vancouver’s first this season, could also be a catalyst for Coach Bruce Boudreau to keep his job, after frequently being thrown under the bus by Jim Rutherford and Canucks management, but after three wins on the road, and three BRUCE! There It Is chants from Canucks faithful in enemy territory during those games, it looks like Coach Boudreau is safe for now.

The Canucks return home to Vancouver this week for a four game homestand, beginning with Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

Eagles derail Express, Stay Hot on Home Ice

The Surrey Eagles continued to be dominant on home ice Friday night, as they defeated the Coquitlam Express 6-0 at the South Surrey Arena in BC Hockey League action.

Since the team came together at training camp in early September, the Eagles have had a vibe that fans of the team haven’t seen in a decade.  The team scores goals at a rapid pace, they’ve had strong goaltending from both netminders all season long, and the stands at The Nest in Surrey have been full every game.  You’d have to harken back to the 2012-13 BCHL season, when a Eagles squad led by Brady Shaw, Michael Stenerson, and future Stanley Cup Champion Devon Toews, marched their way to the Fred Page Cup Final and took down the highly favored Penticton Vees.  It’s been a long ten years since the last glory days down at the South Surrey Arena, but this season has been something special so far for Surrey, and it’s fans.

Friday night was “Movember” night at the South Surrey Arena, as the Eagles dawned special jerseys for the game.  The team’s Movember fundraiser is support of Men’s Health has already raised nearly $9,000, smashing their initial goal of $5,000, and that number will increase after the Eagles announced that they’d be donating $2.50 from every adult ticket sold to the Movember Foundation.  During the pregame ceremony, the Eagles also honoured the memory of former assistant coach John Short, who passed away this past summer after a bout with Colon Cancer.  Short was an instrumental part of Surrey’s RBC Cup National Championship victory back in 1998.  Eagles owner Ron Brar, along with Short’s wife and children, unveiled the John Short Memorial Leadership Award, which will be awarded to the Eagles player that best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice at the team’s year end awards show in March.

Friday night also marked the start of Family Weekend for the Surrey Eagles, as parents and siblings from across North America made their way up to the White Rock area to see their boys play.  Another jam packed crowd at the South Surrey Arena was on hand to see the Eagles take on their cross river rivals, the Coquitlam Express, in another edition of the BCHL’s Battle of the Port Mann.  Surrey would strike early, as the Expo Line of Cole Galata, Aaron Schwartz, and Jake Bongo, would gain the attacking zone.  Schwartz fed Galata behind the net, who looked to dish off to Bongo in the slot.  The pass was blocked, but the loose puck squirted out to defenseman Ollie Gabrielson at the top of the right face-off circle, who made no mistake, ripping it bar south past Express goaltender Brady Smith to make it 1-0.  The Expo Line went back to work again, as Bongo and Galata came in on a two-on-one, Bongo fed Galata in front, who ended up crashing the net, taking the puck and the goaltender with him.  The referees would initially call it a goal, before calling it back for Goaltender Interference after deliberation.  The Eagles wouldn’t have to sit with that on their conscience for long, as Zachary Wagnon gained the Coquitlam zone along the right wing boards, made a nice pass to himself off the wall to get past a defender, before he dished it back to Ryden Evers at the top of the faceoff circle, who ripped one high, beating Smith to give Surrey a 2-0 lead, and this one would count.

Jump forward to the 2nd period , after a strong penalty kill by the Eagles, Savek Brar and Ethan Riesterer went in hard on the forecheck against a tired Express powerplay unit, and forced a turnover below the goal line.  Riesterer took the puck behind the net, fed it into the high slot for a fresh off the bench Cole Galata, who pumped it five hole on Smith for his second goal of the night, but first one that counted.  3-0 Surrey.  Early in the third period, Surrey won an offensive zone faceoff, Ty Brassington and Ollie Gabrielson would throw it back and forth at the blue line a couple of times before Brassington let go a seeing eye shot from the far point, through traffic, beating Brady Smith to make it 4-0.  Ethan Riesterer would add to the Surrey lead twice in the second half of the third period, first wiring a laser beam high slot over the shoulder of the netminder for his seventh of the season.  Riesterer’s eighth of the campaign would come in the final minute of the third period, as he knocked home the rebound from a Jacob Bonkowski wraparound chance.  The Eagles picked up their eighth straight victory at the South Surrey Arena, and their “ninth” home win overall, as their victory over Prince George at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack was classified as a “Home” game.  Eli Pulver made thirty-nine saves between the pipes for the Eagles, as he registered his league leading fourth shutout of the season.

Following their victory on Friday night, Surrey improves their overall record this season to 16-3-0, still sitting two points back of the Nanaimo Clippers for first in the Coastal Conference, but the Eagles do have a pair of games in hand over Nanaimo.  Surrey continues their weekend on Sunday, when the Chilliwack Chiefs make their way to South Surrey Arena for the for the fourth matchup of the season between the two teams.  The Eagles took the first three matchups, winning 1-0 on September 30, 4-1 on October 7, and 4-3 on October 8.  The Eagles will be celebrating “Star Wars Night” at Sunday’s game, with $2.50 from every adult ticket sold going to Wigs For Kids BC and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Elsewhere of note in the BCHL, the Penticton Vees bodies the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 7-1 to push their undefeated start to 22 games, the Langley Rivermen defeated the Merritt Centennials 5-1, and the Nanaimo Clippers beat the Powell River Kings 6-4 to keep their two point lead over the Eagles for first in the BC Hockey League’s Coastal Conference.

Could Vancouver Host a WWE “Premium Live Event”?

December 13, 1998.  That was the last time that World Wrestling Entertainment, or it’s previous iteration, the World Wrestling Federation, ran a Pay Per View event in Vancouver.  It was a raucous night down at the then named “General Motors Place”, as 20,042 Vancouver wrestling fans packed the Garage for WWF Rock Bottom: In Your House, to see a twenty seven year old Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson defend his World Wrestling Federation Championship against Mankind, as well as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker fight for literal survival in a Buried Alive Match in the main event.  This was the second Pay Per View Extravaganza that the World Wrestling Federation would run at the newly built GM Place, after hosting In Your House: International Incident a couple years earlier in 1996.  The World Wrestling Federation would never return to Vancouver for another PPV event, and BC’s wrestling fans are getting restless.

It’s not that the WWF never came back, television tapings of Monday Night RAW happened at GM Place in 2000, and at the Pacific Coliseum in 2003, but after that, it would be a very long time before the now WWE and their camera crews would roll into Vancouver.  Aside from the yearly untelevised “house show”, which could take place anywhere from the Coliseum or the Agrodome, all the way out to Abbotsford Centre in the Fraser Valley.  The “dry spell” for WWE fans in Vancouver came to an end in the early months of 2018, when SmackDown came to Rogers Arena for a television taping.  It was WWE’s first televised event in Vancouver in fifteen years, but still no Pay Per View events.  If Vancouver wrestling fans wanted their “big show” fix (no pun intended), they would have to travel south to Seattle, Tacoma, or Portland to see WWE largest offerings.

Jump forward to this past September, and WWE came back to town for another House Show, this time at the Coliseum.  The Rink on Renfrew was sold out for months, as local fans were clamoring for the chance to see the likes of the Undisputed Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, the French-Canadian Prizefighter, Kevin Owens, and the Legendary Rey Mysterio.  So there’s clearly an appetite for professional wrestling in Vancouver, and specifically that of the WWE product, which raises the question.  Why hasn’t WWE hosted a Premium Live Event in Vancouver?

BC Place is a prime candidate for an extravaganza like WrestleMania, although Vancouver’s chances of getting a WrestleMania are low.  In the thirty eight year history of WWE’s Super Bowl, WrestleMania has only emanated from outside of the United States twice, both at SkyDome in Toronto, in 1990 and 2002 respectively, while the other thirty six instances of The Grandest Stage of Them All have taken place on American soil.  WWE also has a bit of prejudice towards the Pacific Northwest, as they brought WrestleMania XIX to Safeco Field in Seattle, which got a historically low Pay Per View Buyrate, and for whatever reason, officials within the company blamed the city of Seattle on that poor draw, so there is suspicion that WWE wouldn’t bring their biggest show of the year back to the area.

But what about SummerSlam?  WWE’s Big Three events are Royal Rumble in January, WrestleMania in April, and SummerSlam in August.  All of these events are regularly held at baseball or football stadiums, and turn the host city into a travel destination across the wrestling world.  Should WWE ever host SummerSlam at BC Place, they wouldn’t just be selling tickets to the 700,000 people that live in Vancouver, they’d also be attracting wrestling fans from across the country, continent, and even the world.  European wrestling fans are well known for their willingness to make the trip across the pond for one of WWE’s premier events, and the economic benefits for the city would be huge.  Just as big an impact as something like the Rugby Sevens or the World Junior Hockey Championship would bring, as all these fans would be here for at least three days; that’s three nights in a hotel, a minimum of nine meals at restaurant or other local establishments, some leisure and recreation time throughout the city, it’s nearly limitless.

Not to mention WWE’s love of being “The Biggest Event in Town”, throwing Block Parties, hosting charity events like celebrity golf games, and visiting schools to promote anti-bullying, the community impacts are substantial.  There would also, more than likely, come an NXT Takeover show during the weekend, as well, where the company’s developmental brand has their own “Premium Live Event” on the WWE Network.  This would more than likely take place at Rogers Arena or the Pacific Coliseum.  The City of Vancouver hosting SummerSlam, or a WWE Event of a similar scope, could only be a sea of positives for the local community, people and businesses alike.  Plus, it gives people who might never have a reason to come to British Columbia to experience why it it says Super Natural British Columbia in all those tourism advertisements.  It has the potential to be the biggest event downtown Vancouver has seen since the Winter Olympics in 2010.  In an era where cities have to bid on these massive events, like they were Super Bowls or World Cups, it would be in the best interest of the City of Vancouver to sink their teeth into the potential gold mine that in World Wrestling Entertainment, and if the people are serious about trying to get the Olympics back in Vancouver for 2030, why wouldn’t you use this as a “trial run”, so to speak.  Of course, it’s much smaller crowd of people that would flow into the city as compared to the Games, but it’s a good feeler to see where bars and restaurants, hotels, and the City as a whole is ready to host big events on a world stage again.  Plus, it’d be pretty cool to see BC Place jam packed with wrestling fans, going wild for WWE SummerSlam.

The ball is in your court, WWE and Vancouver… Make it happen.

“Can We Retire One Number for Two Players?” Making the case for the McLean/Luongo Jersey Retirement

Here’s a fun, yet kinda depressing trivia question for you;  How many Canucks goaltenders, in the 52 year history of the franchise, have won a playoff round?  I’ll give you a minute.

The answer is five.  Dan Cloutier bested the St. Louis Blues in seven games in 2003.  Jacob Markstrom, who was sensational for Vancouver in the 2020 “Bubble” playoffs in Edmonton, bounced the Minnesota Wild three games to one in the “Play-In” round, before he and the Canucks bounced the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blues in six games in the Western Conference Quarter Finals.  “King” Richard Broduer carried an underachieving Canucks team all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982, brushing aside the Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings, and Chicago Blackhawks along the way, before suffering a four game sweep from the New York Islanders dynasty.

Three of the five goaltenders in Canucks history who have won a round did it in a single year.  Then, there’s Kirk McLean and Roberto Luongo.  The respective backbones of the two most successful periods in franchise history.

Kirk McLean was acquired by GM Pat Quinn in September of 1987, along with forward Greg Adams, from the New Jersey Devils for Patrick Sundstrom.  McLean’s rookie season behind one of the numerous poor 1980s Canucks squads was not pretty on the stat line for the young netminder, but it became the birth of a legend who could give the team a chance to win any game they were in, a luxury the team had rarely been afforded in it’s seventeen year history, up to that point.  The following year, the tandem of Kirk McLean and Steve Weekes, carried a middling Canucks team into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a close loss in seven games against the powerhouse Calgary Flames.  After another year in the basement, Vancouver would bounce back with, at the time, their best finish in franchise history, 42-26-12, with McLean in net for 38 of those victories.  McLean was named to the All-Star game, and came second in voting for the Vezina Trophy for the NHL’s best goaltender.  This season saw the first of back to back Playoff defeats of the Winnipeg Jets, first in seven games, and in six games the following year in 1993.  Then comes the fabled run of 1994…

“Kirk McLean.  Give him a kiss boys, because he saved your life tonight.” – Harry Neale, Hockey Night In Canada

776 saves in 24 games, a 2.29 Goals Against Average, .928% Save Percentage, Four Shutouts, the NHL record for most saves by a goaltender in a single Playoff year, second in voting for Playoff MVP, would have handily won the trophy if Vancouver won the Stanley Cup.  The impact of Kirk McLean on that 1994 Stanley Cup Finalist Canucks squad can never be overstated.  Ever.  He was the reason they got out of Round One against Calgary.  He was SPECTACULAR in Round Two against Dallas.  Had a shutout streak that stretched across four games against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Western Conference Finals.  Fifty Two Saves in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Rangers.  The list keeps going.  It’s simply put, one of the most impressive goaltending runs in Playoff history.

McLean picked up one more series win in 1995, a seven game defeat of the St. Louis Blues, before “Captain” Kirk entered the back nine of his playing career, eventually being traded to Carolina along with Martin Gelinas for Sean Burke and Geoff Sanderson in January of 1998.  The Canucks wouldn’t see consistent goaltending for another eight years, as the era of the Vancouver “Goalie Graveyard” began, which saw fourteen goaltenders dawn the Canucks sweater between the pipes, all with little to no success.  Enter Roberto Luongo.

Luongo’s first year in Vancouver is the best goaltending from any goalie to ever wear a Canucks sweater, bar none.  In 76 games, Roberto Luongo won 47 of them, played every single game the team had on home ice (41/41 home games), was named to the All-Star game, shattered numerous team records, set an NHL record for most saves in a single Playoff game with 72 (Record has since been broken), and bounced the Dallas Stars in seven games.  Following this, Luongo continued to put up quality numbers for the Vancouver Canucks for the next seven years, setting multiple records for things such as “Most Shutouts in a Season”, and “Longest Continuous Shutout Streak in Franchise History”, winning the William Jennings Trophy in 2011, along with Cory Schneider, for least goals allowed in a season, was named to the All-Star game a few more times, won five division titles, two Presidents Trophies, and led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals, before being delt back to the Florida Panthers in 2014.

Why am I talking about this?  Simply put, Kirk McLean and Roberto Luongo are pound for pound the two most important Vancouver Canucks in franchise history.  They were the catalysts for their respective teams to become contenders, and they should both be honoured as such.  Although both wore #1 with Vancouver, I think it would be appropriate to honour both netminders by having their names hung in the rafters along with Smyl, Linden, Bure, Naslund, and the Sedin Twins.  Their respective impacts on Vancouver, both on and off the ice, are monumental, and this is 100% an option the Canucks should consider exploring.  And now, following Roberto’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, there seems to be no better time to do it than right now, or at the very least, within the next few seasons. It basically markets itself.

Two Great Goaltenders. Two Banners. One Incredible Night.