A Sports Fan Speaks  

And we're back...

Well… NHL Fans across North America clearly let owners and players alike know of their true feelings about the lockout – we have forgotten and forgiven them quicker than convenient memories of the career of Ray Lewis – and have flocked back to arenas around the League for free beer, $1 nacho trays and complimentary vuvuzelas with every Mastercard purchase at the memorabilia store. Yes, as Gary Bettman sits off-camera in some Bond-villain style castle, stroking his white cat and muttering “3.3 Billion dollars” over and over again, we the outraged Fan have tucked our pride and somewhat mild discontent into our back pockets and for the price of a couple of free weeks of Centre Ice we sound like Yogi Bear finding an unguarded picnic basket. As a Fan-base…well, let’s keep it topical – Lance Armstrong finds our scruples questionable and Mantei Te’o sees us as just a tad gullible – so when this happens again in 8 years let’s save all the vitriol, air-wave chest-pounding and Share the Silence campaigns and accept that the Evil Genius had us pegged all along. It’s a bit like waking up from a blackout in a Las Vegas alleyway, broke and with a throbbing pain in some nether regions… sure you feel a little dirty hitting the ATM again but hey “It’s Vegas baby!”

Through it all however, it appears as though not much has changed inside the hallowed halls of Canuckdom as the Wheel of Misfortune seems to have once again landed on the “Worst Possible Scenario” space on the board. Fully 9 months after Cory Schneider reportedly took the reins for good as the Vancouver net-minder, Roberto Luongo remains in a Canuck uniform. This kinder, gentler, more affable and mature Luongo has already logged more minutes than his replacement having had to spell him in the 7-3 debacle loss to the Ducks and having played the back end of 2 in a row the following night in the shoot-out loss to the Oilers. And there it is… a goalie controversy in Vancouver, all but 2 games into the season. Excuse me while I go cash in my winning ticket…

We all know that hindsight is 20/20 but this situation that GM Mike Gillis has allowed to develop should be viewed by Canuck Fans as completely and utterly unacceptable and Gillis should and I expect will be taken to task on the issue if it is not resolved sooner rather than later. For 9 months Gillis has dangled Luongo out on the market as if the NHL were some form of Keeper Fantasy League with the boys down at the local Legion all the while fluffing the local Main Stream Media with idle chit chat about how the Canucks want to “do right by Roberto.” I agree that he deserves that but as an organization beginning the season with 2nd line injury issues to Booth and Kesler and a defense that actually lists Cam Barker on the depth chart, Luongo and his hefty contract had to be moved, no ifs, ands or buts. It is pure, misguided rhetoric by hard-core Fans and managerial slight-of-hand street magic that has perpetuated the notion that having both highly paid goalies on squad in this lockout-shortened 48-game season is anything other than incompetence at the highest level.

The notion that somehow the right fit for the Canucks hasn’t been put on the table as part of a Luongo negotiation has been bandied about by Canuck personnel and is without doubt more laughable and a better punch-line than one would find in an Ashton Kuchar marathon. The Toronto Maple Leafs, looking to open the Dave Nonis era with a bang apparently offered Tyler Bozak, Nazim Kadri and a 2nd rounder for Luongo and while we can be safe in the knowledge that this will never be confirmed or denied by those seated in the Canuck bunker of power, if it were proven to be true then Mike Gillis should hand his keys over immediately to the Green Men and be forced to stand naked in front of a Starbucks on Robson Street with a “Please Forgive Me” sign.

Yes, the jury is still out on Kadri but any scout worth his salt has seen the progression this year from the former 1st rounder and ironically, he and Bozak had the 2 goals in the Leafs 2-1 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday. Whoever thought that Bozak wouldn’t fit in a Canucks line-up ahead of, say David “The Deer Hunter” Booth has apparently been viewing all of the scouting footage in Described Video with a Norm Macdonald voice-over. Throw in a 2nd rounder and the kind of cap space relief that generally only comes from a wheatgrass shot and a pint of Dulcolax and hey presto “Clear the track here comes Eddie Lack” and Cory Schneider can stop looking over his shoulder like a nervous puppy once and for all. Thankfully, in Philadelphia despite an ownership vote of confidence, Ilya Bryzgalov has started the season looking like a man who fell into the grizzly pen at the zoo covered in honey. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, despite his public protestations to the contrary, may begin to rethink their interest in Bobby Lu should they continue to slide and knowing that a Bryzgalov buyout would be possible in the summer per the revamped CBA.

In the meantime, who starts for the Canucks on Wednesday is anybody’s guess and Alain Vigneault may decide just to use the result of the Vancouver Sun Poll to pick…and why not, it makes about as much sense as anything his boss has done… Until next time Kelowna…

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About the Author

Sean McEachern is above all else a Sports Fan. Originally from Ottawa, Sean was educated at Strathallan School in Scotland. A former golf professional and graduate of the San Diego Golf Academy, Sean and his fiancee settled in Kelowna in 2010. A hospitality industry 'lifer', Sean is a sports trivia enthusiast and discussionist and is currently a staff writer at www.freethesportsman.com and at Okanagan Collection magazine. Sean recently welcomed his daughter Keira to the world on July 27th. 

Follow Sean on Twitter @sportsfanspeaks and feel free to comment on any stories at www.asportsfanspeaks.com.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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