Canucks Hot and Kraken Cool
Vancouver continues a road trip with upcoming stops against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators.
1) An ode to Barry Melrose, who I crossed paths with on numerous occasions over the many years, including a visit to his home while taping a profile back in 2002. Cameraman Dave Falcone and I visited him on the set at ESPN and then journeyed to his house in upstate New York.
Needless to say we heard some phenomenal stories, saw some great photographs, and had a bond with Barry moving forward. He was a larger than life personality who we’d run into covering NHL special events or playoff games every once in awhile. He was the consistent face and voice of hockey on ESPN, regardless of whether or not they were a national rights holder.
Before cable and streaming and cell phone content blew up in recent years, the “NHL 2Nite” show on ESPN2 was it in terms of national hockey coverage with highlights and analysis. Barry and host John Buccigross were fixtures.
Melrose retired from TV this past week.
I wish ‘coach’ all the best in dealing with his Parkinson’s diagnosis and we know he’ll battle hard to live a high quality life for many, many years to come. Bruce Boudreau talks about his old friend in the podcast at the bottom of the page.
A Barry Melrose clip with some humorous self-deprecation about his career on our show “Maple Leaf America”.
((To see the full Melrose profile, which is the 1st segment of the show: click here))
2) The “next one” has launched. If his first three games are any indication, Chicago Blackhawks center and 1st-overall 2023 NHL Draft pick Connor Bedard is all-that, plus-some. The rookie from North Vancouver picked up an assist in his very first game, a comeback victory over his hero Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, then scored his 1st NHL goal the very next night, a wraparound effort in a 3-1 loss to the Bruins in Boston.
He picked up another assist on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens.
By the way, how about former Kraken forward Ryan Donato seeing time on Chicago’s top line playing next to Bedard. Donato started the comeback in Pittsburgh with the Hawk’s first goal of the season in the 2nd period.
3) Just a quick question: Where does Oilers D-man Darnell Nurse’s contract rank among the worst in the NHL? That of course would be for the team, not the player. How’s that $9.25-million per season through 2029-’30 looking? Just curious. (Also a topic in the Boudreau podcast)
4) How about Bab’s?!
Not Mike Babcock, but Steve Babineau, who fired off this picture to friends and cohorts this past week. 50 years as the Boston Bruins photographer. I wrote and he provided the photographs for a very successful 2-edition Bruins book about 15 years ago. I still kind of remember the launch party at Ray Bourque’s restaurant in the North End …. ha ha.
Like me, Babs started in this biz as a teenager, but this old geezer “shooter” has been around for half of one Original Six team’s existence. Congratulations Babs!
He also does a mean Neil Young imitation and actually fronted a tribute band for awhile.
Oh, and those mint Gretzky rookie cards that sometimes go for stupid money. That was Babs’s photo. He’s shot for various trading card companies for decades as well.
5) Is patience proving to be a virtue for the Canucks with 2019 2nd-round NHL Draft pick Nils Höglander, who’s tallied three points over the first two games of the season. The Swedish winger somehow feels omnipresent around the organization despite only being 22-years-old.
“Hoagie” spent two-and-a-half seasons playing in the top professional league in Sweden before arriving on the scene in Vancouver, a year-and-a-half after being picked.
A slow grasp of the 200-foot game and treating the puck like a hot potato around the net slowed his progress in earlier campaigns. If he’s stronger now, at just 5-foot-9 and 185-pounds, and he’s figured things out, the Canucks have the potential for some dandy depth scoring.
6) Trivia time: There have been 148 hat tricks in Vancouver Canucks history, with 11 different players scoring four goals in a single game. Only two players have scored four goals in a game with the Canucks more than once. Name either one of them. (Answer at bottom of page)
7) We touted the International Para Hockey Cup last weekend. It turned out Team USA beat Canada 4-1 in the Gold Medal game. Those two are the usual participants in the finals of any large event, with the Americans winning the last three world championships and six of the last eight.
It appears the rest of the world is catching up a bit, with strong performances by host Czechia in this last tourney. Sweden and Norway won early titles as the sport was developing. Korea and Russia, until the Ukraine invasion interrupted matters for the latter, are mainstays.
More worldly depth is good for the Paralympic movement. Next up, let’s get blind hockey into those games, a dream that’s probably a decade away from coming true.
8) Not a bad week for Canucks winger Brock Boeser who played in his 400th career NHL game on Saturday night and has ‘found his game’ as they say. After four goals in the season opener in 18:47 of ice time, Boeser added an assist in 16:19 in game two.
On top of it, he simply seems more physically engaged.
Speaking of physicality, the Canucks latest acquisition Sam Lafferty brings that element to the table, as well as some speed, both exhibited in the winger’s burst to the net in scoring the game winning goal in Edmonton on Saturday night.
Throw in a great performance by number-two goalie Casey DeSmith and the Canucks have been pushing the right buttons.
9) Time for more Gordie.
“Mr. Hockey” played his first season with the Detroit Red Wings wearing number-17 in 1946-’47. He only switched to number-9 the following season when he learned that having a lower number meant getting a lower bunk on the overnight train trips while travelling around the Original Six.
— Trivia Answer: — Bobby Schmautz scored four goals in a game for the Canucks twice during the same season. On November 19th, 1972 against the Buffalo Sabres and again on December 30th against the New York Islanders. The other to pull off the bonus trick was Markus Näslund. He scored four against the Edmonton Oilers on December 14th, 2002 and then almost exactly a year later, did it against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 9th, 2003.
— Simmer’s Sunday 9: Kraken, Canucks; Build A Pacific North Rivalry