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Yaroslavl tragedy highlights the abhorrence of football's tribal hatreds

Posted by Monte Alto on September 9, 2011 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

By Mark Ogden

September 9th, 2011

Just consider the terrible loss, the numbness and raw tragedy of young men in their sporting prime robbed of their future by the plane crash which decimated the Russian ice hockey team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

Then think of the families left behind, the parents, the children, the wives and girlfriends.

Then consider the ugly prospect of rival supporters, months or years down the line, glorifying such tragic events with chants mocking the dead merely because those killed wore the wrong colours or played for the wrong team.

Two days after the tragic events in Russia, when 43 people, including 36 team and staff from Lokomotiv Yaroslavl perished after the plane carrying them crashed shortly after taking off on a flight to Minsk, it is unimaginable to think that anybody, anywhere, could use the disaster as a tool of hate.

Who could hear the story of Yuri Urychev, the 19-year-old who chose to fly to Minsk, despite being both injured and suspended, because he wanted to be with his Lokomotiv team-mates, and then desecrate his memory by chanting about the accident which cost him his life?

Perhaps Russian society is not scarred by the tribalism which has blighted English football, however.

In England, Manchester United endure chants about the Munich air disaster, Leeds United fans face rival supporters mocking the deaths of two supporters in Istanbul eleven years ago, while 22 years after 96 Liverpool supporters died at Hillsborough, fans of some clubs still take some gratification out of chants or internet slurs relating to the disaster in Sheffield.

Put simply, the premature loss of players and supporters of rival clubs has become, among some at least, an accepted target for abuse.

When United visit Bolton on Saturday, will the bitterness caused by an FA Cup triumph being overlooked by a nation 53 years ago, when Wanderers beat United at Wembley just three months after Munich, lead to the Munich chants from the home supporters that have been a curse to Bolton for years?

Will Leeds fans travel to Millwall again this season and be greeted by home supporters waving Galatasaray scarves, as they did last April, as a sickening reminder of the events in Istanbul in 2000?

But, conversely, will Elland Road be free of Munich chants when Leeds host United for the first time in eight years in the Carling Cup later this month?

Will Manchester City supporters forego the ‘Who put the ball in the Munich's net’ chant which stained their victory at Blackburn last April, the next time they play United?

What will happen when United and Liverpool clash at Anfield on Oct 15?

England’s two biggest and most illustrious clubs are united by the tragedies that have befallen both, yet supporters on each side of the divide continue to mock Munich and Hillsborough.

Such is the depth of antipathy and loathing between the fans of some of England’s top clubs that news of United sending a letter of condolence to Yaroslavl prompted some on Twitter to accuse the club of seeking good PR by publicising the correspondence.

A shared grief and collective loss is, therefore, now twisted into something approaching exploitation of a tragedy.

But then maybe that highlights the problem — the utterly one-eyed outlook of those who feel free to resort to hate-filled chants and taunts.

Perhaps it is the passing of time which diminishes the shock and horror and leads to the mocking of the dead.

With Yaroslavl still at the forefront of the minds of everyone in the sporting world and beyond, it is simply incomprehensible to imagine Russian ice hockey being scarred by the Munich or Hillsborough-style taunts in the future.

But it happens in England and, despite the harrowing images of loss in Russia, does anyone really expect it to go away?

You can read the original article here

Remembering the NHL stars of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Posted by Monte Alto on September 8, 2011 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)



"Right now there is no hope. The team is gone."


Reading those words from a Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team official to SovSport remains one of the more emotionally humbling moments of this incredible tragedy that's befallen the hockey world.

The plane crash that claimed the lives of 43 people took a collection of good fathers, friends and peers away from us; men who made an impact in their homelands as hockey stars and, in some cases, in the NHL.

Here's a look at the NHL veterans who died in Wednesday's crash. Please remember all who lost their lives in this tragedy, as well as the family they've left behind.

Pavol Demitra

There's a duality to stardom in the NHL. For example, a player can be a familiar name in North America but complete rock star back home, wherever home might be.

For Pavol Demitra, home was Dubnica, Slovakia. And he was a rock star.

I got a sense of that twice in the last two years. At the Vancouver Olympics, Demitra scored the definitive goal of Slovakia's upset victory over Russia in the preliminary round, banking a shot off the left post and behind Ilya Bryzgalov(notes). By all logic, the Slovaks should have been exhausted by that point in the game, having played in an intense loss to the Czech Republic less than 24 hours earlier. Said Demitra, in a line to which today's events lend an eerie context:

"When you play for your country in the Olympics ... you have one chance in your life. You have to do whatever you can."

The second time Demitra came off as a rock star was when he retired from the national team earlier this year. His sendoff was an emotional, tear-filled moment for the fans and their captain.

After his national team work and NHL stints with the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks -- during which he displayed memorable offensive flourish -- Demitra wasn't ready to completely step away from hockey yet; planning on at least one more season with Lokomotic before contemplating retirement.

Little did any of us know how significant that farewell on the ice at IIHF Worlds would be.

Brad McCrimmon

McCrimmon played in the NHL from 1979-1997, and after serving as an assistant coach with four teams was preparing to make his debut as a head coach with Lokomotiv.

As a player, he formed an impressive defensive pairing with future NHL Hall of Famer Mark Howe, who remembered McCrimmon in a chat with Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun:

"As a player he was the best partner I ever had," said Howe, a recent Hall of Fame inductee. "We lived, ate and drank together for three years and just had a certain chemistry on the ice, and that carried over off the ice. If you wanted someone to tell you lies and talk behind your back, you had the wrong guy. If you needed someone in a dire situation, he was always there. I consider him one of my best friends, and that had nothing to do with hockey."

Jamie Macoun said not only could you count on Beast as a defenceman but also as a banker.

"You could go on the road way back when, and any time you'd need a few bucks, he'd always have a thousand bucks on him — he was a farm boy, and he'd say, 'Never trust the bank and carry your money with ya.' It's the boy scout in him — always be prepared."

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock attempted to visit McCrimmon's surviving family this morning, according to MLive.com. "Obviously, it's a tough day around here," Babcock said. "Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the family. You're concerned. We know his kids well. He's a good man. He's been a real big part of our organization here."

Ruslan Salei

Salei played with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim from 1997-2006 before moving over to the Florida Panthers. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 26.

Coming back the other way? Karlis Skrastins, who also perished in the Lokomotiv plane crash.

Rusty was perhaps best known for his time with the Ducks, as Eric Stephens wrote on Ducks Blog:

Those who knew Salei and were close to the 36-year-old blue-liner remember his tough play on the ice and his affable, honest nature off it. Whenever a reporter greeted the defenseman, the response from Salei was usually a big, "How yooou dooin?"

Salei, 36, played his first nine seasons with the Ducks after being drafted by the club in 1996 and was a key cog in their magical 2003 run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals against New Jersey.

The LA Times reports that Salei's bond with the Ducks franchise was so strong that his post-KHL plans included them. From Helene Elliott, speaking with Ducks media director Alex Gilchrist:

"He was hoping to play another year or two and come back and become part of the alumni organization," Gilchrist said. "He was one of those guys who would reach out and call every summer just to say hello and see how everyone was doing.

"We were talking about him in the office last week, talking about guys who come over and have trouble adjusting and about guys like Rusty, who just fit in and adjusted so quickly."

Salei was entering his first season in the KHL.

Josef Vasicek

The forward began his career with the Carolina Hurricanes, winning the Stanley Cup with them in 2006. He played with the Nashville Predators and then the New York Islanders before leaving for the KHL in 2008 as a member of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

Luke DeCock of the News and Observer looks back at Vasicek's time in Carolina:

Looking back, I guess the only advantage I had over Josef Vasicek was that I spoke better English. We were both rookies in the fall of 2000, him in the NHL and me covering the NHL, both feeling our way through all the usual blind corners and dark alleys.

Joe was once like me -- six years younger that fall, but learning his job just as I was learning mine. He left the Hurricanes in 2007; I left the Hurricanes' beat in 2008. When he was traded back to Carolina at the trade deadline in 2007, I reached him on the phone that night.

His first words to me? "I was so happy," he said. "To come back to a place that I know, it's great to be coming home."

Vasicek, who died in the plane crash Wednesday that claimed his entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team only five days short of his 31st birthday, was unfailingly cheerful, a good guy by the standards of the game of hockey and the game of life.

The Canes acknowledged both Vasicek and McCrimmon, who played with the Hartford Whalers, in a statement:

"We are deeply saddened to learn of today's tragedy in Russia," said GM Jim Rutherford. "Josef was an key part of the Hurricanes for six years, helping us achieve some of our greatest successes. More importantly, he was a great teammate on and off the ice, and was respected as a person as well as a player.

"Brad McCrimmon was a member of our team while we were still in Hartford, and was well-liked by all who came in contact with him. His presence in the hockey community will be greatly missed.

"Our thoughts and prayers go to the Vasicek and McCrimmon families, and the loved ones of all of today's victims."

Visit Canes Country for more.

Karlis Skrastins

The veteran defenseman played from 1998-2011 with the Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars.

Here are members of the Stars remembering Skrastins and others:

Defending Big D also has a nice remembrance of Skrastins.

Karel Rachunek

The defenseman played in the NHL from 2000-2008 with the Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Patrik Elias(notes) of the Devils was close to Rachunek, and remembered him thusly:

"This is such a sad day. I knew six or seven of the guys on that team (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl)," Elias said. "I was closest to Karel. We played together on the Czech team during the lockout. And, of course, with the Devils.

"He was very easy-going. He had a tough time in New Jersey. I always felt hockey-wise he had a chance to be our best 'D' but it was tough for him. He didn't talk much so some people got the wrong opinion of him, but everyone would tell you he was a great guy. He has two little kids. It's so sad."

Rachunek had played with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl on and off since 2002.

Alexander Karpovtsev


As a Devils fan, I always felt New York Rangers defenseman Alexander Karpovtsev was unfairly maligned. He wasn't spectacular, he had his lapses, but he was a solid defenseman. He also played with the Islanders, Panthers and the Chicago Blackhawks, who issued this statement via ESPN Chicago:

"We stand together with the entire KHL, NHL and hockey world in mourning today's tragic news concerning the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team," the Hawks said in a statement. "The tragedy affects the Chicago Blackhawks family directly as we mourn the losses of Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev, two players who spent time with our organization and that our fans know well. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl organization."

Karpovtsev, as assistant coach with Lokomotiv, won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994.

Igor Korolev

Korolev, another assistant coach, played in the NHL from 1992-2004, finishing his playing career with Lokomotiv in 2010. He had stints with the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs and the Jets/Coyotes, and was drafted by the St. Louis Blues.

Korolev came to St. Louis with Vitali (Big V) Karamnov and Vitali (Little V) Prokhorov as part of this team's much-ballyhooed Russian invasion.

General manager Ron Caron drafted them sight unseen and brought them to North America. Korolev, the most talented of the three players, didn't make a big mark here (43 points in 147 games) but had enjoyed a 795-game run in the NHL.

His signature play for the Blues was controlling the puck in the corner, passing the puck to himself again and again while waiting for a play to materialize -— and for coach Bob Berry's heart to explode on the Blues bench.

Chronicling Korolev's challenging transition to North American life was one of my favorite Post-Dispatch hockey stories of all time. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was visiting Igor and his family at their rented home in South St. Louis County after a season, with fellow Russian Alexei Zhamnov in town visiting them.

As I recalled, he chose his words carefully and smiled a lot -— pretty much his M.O. during his whole career.

By Greg Wyshynski  you can find his original article here

More questions after Rick Rypien's death

Posted by Monte Alto on August 24, 2011 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)

By Scott Burnside

This is what we do in the face of unexplained tragedy.

We ask questions for which there are precious few answers.

Abelimages/Getty ImagesRick Rypien twice took a leave of absence during his six seasons with the Canucks organization to deal with personal issues.We demand change and action without really understanding what it was that led to the tragedy in the first place.

We wonder at what might have been done differently, what signs might have been missed.

Mostly, though, we try to make our way through the tangle of futility that always follows in the wake of such loss. It is so even for those who didn't know Rick Rypien, the Winnipeg Jets forward who never got to pull on the franchise's new jersey.

Rypien was found dead in his Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, home earlier this week. Even as tributes came pouring in for the scrappy winger who was, pound for pound, one of the fiercest players in the league, officials weren't releasing the exact cause of death. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police referred to it as a "non-suspicious sudden death."

And yet with every comment -- whether it was from a close friend and former teammate such as Tanner Glass or Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger, who had known Rypien since the forward's junior days in Western Canada -- the implication has been that Rypien's mental health issues were directly linked to his untimely death.

An emotional Heisinger told reporters in Winnipeg this week that there were no signs of alcohol or drug abuse but that depression was at the root of Rypien's problems, even though it appeared the 27-year-old had turned a corner in recent months after twice leaving the Vancouver Canucks this past season for personal reasons.

After he signed with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League late last season, Rypien's comments suggested he believed he was able to deal with his own problems and help others as well.

"The more that I go on, the more I can talk about it," Rypien told reporters in Winnipeg this past March. "Hopefully, one day I can help other hockey players that might be experiencing difficulty with whatever they're dealing with off the ice."

Those are haunting words given what happened this week and the fact that no one can seem to bring themselves to actually say what exactly happened to Rypien. Yet surely there is some hope in those words, too.

There is at least a modicum of hope that players who suffer from mental health issues aren't alone despite the helplessness that a loss such as Rypien's represents. Maybe there are many more stories that turn out the way Rypien imagined his might turn out. We must believe there are many stories that never get told because people find out they aren't alone and there is a way out.

We spoke with deputy commissioner Bill Daly on Wednesday about Rypien's death and the important role the joint NHL/NHL Players' Association behavioral program plays in situations such as Rypien's.

"Most people view it as a drug program," Daly said of the program that came into being in 1996 and has steadily evolved over the years to become "a very comprehensive employee assistance program."

Over time, the program has gained a tremendous amount of credibility among players, perhaps because it is a step removed from their direct employers, the individual NHL teams.

The program is highly secretive. For the most part, players enter the program anonymously, and the nature of the treatment is fiercely guarded unless players themselves are prepared to discuss it.

Whatever problem a player might face, the program's doctors ensure he is referred to specialists in that particular area. The program doesn't open its doors just to players, either, but for family members, too.

Over the years, the scope of the program hasn't changed (it was always designed to cast a wide net over player issues), but the players' acceptance that it is somewhere they can go to get help has grown significantly, Daly said.

Players sometimes come to the program of their own volition. Each player has a card that provides contact information that can be accessed any time the player feels the need, regardless of the problems he might be facing. As the comfort level with the program has increased, more players have been recommended by former teammates and friends, current teammates, coaches and management personnel, Daly said.

"Over time, other people within the hockey community have become much more comfortable with referring cases to the program," Daly said. "It's not always self-initiated."

The safety net that the program represents isn't foolproof. It doesn't catch all the problems. Earlier this summer, New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died after an overdose of Oxycodone and alcohol. The deaths of Boogaard and Rypien were quickly linked with the implication being that this is some sort of epidemic.

Daly said it's unwise to draw parallels between the two because they represented different issues. Boogaard's issues were addiction-related, while Rypien suffered from mental health problems, the deputy commissioner said.

Players who struggle with either can expect to find help within the league's behavioral program, but the fact that two players died in a short period of time does not necessarily suggest anything beyond the tragedy each represents.

Does that mean the league and the players' association stand idly by? No.

"My guess is we'll talk at the appropriate time with the players' association, making sure that we're comfortable with all of the mechanisms and programs we have in place, which are extensive," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told The Canadian Press on Wednesday at the league's research and development camp in Toronto. "I don't think any sports league does more than we do, but maybe there's more, as we focus on it, that we need to focus on.

"I know it's always hard for people to accept, but sports is a microcosm of society in general. And life isn't always easy."

Are there things the program can do better, differently? Perhaps.

"They happened, and you have to take a look at how and why they happened," Daly said. "But I don't think it's a commentary at all on the effectiveness of the program we have in place."

At times like these, it's reassuring to know that not every question is without an answer.

You can find the original article here


A sad day for the NHL

Posted by Monte Alto on August 16, 2011 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Jets forward Rypien found dead

Globe and Mail Update

Published Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 9:39PM EDT

Last updated Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 11:29PM EDT

Former Vancouver Canucks tough guy Rick Rypien was found dead by a family member on Monday in Crowsnest Pass, Alta.

Rypien, who signed with the Winnipeg Jets in July, had missed most of last season because of a leave of absence from the Canucks for personal issues.

Local RCMP told The Globe and Mail on Monday night that the death was not suspicious.

Rypien had been scheduled to run his annual hockey school in his hometown earlier in the day but never arrived at the arena.

“Rick was a talented player with an extremely bright future," the Jets said in a statement. "His hunger for the game made him a valued team member both on and off the ice. This loss has impacted us as more than just a hockey team.

"As many people are aware, he had strong ties to True North Sports and Entertainment, the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club, the former Manitoba Moose Hockey Club and the Vancouver Canucks. We would like to express our sincere sympathies to the Rypien family as well as Rick’s friends. We also appreciate all of the support that has come pouring in from Rick’s fans."

The Canucks expressed similar sentiments later in the evening as reaction began to come pouring in from around the hockey world.

"Rick has been a beloved member of the Canucks family for the past six years," the team said. "Rick was a great teammate and friend to our players, coaches and staff. We send our deepest condolences to the Rypien family at this most difficult time.”

Undrafted after three years with the Regina Pats – including time as team captain – Rypien became a popular member of Vancouver's fourth line beginning in 2005, racking up 226 penalty minutes in 119 games played over six seasons.

Off the ice, however, he battled depression, and his leave of absence last November was the second he took as a member of the team in the past three seasons.

Rypien was well known in Winnipeg after beginning his pro career there with the Moose, the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, and the Jets gave him a chance to re-establish his career there when he was signed a one-year, $700,000 (U.S.) contract as a free agent this summer.

“Everyone that knows me, knows that everything that was happening didn’t reflect me as a person and it’s not like I was doing anything wrong,” Rypien told the Winnipeg Free Press at the time. “I went through a couple of things I had to deal with, I got over it – it took longer than I wanted.

“But just the interest people had in me and the belief people had in me … it means a lot to me. It makes me believe even more in myself. They see something in me as a person that maybe sometimes you don’t see yourself. They point that out and then you believe in yourself more and then hope you reach the potential they see and you see in yourself.”

Rypien, 27, is the second young NHL tough guy to die in the off-season. New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead in May with a mixture of alcohol and oxycodone in his system.

You can find the original article here

Rest in Peace Rick Rypien

Posted by Monte Alto on August 15, 2011 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Vancouver Canucks statement on the passing of Rick Rypien

Monday, 15.08.2011 / 10:50 PM / News Vancouver Canucks

Rypien Vancouver, B.C. - The Vancouver Canucks issued the following statement today in regards to the passing of Rick Rypien: “It is with tremendous sadness that the Vancouver Canucks confirm the passing of Rick Rypien. Rick has been a beloved member of the Canucks family for the past six years. Rick was a great teammate and friend to our players, coaches and staff. We send our deepest condolences to the Rypien family at this most difficult time.”

You can find the original article here


Former Canucks forward Rypien found dead 

August 15, 2011 8:02 PM


COLEMAN, Alta. — Winnipeg Jets forward Rick Rypien died on Monday in southern Alberta according to the RCMP. He was 27.

The rugged centre had played parts of six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks before signing with the Jets this summer as a free agent.

Police said the death wasn’t suspicious.

Rypien had taken multiple leaves of absences last season to deal with personal issues, but the Canucks wouldn’t say at the time why he’d asked for the time off.

In 119 career NHL games, he had nine goals and seven assists and racked up 226 penalty minutes.

The five-foot-11, 190-pound forward was known for being willing to take on all comers during his professional career and was a fan favourite in Vancouver and Winnipeg, where he played with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose.

He played his junior hockey with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.


You can find the original article here


Canucks try to help the person, not the player, as Rypien leaves again  

By Iain_MacIntyre 25 Nov 2010

The Vancouver Canucks aren't concerned about losing Rick Rypien as a player. They're trying to make sure they don't lose him as a person.

Neither player nor club has ever explained Rypien's months-long leave of absence two years ago, and it doesn't appear any details will be offered this time, as coach Alain Vigneault refused this morning to discuss the latest leave. But Rypien's "personal" issues are widely believed related to the 25-year-old's mental health. The Canucks will be doing everything they can to help him.

General manager Mike Gillis delivered to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman an impassioned defence of Rypien a month ago after the Canuck grabbed a fan on his way to the dressing room in Minnesota. Bettman, aware of Rypien's issues from two years ago, subsquently suspended the winger for six games -- shorter than many people expected.

The Canucks stuck by Rypien then, and they'll do so now. Renowned sports psychologist Len Zaichkowsky is a full-time member of the Canucks' staff and a constant presence around the team. Rypien will get whatever help he needs and is willing to accept. Rypien was a healthy scratch the last three games and has been largely ineffective this season. He's not a player the team needs right now. But he's a person they badly want to keep in their organization.

You can find the original article here


Canucks Centre Ryan Kesler has successful hip labral surgery

Posted by Monte Alto on August 2, 2011 at 11:03 PM Comments comments (0)

Canucks Centre Ryan Kesler has successful hip labral surgery and is expected to make full recovery in 10 to 12 weeks. Tuesday, 02.08.2011 / 4:35 PM / News Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver, BC Vancouver Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that centre Ryan Kesler had successful hip labral surgery.


“After consultation with our team physicians following the playoffs, it was deemed that Ryan would require a procedure on his hip,” said President and General Manager, Mike Gillis. “We expect a full recovery and determined this procedure would best serve both Ryan and the team’s long term goals.”


Kesler will be available to media at a future date.

Wishing him a complete and speedy recovery.

Canucks Release 2011 Pre-season Schedule

Posted by Monte Alto on July 8, 2011 at 12:06 AM Comments comments (0)

 Thursday, 07.07.2011 / 4:00 PM

VANCOUVER  B.C. — The Vancouver Canucks released their 2011 pre-season schedule today featuring eight games beginning September 20 and concluding October 1. The Canucks begin the pre-season with a split squad playing one game at home and one game away against Calgary on September 20. Both games will begin at 7 pm Pacific Time. Vancouver will play the remaining six games both home and away against the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

In total, the Canucks will play four pre-season games at Rogers Arena and four on the road. Each game features a Western Conference match-up: Anaheim (2), Calgary (2), Edmonton (2) and San Jose (2).


Tues., Sept. 20th vs Calgary - 7:00 pm

Tues., Sept. 20th @ Calgary - 6:00 pm

Thurs., Sept. 22nd @ Edmonton - 6:00 pm

Sat., Sept. 24th vs Anaheim - 7:00 pm

Sun., Sept. 25th vs San Jose - 6:00 pm

Wed., Sept. 28th @ Anaheim - 7:00 pm

Thurs., Sept. 29th @ San Jose - 7:30 pm

Sat., Oct. 1st vs Edmonton - 7:00 pm

* All start times are Pacific and may be subject to change.


The Canucks sold out all regular season home games last year and have again capped their season ticket base at 17,000 for the upcoming season. To secure a spot on the Blue Line Waiting List for ticket packages that become available in the future, please call 604.899.GOAL or 1.855.462.2682 or go to canucks.com/blueline for more information, including benefits you receive while you wait.


All pre-season games can be heard live on the Canucks official broadcaster, Team 1040 AM. A schedule of televised pre-season games will be announced at a later date.

Canucks release 2011.12 regular season schedule

Posted by Monte Alto on June 29, 2011 at 3:38 PM Comments comments (0)

Season opens October 6 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday, 23.06.2011 / 2:00 PM

VANCOUVER, B.C., — The Vancouver Canucks, in conjunction with the National Hockey League, released their 2011.12 regular season schedule today. Vancouver opens the regular season at Rogers Arena versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, October 6th. The Canucks will then take to the road on October 10th at Columbus for their first away game of the year.

The Vancouver Canucks 2011.12 schedule features games versus every NHL team at least once. Vancouver will play six games against each Northwest Division club (24 total) and four games against each of the 10 non-divisional clubs in the Western Conference (40 total). The Canucks remaining 18 games are split into nine home and nine away games all against Eastern Conference opponents. Vancouver will play a home and road game versus Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

The Canucks schedule is highlighted by a number of marquee match-ups at Rogers Arena this season including: the New York Rangers on Tuesday, October 18th, the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, February 18th, the new Winnipeg NHL franchise on Thursday, March 8th, and the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, March 10th.


October 6 Season Opener vs Pittsburgh Penguins

October 18 New York Rangers visit Rogers Arena

October 29 Washington Capitals visit Rogers Arena

January 7 Vancouver plays in Boston for the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final

February 18 Toronto Maple Leafs visit Rogers Arena

March 8 The new Winnipeg NHL franchise visits Rogers Arena for the first time

March 10 Montreal Canadiens visit Rogers Arena

April 7 Regular season finale versus Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena


The 2011.12 schedule features 11 back-to-back series. The Canucks longest home stand is eight games from February 28th – March 17th.


The 2011-12 schedule includes 12 home stands and 11 road trips. The Canucks play a total of 25 weekend games including 13 games at home. Saturday is the busiest day of the week for the Canucks this season with 18 games falling on that day.


Every Canucks game, including pre-season games, can be heard on the radio on the Team 1040 AM. A complete broadcast schedule will be released at a later date.


Awards Galore at the 2011 NHL Awards

Posted by Monte Alto on June 26, 2011 at 1:33 PM Comments comments (0)

June 23, 2011

By Derek Jory

Kesler wins the Selke Trophy

When Ryan Kesler was just getting his hockey legs under him, his father Mike preached defence first. Anyone could score, but only elite players could score and contribute defensively.

Kesler is now as elite as backchecking players get after winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game, Wednesday night at the 2011 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

Third time proved to be a charm for Kesler, the first winner in Canucks history, after two consecutive years of being nominated as the top two-way player in the game, but losing out to Pavel Datsyuk. The Detroit forward had his streak of three straight wins snapped by Kesler, who had 41 goals and 32 assists for 73 points, 80 blocked shots, 124 hits, 65 takeaways and a plus-24 rating in 82 games this year.

Entertainer Criss Angel presented the award to Kesler, who made his way to the stage after kissing his wife Andrea before Ryan and Mike shook hands and father patted son on the back for a job well done.

“It’s something that eluded me the past couple of years and it’s nice to finally win it, mostly for my dad, he supported me growing up and for him I definitely have a lot to repay him for,” said Kesler, still giddy from winning.

“There are so many people I forgot to thank out there,” he laughed. “I forgot my family, obviously my teammates were a big part of this and I couldn’t have done it without them.

“When you play on a great team and have great guys like I have, and great role models like Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund, to bring you up the right way, it’s easier to win awards like this.”

Kesler’s Selke nod was one of an NHL-best five awards taken home by the Canucks.

In addition to winning his first Art Ross Trophy, Daniel Sedin also received the Ted Lindsay Award as the MVP as voted on by the NHL Players Association. He's the second Canucks player to win the award, with Naslund receiving the honour in 2003.

“To get that recognition from teammates and opponents too, it means a lot to me,” said Daniel. “It’s been a fun night, I’ve been enjoying myself and I thought I did pretty good in my speech too, so I’m pretty happy.”

Daniel, looking to follow in brother Henrik’s footsteps in winning the Hart Trophy, finished as the runner-up receiving 51 first-place votes. He finished 83 voting points behind the winner Corey Perry.

“Corey obviously had a great finish to the season and helped his team make the playoffs so he really deserves it and I couldn’t be happier for him,” said Daniel.

The Sedins were named to the NHL First All-Star Team Wednesday night and in doing so became the first brothers to be named to the All-Star Team since Phil & Tony Esposito did it in 1970.

Joining Daniel and Henrik on the First All-Star Team were Perry, Nicklas Lidstrom, Shea Weber and Tim Thomas.

In just the second year of existence for the NHL GM of the Year award, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis walked away with the top prize; he had 14 first-place votes and was 35 voting points ahead of runner-up Steve Yzerman.

Under Gillis the Canucks were the top team in the NHL during the 2010-11 regular season winning a franchise record 54 games, losing a franchise low 19 games, collecting a team and NHL best 117 points for their first Presidents Trophy.

Despite Gillis being at the controls of the team, he acknowledges all the contributions he gets from his team.

“It’s really not my award, it’s a team award and our management team award,” said Gillis. “We have incredible owners who are totally committed to winning, which is just great. They support everything I want to do and they let me take chances and risks and some of them work and some of them don’t and they’re prepared to accept that risk so I’m very fortunate.

“There’s a lot of people that work really hard to get this far and as a GM you rely on a lot of people and give them a lot of responsibility. We’re very fortunate that we have great people in our organization who work hard and they care deeply about how we do so we’re very fortunate.”

The Canucks also led the league in goals for with 262 and lowest goals against at 185, which landed Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider a share of the William Jennings Award.

Luongo was also up for the Vezina Trophy, finishing third in voting with three first-place votes.

Last but certainly not least, Alain Vigneault finished second behind Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma for the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year. This was Vigneault’s third nomination; he won the award in 2006-07.

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The NHL Awards

Posted by Monte Alto on June 20, 2011 at 6:27 PM Comments comments (0)

All the excitement of finding out whether Daniel Sedin can keep the Hart Trophy in the family and Tim Thomas can bring home the Vezina for the second time in three years can be experienced up close and personal by NHL fans amidst the one-of-a-kind atmosphere only Las Vegas can provide.

Tickets for the 2011 NHL Awards at the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas are currently on sale via Ticketmaster.com at nhl.com/awardstickets and at the Pearl Concert Theater Box Office. Tickets include access to the 2011 NHL Awards show and the official NHL Awards Party, a cocktail reception to be held immediately following the show. Guests must be 21 or older to attend the NHL Awards Party.

DANIEL SEDIN ... Daniel Sedin won his first career Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader, following in brother, Henrik's, footsteps, who is the outgoing Art Ross winner. Sedin kept the Art Ross Trophy in the family by finishing the season with a League-leading and career-high 104 points (41 goals, 63 assists). With twin brother Henrik claiming the award in 2009-10, this marks the first time in League history that brothers have won scoring titles in consecutive seasons. Daniel sparked the League's top-ranked power-play unit by tallying a League-leading 18 goals and 42 points with the man advantage. He also tied for second place among NHL forwards in plus-minus (plus-30).


ROBERTO LUONGO & CORY SCHNEIDER ... Luongo captured his first Jennings Trophy as the Canucks allowed the fewest goals in the NHL (185) for the first time in franchise history. The 32-year-old Montreal native went 38-15-7 in 60 appearances, posting the best goals-against average in his 11-year NHL career (2.11) and his top save percentage since joining the Canucks in 2006-07 (92)

He tied for the League lead in victories, ranked second in goals-against average and fourth in save percentage. Among his season highlights was a streak of 21 decisions without a loss, going 16-0-5 from Dec. 8 through Feb. 12. Schneider excelled in relief of Luongo in his first full NHL season after a three-year apprenticeship with Manitoba of the American Hockey League.

The Canucks' first pick (No. 24) in the 2004 Entry Draft posted a 16-4-2 record in 25 appearances, highlighted by a franchise record-tying 10-game undefeated streak (8-0-2) in his first 10 decisions of the season. He ranked third among NHL goaltenders in save percentage (.929) and was fourth in goals-against average (2.23).

DANIEL SEDIN ... Daniel Sedin, of Ornskoldvik, Sweden, appeared in all 82 games in the 2010-11 season for the Vancouver Canucks. Daniel’s first selection as a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award follows his brother Henrik’s nomination last season. Daniel had an exceptional 2010-11 campaign by all standards, securing the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the regular season (104), tying for fourth in goals (41), and placing third in both assists (63) and game-winning goals (10), while helping lead Vancouver to capturing their first Presidents’ Trophy. With this nomination, Daniel is seeking to become just the second Canucks player to receive the “Most Outstanding Player” award as voted on by the players (Markus Naslund – 2002-03 Lester B. Pearson Award).

Other finalists: Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks; Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

DANIEL SEDIN & HENRIK SEDIN ... Dynamic offensive players on the ice, twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin also combine forces off the ice to make life in Vancouver better – particularly for children in need. The twins and their families have established a unique relationship with BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. In 2010, they made a private $1.5 million pledge to the Campaign for BC Children that will go to the new hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and to Diagnostics & Imaging, the critical area where medical staff identify and diagnose the health problems of young patients. The donation was made public at the hospital’s urging to increase awareness and encourage others to contribute.

The Sedins have become the faces of the annual Canucks For Kids Fund Telethon, which has raised more than $1,000,000 in donations and recognition of fundraising events throughout the year. Daniel and Henrik have joined Canucks teammates in making the Dice and Ice Benefit a signature event for the Canucks organization. It opens the doors for 700 of Vancouver’s leading philanthropists to join the Canucks for a memorable night and a great cause, having raised more than $2,884,127 to date for the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and the Canucks Autism Network.

The Sedins and their teammates also participate in the Jake Milford Canucks Charity Golf Invitational, helping the tournament raise more than $180,000 for both the BC Hockey Benevolent Association and the Canucks for Kids Fund.

Other finalists: Dustin Brown, LA Kings; Mike Green, Washington Capitals

ALAIN VIGNEAULT ... Vigneault led the Canucks to their finest regular season since joining the NHL in 1970-71, capturing the Presidents' Trophy as the League's top club with 117 points (54-19-9). The Canucks set single-season franchise records for most points, most victories and most road wins (27).

They scored the most goals in the NHL (262), allowed the fewest (185), ranked number one in power-play percentage (24.3%) and placed third in penalty killing (85.6%). Vigneault is a third-time Adams finalist; he captured the award with Vancouver in 2007 and finished second with the Montreal Canadiens in 2000.

Other finalists: Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins; Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators

DANIEL SEDIN ... Sedin is in quest of an unprecedented family 'double' -- becoming half of the first brother tandem to win NHL MVP honors in consecutive years after twin Henrik received the award last season. Daniel already has won silverware that Henrik claimed in 2009-10, the Art Ross Trophy, by tallying a League-leading and career-high 104 points (41 goals, 63 assists) to help the Canucks post the NHL's best regular-season record (54-19-9).

Daniel sparked the League's top-ranked power play by tallying an NHL-best 18 goals and 42 points with the extra man. He also tied for second place among NHL forwards in plus-minus (+30).

Other finalists: Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks; Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

RYAN KESLER ... Kesler helped the Canucks record the lowest team goals-against average in the NHL (2.20) for the first time in franchise history. He ranked fourth among NHL forwards in blocked shots (80), appeared in all 82 games and averaged a career-high 20:29 in ice time to lead all Vancouver forwards.

The speedy center ranked sixth among NHL centers in face-offs taken (1,496), winning a team-best and career-high 57.4% of them (859), dished out 124 hits; recorded a team-high 65 takeaways and posted a +24 rating. Kesler is a Selke Trophy finalist for the third consecutive year, finishing second in 2010 and third in 2009.

Other finalists: Pave Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings; Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

ROBERTO LUONGO ... Luongo backstopped the Canucks to their finest regular season in franchise history, capturing the Presidents' Trophy for best record and posting the lowest team goals-against average (2.20). Luongo went 38-15-7 in 60 appearances, registering the best goals-against average in his 11-year NHL career (2.11) and his top save percentage since joining the Canucks in 2006.07 (.92).

He tied for the League lead in victories, ranked second in goals-against average and fourth in save percentage. Luongo is a Vezina finalist for the third time, having finished third in the voting in 2004 and second in 2007.

Other finalists: Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators; Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

MIKE GILLIS ... Gillis built the Canucks into the NHL's top team in the 2010.11 regular season as they captured the Presidents' Trophy with a franchise-record 117 points (54-19-9) and claimed the Northwest Division title for the third time in his three years in Vancouver. He strengthened the Canucks defensively over the off-season by adding blueliners Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis and shutdown center Manny Malhotra.

Such was Vancouver's organizational depth that the club allowed the fewest goals in the NHL (185) despite suffering a rash of injuries throughout the season that sidelined each of their top five defensemen. Gillis further bolstered team depth at the trade deadline with the acquisition of forwards Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre.

Other finalists: David Poile, Nashville Predators; Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning

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