Posts Tagged ‘Canucks’

Post-Season Affective Disorder

April 16, 2008

OK, let’s talk some hockey.  I’ve avoided it so far because I’ve been sick, dealing with the littany of mistakes that various organizations have made at my financial expense, and adjusting to new nocturnal hours.  The disappointment of the Canucks’ late season collapse and failure to make the playoffs was just too much to deal with on top of all that.  Now, I think I can write about it.

On Monday, Canucks general manager Dave Nonis was “relieved of his duties”.  That’s fired, to you and me.  The team had missed the playoffs for the second time in three years.  Last year they made it to the second round, only to be eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks.  Everyone expected this year to be a step forward from that, even though there wasn’t much change last summer.  It didn’t work out that way.

The Canucks suffered a neverending string of injuries throughout the season.  Their solid defence – some said the best starting six in the league – never played a single game as a complete unit.  Key forwards also suffered injuries.  Some players had multiple injuries.  To their credit, the players never used injuries as an excuse.  They said they should find a way to win, anyway.  They have to say that and keep trying.  Now that their season is over, however, Hockey Night In Canada’s Kelly Hrudey seems to be saying it is part of the explanation.

To make matters worse, star goalie Roberto Luongo wasn’t his usual spectacular self, mainly because his pregnant wife was thousands of miles away in Florida so that she could stay near her doctor.  There was the potential for complications.  I guess that could make you lose focus, occasionally.

So, why fire the GM?  Because, in this case, two out of three IS bad.  On paper, this team was good enough to be in the playoffs.  People in Vancouver want a winner.  This team has threatened greatness for about seven years, now.  But, it’s always something.  Former goalie Dan Cloutier let’s in a bad one.  The next two years, he’s injured at playoff time.  Director – sorry – referee Kerry Fraser and video goal officials in Toronto make bad calls that cost them games in a first round series they lose in seven games.  Then, the lockout writes off a season.  Then, the Bertuzzi incident and they miss the playoffs.  They bounce back the next year, but now – this.

Francesco Aquilini, the team owner, said the word “leadership” repeatedly at a press conference announcing the change.  Does that mean the coaching staff are next?  What about leadership on the ice?  It was widely believed that captain Markus Naslund, and possibly Brendan Morrison, would not have been re-signed under Nonis.  Will that still be the case?  Will there be a complete clearout of the old leadership on the ice, behind the bench, and in the head office?  That might be the easiest way to deal with the problem because, you see, nobody really knows what is wrong with this team.  Everybody has their favourite target to blame.

Me – I just don’t know.  Maybe it’s just the injuries and Luongo’s temporary distraction.  Maybe the problem would have fixed itself by next year.  Maybe the coach didn’t make the best use of the players he had.  Some people think the owners overreacted, in an emotional manner, because they are also fans.  Maybe.

Now, the talk is about who will be his replacement.  There is speculation that Brian Burke will come back.  Not likely.  He has a year left on his contract with Anaheim.  I seriously doubt the owners there would let him out of it early, considering they just won the Stanley Cup last year.  Pat Quinn’s name has been mentioned.  Then there’s current assistant manager Steve Tambellini, who has also worked with Team Canada.  Trevor Linden’s name has been mentioned as a possible member of the management team, if not the GM.  His experience with the NHL Players Association could help him.

Whoever they hire, and whatever they do, I hope it gets results.  It’s bad enough that I watch the Stanley Cup final every year without really caring who wins – but the entire playoffs?

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On Self-Pity

March 28, 2008

Okay, so the mild flu I mentioned in my last post was actually just the early stages of an unpleasant week of ravenous appetite inducing illness.  Now, I might more accurately say I’m recovering.  The fever seems to be gone – although I thought that a couple days ago, and it returned – and I can breathe easier.  I hope so.  I want to put this week behind me.

To make matters worse, the Canucks added to my suffering by playing some of their worst hockey just when they should be playing their best.  Two days in a row they sat and watched the other team play hockey in the final two periods.  How are they going to make the playoffs like that, let alone win their division?  It occurred to me after the second game that they appeared to be playing the way I felt.  Could they have been sick, too?  Had the flu infected them and worn them out?  It sure seemed like it.

Apparently, I looked so bad that one of my on-line students took pity on me and suggested that we cancel the lesson so I could get some rest.  Pity is not something that sits well with me.  It’s even worse when the source of the pity is myself, but that’s what illness does to you.  You want it to end.  You want to return to your normal, healthy, focused self, able to deal and cope.  So, you start to feel sorry for yourself.  “Poor me” syndrome creeps in.  “Why me?” thinking seeps in.  Before you know it, you catch yourself whining.  If it was someone else, you’d be annoyed by them.

I hate self-pity.  I don’t know how to deal with it.  Me?  Helpless?  I, who have endured so much?  I, who have overcome?  I, who takes a perverse kind of pride in the fact that he’s been fired from more jobs than many people have had?  How can I be this foul smelling, mouth breathing, wheezing, aching, limp mass of snot?

You might deduce from the previous paragraph that, even in good health, all is not perfect.  True, but at least you can try.  That’s what we do.  We get up and continue the struggle.  Self-pity takes that away from you.  It takes the fight out of you.  It makes you give up.

What do you do then?

Doing the Right Thing and Hating It

March 17, 2008

As St. Patrick’s day arrives, I’m reminded of one year ago today when I was in a Main Street bar not too far from here.  I’d been stopping in for a month or two to watch the Canucks games and have a few beers.  There was a beautiful server who had caught my eye.

I found myself looking in her direction.  I’m sure she noticed.  We talked a little every time I saw her.  I complimented her every time, telling her she looked beautiful.  She didn’t seem to mind, despite having a boyfriend.  In fact, I think she liked it.  She even thanked me for the encouragement when I made what I thought was a pretty ordinary comment about her career ambitions.

Another great thing about her – as I watched her talking to a co-worker at the end of the bar, I saw her doing the same crank up the middle finger thing that I’ve been known to do.  Others have done it, of course, but I was the first.  I stole it from Tom Waits in ‘Rumble Fish’ before them.  Obviously, we thought alike.

On that St. Patrick’s day she looked extra good.  She wore a green patterned halter style top, her loose blond curls tied up with a stick or pencil through them.  Every time she turned her back to me to enter her orders on the computer terminal, I admired her delicate back.  There were two exquisite dimples near her shoulder blades.  I couldn’t help looking.  They were too beautiful and fascinating.

On my way to the washroom, I stopped at the terminal and told her she had these exquisite dimples in her back.  Worried that this latest in a growing line of compliments may have been too much, I said, “Sorry, am I embarrassing you?”  “No, you’re OK”, she replied.  She clearly appreciated being appreciated.

I don’t know if she didn’t hear them enough, or even at all, but one night she responded to my compliment by saying something like, “I’ve never really thought of myself as being beautiful.”  Shocked at her modesty, I asked “Why not?”  She replied, “I don’t know, I just don’t.”

Some time after the Canucks’ playoffs came to an end, I was in the bar again and had one or two more than usual.  As I was leaving, I came across her sitting outside, her shift over.  We spoke a little, as usual.  In my case I spoke a little too much.  When she got up to go back inside, we hugged and I said something I shouldn’t have.  Then I kissed her on the cheek.  Again, if she minded, she didn’t show it.  She may even have subtly pulled herself closer.  It doesn’t matter.  Compliments are one thing, but I crossed the line.  You don’t mess with another man’s woman.  “I’ll see you real soon”, she said, and went inside.

If something is alright for you to do, it’s alright for everyone to do.  Otherwise, you place yourself above everyone else.  If we all just took what we wanted, we could also have anything taken from us and we’d have no right to complain.  That’s no way to live.

I did the right thing and stayed away.  There has been no reward, in kind or otherwise.  No positive ‘karma’ has come my way, and don’t even think about telling me my reward will be in ‘heaven’.  If any good came of it, it was an infinitesimal increment in collective co-operation.  One more person tried to do the right thing.

Maybe she was interested, too.  Maybe if I’d persisted she could have been mine.  Maybe she was unhappy, or not happy enough, with her boyfriend.  Maybe she continued living with him for security or financial reasons, even though she hoped for something better.  Maybe she was afraid to live alone.  I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter.  I did the right thing, and hate it, but the right thing has to be done.

Sometimes I wish I was more selfish.

Enough Snow For One Winter, Thanks

January 31, 2008

The snow is finally starting to melt.  I can see the deck and roof outside again.  The familiar Vancouver puddle is returning, and not a minute too soon.

I’m not a winter person, as you’ve probably figured.  The fact that California and Arizona are on the wrong side of the border is nothing short of a travesty of international justice.  I’m still waiting for our government to take action at The Hague.

Sure, winter snow is great for the skiers and boarders, but I’m not one of them.  Besides, there’s still plenty of snow on the mountains over on the north shore.  At least, I assume there is behind that low cloud cover obscuring the view of the top half of the mountains.

The season has its benefits, of course.  I love hockey enough to endure the kind of abuse I took from some idiot on the Skytrain yesterday for wearing my Canucks toque after they lost again, continuing their current bad stretch.  But, if I’d wanted a ‘Canadian’ winter I’d have moved to the prairies.  Prairie people know what I’m talking about because half of them are here.  Every other person you meet in Vancouver is a climate refugee from Alberta, Saskatchewan, or, occasionally, Manitoba.

It’s only the end of January, and we’ve already had more snow on the ground down here near sea level than we usually get in an entire winter.  Several days of snow cover and freezing temperatures is just not natural here.  I know we have it easy compared to everywhere else in the country – except Victoria, maybe – but I still expect the worst precipitation induced obstacle I encounter to be a puddle.  Damn you, El Nino!  Or is it Nina?

Normally, I say I could do without the rain and puddles but, after the cold spell of the past week or so, they now seem pretty palatable.

Analogue Makes Life Easier

January 12, 2008

It may come as a surprise to you that I’ve recently rediscovered some decidedly analogue technology that is helping to increase my productivity.  It comes as a surprise to me because I hate radio.  That is surprising in itself, considering I was a DJ for four years.

The corporatization of rock radio, and the shortening of playlists that went along with it, was enough to put many people off the medium.  When you hear Led Zeppelin every hour on every station, it becomes a tad predictable.  It can also make you sick of them.  Every few years, I put on some Zeppelin and remember how good they were.  You’re better able to appreciate something without the overkill.

But there is something I’ve started listening to on the radio and it allows me to be more productive by multitasking.  This is no mean feat.  Multitasking is not a skill I could ethically include on my resume.  If I try to manage three burners on the stove, for instance, or do something else while dinner is cooking, inevitably something sticks to the pot.  What I listen to is hockey.

By listening to the Canucks games on the radio, I can work at the computer – writing this blog, for instance – without missing the action.  I can hear it without having to watch it.  Then I can watch the highlights on the news later.  I can even take my hands off the keyboard to clap when the good guys score, without seriously interrupting my workflow.  I no longer have to choose between catching the game or working.  I can do both at the same time.  Isn’t that amazing?

Believe it or not, this wouldn’t have occurred to me not so long ago.  Having grown up in the television age, I think of hockey as something you watch.  And when you watch something, you set time aside for it.  But there are other things I want to do, too.  Now, with a little compromise, I can do both.

Of course, I still watch some games, here at home or sometimes in a bar, with a crowd.  You have to take breaks, too.  But I don’t have to watch every game, like I used to.  So, I generally listen to most games on weeknights, rather than watch.

In a digital world that puts everything at our fingertips and encourages us to want it all, there’s a certain irony in an old analogue technology, which I had considered obsolete, enabling me to do more.