It was a long off season for hockey fans, especially Canucks fans. The scars of a devastating Game Seven loss at home and an embarrassing downtown Vancouver riot only set the tone for a tragic summer for the entire hockey community. After relying heavily on music to pass the time without hockey, The Flying V presents your 2012 Vancouver Canucks through an amazing journey of hockey and harmonics.
Meet The Band
Only a few short months ago the Vancouver Canucks had two chances to clinch the Stanley Cup versus the Boston Bruins. After failing to win the much-cherished chalice the Canucks return to NHL action with a target on their backs but no rings on their fingers. Instead, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and the rest of the Boston Bruins now own stones Flava Flav would be envious of.
Months later, a new season and a new slogan have moved to spin the riots and their aftermath in a positive direction, but the damage for the most part cannot be undone. Like it or not, Canucks fans are now the poster-boys (and girls) of a black mark on the city of Vancouver and its’ sports fans.
On the ice front-man Henrik Sedin and twin brother Daniel are in charge of leading the team to play-on following the devastating loss last spring. Behind the twins, former captain Roberto Luongo returns once again to silence the critics who aggressively panned his latest body of work.
After diving, biting, blowing it and burning it down the Canucks and their much-hated fans are Back in Black in 2012.
Will the twins’ return to the ice go as smoothly as brothers Angus and Malcolm Young’s return to rock?
Up front, on lead guitar – The Forwards
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Alex Burrows
Henrik and Daniel Sedin return to the Canucks top line in 2012 alongside long-time partner in crime Alex Burrows who has adapted his play to coincide with the connected twins. Vancouver’s top line was the driving force behind the NHL’s top scoring offense last season and will be looked upon more than ever for point production this year with Ryan Kesler out of the lineup to start the season. The absence of Kesler and winger Mason Raymond has left a degree of unpredictability on the second line, leaving the responsibility to plug the net fully with the Sedins. After experiencing the worst of the Bruins’ harsh defensive system Henrik, his brother and his hungry linemate should be prepared for a demanding start to the season.
Glory, glory hallellu / Glory for Twins One and Two / But that glory’s been denied / by Lucic and Thomas eyes/
Marco Sturm – (Cody Hodgson) – Mikael Samuelsson
Injured: Mason Raymond – Ryan Kesler
You didn’t hear it, you didn’t see it, and you never heard it, not a word of it. The Canucks have put a disappointing Stanley Cup loss behind them and begin a new season with younger players pushing the team in the right direction. A majority of the Canucks starting second line in Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond will start the season out due to injury; however depth at winger and the addition of veteran Marco Sturm leaves the Canucks in good standing to start the year. Cody Hodgson appears to have put years of developmental struggles behind him and has impressed in training camp following a summer of off-season workouts with fitness guru Gary Roberts. Without number 17 and 21 to start the season fans have no reason to be over optimistic; however Hodgson has a golden opportunity to make 21 a good year starting the season on Vancouver’s second line.
Can Cody Hodgson elevate his play to ensure he and the Canucks see the year in together?
Chris Higgins – Manny Malhotra – Jannik Hansen
Fresh off a stellar 2011 campaign with the Canucks Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen and Manny Malhotra return to the lineup to wreak havoc on opposing forwards as the Canucks third line checking unit. The Triple-H line begins the season with a 100% healthy Malhotra who has been working throughout the off-season to fully recover from a career-threatening eye injury that cost him most of the 2011 playoffs. Chris Higgins returns to the lineup following an impressive playoff performance that earned him a new two-year contract with the Canucks to being the season. Familiar face Jannik Hansen also returns for only his second full season with the Canucks after tallying a career high 29 points over 82 games last year. While the hard hitting of Raffi Torres will be missed, the third line has surely been upgraded over the summer.
Manny Malhotra and the Canucks have paid their heavy debts and now know the pain of losing the Stanley Cup; will the Triple-H line will have a chance to play the game for keeps once again?
Aaron Volpatti – Maxim Lapierre – Dale Weise
Once assumed to be the LOV line featuring Aaron Volpatti, Maxim Lapierre and Victor Oreskovich the Canucks made a sudden-move Tuesday opting to waive Victor Oreskovich in order to make room for waiver pickup Dale Weise from the New York Rangers. Weise apparently did more to wow coaches and critics in camp than Oreskovich who appeared to have his own favourable showing in the pre-season for the Canucks. The former Canuck may have become the victim of an apparent fourth line upgrade due to the aggressive play of Revelstoke, BC native Aaron Volpatti who literally fought his way into the lineup on the opposite wing. While late fan favourite Rick Rypien will be sorely missed on the ice and in the community, Volpatti’s violent play has already captured the hearts of Canucks fans with a soft spot for the tough guy.
We’ll take to the ice like a cock fight / Fourth hits who’s strutting now?
On rhythm and bass guitar – The Defenceman
Kevin Bieksa – Dan Hamhuis
Alex Edler – Sami Salo
Keith Ballard – Chris Tanev
A cast of familiar faces return to the Canucks’ blue line to maintain order in front of Roberto Luongo again this season. The loss of two-way talent Christian Ehrhoff will be sorely felt on the blueline, but with youth and chemistry on the Canucks’ side this six piece remains of the NHL’s deepest defensive units. Every player on the Vancouver blueline to start opening night played at least one game during the Stanley Cup Finals last year and will provide his own contribution to the Canucks D this season. The veteran presence of Sami Salo and youthful energy of Chris Tanev complemented by the consistent play of Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler and (potentially) Keith Ballard provides a diverse corps of defenceman to get back to the big dance. Having tried so hard and got so far in last year’s playoffs, the Canucks blueline is poised to take advantage of the mutual adversity experienced which will only make them stronger in the end.
Will the experience of losing together in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals matter for the Canucks blue line?
On the drums and percussion – The Goaltenders
Behind a blue and green mask Roberto Luongo returns to the city with the sea wall in pursuit of a return to the Stanley Cup Finals. On a team built from the net out, Luongo is the cornerstone of the Canucks as well as the last line of defence. Despite the continuous (and often ludicrous) conversation surrounding Luongo he remains one of the top goaltenders in the world and enters the season more motivated than ever to propel his team to victory. Just as Keith Moon provided the driving force behind the sound of The Who, Luongo provides a calming rhythm with save after save allowing his teammates to go to work in front of him. Luongo’s fragile mentality will forever be questioned until he is able to lift the Stanley Cup over his head, but after a year of lessons learned Luongo is ready for the beginning of a new season.
Canucks fans may lack a conscience when it comes to Luongo, but will the goaltender’s dreams of a Stanley Cup become a reality?
General Manager Mike Gillis has one convenient problem at the goaltending position to start the season. Backup Cory Schneider’s performance in last year’s playoffs proved the prospect is ready for a consistent NHL workload; however behind Roberto Luongo those games simply don’t exist. While it may have appeared handy to have had Schneider waiting in the wings behind Luongo last spring, the dilemma can prove costly over an entire season. There is such thing as too much talent in a shared goal crease. Management and head coach Alain Vigneault may tow the line that the tandem is a tremendous treat, but one can’t help but wonder what fans will be saying if a controversy does manage to rise its’ ugly head out of the timeshare.
This time next year will Canucks fans be telling themselves they should have known?
About the Author: Kevin Vanstone is a long time sports fan and Canucks die hard from White Rock, British Columbia. He is currently attending the University of Victoria pursuing a Writing degree, and in his spare time writes about all things Canucks hockey as well as news and notes from around the NHL.