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The "technical glitch" that led to the Canucks/Coyotes game not coming on until 20 minutes after it was supposed to start (and thus almost midway through the first period) was not, in fact, the fault of Center Ice... It was because the game feed was from the Toronto Sports Network, which chose to stay with the Senators/Leafs game, which went into overtime and resulted in the Very First NHL Shootout decision (no more tie games in the NHL -- new rule; the Sens won). This ticked off a lot of western Canadians, who -- not unreasonably, I feel -- would have rather watched the puck-drop for the Canucks game, instead of the shootout. (As it happened, the entire first period of the game was scoreless, so at least the delay in switching to it in the broadcast didn't hurt too much.)

The problem for me was that Center Ice was showing the Sens/Leafs game on a different channel anyway... so there was no way to tell that the reason we were getting a blank screen on channel 2 waiting for the Canucks game was due to the network not having switched over to that game yet. Here's a tip for Center Ice -- if this happens (and there are indeed sometimes double-headers like this on Canadian broadcast networks), it would be nice for your viewers if you put up a little notice about it. That's all I'm saying. It would be a vast improvement over just showing us that day's Center Ice schedule (which taunts you by confirming that yes, indeed, there ought to be a game on that channel right then), and playing the perky Center Ice theme "music" over and over and over and over and OVER again. After the 15th repeat, believe me, that is music to axe-murder by. (Additional note to Center Ice: commission new theme music; at least, commission something that plays for longer than 30 seconds before it loops.)

So finally, we joined the game! Midway through the first period! But whatever!

It was a very good game, from a Canucks fan's viewpoint. The various new NHL rules seemed to be working and seemed to be enforced, with a noticeable improvement in the flow of the game, as intended. I'd say that the boys looked a bit rusty out there, but given it's the first real game in 17 months for many of them, that's to be expected. Rusty or not, they did manage to pull off some outstanding plays. The Canucks won 3-2, no overtime or shootout; and in the "new NHL", that was a somewhat low score. (Thanks to "opening up" the game, games are now apparently averaging 4.9 goals, which is up something like 1.5 from the start of 03-04.) Two of those goals came from the WCE (the Canucks' "big line"), off the stick of Marcus Naslund (team captain), and they were *extremely* pretty and just, really, really good hockey.

(ETA: my figures here are off. So far this season, average goals per game is 6.27, as opposed to 5.14 over all of the last season. Not a huge increase, but every little bit helps, etc. And the season is young.)

The other big news of the night was that, in playing the Phoenix Coyotes, we were seeing the debut of Wayne Gretzky as a head coach. This garnered some attention, as you might expect. Yes, Gretz is going the Larry Bird route. Everybody thinks he's nuts. For those not in the know, he is a part-owner of the team, too, but this is his first time taking an active role behind the bench. His attitude appears to be, "Why not?" More to the point -- it allows him to be more involved in the game, and while nobody would make the mistake of thinking that the Great One doesn't care whether he loses or not (oh, he cares), the point seems to be that he isn't so afraid of losing that he isn't willing to take the chance and give it a try.

Looking at his team last night, I'd say he has his work cut out for him. They aren't inept, but they didn't truly look like they were at the Canucks' level, either. So, in his first game as a head coach, Gretz did not get the win. Still, they acquitted themselves well -- it also was not a blow-out. And I tell you what -- there is no bad to having Gretzky behind the bench for games, because that means you get a lot of shots of him, and man, is he easy on the eyes. He would appear to be one of those guys who is ageing insanely well -- I'd say that he looks better now, at 44, than he did 10 years ago. Damn.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 6th, 2005 11:04 am (UTC)
I'm just pleased they won. It's such a postive start to the season for them, and it's so good to see Bert back in uniform again.

ITA about Wayne Gretzky. He looks way better now than he did in his Glory Days! Good for him to take the chance with the Coyotes as coach. I must admit to being a purist ie if it don't get snow, it shouldn't have a hockey team *g*, but a win is a win :oD
Oct. 7th, 2005 07:12 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm totally with you on the idea that hockey franchises should really be limited to places where you could actually *play* ice-hockey au naturel. But I guess I can see where Phoenix presents an interesting challenge for Gretzky. Sort of a, "if you can make a hockey team work THERE, you can make it anywhere..." thing.

*nods* They looked good out there. Bert looked good, if a bit rusty. I know he's braced for the road-trips, though. The biggest additions to the team -- Carter and Park -- looked pretty good too, even if their lines didn't have goals. I mainly really like the way that the Canucks managed to bring back a huge amount of their core, unlike so many other teams.
Oct. 7th, 2005 07:22 am (UTC)
The boys do seem pretty loyal on the whole. I'm glad Bert was back on the ice again. I understand he didn't play the pre-seasons and I was beginning to worry that he couldn't get back in the saddle so to speak. It would be understandable in the circumstances.

I remember being impressed by Park when the Canucks played the Wild in the playoffs the last time there was a Stanley Cup. I'm pleased they signed him :o)

I'm hoping to be in Van around playoff time next year. Fingers crossed that a) they make it and b) I can get a ticket by whatever nefarious means necessary!
Oct. 6th, 2005 12:16 pm (UTC)
completely shallow
ah yes, wayne gretzy has definitely aged well. so what do hockey coaches wear?
Oct. 7th, 2005 07:16 am (UTC)
Re: completely shallow
Suits and ties. :) Suit-jackets, at least. Gretz looked pretty sharp, brown tweed jacket and black tie. I remember thinking, dude, loosen that knot a little -- but overall it was good. And I have seen some coaches -- including the Canucks' Crawford, all too often -- make some really, really questionable tie choices. (In the "dude! didn't anyone tell you what would happen to that tie pattern on TV?" category.)

Ah, shallowness! :D I see no reason not to admit that hey, hockey boys are cute. And I feel less weird about ogling Gretzky than I do about ogling some of the actual players. (Fortunately, the ones I think are cutest are at least over 30. o.O )
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )