In a bold (and failed) experiment, the Canucks held training camp in Greece. Problems arose however when they found out that there are only 2 hockey rinks in the whole country. In an exhibition they beat the Greek National Team 23-0. After that they just scrimmaged and played intrasquad games. Interest in hockey is so high in Greece that these games drew dozens (up to 4) of fans.
Coach Smyl was heard to comment one evening during camp, as he watched one of the endless soccer games on TV, “Soccer is like hockey being played in molasses, and with a ridiculous floating blue line. And there’s more diving than there was by the Sharks in Game 4 of the finals.” Subtlety was never one of his strong suits.
Meanwhile, regarding the team: Ben Bishop came to camp and looked great. He was deeply troubled by the fact that the Canucks traded for Tuuka Rask when he had assumed that he would be the #1 goalie after Luongo left. But instead of pouting, he put is energy into becoming a better goalie. Coach Smyl was pleased, but said he didn’t want to overwork Bishop. When asked how many games he would start, Smyl said that for some unknown reason the number 46 keeps popping into his head. Rask wins the #2 spot, because in camp he demonstrated much better rebound control than Georgiev.
On defense Nick Leddy (trade) and Connor Murphy (free agent) solidify the third pairing which, to be blunt, sucked last year. Josi-Gostisbehere and Vlasic-Demelo will be pairs 1 and 2, with Tanev on deck in case of injuries on both sides.
As the team gets better, rookies have a harder time cracking the lineup. Hintz (1st round) and Greenway (2nd round) will get time as injury replacements, but that’s it. With forwards, Coach Smyl was hoping for an improvement on defense, but got none. But they come back with a stronger desire to bang bodies and with a huge improvement in the faceoff circle (3 +3s and 2 +2s). Sissons (minors last year) and Roussel (free agent) will be the 2 new faces, besides the rookies, playing forward. Johnny Gaudreau looked like the best forward in camp by a mile.
Some players will spend the year in the minors, including Malgin and Jarnkrok, both of whom were important players last year. Also Victor Mete. And 3 players who saw ice time were cut, Hickey, Eriksson, and Fast. But they all had terrible training camps. Too much souvlaki and ouzo in Greece, just like management.
And of course, on opening night this year a ceremony will precede the game to honor the Sedin twins who retired and for years were the face of the team. All fans will receive a double headed bobble-head(s) doll.