Haggerty: Canucks cement villainous reputation


Haggerty: Canucks cement villainous reputation

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON In the words of John McEnroe, the hockey gods cannot be serious!

Can they?

The Vancouver Canucks have become the prat-falling stars of their own sitcom entitled Hockey Players Behaving Badly during the first five games of the Stanley Cup Finals this summer.

In doing so, Alain Vigneaults squad has claimed the mantle as the most reviled team in the NHL.

That said, they also stand just 60 minutes away from the hunched-over Maxim Lapierre, the finger-chompingAlex Burrows, and the self-imagined godfather of modern goaltending technique, Roberto Luongo, celebrating a Stanley Cup win on the TD Garden ice Monday night.

With the demons and ghosts of the Canadiens and Flyers banished for the time being, Luongo jumping for joy at the final buzzer in Boston would be Bruins Nation's worst nightmare come true after his continued jabs at Tim Thomas.

It doesnt seem right and it doesnt seem fair the Canucks could possibly clinch it all in Boston after earning themselves the distinction as theNHL team everybody loves to hate.

But life in the NHL certainly isnt fair, is it?

Burrows has the skill to play on a line with twoof the best hockey players in the world, but he also chose to bite one of the most gentlemanly players in the game in Patrice Bergeron. He's continued his act by flipping and flopping throughout the series, and faking a fallduring a faceoff in Game 5 that led to an embellishment penalty. At least in Burrows' case, the referees have started to catch on to his pestering ways and ignore the head snaps and dives that come far too often.

Lapierre mocked the league and the refs by dangling his gloved fingers in front of Bergerons face in the game following Burrows' bitein Vancouver. That was nothing compared to acting as if his spleen was ruptured in Game 5 followinga love tap from Zdeno Chara behind the Boston net in the second period.

Lapierre was doubled over veering toward the bench while carefully skating right past the refs hoping to garner a call with his thespian histrionics. Once again the refs weren't buying what the Canucks were selling.

Its no coincidence Dallas Stars gritty forward Krys Barch tweeted a rhetorical question earlier in the series: Barch wanted to know ifLapierre had any man in him at all. This from a player with no dog in the fight during the Stanley Cup Finals. In fact, Barch had hisface rearranged by the Bruins during the Boston-Dallas fight night in the regular season.Lapierreis a player ushered out of Montreal because his Habs teammates were tired of his unwillingness to fight his own battles, and that has sullied his rep across the league. Needless to say the referees are on to both Lapierre and Burrows, and none of their odes to adying fish have led to Bruins penalties since early onin the series.

The attitude of the on-ice officials basically confirms much of the reputation the Canucks have earned from national media, fans and those catching their hockey vaudeville act for the first extended viewing this season. The Canucks are the best team in the NHL in terms of stats and talent, but they are possibly the worst when it comes to playing with honor.

But, then again, none of that seems to matter at this point.

The hockey gods have seen fit to make Raffi Torres who clobbered Brent Seabrook with a vicious flying elbow to the head in the first round of the playoffs the game-winning hero in the first Vancouver win.

The biting, diving, despicable Burrows took the honors with the game-winner in the second of the series and the faking, finger-dangling Lapierre, along with the clearly insecure Luongo, took hold as the latest Canucks heroes in the series with Vancouver up 3-2 in the series headed into Game 6 in Boston.

The latest episode in the Vancouver saga hasLuongo -- prone to going for serene walks along the seawall with his headphones on and hoodie tied tight around his head while gettinghis mind rightfor game night -- claiming he has pumped the tires of Tim Thomas throughout the series.Not sure what planet criticizing another goalie in victory counts as pumping people's tires.

"Ive been pumping his tires all series, said Luongo to a group of reporters on Saturday. I havent heard him say anything nice about me.

Apparently Luongo was looking for a pat on the back and an "attaboy" from his rival goaltender after claiming he would have stopped the third period game-winner in Game 5 Friday night. There seems to be a pattern developing: Luongo needs to hear complimentarythings about himself in order to feel comfortable and appreciated in the world of competitive sport.

The insecure need for acceptance and verbal bouquetsbelied Luongo's haughty attitude and his criticisms of Thomas' style and technique.
Luongo's apologists will say his feelings have been hurt because of criticism he's playing too deep in his net. Most would say there's no place for hurt feelings in the Stanley Cup Finals.

This isnt about Hansel and Gretel Sedin for all those looking for a gender-neutral fun pet name for the Vancouver wonder twins failing to man up in a series that's testing their toughness and ability to scrapethrough determined defenders ready to battle.

The Sedins play a clean game aside from a little too much time curled up in the fetal position lying in Thomas crease, and they may still factor into the series.

This isnt about Ryan Kesler, either. The Vancouver center has played courageously through an injury that appeared to be exacerbated by a punishing Johnny Boychuk hit at the beginning of Game 2. He hasnt been the ultimate X-Factorhe was against the Blackhawks and Sharks, but hes still playing hockey the right way.

Its not even about the reprehensible, predatory hit Aaron Rome slapped on Nathan Horton that knocked one of Bostons best players out of the series, and turned the cheap shot defenseman into a Vancouver martyr with Free Rome signs popping up in Vancouver after his four-game suspension.

This is about a small group ofVancouver players that dishonor the game of hockey and have transformed nearly everyone else in the NHL into Boston Bruins fans for another week of Cup Finals games. They are literally despised in many corners of the NHL in what should be a crowning moment for the franchise's first potential Stanley Cup.

The Canucks may win the Cup, and they may even celebrate on the Garden ice Monday. Or they might just crumble like a spineless hockey team visibly afraid to play in a hostile atmosphere on the road.

One thing is certain: Theyll never be able to wipe away the embarrassing stain their on-ice comportment has left across the NHL in the leagues showcase event. That will be the villainous, cowardly legacy of the Canucks, win or lose.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Pred's Rinne


Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Pred's Rinne

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering how much of a dark cloud Slava Voynov’s presence is going to bring to the World Cup of Hockey.

*PHT’s Joey Alfieri tracks the ups and downs of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who had a frustrating season.

*Jonathan Drouin says that he “definitely wants to be” part of the Tampa Bay Lightning after a very rocky year with a happy ending for all.

*Speaking of the World Cup of Hockey, Taylor Hall was one of a number of deserving Canadian players – including P.K. Subban -- left off the roster.

*The San Jose Sharks have come a long way from their inaugural season in the league.

*Ottawa Senators senior advisor Bryan Murray is still getting used to a new role after a change in the Sens front office structure.

*Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has plenty of reasons to be proud after a very good year running hockey ops for the Penguins.

*For something completely different: this January Rolling Stone magazine piece on Stevie Nicks was an excellent retrospective.



Marchand: Selection to Canada World Cup 'on a different level'


Marchand: Selection to Canada World Cup 'on a different level'

Bruins left wing Brad Marchand definitely altered a lot of people’s perceptions about him as a hockey player when he scored 37 goals this season, and embraced more of a leadership role on a B’s team getting younger by the year. The B’s agitator started to reap the rewards of those changed opinions with a gold medal at the IIHF World Championships in Russia earlier this month, and on Friday with his inclusion on a ridiculously talented Team Canada roster set for the NHL and NHLPA-organized World Cup of Hockey in the fall.

Marchand will join linemate Patrice Bergeron and head coach Claude Julien as part of the Team Canada contingent, and could even be part of a reunited Marchand-Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line if Mike Babcock and Co. are looking for instant chemistry.

Either way Marchand was excited about suiting up for his country, and being part of a World Cup tournament that will include Bruins players Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara, David Pastrnak, David Krejci (who may not be available to play due to his hip surgery), Loui Eriksson and Dennis Seidenberg along with the Team Canada contingent.

“It’s an incredible honor to play for Team Canada. It’s something that I think we all take a lot of pride in, and something that is…it’s not an easy accomplishment,” said Marchand. “It’s not something you get to do very often, and to have that opportunity twice this year is very special and it’s not something I take for granted

“I think being part of a team like this is on a different level, and people may give a little more respect to that fact and may look at more of the kind of player I am, other than just the stuff they’ve seen in the past, with the hits and being a pest and stuff like that. Maybe those people will realize that I’m an OK hockey player, and I do play the game as well. But regardless, that’s not why I play the game. I play it to help our team win and just because I love the game, so however they feel, then that’s their opinion. But [earning more respect league-wide] is a possibility.”

This is the fifth time Marchand has been selected to compete for his home country of Canada in international play. The 5-foot-9, 181-pound forward tallied four goals and three assists in 10 games while helping Canada earn a gold medal at the aforementioned 2016 IIHF Men’s World Championships, held earlier this month in Russia. Marchand previously won gold with Team Canada at the U-20 World Championships in 2007 and 2008. He also earned a bronze medal with Team Canada Atlantic at the 2005 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. The two-week tournament, featuring eight teams comprised of more than 150 of the best players in the NHL, will progress from the Preliminary Round to the Semifinals and ultimately the Final. 

The involvement of so many Bruins players along with Julien will make for a spare NHL camp in Boston come September with so many important pieces out for what is traditionally the first two weeks of camp.