Canucks writer Derek Jory will be talking to the Canucks players and Fin all season long and finding out answers to your questions! Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him what you want to know.
I turned on the TV Saturday night expecting to see the Vancouver Canucks play the Detroit Red Wings.
There was a team in red and white annnnnd another team in red and white – well, technically it was maroon and cream, but there was no blue or green to be seen.
Who were these imposters and what had they done with the Vancouver Canucks?
That WAS the Vancouver Canucks, for one night and one night only they simply swapped their regular uniforms to honour a century of hockey in Vancouver by donning Vancouver Millionaires jerseys.
From helmet to socks, the Canucks were transformed into hockey heroes from the early 1900s. One hundred years ago, hockey visionaries Frank and Lester Patrick headed West and gambled everything for their new vision of hockey that would change the game forever.
In 1912 they founded a new league, built new arenas, and opened up our game to showcase speed and creativity. They introduced the blue line, forward passing, line substitutions, delayed penalties, and the penalty shot. They placed numbers on sweaters, credited assists and allowed goaltenders to leave their feet. They created the first playoff system in North American sports, the one we still use today. And it all happened right here.
In 1912, the Vancouver Millionaires were born as the new league's flagship team, becoming the first Canadian team to play on artificial ice. Just three years later, led by superstar Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, the Millionaires won the Stanley Cup, defeating the Ottawa Senators in three straight games.
It was only natural the Canucks wear the Millionaires ‘V’ on their chests to honour a century of the greatest game on earth in Vancouver; the loss to the Red Wings wasn’t in the plans, but that’s the beauty of hockey, you have to expect the unexpected.
An astronaut, a pumpkin, a s’more, a Hershey Kiss and a whale dressed as a lumberjack.
Being at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice for the first time was overwhelming enough for Scarlett Cameron, but a Halloween costume and pumpkin carving celebration made her feel right at home.
The beautiful, lively two-and-a-half-year-old girl, dressed in a green, pink, yellow and red onesie, lives with a variety of medical conditions that can mask, compliment or exacerbate each other. Scarlett was born with a chromosome 17 anomaly, which resulted in severe brain matter loss; she is fed through a tube, is an acute insomniac and she can not walk, just to name a few of her challenges.
Scarlett can smile though – a warm, joyous smile that could melt an iceberg.
On her mother Stacey’s lap, surrounded by her dad Jason, older brothers Cole and Carson, Vancouver Canucks play-by-play commentator John Shorthouse and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins, Scarlett’s smile was as wide and bright as her rainbow outfit.
For Scarlett, the design couldn’t have mattered less. She and family, in town from Mackenzie, BC, a community of roughly 5,000 people, were beaming simply because they were together, worry free. Carving a pumpkin is a right of passage for kids and with life responsibilities taken care of by the exceptional staff at Canuck Place, the family focused on carving the best three pumpkins ever.
“When Scarlett’s on, she’s on and when she’s not, she’s difficult,” explained her mom Stacey. “We have lots of people that help us in Mackenzie, but they all have families as well and they all put their families on hold for our family, so it’s nice to not have that guilt here.
“I just want to know how we can move in,” she laughed, seriously. “I told them I wasn’t leaving, but I don’t think they believed me. Seriously, this is amazing, and not just for Scarlett, it’s been great for the whole family.”
Stacey took sons Cole and Carson to the movie Hotel Transylvania, in 3D, a few nights ago for Carson’s first theatre experience. To know Scarlett was taken care of, while being able to spend time dedicated to her sons, time they don’t often get when caring for Scarlett, was important for the family.
Much of their daily lives are devoted to Scarlett and using love to help her overcome her difficulties, so time to re-charge the batteries was priceless.
Watching her light up at the sight of a finished pumpkin was equally as priceless.
“This is her first time in house and the family is super excited to do typical, normal childhood things, like carve a pumpkin with their child,” said Laura Fielding, Canuck Place recreation therapy coordinator.
“They’re here and they’re focused on pumpkin carving and as a parent, I would think that is just a nice gift to have.”
Dallas Gillingham and Julia Hwang had never been more excited to be put to work.
The 15-year-olds, Gillingham from North Vancouver and Hwang from Yakima, Washington, won the opportunity to caddy for their favourite Vancouver Canucks player at the 29th annual Canucks for Kids Fund Jake Milford Charity Invitational Golf Tournament Wednesday at the Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, BC.
Essentially they won the opportunity to rub elbows with their hero of choice, which turned out to be a drastically different experience for both young caddies.
Dallas, bright eyed and bushy tailed straight from the first hole of the Ridge Course, prepared for role as Kevin Bieksa’s right-hand man by watching Happy Gilmore a few times.
It paid off sooner than Dallas expected.
Bieksa’s first tee-shot of the day was beautiful and it left him with a long chip shot on the par-4, 346-yard opening hole. The Canucks defenceman studied his shot, reading both severe and subtle breaks, before turning to Dallas.
“What do you see here Dallas?” he asked, before snarking “or should I even ask…”
Bieksa was kidding, of course, as most people would know. Juice is a jokester. Dallas, on the other hand, was caught off guard by the sneaky jab. He smiled and didn’t say a word; it was then he realized he was in for a dogfight for another 17 holes.
That’s when his comedic film studying came in handy.
After Bieksa’s tee-shot on the second hole sent the pair for a wilderness hike through the rough, they returned to the middle of the fairway to try and hit the green from the foursome’s best hit ball.
Dallas got to the clubs first and confidently ripped out a driver, handing it to Bieksa, who was dumbfounded.
“What’s the matter with you Dallas?” he laughed, before clueing in that his caddy has pulled a fast one on him. And the dumbfounded look returned. “Good one,” he smiled, exchanging the correct club from Dallas with a “thank you sir.”
By the fourth hole Dallas was muddy, grassy and having the time of his life.
The same wasn’t to be said for Julia, who was still as shy and timid around David Booth on the 11th hole of the Canal Course as she was the moment they met earlier in the day.
She wasn’t muddy, wasn’t grassy, she wasn’t even holding any clubs.
“She wouldn’t even jump into the water and swim for my ball earlier,” said Booth.
Clearly Julia wasn’t as prepared for the friendly back and forth that comes with spending time with one of the Vancouver Canucks. They’re jokers and if you let them, they’ll get under your skin just enough to keep you guessing.
Reminded of this, Julia stepped her game up.
“Here’s an eight iron, I think you can land a high pitch shot, just be careful of the bunkers on the left,” she said, borrowing a line or two from her dad, John, who was golfing in the foursome. This, understandably, knocked the wind out of Booth.
He didn’t end up taking her advice and he bogeyed the hole. Coincidence?
“It doesn’t matter,” she giggled, “I’m just happy being out here.”
Booth, on the other hand, was wondering why Julia didn’t have a meatloaf sandwich for him when he got hungry a hole later.
“You’ve got to know what I’m thinking before I think it if you want to be my caddy!” chuckled Booth, beaming in a bright pink shirt.
“Real men wear pink,” defended Julia, ignoring the meatloaf sandwich request, yet standing by her man.
It was a different yet memorable experience for both caddies and a magnificently splendid day overall for everyone on course, with the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky.
Almost every member of the Canucks was on hand for the tournament, including many, like Roberto Luongo, who flew in just for the event. The Jake Milford Charity Invitational is that important to the players; with the 2012-13 season in limbo, everyone remained focused on the lives changed by the money raised for the Canucks for Kids Fund.Check out the photo galleries from the Jake Milford Tournament here: Ridge Course, Canal Course.
Jack Millos likes to move it, move it, he likes to move it, move it, he likes to move it.
You know that by now, you’ve seen the video, read his autobiography and bought his t-shirt – well, you’ve at least seen the video.
Earlier this year Jack was just a six-and-a-half-year-old kid, he enjoyed doing what kids his age do, like playing red rover, sizzling ants with a magnifying glass and disturbing old man Clemens with a little knock knock ginger.
Now Jack, or the kid formally known as Jack who now goes by the symbol :) (just kidding), is a media darling. I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it too: when I grow up I want to be like Jack.
Here are 6 Things you should know about being Jack.
The Music, The Moves
“Mostly any music is good for dancing, sort of rock n’ roll music too, that’s my favourite,” said Jack. “I like some bands like Justin Bieber, Black Eyed Peas and Foster The People. I can dance to a lot of music as long as it’s a good song.
“I like to move my ankles and my arms, sort of like making a robot but just a lot faster and not stiff. And I have a bunch of moves in my head and then do whatever my body feels like doing. And I don’t really know what to say after that.”
“My sister taught me how to dance, she’s 18, her name is Teaghan. When I was a baby I tried dancing and I don’t know what songs I danced to, but my sister used to put them on YouTube. I danced to a Black Eyed Peas song with Duncan in the background, he’s my dog, he’s a yellow lab. He likes to watch me dance.”
The Real Beginning
“He’s always been a dancer,” said his mom Elizabeth. “We listened to music a lot in the house and even as a baby he’d dance to certain songs like Scolding Wife, by Great Big Sea, and a couple of Creedence Clearwater songs. He would just bust into some moves and so my daughter started recording them and putting them online.”
“Probably that I’m a celebrity. One of my friends named Alex, he wanted my autograph, so I gave it to him,” laughed Jack, a first grade student.
“My teacher showed the dancing video in front of the whole class too, I wasn’t embarrassed, they’ve seen me dance before. I just did a dance for a school talent show. I did a new dance, sort of, and it was just for fun, like an audition.”
Jack has officially become the little dancer that could. As of 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, August 1st, the Dancing Kid video had 832,364 views on the Canucks Official YouTube channel, launching the channel up the charts as the 13th most viewed in Canada.
We can expect the clicks-throughs will be high and continue to grow, much like the demand for the video. It has now been featured on Good Morning America, ESPN, Inside Edition, the Huffington Post, Deadspin, Sports Illustrated, Puck Daddy and Global TV, where Jack danced up a storm, live, on a Friday morning.
The Other Dances
Not only is Jack young, cute and boisterous, he’s also versatile. On more than one occasion, the dancing kid has broken down to Boom Boom Pow, by the Black Eyed Peas, a jig to Great Big Sea, and he's also proven he knows how to move it, move it - if you catch my drift? And don’t try to learn from Jack, trust me, his dances are not to be taken lightly.
At 3:15 p.m. sharp on Tuesday, May 29th, Sean Thomas raised his voice and gave notice to his 20 colleagues in attendance the meeting was about to begin.
Seated at the head table in Studio 4 at the W.C. Blair Recreation Centre in Langley, BC, Thomas started off the final gathering of the year by thanking everyone for all their hard work. He then proceeded to outline the discussion ahead, pausing briefly now and again to make warm eye contact.
The notes Thomas prepared were merely there for show, he knew what he was saying by heart because it was from the heart. It’s been an intense year, the third overall for his KCH program, which has raised more than $15,000 for BC Children’s Hospital, and he genuinely appreciates the extra effort his team has put in.
In the distance children can he heard having the time of their lives in the swimming pool not far from Studio 4, and right outside the window other youngsters are conquering the playground with glee.
That’s where you’d expect this group to be.
Thomas, who created the Kids Can Help program in 2009, is 10-years-old. His colleagues are boys and girls ranging in age from eight to 17.
This is no ordinary gathering because this is no ordinary group. And thanks to Thomas, today will be extraordinary.
At 3:15 p.m. sharp on Tuesday, May 29th, Vancouver Canucks forward Manny Malhotra listened as the navigation system in his jet-black Audi barked out directions to the W.C. Blair Recreation Centre in Langley, BC.
Shuffling through radio stations Malhotra landed on Hip-Hop and the track Mercy by Kanye West. He gave a slight nod in approval then glanced out his Prada glasses to check the clock, which led to a jolt of gas as he roared east down the Fraser Highway.
“Let me get this straight,” Malhotra said matter-of-factly. “Sean is 10-years-old, he started this group when he was seven, and he raised roughly $15,000 this year for charity? I don’t remember what I was into when I was 10, but it wasn’t anything remotely close to this. I can’t wait to meet this kid.”
In early May Thomas contacted the Canucks in hopes of having a player come out to reward his group for all its selflessness. A visit from Fin was arranged and it was clear when Vancouver’s loveable mascot entered the room the group was ecstatic to see him. Fin is like Santa Clause that way; he spreads joy by just showing up.
But Fin wasn’t alone.
A hush fell over the room when Fin bolted for the hallway for no apparent reason. He then returned, followed by Malhotra, followed by hysteria.
Malhotra’s visit was kept quiet from everyone, including Thomas. The man himself had the wool pulled over his eyes. He’d been hoodwinked and he knew it, but he embraced it before embracing Malhotra.
For the first time ever Thomas felt the sheer happiness he has provided countless others through the Kids Can Help program over the last three years.
After Thomas’ grandmother Connie died from ovarian cancer in 2007, he went on a mission to find a way to make it right. He knew he couldn’t do anything specific for his grandmother, but he recognized how devastating cancer is.
A short while later the Kids Can Help program was born.
“I remember thinking ‘Just because I’m a kid, doesn’t mean I can’t help fight for the cure,’” said Thomas. “My mom then gave me the phone number for the BC Children’s Hospital and she said if I really wanted this, I’d have to do it on my own.”
The goal for Year 1 was to raise $1,000. The group surpassed that by $500. Year 2 the goal was $2,000 and again, they passed it by $500. This year, anticipating big things, the group simply gave it everything it had and $15,300 was the result.
Garage sales, talent shows, bake sales – you name it, the KCH program did it. And the kids won’t be stopping anytime soon.
“Why not shoot for $20,000 next year?” Thomas said, as if it were chump change. “This is my dream and really, my job is easy. It’s all the kids who are going through what they’re going through that are the real heroes.”
This program isn’t Thomas’ only philanthropic outlet, he’s also a pop singer with two albums and the majority of their sales go to the program. Your Love and U R the 1 (both available on iTunes) have raised his profile and that of Kids Can Help.
Easy to say the sky is the limit for Thomas and his group, but it would be a lie. There are truly no limit for youths this incredibly altruistic.
Click here for more information on Thomas and the Kids Can Help program.
Tweeting Vancouver Canucks’ games live from the press box is always an adventure.
During any given game more than 23,000 followers can engage in conversation with me via @CanucksGame; some enjoy talking about the power play, others want to know about scoring streaks and some want to debate fighting’s place in hockey.
I don’t recall the first time a tweet from @Raffi_RC came through, but I know it was regarding a scrap on the ice. We tweeted back and forth about fighting, “Raffi” giving his two cents, me returning mine.
Then a few weeks ago I was in the Canucks dressing room post-practice when a story opportunity arose. Jonathan Wall, director of hockey administration, asked me to meet him in the hallway after the Kevin Bieksa scrum I was about to partake in.
When I walked into the hall, the man talking to Jonathan was vaguely familiar, it was like he was once my best friend and yet I knew I’d never met him before.
It was Raffi – like Raffi, Raffi – as in children’s singer Raffi Cavoukian, known for hits like Baby Beluga, Down by the Bay and Bananaphone.
“Wow, Derek, it’s such a pleasure to meet you, I’m a big fan,” he actually said and I have witnesses because I know how fake it sounds but it’s actually true.
Why on earth would Raffi – like Raffi, Raffi – be telling me he’s a fan of mine, when I was and still am a huge fan of his?
Turns out Raffi is a Canucks fan and when he can’t watch the team play, he follows @CanucksGame on Twitter. Yes, the Raffi disputing fighting’s place in hockey was Raffi, Raffi – what are the odds. That’s like someone saying they’re friends with Wayne, and then it's Wayne Gretzky.
Jokes aside, Raffi isn’t kidding about keeping hockey clean and respectful. He recently released the toe-tapping tune On Hockey Days to promote all the good things about hockey, all the things that are forgotten more often than not.
“I live on Salt Spring Island, the only community of 10,000 people in Canada that doesn’t have a hockey rink,” explained Raffi, founder & chair of Centre for Child Honouring. “Just think of the devoted hockey moms and dads that have to take a ferry to Duncan or someplace for their kids to play hockey. There’s a lot of dedication and support being shown there and it really moves me and that’s what gave rise to the song.”
The nearly three-minute song, recorded in Calgary, took several weeks to write and another month was required to create the video. The project was a labour of love for Raffi and all those involved, and he believes the song has the potential to be his biggest yet.
“We’ve got one anthem for the game, which is Stompin’ Tom’s, and if there’s room to have another anthem by Stompin’ Raffi, I’m all for it,” he laughed.
Raffi has been in the music business for more than 35 years and if you’re like me, you grew up on his catchy tunes. If you’re like me, you also believed Raffi was a character like all the other children’s performers out there, and not a real person.
He’s real all right, as are his messages of spreading fun, fair play and respect, that have been heard worldwide. He knew one day he’d write a hockey song and the 63-year-old Armenian-Canadian is immensely proud of On Hockey Days.
Raffi’s love of our national past time began at age 10 when he came to Canada as an immigrant. He was drawn to the game instantly and his first English compositions were imitations of Foster Hewitt calling play-by-play of Hockey Night in Canada games, usually featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs, his favourite team.
When Raffi moved to the West Coast in 1990, a new team caught his attention and he’s been along for the ride with the Canucks ever since. Although he never played hockey as a child, he and his brother were table hockey kings, so much so they’d curve the sticks of the metallic hockey players so they could shoot top shelf.
Raffi was raised in hockey and he’s now produced a song to help raise the respect level for the game and the unsung heroes who make playing it possible.
“It’s a song born in my pure love of the game, it’s a song about hockey at the grassroots level, hockey families going to the rink and that’s what feeds the NHL. I’ve come up with a hockey song honouring the hockey moms and dads that make the game possible at all levels and again, I’m very proud of it.
“Someday I’m looking forward to is hearing it played at Rogers Arena, can you get on that Derek?”
I’ll try my best Raffi, it’s the least I can do for the man who enriched my childhood with the lyrics “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea, Swim so wild and you swim so free,” and is a superstar to my son today.
It’s about having fun.
And no, fun isn’t an acronym for Friends of the United Nations.
Fun is what Alex Burrows has every time he steps onto the ice as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. Fun is what he’s had ever since he picked up a stick for the first time and it’s what he believes is the greatest thing about hockey; it’s fun!
When Burrows was 14-years-old he tried out for a Bantam AA team and, in what would become a common theme in his unlikely surge to the NHL, Burrows was underappreciated and eventually cut.
He was heartbroken and questioned whether he wanted to continue playing hockey, until his friends reminded him why he loved the game.
“That was the first year of contact hockey for us in Quebec and I think I got cut because I was a little bit smaller than the normal guy,” said Burrows. “I grew later on, but then I was a bit smaller and I was really sad about being cut, I thought I was a better player than a lot of those guys that made the team. I was disappointed, so I went back and played with some of friends and kept having fun and that’s all that really mattered.”
Burrows’ passion for hockey was reignited and he made a point to remember it’s about having fun. He tries to never lose sight of that.
“It’s all about having fun, for real. When I was young some of my friends were pushed a little too hard and worked too hard by their parents. My parents never pushed me; they supported me very well no matter what I wanted to do.
“That really helped me love hockey and want to do my best at it. Funny thing is that the guys I played with in novice and atom, those are still the buddies I know now. We used to play street hockey and stuff and now we stay in touch and we see each other and bring back those memories.”
Burrows is now 30-years-old and a part of one of the best lines in hockey alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin. He recently appears in his 500th NHL game and is one shorthanded goal from moving into sole possession of second place for most in club history.
Not bad for a guy out there having fun.
It's hard to believe, but Mason Raymond wasn't always the fastest player on the ice.
Not even close.
When the Vancouver Canucks forward was a young tike working his way through novice, atom, pee-wee and bantom hockey, speed wasn't on his side. He couldn't keep up with teammates and would lose races in practice.
"I wouldn't say I was a horrible skater," laughed Raymond, "but I was so small that I couldn't keep up with the guys that were bigger and stronger than me at the time. I wasn't able to skate really fast or keep up with the guys until later on."
Today Raymond is the fastest player on the Canucks, he proves it every year during the team's Superskills event; last season the speedster flew around the ice in a time of just 13.6 seconds.
How did Raymond turn from tortoise to hare?
Practice, practice, practice.
"I know you hear it a lot, but keep practicing, keep working on the little things that someone else isn't and keep your ears open to all the options and tips from anybody and keep working at it."
After Raymond would finish his homework and chores, he's head straight out to the Olympic oval in his hometown of Calgary where he'd spend his nights working on drills that encouraged quick feet and long strides. He continues using these drills as he rehabs himself back from an injury he suffered last year in the Stanley Cup Final.
Vancouver's skills coach Glenn Carnegie has also introduced Raymond to some new skating drills that have helped the 26-year-old increase his speed even more.
"I just was on Canucks.com and I saw the Sedins are doing in-line skating to improve and that's great. It doesn't matter where you are in your career, you can always get better and work on what you need to perfect and keep moving forward.
"For me speed is something that I try to focus in on because it's a huge part of my game and something that I try to use to my advantage when I can. It's cliché, but speed kills, it's a good weapon to have in the bag."
Raymond doesn't lose races to teammates in practice anymore.
If you're lucky, the next time you're at a Vancouver Canucks game, Fin will bite you.
Don't worry, it doesn't hurt. It means he likes you.
Fin cruises around Rogers Arena during Canucks home games pumping up the crowd and visiting fans; he's been doing it for more than 10 years since he became the team's mascot in 2001.
Fin also makes other appearances throughout the year at weddings, community events and birthday parties, he loves meeting new people as long as they don't mistake him for a shark.
Fin is a whale, if you want a shark, go to San Jose!
B.C. Salmon is Fin's favourite food, he loves watching Free Willy and he has many special skills: shooting mist from his blowhole and playing goal ("Flops Like a Whale" style).
Fin has put up some impressive stats during his time with the Canucks, over the last 10 years he has appeared in 369 regular season games, six All-Star Games (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), nine showings at the Annual Celebrity Mascot Games in Orlando, Florida, and 1,350 community appearances throughout the Lower Mainland, BC, Canada and the USA.
The worldly whale is here, there and everywhere and he tries his best to visit all the Canucks fans he can during home games, but sometimes he runs out of time.