Mining The Media Guide
Henrik Sedin's golf handicap is a respectable 14.
Haken Loob was Markus Naslund's boyhood idol.
Ryan Kesler still wears the same shoulder pads he did at 14.
Not the stuff of headlines, but the kind of golden tidbits buried in NHL team media guides.
The Canucks produce a great read every year; it's 255 pages of argument-settling factoids.
Vladimir Krutov was the first ever Soviet player to score a goal in a Vancouver uniform. Igor Larionov assisted on the milestone in a 5-3 Canuck victory over Detroit October 7th, 1989.
Bill LaForge has the lowest winning percentage of any Canuck coach at .250 (mind you, LaForge coached just 40 games with a record 4-14-2). Using the 100-game mark as the cut-off line, Hal Laycoe takes the honor with .333 winning percentage and a record of 44-96-16.
The best stuff, however, is always found in the player bios.
For instance, Ed Jovanovski's dad, Kostadin, was a professional soccer player in Yugoslavia. Wade Brookbank lists a Nissan Pathfinder as his first 'big purchase.' If granted an audience with one person on the planet, Jarkko Ruutu would choose to meet the Crocodile Hunter.
Nuggets for sure, but what about the stuff that didn't make the media guide? Facts so obscure, even the players struggle to dredge them up.
The cucumber is Ryan Kesler's favorite vegetable.
As for Sami Salo?
"Cucumbers or tomatoes; either one of those. It's a tie."
Lee Goren's first job was sticking decals on miniature hockey sticks for a manufacturing company back in Winnipeg.
His worst job?
"Working for my dad in his doughnut shop," says Goren jr., "because of the people that came in. They were tough to deal with."
A 15-year-old Jarkko Ruutu cut lawns back in Helsinki. Nolan Baumgartner did the same in Calgary. Neither plans to fire up mowers professionally once the career winds down.
Salo ran a newspaper route growing up in Turku, Finland, which also happens to be his all time least favorite job.
"I haven't had that many jobs, so it's probably the same one," he says laughing. "It was pretty tough."
The early hours and the cold weather didn't make for a good time.
Alexander Auld loves corn on the cob and says 'Inspector Gadget' was his favorite cartoon growing up.
Most likely, the young Auld sat in the front room of his Thunder Bay home soaking up the comedic genius of Don Adams with a bowl of his favorite cereal.
Without hesitation, Goren proclaims 'WWF Superstars' his most watched cartoon.
"Ten o'clock every Saturday morning," he says.
Dan Cloutier? He liked 'Tin Tin,' but hates mosquitoes.
"My father is a lumberjack, so I would help him paint the trees after they're all cut down, putting numbers on them so they know where they were going."
"It was tough. I didn't like the mosquitoes and didn't like the heat and the humidity. My dad's still doing it. It isn't an easy job."
He did love Captain Crunch, but doesn't eat it much anymore.
Nolan Baumgartner's first car was a 1989 Dodge Colt. He drove that up and down the streets of Kamloops back in his junior hockey days.
"I barely fit in it," says Baumgartner, laughing at the memory. "My second one was a Chevy Sprint, so it was no better and no bigger."
He owns a restaurant in Kamloops called Player's Chophouse, along with former Blazers Jason Strudwick, Steve Passmore, Scott Ferguson and Darryl Sydor.
There's no Galaga arcade game at the Chophouse, but Baumgartner does admit it was his favorite growing up.
He never did get the highest score.
Auld likes Tetris. Salo and Cloutier both list Pacman as their favorite.
Outside of hockey, the one thing Kesler's better at than anything else is playing baseball. He was a pitcher until he was 12 years old.
"I'd throw a couple of fastballs then throw the change-up."
Kesler says he's still got mean off-speed stuff.
Goren is afraid of losing. Auld doesn't like small spaces. Kesler says nothing really scares him, though he's seen a few unsettling movies.
"When I was a kid it was 'Chucky,' but I saw 'The Grudge' pretty recently and that was a scary movie."
Kesler's not afraid of rodents, but they probably don't rank among his favorite pets. He had a hamster as kid, but doesn't remember its name.
"I had him for like two months and then he died."
Goren has two pugs, Baumgartner has a bull dog named Norman and Auld has three different dogs, Chaw-chee, Sanchez and Gina.
It's all pretty trivial stuff. But for the flag-waving Canuck fan, it's a peek into the heads of players whose lives are most often measured by goals, contracts, and league standings.