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July 3, 2012


By Derek Jory

Grinding it out
One-on-one with Dave Gagner
Behind the Lens: Day 6

Alex Friesen knew he was in for a long morning the moment his shoes became filled with water.

That was 45 seconds into his trek up Grouse Grind, a legendary Vancouver trail that climbs 2,800 feet over a distance of 2.9 km with an average grade of 17 degrees (31 per cent).

“We realized pretty early on today we were in for a treat,” smiled Friesen.

A trip up Mother Nature’s Stairmaster marked the end of 2012 Vancouver Canucks Development Camp and the prospects certainly went out with a bang – a soggy, soggy, soggy bang.

Mother Nature was cruel to the players as it poured from start to finish, and “whoever told us we’d be covered by the trees is a liar,” laughed a prospect at the top.

The best time individual time of the morning went to Stefano Momesso, who scaled the Grind in 40:11, while Team 1, made up of Mathieu Corbeil, Shayne Taker, Jeremie Blain, Evan McEneny, Kurtis Bartliff, Brendan Gaunce and Friesen had the third best overall team time, but because they climbed as a team (as instructed), they took home first place.

Friesen, a third year camp and Grouse veteran, knew what to expect going in, so he was there for the rookies and helped guide the group up the hill.

“We tried to stick together as best we could because that’s one of the instructions they gave us,” said Friesen, who was actually freezin’. “We had to push each other and make sure we could all keep up to the pace we tried to set. That made for some good bonding and that’s definitely one of the things you take out of it, you have to do it as a team and I think with the team you push each other and you all get a little better.”

Once at the top the prospects gathered in the Timber Room to re-hydrate and dry off before some closing words from Dave Gagner, Vancouver’s director of player development.

There weren’t many smiling faces in the room, what with everyone soaked to the bone and on the verge of hypothermia, but Gagner beamed at the thought of another successful development camp coming to an end.

Gagner said he saw both long-term growth from past draftees and immediate development from players new to camp.

“With the guys who have been here two or three times you can really see a lot of improvement, they have all the highest scores in the physical testing because they know what to expect and they’ve had a couple of years to work on improvements,” said Gagner.

“For the guys that are here the first time, hopefully it’s an eye-opener a bit on what we expect and they get to see for the first time what they need to focus on and be aware of going forward.”

Gagner said he was impressed with what he saw from the prospects on the ice, especially because he geared things to be more competitive than ever this year in terms of having more scrimmages and game-like situations. With the full contingent of Canucks scouting staff in town because of free agency, everyone capitalized on getting to know the players.

“There are some very talented kids here, so hopefully for the free agents of them we made an impression so when it comes time for them to make a determination as to where they want to play, then they consider Vancouver.”

Complete Grind times

1st place – Team 3 – Yanakeff, Jooris, Allen, Carrier, Langlois, Sward, Zajac: 45:58

2nd place – Team 2 – Walsh, Miller, Mallet, Hutton, Franson, Jensen, Kambeitz: 48:00

3rd place – Team 1 – Corbeil, Friesen, Taker, Blain, McEneny, Bartliff, Gaunce: 51:10* (actual winners)

4th place – Team 5 – Rumpel, Vesterholm, Hall, DaSilva, Beattie, Momesso: 52:45

5th place – Team 4 – Cannata, Baldwin, Rush, Baker, Robinson, Corrado: 54:00

Line of the Day #1

”I’m Alex Friesen, someone turn the Dany Heatley up” – Zachary Hall

Line of the Day #2

”When are the Canucks going to win the Stanley Cup?” – Elderly man, wearing a fanny pack, on the skyride down to the bottom of the hill.

Brilliant Idea of the Day

The first prospect to the top of the Grind gets to attend Canucks main camp. Talk about a battle.

I’m off to run this by Mike Gillis right now. Wish me luck.

July 2, 2012


By Derek Jory

Vancouver Canucks Summer Development Camp has come to a close, at least as far as on-ice activities are concerned.

Monday was all about putting the players in real game situations and with a full contingent of Canucks brass on hand in the stands, the prospects were out to impress. Team Green did just that winning the scrimmage 5-4, but Team Blue got their revenge in a shootout and took the event 8-7.

Nicklas Jensen and Frankie Corrado were two of seven prospects to score in the one-on-one battle, and they stood out because of their sweet moves that led to highlight goals.

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July 1, 2012


By Derek Jory

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

A door bursts open down the hallway.

Cheering. Cheering. Cheering.

The Vancouver Canucks got their man Sunday and he goes by the name of Jason Garrison.

Canucks headquarters was silent for much of the free agency frenzy on July 1st, but from my office great commotion was to be heard just before 5 p.m. PST when Vancouver’s war room celebrated the acquisition of the 27-year-old, 6-foot-2, 220-pound defenceman.

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June 30, 2012


By Derek Jory

Saturday marked the third day of 2012 Prospect Summer Development Camp and the on-ice portion of activities were cranked up a few notches.

Day 1 was on-ice testing with some skating analysis, Day 2 the players were split into small groups of forwards and defencemen to work on skills, while Day 3 was on the verge of a full practice and the effort reflected the situation.

Vancouver Canucks skills coach Glenn Carnegie put the players through the paces and judging by the tired faces on the prospects once finished, it was a workout and a half.

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June 29, 2012


By Derek Jory

It was only a matter of time.

You've already heard the big news of the day, but it's still quite mind-blowing. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes calling it quits? Ermahgerd.

If you're still reading this, thank you for withstanding my attempt at a joke.

The news of the day is Cory Schneider. He wanted to remain in Vancouver and the Canucks wanted Schneider to remain their goaltender.

The two sides came to an agreement in principle on a new contract earlier this week and on Friday the two sides made if official with Schneider re-signing with the Canucks.

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June 28, 2012


By Derek Jory

Hockey is back.

The bowels of Rogers Arena were crawling with Vancouver Canucks prospects Thursday as 2012 Development Camp kicked off.

What was on the agenda for Day 1?

What wasn’t.

The 35 players, 11 of which have been drafted or signed by the Canucks, began the day dividing into two groups, with Group A busing to UBC first thing to begin fitness testing, while Group B tackled some paperwork and had their headshots taken.

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May 7, 2012


By Derek Jory

Despite heading out of town, Mike Gillis won’t be leaving town anytime soon.

The Vancouver Canucks president and general manager signed a contract extension with Canucks Sports & Entertainment Monday before jetsetting off to San Francisco to attend a sports management conference.

The details of the contract were not disclosed, but Gillis revealed he is pleased his lengthy meeting with the Aquilini’s progressed to the point they were able to agree on terms of a new contract.

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April 24, 2012


By Derek Jory

Ugh, locker clean out day.

The least fun activity of any hockey season came and went Tuesday with the Vancouver Canucks addressing the media one final time to officially wrap up the 2011-12 season.

General Manager Mike Gillis spoke to the media before the dressing room opened up and while he had some revealing things to say, Roberto Luongo stole the show.

In the largest media scrum since the Stanley Cup Final last season, Luongo stood tall and expressed his disappointment in the season having ended so early; he said it hasn’t really sunk in yet and likely won’t for a while.

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April 22, 2012


With three days between games, it seems the media is getting more anxious than the players. Both Cory Schneider and head coach Alain Vigneault agreed that there was nothign new to report Sunday morning after answering reporters' questions for the past three days.

Only a small contingent of players skated for the morning skate Sunday. Zack Kassian, Aaron Rome, Andrew Alberts, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Andrew Ebbett, Byron Bitz, Aaron Volpatti and both goalies took in the day's optional.

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April 20, 2012


By Derek Jory

Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault hasn’t confirmed Cory Schneider will be his team’s starting goaltender for Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarter-Final Sunday at Rogers Arena, buuuuuuuut he kind of has.

Asked post-practice Friday if Schneider will tend the twine for Game 5, Vigneault simply chuckled before saying “What a question…come on…”

We’ll assume Schneider gets the call, his third consecutive start for the Canucks.

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