Vancouver may be 1,265 kilometres west of Medicine Hat, but the two cities’ hockey worlds seem to be merging these days.
The National Hockey League Canucks won’t be changing their official team colours to the junior Tigers’ orange and black, but their front office and roster has a definite southeastern Alberta look and feel to it.
The makeover began when former Canucks’ great Trevor Linden was hired as team president during a front-office purge which cost GM Mike Gillis his job. Linden is a born-and-bred Hatter who went on to star for his hometown junior Tigers, winning back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1987 and 1988.
Linden then turned around and booted coach John Tortorella after only one season, happily eating the last four years of his contract after the former Rangers’ coach led Vancouver down the garden path to post-season oblivion. (The Canucks finished 12th of 14 teams in the West Division, failing to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in six years.)
Linden didn’t have to look far to find a replacement coach. Willie Desjardins, coming off a season where he led his Texas Stars to the American Hockey League title, was hired to guide the Canucks. Desjardins is another former Tiger, coaching the Medicine Hat team from 2002 to 2009 — winning four division titles and two league championships, and never failing to make the playoffs.
Linden wasn’t done with his Medicine Hat makeover. The Canucks swung a deal for former Tiger Derek Dorsett at the NHL draft, picking him up from the Rangers in exchange for a draft choice. Around the same time, they acquired Linden Vey — you guessed it, another ex-Tiger — from Los Angeles.
This time last year, the Canucks were gloating about their first-round pick in the NHL draft, Hunter Shinkaruk, who starred for the Tigers for three years before missing most of this past season due to hip surgery. A healthy Shinkaruk could be a third-line centre for the Canucks this year.
To add more orange and black to the blue and green of the Canucks, Linden invited the Tigers top scorer from last season, non-drafted Curtis Valk, to a prospect development camp.
Next thing you know, the Canucks will be hiring Lanny McDonald to do PR, or moving the Saamis Tepee to the Lower Mainland, so the Canucks’ Medicine Hat connection will have that at-home feeling.
• Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, talking about the all-naked issue of ESPN Magazine: “If players pose stark naked for a national magazine, how come after a game I have to wait 15 minutes for them to get fully dressed before I can ask them questions?”
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• Headline at TheOnion.com: “Ravens warn rookies to save some extra money for bail.”
• Ostler again: “The government of Qatar is still questioning the need to sell beer at World Cup matches in 2022. Isn’t Qatar in the desert? Yo, vendor, gimme a hot chocolate!”
• Comedy writer Jerry Perisho, on Twitter: “Breaking: Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi, disappointed at losing the World Cup championship game, signs with Cleveland.”
• Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald: “Some say that LeBron James will regret choosing Cleveland over South Beach. My money is on sometime in mid-January.”
• Eskimos D-lineman Odell Willis, to the Edmonton Sun, vowing not to change his style after the CFL fined him for a high QB hit: “I mean, if that was my momma throwing the ball, I’d hit her the same way.”
• Headline at the TheOnion.com: “Brazilian government posts listings for 12 soccer stadiums on Craigslist.”
• ESPY’s host Drake, in his opening monologue: “Tonight a man told me that Richard Sherman is the best defensive player he’s ever seen. And that man’s name is Richard Sherman.”
• AP golf writer Doug Ferguson, after Saturday’s third round of the British Open, on Twitter: “Take away those two triple bogeys and two double bogeys by Tiger Woods and he'd only be nine shots behind.”
• Bob Molinaro of Pilotonline.com in Hampton, Va. “Red Klotz, the two-handed set-shot artist who played for and owned the Washington Generals, died a few days ago at 93. Klotz's teams lost more than 14,000 games to the Harlem Globetrotters. ‘Beating the Globetrotters,’ he once said, ‘is like shooting Santa Claus.’ “
• Dickson again: “To the World Cup fan who called Germany’s win ‘the greatest event in German history,’ I’d suggest Googling: ‘Berlin Wall, fall of.’”
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• Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post: “Tiger Woods has always enjoyed playing in the Open Championship. Judging by his womanizing past, though, he's a bigger fan of the Open Relationship.”
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