It’s been a tough start to the New Year for the Vancouver Canucks. The injuries continue with the Canucks now up to 103 man games lost. They have had difficulty winning games. Despite the shoot out win over Chicago on Sunday, and the 200th sell out party on Jan.29th, GM Place’s celebratory game nights have been few and far between. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a celebration going on outside of the Garage.
For those of you not familiar with Vancouver, GM Place is located on the edge of our city’s historic Chinatown and celebrations for Chinese New Year have begun. The vibrant, festival atmosphere has been delightful, especially for Canuck fans that live in the neighborhood. It’s the Year of the Rat, and in typical Hockey & High Heels fashion, I have taken something that has absolutely nothing to do with hockey, turned it around enough in my mind’s eye to find the hockey angle.
To understand the Chinese Zodiac one needs to know it is based on the year of birth, as apposed to the month. Each New Year begins anywhere after January 20th all the way up to February 19th, depending on the moon. The 12 Chinese Zodiac signs are named after animals, and like many hockey teams, each sign has a built in mascot: monkey, ox, horse, rooster, snake, dragon, sheep, rabbit, tiger, dog, pig and the rat. One thing special about the Year of the Rat, is it is the first sign of the 12 year cycle, so the new cycle begins now. Consider this Chinese New Year a fresh start for everyone. As for the Canucks, It’s your second fresh start in just over a month...run with it!
Word on the street is Rats are charming, social, cautious with money, and hard workers. They are ambitious, successful and are compatible with Oxen, Dragons, and Monkeys. This year it is recommended Rats do not rely on luck, take charge of their lives, do some traveling and learn new things. In hockey terms: forget lucky bounces, work hard, make the Playoffs, go deep into the Playoffs and take a Thai cooking course.
The NHL has three teams born in the Year of the Rat: the Boston Bruins (1924) the Calgary Flames (1972) and the New York Islanders (1972).
Rink Rats on the Rosters
The Boston Bruins have Two Rats on the roster, 23 year old defenseman, Mark Stuart and 35 year old Glen Murray. Over in Calgary, the only Rink Rat Flame is Owen Nolan. However, the New York Islanders have a whopping five Rats, all 23 year olds: Sean Bergenheim, Frans Nielsen, Jeff Tambellini, Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli.
Calgary sits at 8th place in the Western Conference. If they channel “Rat-like” hard work and ambition, and keep socializing to a minimum they could win the division. However, the Northwest Division is like musical chairs and anything can happen. Coach Mike Keenan was born in 1949, The Year of the Ox. Hmmm... that makes him totally compatible with team veteran Owen Nolan! Actually Owen has lots of friends in Calgary: The team is Dragon heavy with the likes of Langkow, Warrener, Primeau and Kiprusoff. Plus two Monkey men: Regehr and Godard rounding out the compatibility factor.
Ah, the Bean Town Rats. Look at these guys in 9th place on the Eastern Conference standings. Many would love it if the Bruins sewed up a spot in the post season. The coach, Claude Julien is a Rat, and who better to take charge than him? They have two Rats, in Mark and Glen. I don’t know if Mark and Glen know this, but rookie Milan Lucic is a Dragon. He’s done well in the game winning goal column. Maybe the three of you should go for a coffee and let the compatibility shine.
The Islanders, are many Rats, lead by a Dog, Ted Nolan. They are currently in 12th place on the Eastern Conference standings. Well Islanders, it will take a lot more than charm alone to get up to the eighth spot. You do have a few complementary players in Monkey Men, Mike Comrie and Trent Hunter along with Richard “the Dragon” Park. Do the five young Rats have the know how to make a run for the Playoffs? Buckle down, five, it’s now or never.
I realize I could spend lots of time looking at birth years around the league. Could you imagine if hockey teams actually employed astrologers in the training room??
Hockey Day in Canada
Saturday February 9th marked the 8th annual Hockey Day in Canada. This year’s theme was “The Journey”. And what a journey it was as we traveled around Canada via CBC Sports, looking in on celebrations and hearing the stories that make hockey a vital part of our culture. On top of that there was a wedding at the Saddledome, the world’s largest hockey stick in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, a 92 year old Zamboni driver named Mush, and an intriguing rink snack, called “Taco in a Bag” found at the HDIC hub rink in Winkler, Manitoba. Over the 13 hour broadcast we saw clips of indoor games, outdoor games, lots of kids, and even more toques. Every time we saw host, Ron MacLean he was wearing a different hockey Jersey. The Senators beat the Habs. The Leafs beat the Wings. The Flames beat the Oilers, and the Avalanche beat the Canucks. The CBC presented the NHL games online in Cantonese, Mandarin and Hindi. Click here for more
And for my next column...
Hockey fans will enjoy a special weekend in the United States Feb 15th to 17th, 2008. It’s the first ever Hockey Weekend across America and Hockeyandhigheels.com wishes USA Hockey a fun filled and successful event. So much is happening; I will put together a full column for later this week. Want some info now? Click here http://www.usahockey.com/HWAA/default.aspx
Happy Hockey everybody!
Kung Hey Fat Choi