Francesco Aquilini

Canucks owner vented frustration at losing Stanley Cup to reporters following Game 7

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Vancouver’s loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals managed to bring out a lot of the worst in everyone. While the lasting memory will be of Canucks fans and local hoodlums who decided that burning the city down and rioting was the right way to grieve after a loss, the ugliness wasn’t just just kept on the outside of Rogers Arena as it turns out.

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini was in attendance at Game 7 and while that’s a home game for him and not all too surprising, he apparently wasn’t in the greatest of moods following Vancouver’s 4-0 loss to Boston in Game 7. While that much would be understandable, about the last people you’d want to lash out at or near would be the hordes of media who descended upon Vancouver to see the Stanley Cup handed out.

As it turns out, Aquilini missed that day in PR class according to legendary Edmonton Sun writer Terry Jones. Jones’ scathing column dressing down Vancouver for their fans’ antics both in burning the city down and being perhaps some of the least friendly fans on the Internet also took Aquilini to task for being less than cordial.

Like the Canucks, who told us again and again that they’d learned their lessons, Vancouver claimed they’d learned theirs from 1994. Neither learned a thing.

It wasn’t just the idiots who rioted. Reaction from the exceedingly large lunatic fringe of fans from the other side of the mountains was unbelievable via Twitter, email, etc. throughout the playoffs. Rude. Obnoxious. Begging to be blocked. These are the same people who harbour conspiracy theories, who reportedly threw projectiles at Gary Bettman on the ice during the Stanley Cup presentation and one who shouted out while rioting that “this is all Bettman’s fault!”

It ended with Vancouver owner Francesco Aquilini telling multiple members of the media in the Canucks dressing room to go fornicate elsewhere.

Well isn’t that just lovely.

There are many very cool and wonderful Canucks fans to be found out on the Internet and real life. Heck, most of you post here for comments (note: we’re shameless) there’s an obvious disgusting underbelly of fans who bring shame to the rest of the lot. From those who decided to torch downtown Vancouver to those who verbally harangued former Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury via Twitter who had the audacity to say that he didn’t think Roberto Luongo could win them the Stanley Cup this year, the ugly side of fandom was out in force in Vancouver.

With all the disgusting comments thrown Fleury’s way it would ultimately be Fleury who got the last laugh as the Canucks came up short of winning their first Stanley Cup and Luongo would be front and center of the discussion. Life has a funny way of working out that way. Sometimes when you see a fan base take a loss as hard as a Stanley Cup Game 7 can be you feel sympathy for them for being so close to coming out on top only to fall short.

That brand of emotional outpouring was hard to come by in this case because there’s been so many ugly things surrounding this Canucks team and it starts from the top on down with Aquilini being unable to conduct himself as a professional. All of these reactions are inexcusable and it helps make life more miserable for those great fans in Vancouver and around the world who bleed blue and green. For them we feel sorry for for more than just losing their shot at the Stanley Cup. After all, when you’re saddled with such sad individuals as compatriots it makes being a fan that much more difficult.

Five team stats you may find interesting

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen is slow to get up after giving up a goal to Washington Capitals' T.J. Oshie during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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27.5 — Shots per game for the St. Louis Blues. Only one team, New Jersey (27.3), is averaging fewer. So while it’s true that goaltending has been their major issue, it’s also true that in the eight games since the Winter Classic, the Blues have averaged just 22.9 shots, and that’s not very many at all. Perhaps it’s related to the goaltending — i.e. they could be playing more conservatively in order to protect Jake Allen and Carter Hutton. But coach Ken Hitchcock said recently that Vladimir Tarasenko “is getting checked to death, and other people are responsible for creating the space for him. He’s trying to play against four guys right now. We need more participants in order to help him.” So it’s not all on the goalies. In his last six games, Tarasenko has no goals and just nine shots total.

58 — Goals scored by the Washington Capitals since Christmas. That’s an average of 4.5 per game. Only the Rangers (4.4) and Penguins (4.0) are averaging four goals or more in that time frame. Since Christmas, the Caps have been led in scoring by Alex Ovechkin (17 points); however, the resurgence of Evgeny Kuznetsov (15 points) has also been key. Kuznetsov only had 17 points in his first 32 games. He’s up to 32 in 45 now.

73.8% — The Buffalo Sabres’ penalty killing, which has been terrible. In fact, the Sabres are on pace to have the NHL’s worst PK of the salary-cap era:

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3 — Power-play goals for the Blue Jackets in their last eight games. In a related story, the Jackets are 3-5-0 in those eight games. “There’s gonna be times where it just doesn’t feel like it’s going in,” said captain Nick Foligno after last night’s 2-0 loss in Ottawa. Columbus went 0-for-3 with the man advantage against the Sens, who got a 42-save shutout from Mike Condon. The Jackets still have the NHL’s best power play (24.6%), but the Maple Leafs (24.1%) are catching up. The Leafs have scored 12 PP goals in their last 10 games.

14 — Games the Colorado Avalanche have lost by three goals or more, the most in the league. Just how bad are the Avs? Well, they’re 30th in goals for and 30th in goals against. And if they keep up their pace, they’ll be the worst team of the salary-cap era:

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Leafs claim Griffith off waivers… again

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 29:  Seth Griffith #24 of the Florida Panthers takes a shot on Al Montoya #35 of the Montreal Canadiens during a game  at BB&T Center on December 29, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Seth “suitcase” Griffith is off to join another team — a team he’s joined once already this season.

On Friday, the Leafs announced they’ve claimed Griffith off waivers, just two months after exposing him on the wire and losing him to Florida.

Toronto had originally acquired Griffith off — yup, you guessed it, waivers! — when the B’s cut him loose just prior to the start of the regular season.

The 23-year-old, who played under Leafs assistant GM Mark Hunter in OHL London, appeared in three games for Toronto this season, going pointless. Griffith had a bigger role in Florida — notching five assists in 21 games — but suffered a concussion earlier this month and, after recovering, was a healthy scratch for three straight games.

Per multiple sources, the Leafs are sending Griffith straight to their AHL affiliate, the Marlies.

 

 

After Allen’s horrific night, Blues call up a goalie

Jake Allen
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A new twist in the St. Louis goaltending drama on Friday — after a disastrous home loss against Washington, the Blues have recalled Pheonix Copley from AHL Chicago.

Copley, 25, was one of the players acquired in the T.J. Oshie-to-Washington trade. He’s played well this season, sitting 10th in the AHL in wins (11) and ninth in both GAA (2.32) and save percentage (.920).

To date, Copley has played in one NHL contest, coming on in relief of Jake Allen in a loss to Nashville last February.

Speaking of Allen…

We’ve written plenty about his struggles this year (see here, here, here and here), and things hit rock bottom on Thursday. Allen was hooked by Ken Hitchcock after allowing two goals on three shots to start the game, but was sent back in just a few minute later — a classic Hitchcockian move, designed to give his goalie an in-game reset.

But it didn’t work.

Hitch was forced to hook Allen for good in the second period, after the Caps scored for the fourth time — on just 10 shots.

Afterward, Hitchcock admitted his No. 1 netminder is a mess.

“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, per Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

To their credit, the Blues have tried to shake things up, like parking Allen and going with backup Carter Hutton.

Hutton has fared well in small stretches but, this week, he was given a chance to start three games in a row and bombed in the third, allowing five goals in just 23 shots in a loss to Ottawa.

So, enter Copley. It’s asking a lot of him to try and turn things around but, at this point, the Blues are desperate and have to try something.

Anything, really.

B’s get Beleskey back from 23-game absence

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 20:  Matt Beleskey #39 of the Boston Bruins takes a shot against New Jersey Devils  during the third period at TD Garden on October 20, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Devils 2-1.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Bruins have lost three of their last four, and are looking for a spark heading into tonight’s game against Chicago.

They’re hoping Matt Beleskey can provide it.

Beleskey, who’s been out since Dec. 3 with a knee injury, will play for the first time in 23 games this evening as the B’s host the ‘Hawks at TD Garden.

Beleskey suffered his injury in a game against Buffalo, in which he played less than six minutes before exiting for good. He’s been sidelined ever since, and will now draw back in what appears to be an energy role, alongside Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik.

The 28-year-old is no doubt ready to get his year on track. Beleskey had struggled prior to getting hurt — he had just two goals and five points through 24 games, and was made a healthy scratch back in early November.