VANCOUVER - Vancouver has rarely felt so off-the-beaten-path as it has since, oh, mid-November, when the B.C. Lions lost the CFL Western final to Calgary, severing one of the Left Coast’s last mainstream links to the sporting nation.
There’s no NHL hockey -- you may have heard -- and the American League affiliate is playing indifferently in Chicago.
The Western Hockey League Giants are having their worst-ever season under Don Hay, who only a year ago was coaching the Canadian world junior squad. This year there are no Vancouver Canuck prospects playing at the IIHF world under-20 championships in Ufa, a mere 14 time zones away, and even if there were, who’d be up in the middle of the night to watch them?
No Vancouver Canuck skaters of any significance signed with European teams, so at least we were spared constant updates of goals, assists and penalty minutes from their shinny games abroad, though on the downside, when the NHL does return, the Canucks will be a long, long way from game readiness, unless Cory Schneider -- who did sign in Switzerland -- is a magician in goal.
The long silences punctuating the NHL-NHLPA battle of wills have been no less informative than the negotiating sessions, which are happening in the continental Far East, each twitch and diatribe dutifully analyzed to within an inch of its life by national news and sports agencies, whose reporters are piling up the frequent-stay points at Marriotts and Westins and wearing out the bartenders at P.J. Clarke’s or Paddy Reilly’s, if they have any sense.
But one of these days, the lockout will end, airplanes carrying scribes to sporting contests may once more soar over the Rockies, our Great Wall of Canada, and we may wish to rejoin Confederation, in which case it is only polite to signal our intentions, with this list of resolutions and suggestions for 2013:
JANUARY -- Resolved: not to cheer openly for the Seattle Seahawks, the adopted home team, when they play their NFC wild-card game in Washington on Sunday, though the matchup of rookie quarterbacks and born leaders, Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, looks like edge-of-the-seat TV viewing material.
Resolved: Around the 20th, when games resume in the NHL, a personal boycott of players, coaches, GMs, owners and league executives that has (so far) lasted 202 days, since the night the L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup, will have to be lifted. This will come as a considerable relief to the interviewees, after such deprivation.
FEBRUARY -- Suggested: Rafael Nadal should ease himself back into high-level tennis, after missing the Australian Open, by playing in the Canada-Spain Davis Cup tie at UBC. The way the past year has gone, the only winners he’s hit have been on PokerStars.com, but Milos Raonic’s big serve would snap him back to reality ... Resolved: not to be surprised when that other poker legend, Roberto Luongo, having finally extricated himself from Vancouver, leads the Toronto Maple Leafs to a lofty interim placement in their division, threatening to save Brian Burke’s job.
MARCH -- Suggested: As the 48-game NHL season reaches its midway point, Gary Bettman should use a day off to announce this season will be his last as NHL commissioner, thus aping for the 100th time what his NBA mentor, David Stern, did before him ... Resolved: to be supportive of Patrick Chan’s seventh change of coaches even though the world figure skating champion will be DQ’d from the 2013 Worlds in London because he’ll be searching for the rink in England, having been assured by his Russian coach that the ISU couldn’t possibly mean the one in Ontario.
APRIL -- Resolved: to view it as business as usual when, on Opening Day, three of the Blue Jays’ stellar off-season acquisitions, shortstop Jose Reyes, second baseman Maicer Izturis and hard-charging Melky Cabrera collide on a shallow fly ball and are all carted off to hospital, while a pre-game brawl in the clubhouse over the selection of R.A. Dickey as starter over Josh Johnson leads to a broken hand for Dickey and damage to the retina in Johnson’s dominant eye. The Jays play the first two months of the season with six players called up from Class AAA, and start June 14-1/2 games behind Tampa ... Suggested: Rory McIlroy should wear something that goes nicely with green when he heads to the golf course on April 14. He should also bring Caroline Wozniacki with him to improve the scenery after he wins the Masters. Because, of course, the scenery isn’t great enough at Augusta National.
MAY -- Resolved: to hold my tongue when 20 teams begin the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s only fair that more owners get to make playoff money, after all they’ve sacrificed.
JUNE -- Resolved: to leave the playoffs for a week to cover the U.S. Open at Merion, which Tiger Woods will win -- five years after his last major. Luckily, there’ll still be weeks of playoffs left to cover.
JULY -- Suggested: the NHL adopt a new policy, under which a former icon of the winning team presents the Stanley Cup to the victorious captain, thus preventing the rain of boos and thrown garbage that usually greets Bettman, who should never again be permitted to spoil the moment ... Resolved: to book a flexible ticket to Edinburgh in case the Buffalo-Minnesota Stanley Cup final goes seven games, which would entail rushing to Scotland for the Open Championship at Muirfield.
AUGUST -- Dog days. Suggested: play golf.
SEPTEMBER -- Resolved: With no Olympics from which to recover, rejoin the CFL a little earlier this year, see if Travis Lulay can bounce back from a less spectacular season than he had in 2011, and if Ricky Ray and the Argos winning the Grey Cup has moved the needle even a little in Toronto ... Suggested: As the aging New York Yankees limp toward an October with no playoff baseball, we all observe a moment’s silence for those plucky perennial underdogs, who have shown what can be accomplished with grit, professionalism and a $200 million payroll.
OCTOBER: Resolved: when the Vancouver Canucks announce their 410th consecutive regular-season sellout to open the 2013-14 season, try to lead a chorus of “Baaaaaa!” ... Suggested: Write a nice note welcoming the new NHL commissioner, Mitt Romney, to the job ... Throw rotten vegetables at TV set if, during World Series, the San Francisco Giants honour Barry Bonds, who probably gets into the Hall of Fame over the dead bodies of several baseball writers.
NOVEMBER: Resolved: not to skip the Grey Cup in Regina to go to South Africa, like last time. No matter how cold it is.
DECEMBER: Suggested: regardless of how many games Tony Romo wins to create the illusion that the Dallas Cowboys could make the playoffs, don’t fall for it ... Resolved on New Year’s Eve 2013: to retire before having to type the word “lockout” ever again.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun