Weekend Warmup with Jonathan McDonald: Super Bowl, Canucks-Hawks (yes!), Davis Cup and more
The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. A Canucks-Blackhawks game is always a big deal. And Canada playing Spain in the Davis Cup, here in Vancouver, is a rare treat and a golden opportunity for some national tennis history to be made.
So what, I thought to myself, is the biggest deal of the weekend? The thing that people are most emotionally attached to?
The answer jumps right out: Canucks vs. Blackhawks. Even if it’s just the eighth game of the season, it’s one of those games that people here look forward to, that fans go out of their way to watch, where you’re never sure what might happen, where you hope Zack Kassian might just grab Patrick Kane’s wandering mouthguard and stomp it into the ice. (Yikes! Who’s angry?)
You see, when you’ve been exposed to the Canucks-Blackhawks rivalry over the past few years — all those Chicago villains with names like Bolland, Keith, Eager, Kane and Byfuglien; the near-disastrous collapse after leading the Blackhawks three games to none in the spring of 2011 — it’s hard not to get caught up in it.
In a typically long NHL season, there will be plenty of nights where teams go through the motions. Facing the Blue Jackets? Motivation might be difficult. It’s the sixth game against the Flames? Same problem.
But some guys, some organizations, just get you going. And that’s the way it’s been for the Canucks, and the Blackhawks, the last few years.
So while the Super Bowl might be a really big deal, a wonderful tradition, and the Davis Cup is a unique treat, and something different, the thing that might well stick with hockey fans in Vancouver is game eight of the abbreviated 2013 season. Like game 42 last year, in Boston against the Bruins.
The Canucks and Blackhawks hit the ice Friday at 7 p.m. at Rogers Arena. Also on TSN and TEAM 1040.
Here are five other things worth watching this weekend — the Weekend Warmup ...
1. Super Bowl XLVII, Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers: Feel for me, as you gather with friends and enjoy nachos, beer, chicken wings, a veggie platter (just so you can say you had veggies), potato skins (another veggie!) and stuffed mushrooms (weird!). I will be entertaining four children, ages 6, 9, 9 and 11. They will not really care about the Super Bowl. They will, however, want to play Yam Slam, Farkel and other games. They will also play dressup and want to put on a theatrical production while I’m trying to catch even a single glimpse of the game. I understand this is a game of some magnitude. Sunday, 3:25 p.m., CTV, CBS, TEAM 1410.
2. Davis Cup tennis, Canada vs. Spain: It’s like this: Last year, on this same weekend, also at UBC, Canada played powerful France, which brought all the big dogs to the West Coast and went home winners. This weekend, world No. 1 Spain arrives without all their big names, such as Nadal and Ferrer (you might have heard of them). This is, ostensibly, the Spanish team to beat. But it will still take a massive effort on the Canadians’ part. Great fun, a chance to show off some patriotic pride. Friday and Saturday, 1 p.m., UBC Doug Mitchell Sports Centre, Sportsnet Pacific; Sunday at 11 a.m.
3. NCAA basketball, Michigan at Indiana: Every weekend, there are countless college basketball games that pit a powerful school against one that will most likely be whipped. But here’s a brilliant primetime matchup: the No. 1 Michigan Wolverines against the No. 3 Indiana Hoosiers. Could well be a preview of the national championship. Saturday, 6 p.m., TSN2.
4. PGA, Waste Management Phoenix Open: The truth is, I tune in only because this is the rowdiest event on tour. That is, the rowdiest, drunkest, most obnoxious crowds in a sport where usually anything more than polite applause is considered rude. “You the man!” doesn’t even rate here. Friday, 1 p.m., GOLF; Saturday, 10 a.m., GOLF; noon, NBC, TSN; Sunday, 10 a.m., GOLF; noon, NBC, TSN2.
5. NHL, Buffalo Sabres at Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Sabres at Canadiens: Strange for the Habs to have two early games on consecutive days. One of these games will be marked by the return of defenceman P.K. Subban to the lineup, and anything less than a victory will ignite controversy and crisis. Not controversial: the wonderful NHL debut of former Vancouver Giants captain Brendan Gallagher. He could be a Montreal Canadien for a long, long time. Sabres at Canadiens, Saturday, 11 a.m., CBC; Senators at Canadiens, Sunday, 11 a.m., CBC. Also worth noting: the legendary Joe Sakic is being honoured Friday night at 7:30 p.m. by the Vancouver Giants when they host the Kelowna Rockets at Pacific Coliseum.
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