Willes’s Musings: Boeser’s arrival at all-star game a boon for Canucks

 

 
 
 
 
Brock Boeser looks for a breakaway in the first half during the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game between the Atlantic Division and the Pacific Divison at Amalie Arena on January 28, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
 
 

Brock Boeser looks for a breakaway in the first half during the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game between the Atlantic Division and the Pacific Divison at Amalie Arena on January 28, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, The Province

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Following a weekend that gave us the NFL Pro Bowl and the NHL All-Star Game, here’s something almost as exciting, the Monday-morning musings and meditations on the world of sports:

• Brock Boeser made his first step into the larger hockey world over the weekend and, as he’s done throughout this season, the Canucks’ rookie made the most of his opportunity. Whether it was rubbing elbows with Sidney Crosby, winning the target thingy in the skills competition, scoring the winner in the Pacific Division’s first win, or winning the MVP, Boeser was in the middle of a lot of positive things at all-star weekend.

That’s good for him and, by extension, the Canucks. As for the event itself, it remains a contrived bit of artifice that is designed for TV and the league’s sponsors, but this year there was something else to consider.

The all-star game took place largely because the NHL isn’t going to the Olympics. That was a calculation made by the league for reasons it made abundantly clear.

But its message to the fans and players is equally clear. We don’t care what you think or want, we’re going to do what’s best for our 31 owners. In the meantime, here’s a 3-on-3 tournament to distract you.

That’s a helluva marketing strategy. Just want to make sure you’re aware of it.

• Tiger Woods’s return to the PGA Tour is a great story, but, based on his performance at the Farmers Insurance Open, he’s as close to being competitive with the game’s best players as the Earth is to Jupiter.

Yes, Woods made the cut at Torrey Pines and, yes, he finished three-under. But, and this is hard to believe, he hit 17 fairways from the tee in four rounds. To borrow a term from the analytics community, that’s not sustainable.

Some of the old Tiger magic was there around the greens, but he doesn’t have a prayer if he can’t keep the ball in play.

Here’s the other problem. At 42, he doesn’t have a lot of time to figure it out.

• Vladimir Guerrero chose to enter the baseball hall of fame as a member of the whatever Angels, which is his prerogative. But for a generation of Canadian baseball fans, Vladdy was and always will be an Expo, and if you saw him at his physical peak in Montreal, you saw something special.

In the late ’90s, I covered the Expos for parts of two seasons for The Canadian Press and Guerrero remains the best player I’ve ever seen live. He was basically Roberto Clemente with upper-deck power, a thoroughbred who attacked the game with joy and a jaw-dropping skill set. Guerrero was toward the end of his breakout ’98 season — .324/.371/.589, with 38 homers and 109 RBI — when I left for Vancouver.

That was also his fourth-best season of the eight he spent with the Expos.

That team, managed by the great Felipe Alou, played in complete anonymity, but it featured two transcendent stars in Pedro Martinez and Vladdy, who are both in the hall of fame.

They remain a great source of pride to Expos fans. If you were there, you remember.

• The Philadelphia Eagles have a better run defence, better pass defence, better running game and better offensive line than the New England Patriots. On paper, they have the edge in the vast majority of matchups. But New England has Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, which has usually been enough.

Belichick, moreover, has an extra week to work his evil genius in preparation for the big game. The Eagles’ Doug Pederson, who’s from down the road in Bellingham, has the look of a star head coach about him, but next Sunday he meets the master.

If the Eagles don’t get out-coached, this is their game. But, as we’ve seen the last 16 years, that’s a big if.

• Two more wins for the Utica Comets this weekend and another standout performance by Thatcher Demko. The Canucks’ goaltending prospect beat Lehigh Valley 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night, running his record to 17-7-3, with a .929 save percentage. Dude’s 22 and, according to Comets general manager Ryan Johnson, he has the makeup of a 10-year vet.

Don’t know if he’s the best goalie in the Canucks’ organization right now. Do know I’d like to see him in a couple of NHL games to find out.

• On a related subject, Adam Gaudette doesn’t get enough run in this market for the season he’s having at Northeastern. The junior centre was tied for the NCAA scoring lead with 39 points after 26 games while averaging just under four shots on goal per game.

The Canucks have made noises about signing Gaudette when his college season is over. Don’t be surprised if he’s in the NHL team’s lineup in March.

“He’s evolved,” says Johnson, who’s also the Canucks’ director of player development. “His skating’s improved. His shot’s improved. His skills have improved. He’s an elite college player. We’re excited about him.”

• Mad props to Don Hay for setting a WHL career record with his 743rd career win on Saturday night in Kamloops. The number is one thing and it’s mighty impressive. But think of all the great coaches who’ve gone through the WHL over the years and think of what they’ve accomplished.

Now Hay stands alone.

It was also fitting he set the new mark in his hometown. Hay played junior in Kamloops. He was an assistant with the Blazers before he took over the team and led it to two Memorial Cups. Cripes, he was even a fireman in the town. 

Hay coached the Vancouver Giants for 10 years but he’s always been a Kamloops guy. He’s back there now. So’s the record.

• And finally, the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse case will remain in the public eye as the many lawsuits and investigations play out. And that’s how it should be. The scope of Nassar’s crimes has to register with every administrator, every coach, every parent; everyone, in short, who had a chance to stop the abuse but didn’t.

The case, in the end, isn’t that complicated. Yes, there are complicated factors involved. But all it took was one person in a position of authority to believe the kids, one person to start asking hard questions, one person to understand this level of abuse was possible.

This is the lesson to be learned here. Listen to your kids. Be vigilant. Stand up for them. And don’t trust the institution — whether it’s the team, the league, the church, the school — to fully investigate. Go to law enforcement. A crime, after all, has been committed.

I know it’s hard to comprehend the scope of this case — 156 accusers, how could this be? But it was allowed to happen because people who were entrusted with an awesome responsibility failed to protect the most vulnerable among us.

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Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.

After a bye week, the Pat-cast is back, powered as always by Eagle Ridge GM. When Jeff Paterson and Jason Botchford last left us, they were on the road. So, in addition to a few more road stories (including the $33 Caesar salad!), the pair discuss the Sedins’s future, the hit on Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat’s return. Listen here:

 
 
 
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Brock Boeser looks for a breakaway in the first half during the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game between the Atlantic Division and the Pacific Divison at Amalie Arena on January 28, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
 

Brock Boeser looks for a breakaway in the first half during the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game between the Atlantic Division and the Pacific Divison at Amalie Arena on January 28, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, The Province

 
Brock Boeser looks for a breakaway in the first half during the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game between the Atlantic Division and the Pacific Divison at Amalie Arena on January 28, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Brock Boeser and Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks take part in the 2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
Brock Boeser stands by his new Electric Honda after winning the MVP during the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game.
Tiger Woods reacts after missing a chip shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on Jan. 27, 2018, in San Diego, Calif.
Canucks goalie prospect Thatcher Demko (left) makes a save in September.
Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks gets interviewed after arriving on the red carpet before the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Amalie Arena on Jan. 28 in Tampa, Fla.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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