Opinion

Hodge: Back on the Canucks bandwagon

It is with mixed feelings (including heaps of apprehension) that I publicly admit to cautiously jumping back on the Canucks fan bus.

New Vancouver GM Jim Benning has given me significant reason for hope that Vancouver might relatively soon become Stanley Cup contenders again and eventually champions.

Unfortunately that task is now a few years away—compared to being a very tangible goal less than two years ago.

I am pleasantly surprised at being able to jump back on the band bus so quickly.

I did not believe Canucks’ owners genuinely wanted to shake things up enough to get rid of both the club’s major problems—coach John Tortorella and useless GM Mike Gillis.

When Trevor Linden was named Canuck boss man I was not sure what that would really mean regarding the club moving back into respectability.

The question in the back of many minds was whether Linden would just become a puppet to the owners.

In other words: Another 44 years of mediocrity.

However, Linden brought in Jim Benning and the new GM has had a significant impact.

After a very quiet start Benning caught fire in the past two weeks.

His most significant move thus far is the snagging of free agent goaltender Ryan Miller.

While some suggest it is a big gamble, I believe it was a brilliant move to fill a huge hole.

Regardless of any suggestions otherwise, Miller has plenty of solid years left in him—allowing for a young goalie or two to emerge from the suddenly impressive stable of young puck blockers.

In another free agent scoop Benning snagged veteran winger Radim Vrbata away from Phoenix.

Vrbata has scored 20 goals or more five times and is a likely pencil in for the right wing spot with the Sedin twins.

Those moves only compliment Benning’s stint at the junior draft last week where he picked up several future potential players including strong, skilled left wing sniper Jake Virtanen with the sixth overall pick.

Virtanen, already 6’1 and 208 pounds, has the potential to be a first or second line regular in the years ahead.

Benning’s savvy at both the draft table and in the free agency game during his short tenure is a fresh breath of hope compared to Mike Gillis.

He has already done better in one month than Gillis did in years.

•••

Looking for something different in music this month?

First, on Wednesday, July 9 my delightful buddies in Cowboy Bob will be playing at the Island Stage starting at 8 p.m.

Take a step back in time to some great classic tunes from the 1930s and 1940s by this talented foursome.

Then, make sure and pencil in July 19 to watch the latest stage show organized and starring Rann Berry.

Titled the Music of Motown with Rann Berry’s Rhythm of Soul Review the evening of music will highlight songs by Billy Preston, Aretha Franklyn, Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and more.

Rann will be joined on stage with his eight-piece R and B all star band for the special show set for the Lake City Casino. Show time is 8 p.m.

•••

The final few lines were cut off in the printing of my Hodge Podge column two weeks ago. A number of Podge readers have asked what they were. So, here is the ending of that column about my deceased friend ‘Hammer’.

I will never forget how, when so many others around me failed to answer my call for help, Craig was there. He was a relative stranger with nothing to gain and only himself to offer who answered the call.

I will never forget the lesson that taught me, and I will never forget Craig.

God bless ya, Hammer.

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