Double negative

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Why you might be concerned about the wrong things

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. November 18, 2015

What concerns us in day-to-day life differs from person to person; some worry about immediate problems such as deadlines and commitments, while others worried about situations that have no direct influence on them. I’m all for the former and not so much about the latter. We waste too much time concerned with aspects of the world that we cannot control, and when we do think that we are making a positive impact, we are often neglecting an issue closer to home.

The environment: it is the foundation of life upon Earth. Many of us make every effort to take care of it, but then again, we often forget to take care of ourselves—to protect ourselves. How often do I see commuters on bicycles swerving this way and that on the road without a helmet? I see it almost all the time, especially in urban areas. Riding a bike is better for the environment, but neglecting your safety is far from smart. Your wellbeing is a far bigger concern than the carbon you would emit into the air if you were driving.

The world at large is full of disruption and corruption. I remember this cliché line growing up: there are poor children in Africa that want what you have. Hell, there are poor children in Canada that want what I have. We often look at developing countries or countries in crisis, such as Syria, and offer our deepest sympathy. However, when we look at an unfortunate individual closer to home, what do we do? We call them lazy, we call them bums, and we call them stupid, and so on and so on. If you want to help people, start with those in your backyard.

Worrying is a type of escape, don’t deny it. Sometimes we get emotionally invested in things just so we can avoid the immediate problems with our lives. Look at sports for example. We put so much emotional weight on the performance of a group of people we don’t even know. The outcome has minimal effect on our lives. If we own a sports bar, we might benefit from the Canucks winning, but otherwise, it’s pretty much a way to misdirect attention from our own work ethics. We worry so much about how the Canucks, Whitecaps, and Lions are doing, but how often do we turn to our friends and family and show interest in their pursuits? Rarely. Working at an office or a restaurant is not as interesting as scoring a goal. Finishing an assignment is not as exciting as making the playoffs. But if you are worried about the successes and failures of complete strangers, why aren’t you worried about those who matter so much to you?

It’s okay to be farsighted now and then and be concerned about the world, but more often than not, we should look at what’s around us—there are problems everywhere that need to be solved. Let’s start with those.

Canucks: The enigma heading into the trade deadline

Vancouver Canucks right wing Zack Kassian photo by Elise Amendola/Associated Press

As usual, there is not much the Canucks can do

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 3, 2015

Not even Alan Turing can solve the Vancouver Canucks this year, as the team nobody expected much from is currently hanging on in a tight race towards the playoffs. It’s hard to tell how the Canucks will play heading down the stretch. Winning games against teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago, and losing games against Calgary, New Jersey, and of course, Buffalo, leaves a lot to question. Such inconsistency is nothing new for the Canucks, but one wonders what good exchanging players would actually do for the team.

The team has been plagued with injuries since October, and, as trends continue, will remain so deep into the playoffs. If I were in Jim Benning’s shoes, I would wear some slippers because it’s going to be an uncomfortable few months. The Canucks need depth on defence and another top-six forward to play the role of goal scorer if the third or fourth round is where they want to end up. But gone are the days of blockbuster trades. Acquiring a game-changing player is almost impossible, especially for the Canucks. And yes, I am ignoring the whole Mats Sundin thing.

While the focus on whether to deal or keep Zack Kassian is the storyline heading into March, many are forgetting about Shawn Matthias, who has also been contributing with stellar plays the last couple of weeks. As an unrestricted free agent in the summer, it might be an opportunity to see what the market has to offer while their stock is still high. Derek Dorsett and Brad Richardson are two other players who may be shipped off early for prospects, but that is unlikely to happen. Yes, in terms of baiting teams to offer us their superstars or future superstars, we are pretty much doomed.

And assuming Ryan Miller can return to form in time without rust, we can least feel confident that the net will be secure. But that is only if Eddie Lack can carry the team for a month. He had his chance before when Roberto Luongo was injured last year, and the result was far from impressive. Well, here’s his chance to earn his position again. If only J. K. Simmons were behind the bench yelling at (motivating) him, right? The community has shown nothing but love for Lack, but believe me, if he chokes and causes the Canucks to miss the playoffs this year, we’d better pass the Sedins a couple of shovels to dig him a grave between Alex Auld and Dany Sabourin.

I’d be thrilled if the Canucks are able to make a trade before the deadline. I believe they need one. But for what? There’s nothing out there, and if there is, the prices are too high. It’s time for us Canucks fans to do what we do best and just sit on our laurels and wait until it’s all over—yet again.

New-look: Canucks can do no worse

Sports_Jim Benning (GM for Canucks)

Expectations are low to open 2014-15 season

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 23, 2014

With no time for reminiscing, the Vancouver Canucks are looking optimistically to the future and hoping to regain some prowess within the Western Conference. It was easy to cheer for Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, and John Tortorella when things were going well, but ultimately they—as key leaders within the team—were to blame for the 2013-14 farce of a hockey season.

For once in a long while, fans and ownership agreed that change was the only route going forward. Bringing back Trevor Linden was undoubtedly a morale boost that will change the characteristics of the whole organization. The hiring of Jim Benning as general manager officially marked the next era for the Canucks, and after the abusive relationship with former GM Mike Gillis the players can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that their requests wouldn’t turn into a melodramatic affair. And finally, Willie Desjardins will take over behind the bench. The man has won at every level except for the NHL, and although that doesn’t mean much in the short-term, it’s better than acquiring another has-been head coach.

As disappointing as the Canucks’ season was last year, the same can be said about Ryan Miller’s whole career. The 34-year-old American goaltender’s highlights include backstopping the underachieving Buffalo Sabres for more than a decade and losing the gold medal in the blockbuster 2010 Olympics. However, the St. Louis Blues expected him to be the saviour in the playoffs last year. He was not. It seems fitting that Miller has found his way to the goalie graveyard at the latter part of his career. But it might not be the end yet! He is a terrific, outspoken goalie. Perhaps now, it’s Miller time in Vancouver.

While the core—the Sedin twins, Kevin Bieksa, and Dan Hamhuis—will maintain some stability within the team, the microscope will be on wily sniper, Radim Vrbata, resident tough guy, Derek Dorsett, and skillful, yet unproven centre, Nick Bonino. All three of them were brought in for a specific reason, and if they can’t perform the task, it’ll be a bust for sure.

For the past decade or so, the Canucks’ image within the league is that the team is full of whiners, incapable of standing up for themselves. They are highly skilled but are always pleading to the referees for favours. Benning has made the necessary moves to change the attitude, and only time will tell whether Desjardins’ game plan will measure up to the competition.

The juggernauts from California continue to be Vancouver’s most challenging oppositions, while Chicago games will no doubt gather a crowd. But the most important thing for Canucks to do this season is to win the games within the Canadian border. Beating down the Oilers, Flames, and Jets will go a long way to winning the Stanley Cup, but at the moment those are the only freebies. They need to take it.

The Canucks, at best, are a bubble team, destined to finish between 10th and seventh within the conference. They could either have another valiant run in the playoffs or be incredibly disappointed. Fans are excited to see the new look, but they aren’t getting their hopes up. After such a humbling season, the organization will benefit from anything positive. We must remember that the Canucks are in a rebuild. The slogan “Change is coming” speaks volumes, but it doesn’t inspire much optimism.