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Ask it to Bulis: Tanev's last game with the Canucks, hand-washing anthems, and the bearer of the Crap Mantle

Answering Canucks fans pressing and extremely important questions, like what's your favourite song from Pearl Jam's "Ten."
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Has Chris Tanev played his final game in a Canucks jersey? photo: Dan Toulgoet

In times like this, people ask some serious questions, looking for answers to help guide them through the crisis.

People also ask some very frivolous questions, looking for answers to help distract them from the crisis.

I’m not the right guy for the serious questions — look to the epidemiology experts for those — but frivolous questions are right up my alley. That’s right: it’s time for another edition of Ask it to Bulis, where I provide answers to your vaguely Canucks-themed questions. 

I put out the call for questions on Twitter and got some good ones. Let’s get into it.

@FederalDust asked: Can the Canucks celebrate their 50th season again if this one gets cancelled?

I like this question a lot, because one of the things that’s been bugging me about the Canucks’ 50th anniversary celebrations is that this season isn’t actually their 50th anniversary, nor is it their 50th season.

It would have been their 50th season if not for the 2004-05 lockout, so the Canucks can get away with that one on a technicality. You’ll notice the team has never said this is their 50th season, as far as I’ve seen, just their 50th anniversary.

Technically, that’s not really true either. The Canucks entered the NHL in 1970, taking their first real action as a franchise in the NHL Expansion Draft on June 10th. So, the Canucks actual 50th anniversary won’t take place until June, after the season is over. At least, after the season would have been over — at this point, we might see NHL hockey in July, August, and September, if the season returns at all.

If this season gets cancelled, we would have missed out on a few special theme nights as part of the 50th anniversary, along with a few other nights that happen every season, like Hockey is For Everyone night, Canucks Autism Network Night, and Fan Appreciation night.

The one upcoming game that was truly part of the 50th anniversary was the last of the Canucks’ era series: 2010’s night on March 27th against the Calgary Flames. That would have been an excellent opportunity to celebrate the best team in franchise history, the 2010-11 team that went to the Stanley Cup Final. 

It helps that fans had opportunities to celebrate the Sedins at their jersey retirement night and Alex Burrows when he went up into the Ring of Honour. Ryan Kesler got a big ovation when he stepped onto the ice for the Sedins’ night and Kevin Bieksa brought the house down with an amazing speech. In a way, the Canucks were still able to honour the 2010’s.

Still, if the Canucks wanted to keep the celebrations going — and maybe wear the skate jersey a few more times — I don’t think anyone would be upset. They can just change it from celebrating their 50th anniversary to celebrating their 50th season.

@joncampbell asked: What song do the Canucks endorse as their handwashing anthem?

While I can’t know for certain which 20-second song snippet the Canucks would use while washing their hands, I have a couple ideas.

One Bulie suggested Chris Cuthbert’s masterful call of Matt Cooke’s game-tying goal in Game 7 of the Canucks’ 2004 playoff series against the Calgary Flames, which is almost exactly 20 seconds long.

I particularly appreciate the emphasis on, “They’re still alive” on the final step, as that is what we all hope for during this pandemic.

For an actual song, we have a couple options. We could go with “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John, which the Canucks have used after every home win during the 2019-20 season. The refrain, prior to the repeated, “I’m still standing, yeah yeah yeah,” is exactly 20 seconds long.

Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I'm still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

Another good option is “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, which has been used as a sing-along during the third period of Canucks home games this season. Specifically the twenty-second section that starts with “Hands touching hands,” which lends this option a certain irony.

Hands, touching hands
Reaching out, touching me, touching you

That’s terrible advice during this epidemic, but the perfect length to time your hand washing. Plus, you get to belt out the chorus while you dry your hands. 

You might protest at this point, saying that singing “Sweet Caroline” is a Boston tradition that doesn’t belong in Vancouver. That’s even better: let’s steal it from Boston and make it ours. 

@stevebfazed asked: If the NHL season does not resume, which team is the bearer of the Crap Mantle?

The answer to this is huge, but first let’s explain the Crap Mantle. I’ll let this quote from a past PITB article help me out:

For those unfamiliar with the Crap Mantle, it is a way of determining who the worst team in the NHL is at any given moment. Its genesis was in an early PITB Podcast, where we imagined it as the antithesis of a championship belt. Whereas a championship belt is won by defeating the previous holder of the belt, the Crap Mantle is gained by losing to the previous holder of the Crap Mantle.

The team that loses the first game of the season starts the season with the Crap Mantle, which they then pass on to the next team they defeat. 

So, who’s the worst team in the NHL right now and possible the worst team of the entire season if it’s over?

The first game of the 2019-20 season, as is typically the case, featured the Toronto Maple Leafs. They defeated the Ottawa Senators, meaning the Senators, in that moment, were the worst team in the entire NHL. After all, they were the only team with a loss.

The Senators kept it for a few games before defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning, making the Lightning the worst team in the NHL by the law of transitive property. Yes, that’s how the law of transitive property works, don’t look it up.

I won’t bore you with a play-by-play of which team carried the Crap Mantle at different points in the season. What matters is this: the Canucks final game before the suspension of the season against the New York Islanders was for the Crap Mantle.

The Islanders had gained the Crap Mantle just a few days earlier with an overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, which meant when the Canucks faced them, the Islanders were the worst team in the NHL. Fortunately for the Canucks, the Islanders remain the worst team in the NHL.

That’s right. That game was even more important than we realized. Yes, the shootout win over the Islanders may have determined whether or not the Canucks make the playoffs, but more importantly, it kept the Canucks from being the bearers of the ultimate shame in professional sports: the Crap Mantle.

@thetargetdemo asked: What was your favourite part of the Refused show?

One of the few Canucks games this season that I didn’t watch was because I had tickets to see Refused, a hardcore punk band from Sweden that happens to be a mutual favourite of myself and Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

I tried not to gloat too much about it when I saw Murph, who had to work the game, a couple days later.

It turned out to be a pretty good game to miss, a 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, though I did miss part two of the Canucks’ intermission dog races. It was worth it to see Refused, who put on an incredible show.

Picking a favourite part is extremely difficult. “New Noise” was a highlight, of course, and I enjoyed the songs from their new album, War Music, but I think my favourite part came between songs, during one of Dennis Lyxzén’s multiple (highly enjoyable) political rants. Oddly, it wasn’t actually something Dennis said.

While Dennis was saying something particularly poignant about the patriarchy, drummer David Sandström got so fired up that he jumped to his feet and literally punched his high tom multiple times. Someday, I want to be able to say something so provocative that it makes someone punch a musical instrument.

@The_Fleetwood asked: Does it bother you that Travis Green says “exspecially” in his media scrums?

I had literally never noticed, but now I probably will notice every time. So really, I’m mostly bothered that you pointed it out.

@RealSteveDanger asked: When making KD, do you follow the directions or just wing it?

My wife and I have divergent opinions on this. I follow the directions to the letter; she just wings it. Call it a lack of confidence in my own culinary ability or maybe it’s just because I never ate it growing up. 

It always turns out better when my wife makes it.

@Ryudoz82 asked: Worst case scenario, we don’t have any major sports for 12+ months: what do we do?

At that point, I would say it’s time to crack each others’ heads open and feast on the goo inside.

Honestly, this is such a bizarre situation, completely unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Even during the worst crises in the past, sports has still been there to act as a distraction or even a rallying point. 

For instance, the NCAA basketball tournament, better known as March Madness, has run every single year since 1939. This is the first year it has ever been cancelled. It didn’t pause for World War II and neither did Major League Baseball or the NHL. 

The Stanley Cup has been awarded every single year in its history except for two: 2005, because of the lockout, and 1919, because of the 1918 Flu Pandemic, which didn’t end in 1918. But baseball continued on during the 1918 pandemic; there’s even a classic photo from LIFE magazine showing an umpire, catcher, and batter all wearing flu masks during a game.

So it’s hard to say what might happen with no major sports whatsoever for a year, because it’s never happened before. I’m skeptical that it will happen, because I feel like one or more of the leagues will figure out a way to play games, even if there are no fans in attendance. 

If isolation measures do need to get that extreme for a long period of time, maybe we’ll all get really into esports. Formula 1 and NASCAR have already launched esports racing series to replace their cancelled races, starring the real drivers in virtual cars.

Maybe the NHL in a partnership with EA, using the most avid gamers from each NHL team? It might be the closest we get to NHL hockey in the months to come.

@Eastman25 asked: How fired is Jim Benning if there are no playoffs this year?

I think the exceptional circumstances would grant Benning a stay of execution, but I’m not sure that missing the playoffs would have automatically led to Benning getting fired even if the season wasn’t interrupted.

Why? Because his biggest gamble — the trade for J.T. Miller — paid off in a big way. Miller leads the team in scoring and has been a leader in the room as well, helping younger players like Jake Virtanen. Combine that with being in the playoff picture down the stretch and Benning can make the argument that the Canucks are on the right path and he’s the right GM to continue forward.

If they stumble out of the gate next season, if and when next season occurs, he might be in trouble. Or, they could continue their upward rise. The future is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of possibility.

@CompBullSheet asked: What is your favourite song from Pearl Jam's debut album Ten?

While Pearl Jam is not my favourite band of the 90’s grunge era (I lean heavily towards Nirvana and Soundgarden), there’s no denying that Ten is a classic album. 

While I’d love to pick some sort of deep cut, like “Just a Girl,” which wasn’t on the original release of Ten but appeared on the 2009 reissue, or “Wash,” the B-Side to “Alive.” But how can I say anything other than one of the big singles from the album: “Alive,” “Even Flow,” or “Jeremy”? 

Like this: “Black” is a brilliant song, beautiful and raw in equal measure, a song the band refused to release as a single. It’s a deeply personal song lyrically for Eddie Vedder and features some fabulously emotive guitar work by Mike McCready. It’s an all-time great rock ballad.

@TrevorWhitehead asked: Has Chris Tanev played his last game as a Canuck?

This is a tough one. Chris Tanev has had a resurgent season playing alongside Quinn Hughes. He also managed to stay healthy all season, with a pretty big asterisk considering he got injured during the Canucks’ last game before the coronavirus suspension.

If the NHL season resumes in some form in the coming months, I would assume the answer is no, he hasn’t played his last game. If the season is cancelled, then it all depends on whether the Canucks are willing to re-sign an injury-prone 30-year-old defensive defenceman to a new contract.

I like Tanev a lot, but my personal feeling is the Canucks shouldn’t sign him to longer than a one-year deal, which would likely mean him signing somewhere else that will give him more term. I just can’t see a path where all three of Tanev, Jacob Markstrom, and Tyler Toffoli re-sign, to be honest, and I feel like Tanev is the riskiest of the bunch given his injury history and age.

That would mean either finding another, cheaper right-side defenceman in free agency or relying on Brogan Rafferty and/or Jordie Benn on his off side to fill the gap left by Tanev.

But that’s just my opinion on what they should do. As for what they will do, I’m guessing they’ll re-sign Tanev and we’ll see him in a Canucks jersey next season.

@baerzerk84 asked: What’s your favourite Further Seems Forever album?

If your favourite Further Seems Forever album isn't The Moon is Down, aren’t you just lying to yourself?