VANCOUVER _ They hold every significant scoring record in Vancouver Canucks franchise history. Now, after 17 seasons in Canucks uniforms, Daniel and Henrik Sedin have their numbers hanging in the rafters at Rogers Arena.
Wednesday’s retirement of Daniel’s No. 22 and Henrik’s No. 33 was the focal point of the Canucks’ year-long 50th-season celebration, and the highlight through three games of Sedin Week festivities.
The high level of respect commanded by the Sedin twins was made clear by the collection of VIPs on hand for the ceremony. Special guests included Canucks owners Francesco and Paolo Aquilini, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, as well as the Sedins’ parents, older brothers, wives and children to go along with past and present general managers and former teammates.
The sold-out crowd at Rogers Arena rose to its feet for the first time for the introduction of Trevor Linden, the one-time team captain who returned as team president in 2014 and parted ways with the team in 2018. The cheers continued for Markus Naslund, whose number also hangs in the rafters, and the representatives of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning seasons in 2011 and 2012, particularly Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo.
To the strains of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the Canucks’ introductory song from those peak years, Daniel and Henrik waved to the cheering crowd as they walked to centre ice to along a carpet flanked by some of the awards they collected over the years the Art Ross Trophy that Henrik won in 2009-10 and passed along to Daniel one year later, the King Clancy Trophy that Henrik captured in 2016 and the twins shared in 2018, the Hart Trophy that Henrik won in 2010, the Ted Lindsay Award (formerly the Lester B. Pearson Trophy) that Daniel took home in 2011, and the pair of gold medals that the twins won with Sweden at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Bieksa started the proceedings with a tribute that poked fun and was also heartfelt, emphasizing the impression the twins left with their accountability, work ethic, and their kindness.
“We love you guys,” he concluded. “There’s no one more deserving of this honour. ‘Sk?l!”’
“When I was asked to speak on their behalf, regardless of how you feel about it, you say yes, because it’s just an honour to be a part of this night,” Bieksa said after the ceremony. “I’d do anything for Danny and Hank.”
“They’re such good people,” added Ryan Kesler. “Honestly, the two nicest people in hockey. I can’t say a bad thing about them, and they taught me so much, just by watching them. Just the way they were and how charitable they were off the ice. For them to ask me to come here, I didn’t even think twice.”
The twins’ efforts in the community are well-documented, including a $1.5 million donation in 2010 to help build a new B.C. Childrens’ Hospital. On Wednesday, it was announced that their Sedin Family Foundation was partnering with the Canucks for Kids Fund on a new legacy project that would be responsive to the community’s needs on an annual basis.
When Henrik took the microphone, he walked the audience through the twins’ 17-season NHL journey, starting from when they thought they’d be going to separate teams at the 1999 draft in Boston before Brian Burke swung a monumental trade to bring them both to Vancouver.
With the current Canucks watching from their bench, Henrik paid tribute to the coaches and mentors that helped shape their games. Daniel stepped in to thank ownership, teammates and support staff, then the brothers took turns paying tribute to their families before thanking the fans.
“To the people of British Columbia, we came here in 1999 and it felt like home from Day 1,” summed up Henrik. “We want to thank you. To play in front of you has truly been an honour.
“To the best fans in this league, we will now join you in cheering for this team when they go for the Stanley Cup.”
After that, it was time to raise the banners. With family and friends surrounding them, the Sedins watched their numbers ascend to the rafters in Rogers Arena, next to Markus Naslund’s No. 19, Pavel Bure’s No. 10, Trevor Linden’s No. 16 and Stan Smyl’s No. 12.
Her name was Gianna Maria Onore Bryant. The world, now and forever, knows her as Gigi. Her dad, Kobe Bryant, called her Mambacita. He was Mamba, of course, and she was going to be basketball’s female version of him. She was going to play at Connecticut and head to the WNBA. That was the plan.
Over the years, the world watched her grow from a baby in her father’s arms, to a small child trying to hold his Finals MVP trophy, to his companion at WNBA, college and NBA games around the country, listening to her father break down play and watching every detail on the court, just as he always did.
“Gigi was really turning into a special player,” said Russ Davis, the women’s basketball coach at Vanguard University in Southern California and someone who became close with Bryant in recent years. “It’s hard to predict her future, but with the way she was improving and the way she understood the game, she was going to have a bright one.”
Gigi was 13. She was one of the nine people, her father also among them, on the helicopter that crashed Sunday morning into a hillside in Calabasas, California, as the group made its way to a basketball tournament where she was supposed to be playing. The helicopter burst into flames. All nine including two of her teammates died, officials said.
Kobe and Vanessa Bryant had four daughters. Gigi was the baller of the group. She was going to carry on the Bryant name in basketball. Few things in life made Bryant happier than that realization.
“I try to watch as much film as I can,” Gigi said in an interview with Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS in 2019, when she and her dad attended the Las Vegas Aces’ WNBA opener. “More information, more inspiration.”
She was even sounding like her dad.
The film study was working. So, too, was the five- or six- or seven-times-a-week workouts that Bryant would host for Gigi and her teammates on the team he coached. They ran the triangle offence, the one Bryant had so much success with during his career. Grown men, professionals, the best players in the world, struggled with the triangle. Bryant had preteen girls figuring it out.
“He never yelled or anything,” Davis said. “They just listened to him.”
Earlier this month, Bryant posted a short video clip of Gigi in a game. The sequence: dribble-drive, pass to the corner, post up, wait for the ball to come back, catch, footwork, shoot the fadeaway.
Her father’s unstoppable fadeaway.
She scored. Of course.
“Gigi getting better every day,” her dad wrote.
Bryant and Gigi went to a UConn home game against Houston last March. Bryant wore a UConn shirt _ just like Gigi was _ and told SNY television during an in-game interview that he was thrilled that one of his daughters wanted to follow in his sneakers and take up the family basketball business.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty cool,” Bryant said. “She started out playing soccer, which I love. But she came to me about a year and a half ago and said, `Can you teach me the game?’ I said, `Sure.’ We started working a little bit and the next thing you know it became a true passion of hers. So, it’s wonderful.”
Many of Gigi’s favourite players had UConn ties, like Katie Lou Samuelson _ she had played for Davis, which led to the initial connection between him and Bryant _ and Gabby Williams.
“From what I saw,” Williams said Monday, “she was going to be heaps better than me.”
Williams was floored when Gigi told her she was her favourite player. She would FaceTime with the Bryants before games, gave Gigi her Chicago Sky uniforms, even practiced with Gigi and her teammates and was blown away by how hard she had to play against them.
“She had the right mentality, so confident, relentless, so mean and aggressive,” Williams said. “And then (she would) walk off the court with the biggest, sweetest smile on her face. But my favourite part about her was just seeing how much she loved the game and loved to learn.
“It’s intimidating to have to follow in those footsteps,” Williams added, “but she really embraced it.”
The UConn allegiance made all the sense in the world. Bryant played in Los Angeles, but he was a Philadelphia guy. So is UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who was heartbroken by the news of the crash Sunday. UConn has been the gold standard in the women’s college game for a generation, driven by excellence. Bryant identified with that quality.
UConn was aware of Gigi’s affinity for the Huskies and paid a fitting tribute. Before its game with the U.S. women’s national team Monday night, UConn draped a No. 2 jersey with a bouquet of flowers across it on the team’s bench. Gigi wore No. 2 for her dad’s team.
Jewell Loyd of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm knew plenty about Gigi. Loyd sponsors an AAU team in Seattle. They played against Bryant’s team, and over the years Loyd and Bryant forged an extremely special, extremely close bond. They looked at one another as family.
Her description of Gigi? “Awesome,” Loyd said.
“When I went to work out with Kobe, most kids her age would be on the tablet,” Loyd said. “She stayed still and watched the entire time. Didn’t say anything. She was studying the game of basketball. If that didn’t say Kobe, I don’t know what does.”
Even NBA players were impressed. Atlanta’s Trae Young couldn’t believe it when Bryant told him that Gigi was a huge fan of his and was trying to emulate parts of his game. So Young paid tribute Sunday by opening a Hawks game in a No. 8 jersey, before switching back to his customary No. 11.
Afterward, Young recalled some of his final conversation with Bryant.
“He said how proud he was of me and how he wants me to continue to be a role model for kids growing up, for Gigi,” Young said.
There were similarities in how father and daughter looked the dark, piercing eyes, especially but Loyd also saw similarities in the way father and daughter played the game. Both, she said, were methodical. Both were willing to outwork their opponents. Gigi knew who her father was and knew that meant a lot of eyeballs would be on her, that comparisons between her and her dad on the court were going to be inevitable.
Gigi didn’t care, either.
She wanted to be like Dad.
“That’s his legacy,” Loyd said.
That’s now Gigi’s legacy as well.
AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg in New York contributed to this story.
A dispute over insurance is putting the recreational snowmobile season in eastern Ontario on thin ice.
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), whose members operate and maintain thousands of kilometres of trails across the province, issues liability insurance certificates to private landowners whose property the trails cross.
But this year, some landowners in this region are refusing to renew that arrangement.
The United Counties of Prescott & Russell is one of those landowners. In a French-language interview, the municipality’s director of planning, Louis Prevost, said its lawyers have recommended against renewing the annual certificate.
According to Prevost, they’re concerned the coverage would limit civil liability in the event of an accident.
The imbroglio has forced the Snowmobile Club of Eastern Ontario (SCEO), an OFSC member, to close 100 kilometres of its trails, about one-quarter of its network.
“Why was it acceptable last year and not this year?” asked SCEO president Kim Melbourne. “It’s frustrating.”
The closures punch holes in the network of interconnected routes that take sledders from one end of the Prescott & Russell to the other, Melbourne said.
“Maybe the [snowmobile club] members will be happy just going around in circles, and when they get bored they’ll just turn around and go the other way,” she scoffed.
The insurance impasse means popular trails through the Larose forest, a huge wooded area in the western part of the region, is off limits, as is a former rail corridor still owned by CN, which crosses the region from the Ontario-Quebec border Ottawa’s city limits.
“Right now, it’s dangerous,” said snowmobiler Sébastien Saumure, who worries the sudden trail closures will catch some by surprise.
Saumure, who lives in L’Orignal, Ont., said he’s more likely to go sledding in western Quebec where the trails remain uninterrupted.
That worries Charles Lamarche, who estimates half the wintertime customers at his bar-motel in Plantagenet, Ont., are snowmobilers.
“If there’s no snowmobile season, I really don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said in French.
Instead of enjoying their sport, Melbourne and other volunteers with the club will have to spend their time posting “Trail Closed” signs along the network. She’s imploring members to obey them.
The Colored Hockey Championship stamp tells the story of overcoming adversity
HALIFAX, Jan. 23, 2020 /CNW/ – Canada Post today unveiled a stamp honouring the Colored Hockey Championship and the all-Black hockey teams in the Maritimes that competed for it between 1895 and the early 1930s.
In this little-known chapter in Canadian hockey history, determined organizers and players arranged their own challenge matches, dispelling hurtful misconceptions and changing the game in small but important ways.
In the late 19th century, Baptist Church leaders believed all-Black hockey would be a great way to attract young Black men to the Church to strengthen their religious path. Games became community events that brought mixed audiences together in the stands; and post-game meals united Black players from different communities.
There was no predetermined game schedule. Rather, teams challenged each other to matches by telegraph or by placing ads in local newspapers. Organizers, players and newspapers of the day called the ultimate prize the Colored Hockey Championship, a term not in use today, but which the stamp issue retains because it is historically accurate.
The stamp acknowledges some of the game’s early developments, including some of the earliest recorded uses of down-to-the-ice goaltending, which was later adopted by players in “white-only” leagues, including professional leagues. At that time, hockey goalies in other leagues stood upright.
The first record of an all-Black hockey game in the Halifax area dates back to March 1895 and involved the Dartmouth Jubilees and the Halifax Stanleys. Six more teams would soon form, including one from Prince Edward Island. There were the Halifax Eurekas, Africville Sea-Sides, Truro Victorias, Hammonds Plains Moss Backs, Amherst Royals and Charlottetown West End Rangers.
The golden era of all-Black hockey was between 1900 and 1905, when games often outdrew those of “white-only” leagues, but teams continued to play for the Colored Hockey Championship until the 1930s.
Designed by Lara Minja of Lime Design, the stamp features an illustration of the Halifax Eurekas, the Colored Hockey Champions in 1904. The illustration by Ron Dollekamp is based on a historical photograph. The stamp is available in booklets of 10; the Official First Day Cover is cancelled in Halifax.
Canada Post is proud to honour the courage of those who organized and played all-Black hockey and helped to make this little-known story part of Canada’s national discussion.
Calgary, Alta. – Whether unwrapping a teddy bear, a fire truck or a stethoscope, there’s nothing like making kids smile during the holidays. This year, the Canadian Hockey League and Western Hockey League are proud to join Wawanesa Insurance, their independent insurance brokers, and local charities to host holiday toy drives in 36 communities across Canada.
CHL fans can get the warm and fuzzies by donating a new and unwrapped toy at any of the 36 Wawanesa Toy Drive games taking place across the country from November 16 to December 15 and at participating broker locations in each community. As a special thank you for donations, all toy donors will be entered into a Grand Prize draw for a trip for two to Kelowna for the 2020 Memorial Cup Presented by Kia.
“The Canadian Hockey League and our member teams are proud to support our communities and the Wawanesa Toy Drive campaign is another wonderful opportunity to help make a positive difference for families across Canada,” said CHL President Dan MacKenzie. “We’re excited to join our partners at Wawanesa Insurance and our passionate fans to help deliver thousands of toys and smiles to kids this holiday season.”
If someone is unable to bring a toy to the game, Wawanesa has partnered with their local insurance broker partners to provide fans with convenient toy drive drop-off locations. View all broker locations and learn more about the Wawanesa Toy Drive (including full contest rules) by visiting wawanesa.com/toydrive.
“Happy kids, neighbours helping neighbours, and some of the best hockey in the world – it’s a winning combination to help more Canadian families enjoy this holiday season,” said Selena Hinds, Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for Wawanesa Insurance. “We are thrilled to partner with the Canadian Hockey League, independent insurance brokers and local charities across Canada on this country-wide holiday toy drive. For us at Wawanesa Insurance, supporting the communities where we work and live is the essence of who we are.”
Wawanesa Toy Drives began this past weekend in the WHL, with events in Kelowna and Swift Current on Saturday, November 16, and Edmonton on Sunday, November 17.
Wawanesa Insurance is the Official Auto and Home Insurer and proud partner of the CHL, WHL, OHL, and QMJHL.
2019 Wawanesa Toy Drive Schedule – Western Hockey League:
Victoria Royals November 23:
Moose Jaw Warriors
Brandon Wheat Kings
Red Deer Rebels
Prince George Cougars
Prince Albert Raiders
Medicine Hat Tigers
About Wawanesa The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, founded in 1896, is the largest Canadian Property and Casualty Mutual insurer with $3 billion in annual revenue and assets of more than $9 billion. Wawanesa Mutual, with executive offices in Winnipeg, is the parent company of Wawanesa General, which offers property and casualty insurance in California and Oregon; Wawanesa Life, which provides life insurance products and services throughout Canada; and Western Financial Group, which distributes personal and business insurance across Western Canada. With over 5,000 employees, Wawanesa proudly serves over two million policyholders in Canada and the United States. Wawanesa actively gives back to organizations that strengthen communities where it operates, donating well above internationally recognized benchmarks for excellence in corporate philanthropy. Learn more at https://www.wawanesa.com/canada/.
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.
Hockey Canada is trying to fill the gap left by the collapse of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and it’s getting a multimillion-dollar boost from BFL Canada, a Montreal-based insurance company.
The company, which is a longtime supporter of women’s hockey, announced Tuesday it will become the title sponsor of training, evaluation and selection camps for the Canadian national women’s team, the national development team and the women’s under-18 team.
BFL president Barry Lorenzetti, a former chairman of the Hockey Canada Foundation, said his company was making a five-year commitment to programs that range from elite athlete and coaching development to grassroots programs.
“We’ve added series of mini-camps in Montreal and Toronto so that our national team players have an opportunity to play,” said Gina Kingsbury, a two-time Olympic gold medallist who is the director of the women’s team for Hockey Canada. “I think by adding more camps we’re going to minimize the effect of not having our players competing every week. I do think it’s an opportunity to embed our vision and build chemistry on and off the ice You always have to look at this in a positive light, (but) we’d much rather have our athletes plying in a league.”
Most of the top Canadian players competed in the CWHL, which folded in the spring. Many players are hoping NHL clubs will jump in with significant financial help, but that assistance hasn’t been forthcoming. Top players like Marie-Philip Poulin, Lauriane Rougeau and Mélodie Daoust have joined the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, which has organized a series of Dream Gap showcases.
“We had a very good response last weekend in Toronto and we have events coming up in New Hampshire and Chicago,” said Daoust. “We hope to have one this winter here in Montreal.”
Unifor, the largest private sector union in Canada, is a title sponsor of the tour, while the NHLPA, Budweiser and Tim Hortons have also provided support.
BFL Canada has also established the female coaches of the year awards, which will honour elite and grassroots coaches from each province and territory as well as national winners. The company will also serve as the title sponsors for the IIHF World Girls’ Hockey Weekend, Oct. 4-6, as well as the IIHF Girls Game in February. BFL will also be a partner in the women’s world championships, which will be played in Halifax and Truro, N.S., in April.