What do Ivan Boldirev, Russ Courtnall, Gary Leeman, Dale Tallon and Cody Hodgson have in common?
Since Monday morning, they’ve all proudly worn No. 9 for the Vancouver Canucks (and I just noticed they all have four-letter first names…awkward…).
When Hodgson arrived at Rogers Arena to suit up prior to driving to the University of British Columbia for practice, his jersey was 30 numbers lighter. Gone was the 39 he wore just two nights ago when he scored two goals to lead the Canucks to a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers, replaced by No.9.
The number in question, a composite number with proper divisors being one and three, is many things to many people. Movie buffs will site the flick 9 as its best use, foodies might lean towards Vancouver’s Cloud 9 revolving restaurant and people way smarter than me will use it as a purity terms for metals or chemicals.
To Hodgson, it’s a return to the familiar.
“I wore No.9 in minor hockey and it’s always been really special to me, any number with nine in it actually,” said Hodgson. “It’s a real honour to be given that number.”
Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and Bryan Trottier all sported No. 19 when they played and Hodgson was fans of all three, he also admires Bobby Hull and Maurice "Rocket" Richard, both No.9, so this is more than just a number change to the Canucks forward.
“It’s a real historic number and I’m really proud to have it.”
Wisely Hodgson did not ask the Canucks to take Markus Naslund’s No.19 out of retirement, something about that it would hurt his chances of making the team or something along those lines.
Nine will be just fine, but silly me, here I was thinking seven eight nine.
Believe it or not, Hodgson is not the first Canucks player to be presented with a new number this season.
When defenceman Chris Tanev walked into the locker room to start training camp, the No.18 was missing a one. I cannot explain how calm of a customer Tanev is, “whatever” was his reaction, it’s almost as is his last name could have been misspelled to read VANET and he wouldn’t have batted an eyelash.
As he explained it, he was happy about the change, he wore No.8 growing up and then again in college and it’s “definitely what I prefer to wear, but whatever number I was wearing didn’t really matter.
“It doesn’t matter if they switch your number if you’re not performing, you can get sent down and someone else will be wearing it.”
Again, Tanev is wise beyond his years. And my years. And our years combined. He’s wise like my grandpa, but not old. He’s Benjamin Button. I’ll shut up.
The number change came down from GM Mike Gillis and Tanev didn’t ask too many questions.
If he had his own way, ironically, he too would have requested Naslund’s No.19 as Tanev was also an Yzerman fan growing up. As far as players with the No.8, Igor Larionov was the best Red Wings defenceman to sport the number that he could recall.
Historically, 16 Canucks have worn No.8, the last was Eric Weinrich in 2005-06.
Editor's Note: The above statement is in fact wrong, Willie Mitchell was the last Canucks player to wear No.8, as fans made clear in this thread. We'd tell Derek about this, but it would just go to his head that there's a thread about him, even though it's not. Thanks for keeping him on his toes.
Editor's Note II: It was Tanev that said it, but we'll blame Derek. Larionov was a centre, not a defenceman. And yes, we are up all night reading everything you write on the boards. Keep it up!
“NOTEWORTHY” NOTES WORTH NOTING…
-How long did coach Alain Vigneault deliberate over Cody Hodgson’s number chance? He didn’t. “Is that a serious question, give me a serious question, I’ve got nothing to do with numbers. I don’t care.”
-The Canucks are practicing at UBC to start this week because of an Avril Lavigne concert at Rogers Arena Monday night. Why isn’t the team able to practice at home post-concert Tuesday morning? It’s complicated. Why’d she have to go and make things so complicated?
-Roberto Luongo said heading into this season expectations are same as last year. “The main thing is that last year is over now, we’ve got to focus on this season, we know that to get to where we were we’ve got to put in the work and we can’t take things for granted and we’ve got to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead.”
-Coach Vigneault discussed the physicality of his players and how they can avoid being suspended under the NHL’s new crackdown. “Right now it’s a feeling out process for the players and the referees on the ice. I’m thinking that as a player right now I’d definitely be watching the NHL.com network and looking at why Mr. Shannahan is making those decisions, they’re really well explained there. I’d be getting a feel for what the standards are going to be and if you do that, then you should be able to play within the rules.”
-The four-day layoff between the end of pre-season and start of the regular season was well prepared for by Vigneault and his staff. Before training camp started they did a lot of homework to make a smooth transition between pre-season and the real deal, which had Vigneault working the phones. “I talked to a lot of NHL coaches that are in the league that were in our situation going far into a playoff run and what they did the year after. I talked to coaches from other sports about what they did, I talked to obviously Wally here with the Lions, him having such a great record and being in that position to try and come back and win after a good year, and I also talked to Marc Trestman from the Alouettes, who’s trying to three-peat.”
-Keith Ballard was in a hurry to leave the dressing room post-practice. He was hungry. When asked what type of sandwich he was preparing to make, he said it would involve tuna, ham and turkey. Together we dubbed this “Tuhamkey.”
-A sincere apology to Jeff PaTerson, whose last name was wrongfully spelled PaTTerson in a Canucks Report last week. Going forward Jeff will be referred to as Mr. T by yours truly as homage to my erroneous ways.