Call-up backup gets action
Gordon McIntyre watched Drew MacIntyre practice alone in one end while the players were warming up starter Curtis Sanford. McIntyre said that this is a "fitting metaphor for his place in the public consciousness of things Canucks".
"I don't think there's any kind of radar I'm even on, but it's not the first time I've been in this situation," the 24-year-old native of Charlottetown said before he got his first taste of NHL action on Thursday.
"First, the coach didn't know his name -- Alain Vigneault referred to him as Iain MacIntyre when Vancouver traded for the goalie with Detroit just before the start of training camp in 2006," said McIntyre.
"Then, when Dany Sabourin signed with Pittsburgh this summer, creating a vacuum behind Roberto Luongo
, MacIntyre was elated about his chances -- for two days before the Canucks signed veteran Curtis Sanford and Cory Schneider
, their first-round pick in the 2004 entry draft."
McIntyre said, "What little goaltending news that was left over from the all-Luongo hype did not make its way to MacIntyre."
"Drew's been the better goaltender of the two," Vigneault said. "He's played real well and that's why he got called up."
"MacIntyre made his NHL playing debut at 12:42 of the second period Thursday after Sanford got the hook for letting in three goals on 12 shots," said McIntyre.
"It's feels nice to be called up," said the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder. "That was my goal, to be the guy they call. It's an honour and a privilege."
"I'm taking this minute by minute here, enjoying it. I hope it's not the last time I'm in the NHL. I'm just trying to learn as much as possible."
Good, good, good, good vibrations
Gary Lawless said Jason Jaffray is a "chipper fellow" who is friendly with his hellos, but being over the phone with Jaffray was masked by static like "a swarm of angry hornets".
"How am I doing? Really good, actually. Really, really, good," said Jaffray with a laugh, just a few hours removed from his first game and goal in the NHL.
"Jaffray, along with Moose teammates Mason Raymond
and Drew MacIntyre, were summoned by the Canucks on Tuesday of this week and all three were in uniform on Wednesday as Vancouver downed the Anaheim Ducks 3-2," Lawless said.
"MacIntyre spent the night on the bench as the backup goalie while Jaffray picked up a goal and an assist and Raymond also scored his first NHL goal."
"It's tough to explain. I've received about 100 phone calls and 20 text messages. The support from friends and family, just all the people who watched the game, it's just amazing," the 26-year-old Albertan said from San Jose, Calif. "I waited my whole life for this moment and now it's here. I can't find words to explain it."
Lawless said, "Jaffray said he would have been happy with just one shift in his first game but Canucks coach Alain Vigneault threw him into the deep end."
"We were right in the mix, right off the bat. I got power-play time with (Markus) Naslund and (Taylor) Pyatt and a regular shift with Mason and Pyatt," said Jaffray. "Our first shift, we hemmed them in their zone for about 45 seconds and I set up Pyatt for a nice chance. That got rid of the jitters right away."
"Jaffray toiled five seasons in minor pro before getting his first crack at the NHL, which made his debut all the sweeter," said Lawless.
"I was a guy who had to work his way up at every step along the way. I wasn't drafted and then from my first game with the Roanoke Express, to the Cleveland Barons to the Manitoba Moose, I always started on the fourth line and had to battle my way to the top," said Jaffray. "That makes this a little more special for me but now that I have it and that I'm here, it doesn't matter where you came from or how you got here. It's being here that counts."
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Sharks getting their bite back
Iain MacIntyre said the Sharks are difficult to beat when they have their A-game on. Like last night in San Jose when the Sharks beat the Canucks 5-2, the Canucks couldn't have stopped them.
"The last two or three years, you feel like you're really close," Wilson, the former Canuck assistant, said before the game. "But you can't look at it like 'it's this year or else' or that will drive you crazy.
"I hear all the time that if we don't win this year, they should break up the team. But why, in God's name, would you break up a young team that's learning to win? We're the second youngest team in the league. Sometimes you have to bash your head against the wall [in the playoffs] for three or four years before you have your breakthrough."
"The Sharks were knocked out in the playoffs' second round each of the last two years. They made it to the third round -- the conference final -- the season before," said MacIntyre.
"Each year we've won one or two rounds of playoffs, but it seems like unless we win the Stanley Cup we're going to be viewed as an absolute failure," Wilson said. "That kind of pressure is unfair."
"Jonathan Cheechoo, who sat out Thursday due to a groin strain, has just four goals in 28 games after scoring 93 the last two seasons. And captain Patrick Marleau, a point-a-game player the last two years, had just 14 points in his first 29 games," MacIntyre said.
"Joe Thornton is the only Shark who is scoring at an elite level, hefting 36 points into Thursday's game."
"It's unfair to expect guys in lesser roles to start scoring goals, so we've been patient waiting on the other guys," Wilson said. "It's not like [Marleau] is playing with bad people. It's the same group of top-six forwards that he and Joe play with."
Schneider now the man behind the mask
Tim Campbell said many goalies would give up anything to be in Cory Schneider
"The 21-year-old from Marblehead, Mass., was a standout college player and a winner. He was drafted by Vancouver in the first round of 2004. The hype surrounding his debut as a pro at Canucks camp this fall was anything but subdued," said Campbell.
"Along the way, however, there's been the little matter of dues, possibly also referred to as acclimatization. The pro game is far different from the NCAA one and unbeknownst to some pundits, the AHL is not some recreational plaything of the anointed."
Campbell said, "Schneider has had his ups and downs in eight starts so far for the AHL's Manitoba Moose but eyes will certainly turn to him at home this weekend where he's the presumed starter for a doubleheader tonight and Saturday night against the Cleveland-based Lake Erie Monsters."
"Schneider knows he'll be under the microscope this weekend with Moose No. 1 man Drew MacIntyre on emergency recall to the Canucks."
"I'm not sure how others view me but Drew's definitely a calming influence here," Schneider said Thursday after practice at MTS Centre. "He's done great and completely deserved the call-up. I don't know what the guys think about relying on me but I'm trying to put a little more emphasis on myself, putting in a little extra work trying to get ready and really show this weekend that I can play at this level."
"Schneider has one thing going for him -- he seems pretty bright. He's well aware his early pro days have not been as good as hoped," said Campbell.
"I think I've hit a rough patch here after playing well for four or five games in a row," he said. "I've been talking with Ian (Clark, Vancouver's goalie consultant) a bit and with Rick (St. Croix, Manitoba's goalie coach) and they just say it's part of the process, that you have to believe in the process, that these 4-3 or 3-2 losses will eventually turn into one-goal wins."
Campbell said, "He hasn't been making any excuses and almost seems to embrace the reality that a new full-time career has been a change of life."
"The thing that stands out the most is the work ethic here," Schneider said. "Ian told me that back in college, you were the guy and you could do what you wanted and get away with what you wanted.
"But here, you have to start all over again, build trust in teammates and coaches and get their respect and honour. It's putting in that extra half-hour or hour on the ice and off the ice. It's a job; you don't have to worry about classes. It's all you have to do and to focus on. It's been a bit of an environmental change for me but I think I'm starting to get a grasp on it."