BOV 2014 contributors’ picks: Sports

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      For the Georgia Straight’s 19th annual Best of Vancouver issue, our editorial team has spent months on the lookout for good deeds, weird urban details, and various howlers to highlight. Here’s our contributors’ picks for Best of Vancouver 2014.

      Best stop sign for cyclists

      Located at the intersection of the Adanac and Mosaic bikeways, Bomber Brewing is well-positioned to take advantage of the two-wheeled parade. If the big, red “Tasting Room Open” sign isn’t enough to catch the eye of cyclists, the bicycle-tire pump dangling off the side of the building with a sign above it marked “Free Beer Air” surely will. 

      Best badly needed PR move

      There wasn’t a better public-relations coup this year than handing Trevor Linden the job of president and public face of the Vancouver Canucks. As a brand, the city’s top sports franchise has taken a beating over the last few years, going from an odds-on Stanley Cup favourite to a turmoil-laden playoff also-ran. Bringing the most beloved player in team history back to the Canucks Sports & Entertainment family was sheer brilliance from a marketing perspective. We love the hiring of Linden partly because he’s already made some astute personnel moves, including landing the much-respected Jim Benning as general manager. He’s also a great ambassador for the team, to the point where he actually held town-hall meetings this summer to listen to disappointed fans. But mostly we love Linden because, now that he’s in the head office, the odds of former potato-chip pimp Mark Messier entering the Canucks’ Ring of Honour just went from slim to none.

      Best PR move part deux

      The appointment of Linden as president of the Canucks not only reconnected the team with the community and demolished perceptions that Canucks management (that’s you, Torts and Gillis) sometimes lacked maturity and judgment, it also made management instantly more likable. Finally, the Canucks have someone in the front office who can compete with Wally Buono and Bob Lenarduzzi in the personality department.

      Best song at a Canucks game

      Someone at Rogers Arena tinkered with the lyrics of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” to create “Back in Lack”. It came blaring out of the loudspeakers whenever rookie goalie Eddie Lack was kicking aside opponents’ shots like a modern-day Terry Sawchuk. Unfortunately, the tune is not likely to be heard nearly as often this season now that Ryan Miller is the new number-one goalie. Somehow we doubt “The Miller’s Song” will cut it at the testosterone-fuelled hockey games.

      Best faint hope for the Canucks’ immediate future

      Ryan Miller

      We say faint because, well, we’re Canucks fans, after all, and we have been here—looking hopefully at the start of a new season after a disappointing year—too many times in the past. A goaltending change, no matter how talented the incoming netminder, can only be part of the solution in what will undoubtedly prove to be an extended rebuilding period for the hockey team. Merely making the playoffs is the new goal (ah, nostalgia) after several years of taking that achievement for granted. If the 34-year-old Miller can bump up his save percentage and shave his goals against to anywhere near what he managed in his Vezina-winning (and 2010 Olympics MVP) season with the Buffalo Sabres (.929, 2.22, 41 wins), that will be a great start. After his trade from Buffalo to St. Louis last season, he flirted with those numbers before wilting in the playoffs, but 50 to 60 regular-season games with the same team (while backup Eddie Lack continues his development without being thrown into 20 straight rookie starts, as happened after Roberto Luongo’s departure last season) should be a steadying influence. As well, his aggressive style of play will supply an element of distraction sorely needed during any reconstruction phase, and he is no stranger to speaking his mind to the media (even his wife, Noureen DeWulf, chirped at nemesis Milan Lucic on Twitter).