Well the powers that be have strong-armed me into writing something for Sportsnet.ca. And since I have no creative talents we’re going to let you guys shape things. It will be a bi-weekly mailbag (coming out every second Wednesday) so please send me your questions via the Twitter machine @sportsnetmurph. Yes there will be reminders.
Let’s have some fun with this folks. Do we really need to debate second unit PP personnel? I think not. Want me to ask a player something specific? Perfect. Should we try and track down a former Canuck? See below. How about Shorty and Cheech’s road burger rankings? It’s all open for business.
Let’s start by catching up with Adam Cracknell. “Cracks” played just 44 games with the Canucks in 2015-16, but I think it’s fair to say he left a positive impression during his short time in Vancouver. Now he’s east off the West Coast and has moved Far East. As in China. Cracknell is playing with the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star in Beijing. I tracked him down for a few questions. None of which surrounded the Houston Rockets.
How did you end up in China?
Curt Fraser is the head coach here and I played for him in Dallas. He came to a few games last year to scout players. Having that past relationship helped me get here. It was a difficult decision to make such a huge change in my career, especially saying bye to the NHL. I know I gave everything I had to get the games I played in the NHL. It wasn’t the easiest at times with a lot of moving around and the unknown. But I learned a lot as a player from all the coaches and players. And I learned how to deal with adversity and change which has helped me throughout my career to get me where I am today.
How many Kunlun teammates did you know prior to this season?
I played with Andrej Sustr and Trevor Murphy in San Diego. Played against Victor Bartley on numerous occasions. Brandon Defazio was with me at Canucks camp. I was also a teammate of Jake Chelios with Chicago wolves.
Will your family join you? Adam and his wife Teresa have two kids, Lynde (2), Bryde (5 months)
Bringing the family is difficult because it is definitely different. The culture and language barrier is a struggle. The traffic and amount of people is a bit of a challenge getting around. I guess that’s what you get in a city of 25 million people.
Sounds like there are no language barriers with the team though?
Our whole team is English, so that helps us a lot. Our Chinese players are all North American with Chinese heritage. The dressing room is like playing in North America. A lot of chirping and always having fun.
What has the level of hockey been like?
The hockey is great in the KHL. There is a lot of high-end skill (not me) and speed (Canuck fans know, still not me) but I haven’t changed my game because I’ve had success. The bigger ice surface changes the team style of course. Any big hit usually leads to a penalty so I look to be cautious and not to take penalties. So far we have been shorthanded 75 times in 13 games and have had only 30 power plays. Also, we have been on 14 flights accumulating 30-plus hours and sometimes going ahead seven hours with time changes. So you get use to being tired and sleeping whenever you can. Thank god for coffee and Red Bull #ad.
Favourite memory with the Canucks?
My favorite Canuck memory was scoring that overtime goal in Victoria. I had so many family and friends there watching. I didn’t know what my future was going to be with the Canucks at that time and if I would ever play with them. But once I made it to the home opening game and getting my name announced I had to pinch myself to know it was real. I loved my time in Vancouver and wish I could’ve stayed (need a guy Jim?, I still got it).
Thanks to Adam for fielding those questions. Now…to the mailbag we go!
Horvat: Oh man, I remember that moment so vividly. Like it was yesterday. But I have no idea what I said. I just know I was super hot at Ferland. Probably because he went after ‘Hammer’ (Dan Hamhuis). He was easily the Flame we hated most that series. No contest. He was the biggest (expletive). Everyone wanted to kill him. Especially Kevin (Bieksa). Man I miss the playoffs. That was so much fun. I can’t wait to make it back.
You’re right, I do have a dream job and almost all days are a blast. I don’t know if I can single out the toughest day of my two decades with Sportsnet, however in covering the Canucks there have been some tragedies that we have had to deal with from a news perspective. Luc Bourdon’s fatal motorcycle accident and Rick Rypien’s suicide are obviously at the top of the list.
Manny Malhotra’s eye injury was another difficult story to cover. Also, no one gets into sports journalism to report on criminal trials and yet I was at the courthouse to cover both Todd Bertuzzi’s and Marty McSorley’s.
The other thing about this profession is seeing coworkers let go. Those days suck. And there have been many jobs over the years that were cut mainly for financial reasons. To end this tough question on a light note I’ll always remember Scott Rintoul telling us a story about his “pink slip” day from television about 15 years ago. He walked into the boardroom and was faced with a few people sitting behind a table to which he said “Well, this certainly has an Apprentice feel to it.”
Whooo Boy! This is a loaded question because I’m sure to leave out some qualified candidates. Let me say this first: There are two parts of this job. The actual television part (which the Johns are obviously excellent at) and the travel part. If you don’t get along with the guys you work with, the job would be unbearable, because I essentially spend as much time with Shorty and Cheech (probably 120-plus days on the road) as my own family. We (producer Greg Shannon included) go out for dinner almost every single night. We watch a lot of sports. And we’re not afraid to mix in the odd beer. With that said here is the talent pool with a potential strike against them.
Kevin Bieksa: cutting sarcasm could begin to wear thin
Sean Pronger: might be emotionally scarred from his playing career
Alex Auld: do we really need another goalie analyst?
Nolan Baumgartner: been known to lose his wallet
Shane O’Brien: is it possible to have TOO much fun on the road?
Darren Langdon: may need subtitles.
Nikita Tryamkin: I really don’t see any drawback to this selection
Trying not to overthink this, so basically going with the four discographies I would pick if I could only listen to four metal bands for the rest of my life…
• Rage Against the Machine
• In Flames
Disclaimer: For the purposes of this question, one sub-genre could only be represented by one band. For instance, Metallica got my thrash metal vote even though I greatly enjoy Slayer and Megadeth. If you don’t believe RATM (Funk Metal?) should be in the conversation then I likely would have selected a Metalcore group like A Day to Remember (maybe Killswitch or As I Lay Dying). I left Post Hardcore off the mountain even though some of those bands burn hottest on my playlists right now.
OK, now I totally want to overthink this question…