There are many reasons to be excited about the start of the Canucks season. First off, it’s just nice to have real, meaningful hockey back. More than that, however, the Canucks themselves are exciting.
The team seems on the verge of finally turning the corner on the rebuild and competing for the playoffs. Elias Pettersson alone is worth the hype, but fans also get the rookie season of Quinn Hughes, a hopefully fully-healthy season from Brock Boeser, and the continued two-way progression of Bo Horvat. That’s not to mention seeing how new arrivals J.T. Miller, Micheal Ferland, Tyler Myers, and Jordie Benn settle into their new environs and improve the team.
Most exciting of all: picture day.
Every NHL team has a picture day near the start of training camp so that the league and media have headshots for television broadcasts, websites, and articles. It’s also a source of unintentional comedy. Most of the players very clearly don’t want to have their picture taken, many seem completely unprepared, and there are no real guidelines for what to do.
Some players flash their pearly whites, while others glare into the camera with an intimidating grimace. Some carefully coif their hair, while others don’t seem to care in the slightest. This is the picture that will appear beside your name for the rest of the season and potentially years to come if websites don’t update their headshots every year, but it’s understandable that most hockey players don’t care about such things; they’re primarily focussed on preparing for what matters most on the ice.
Who nailed their annual headshot? It’s time for the semi-annual Headshot Awards. Sure, it’s been a long time since we’ve done these at PITB, but being an official member of the hockey media grants me access to the headshots via the NHL and Jeff Vinnick took some real beauties this year. Let’s take a look.
MOST LIKELY TO DRESS AS THE JOKER FOR HALLOWEEN: ADAM GAUDETTE
“Do you want to know how I got these scars? It was a high stick. Uh, I guess that's not a very compelling story.”
I honestly believe Adam Gaudette would dress up as the Joker for Halloween, if he hasn’t already. Don’t believe me? Adam Gaudette literally has a tattoo of Heath Ledger’s Joker on his arm.
BEST SALAD: CHRIS TANEV
Earlier in his career, Tanev had some awkward hockey hair, but his commitment to length has really paid off, giving him some of the best salad on the team. The best hockey hair erupts from the back of a helmet, which is where Tanev excels.
BEST HAIR THAT WASN’T THERE BEFORE: JAY BEAGLE
Jay Beagle had a buzzcut last year, right? I’m not just imagining that?
For many years, Beagle has had a close-cropped head of hair, but he showed up to training camp this year with a look reminiscent of his very first NHL headshot with the Washington Capitals: long hair, don’t care.
Sure, it’s nothing compared to Tanev’s salad, but it’s such a dramatic change that it deserves to be rewarded.
MOST GRIZZLED: ALEX EDLER
Alex Edler has completed his transition into the sagacious old veteran that dispenses wisdom, most likely while sitting on a tree stump on a mountain somewhere. The hints of grey in his beard and his stern expression command respect.
He looks like he’s just been on a week-long survival retreat with Bear Grylls: he’s seen some things — and done some things — and you do not want to mess with him.
LEAST EXCITED TO BE HERE: THATCHER DEMKO
Did Thatcher Demko always hate picture day at school or what? Maybe he had a bad experience once.
“Smile for the camera! Say cheese!”
What? There’s cheese? I like cheese.
“No, Thatcher, it’s just an expression.”
There’s no cheese? You lied to me? How could you lie to me about cheese?
“Thatcher, it’s just a thing photographers say to get you to smile.”
Then all photographers are liars and I will never smile for a photo ever again.
HAPPY-GO-LUCKIEST: ANTOINE ROUSSEL
In distinct contrast to Demko, Antoine Roussel is absolutely thrilled to get his picture taken. He may be starting the season on the Injured Reserve, but that’s not going to dampen his spirits.
I’m beginning to think that literally nothing can dampen Roussel’s spirits, to be honest. He could take his whiskey out in the pouring rain and it would somehow remain completely dry.
That joke has been brought to you by Dad Co. Like jokes that make you audibly groan? Dad Co.
BEST OLD TIMEY PROSPECTOR WHO’S BEGINNING TO SUSPECT THERE’S NO GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS: JORDIE BENN
Don’t be sad, Jordie. Just keep plugging away like Tom Waits and eventually you’ll find Mr. Pocket.
MOST LIKELY TO BECOME A BOND VILLAIN: SVEN BAERTSCHI
Look at that carefully considered expression on his face, the dapper goatee, and the well-coiffed hair. Throw an expensive suit on that man and hand him a cat and you can immediately picture him saying, “Which will it be, Mr. Bond? Save the city or save the girl?”
MOST NECK: TYLER MYERS
Tyler Myers is a tall dude, but a decent chunk of that height is neck. That is clearly the best neck on the team. It’s imposing and will not be ignored. If Myers is a tall drink of water, he comes in a bottle.
MOST LIKELY TO GET EVERYONE IN HIS GROUP CARDED AND KICKED OUT OF THE CLUB: QUINN HUGHES
“Quintin Hughes? Yeah right: everyone knows ‘Quinton’ is spelled with an ‘O’. This is obviously a fake ID, everybody out!”
BEST GLOW UP: ELIAS PETTERSSON
Compared to last year’s headshot, Pettersson has made like Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman. He’s brimming with confidence: check out the slight smirk and steely stare into the camera. His hair is more under control and the slightly harsher lighting gives him a firmer jaw. This Pettersson ain’t a rookie no more.