Two weeks ago, Alex Edler left Game Five of the Vancouver Canucks’ first-round series against the St. Louis Blues with a scary injury.
Edler was cut in the face by Jordan Kyrou’s skate blade and did not return to the game.
The injury would set in motion one of the most ridiculous storylines of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In this year’s postseason, injuries are being concealed by teams due to an agreement between the NHL and NHLPA due to the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, it was unclear how long Edler would be out and the strategy invites speculation.
“I won’t say that he’s in, I won’t say that he’s out,” Canucks head coach Travis Green said to the media the day before a crucial Game Six where the Canucks could move on to the second round. “I will say I hope he’s in.”
Hours before the possible elimination game, The Athletic’s Thomas Drance got a clue about Edler’s availability from a camera test at Rogers Place. Drance noticed a close-up shot of the Canucks’ stick rack which showed two of Edler’s game-ready twigs. “You know he’ll play,” Drance tweeted.
You know he’ll play. pic.twitter.com/2it4mGkpZY
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) August 22, 2020
And indeed, Drance was right. Edler would suit up in Vancouver’s 6-2 win over the Blues which would eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions and send the Canucks to the second round for a date against the Vegas Golden Knights.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) August 22, 2020
A few days later, Hockey Twitter would get another scoop from Sportsnet due to the Canucks’ stick rack. Canucks forward Tyler Toffoli, who had not played since August 2 due to a lower-body injury, appeared likely to return because his sticks were on the stick rack. But in an apparent acknowledgment of Drance’s previous scoop, the team tried to hide his twigs behind Jacob Markström’s.
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) August 26, 2020
Toffoli would play and score less than 90 seconds into Game Two.
Now wise to what the media and Hockey Twitter was doing, the Canucks introduced subterfuge to the equation to try and keep their lineups secret. During Game Three, the team hid the sticks with a strategically-placed towel.
— Daniel Wagner (@passittobulis) August 30, 2020
For Game Four, the Canucks added backup players’ and the team’s coaches’ sticks to the rack throwing more confusion into the equation.
Just when you though this #StickGate couldn’t go any further. Check this out! They have EVERYONE (including backups)on the team on the rack including the coaches Green, Baumgartner, Brown, Malhotra. Amazing. @Canucks #GoCanucksGo @DailyFaceoff @ThomasDrance pic.twitter.com/R0rzwPGNlk
— Ryan Moir (@rmoirstats) August 31, 2020
And then Tuesday, during Game Five, the Canucks went next level. The team wrote Canucks’ media member names on the sticks along with other jokes.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) September 2, 2020
With Cara Bahniuk’s help, here’s what we think each name means.
Brathwaite = Rod Brathwaite potentially, a staff member of the Canucks. He is also the younger brother of former NHL goalie Fred Brathwaite
Lotto = John Garrett, who does color commentary of Canucks games. It also could refer to the Lotto Line of Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, and JT Miller (Numbers: 6-40-9)
Nobody = @petbugs13 and this tweet
Moir = A nod to the guy who is tweeting all the stickgate stuff, Ryan Moir
Oak = Scott Oake (typo) (Sportsnet sportscaster)
Bieksa = Kevin Bieksa, Sportsnet analyst and former Canucks player
Burke = Brian Burke, Sportsnet analyst and former Canucks GM
Campbell-Pascall = Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Sportsnet broadcaster as well as a former Canadian hockey player and two-time Olympic gold-medal winner.
Friedman = Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet reporter
Murphy = Dan Murphy, a Sportsnet broadcaster
Shorthouse = John Shorthouse, Sportsnet play-by-play broadcaster
The Well = 🤷
Hrudey = Kelly Hrudey, Sportsnet analyst
Headline photo courtesy of @Canucks
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