Conspiracy: The Canucks will #FreeTheSkate This Week

By: Trent Leith / January 17, 2023  

On October 29th I made a Twitter thread predicting the Canucks will use the Flying Skate jersey this year and also predicted how it would happen. I thought it would be best to gather all the evidence from my theory and combine it into one single article.

The Theory

My theory all started with the Canucks’ promo video at the beginning of the year. It was good fanfare, but I had a hunch there was more to it.

The first thing I noticed was that the video’s title says “Part One”. The video seemed less of a stand-alone video, but a trailer for something bigger. But what? So I analyzed the video like one of those Youtubers who do frame-by-frame breakdowns for Marvel and Star Wars movies.

There may be a little bit of wishful thinking at the end there. I doubt the Canucks will wear the skate full-time this season, but I will touch on that later. I’m also not very confident about the Canucks winning the Cup, or Horvat being around if they ever do.

I should be honest, when I first made the thread in October it was mostly tongue-in-cheek, but as we get closer, I think I might have tapped into something. The Flying Skate and the promotional video are related, I can feel it.

The Evidence

As we hit the new year, further evidence came out to support my theory. This is when I started to think I could be onto something real.

The Canucks started to wear black red and white gear in practice. According to Rob Williams of Daily Hive, the Canucks were wearing this gear to auction it off at the Dice and Ice event they are scheduled to host for the first time post-pandemic. Rob goes on to point out how odd it is to auction off practice-worn gear rather than game-worn. I agree with Rob, something fishy is going on.

Then Canucks fans were thrown a curve ball. A banner was being flown around Vancouver reading “FreeTheSkate”. Canucks fans are no slouches when it comes to making their voices heard, fans have flown at least two banners behind planes, the first reading #FireBenning, and the second reading #SellTheTeam.

Seeing a plane flying around Vancouver with a Canucks related hashtag is not an unfamiliar sight, but what was odd was that no one took credit for the banner. In the past, a very vocal faction of Canucks Twitter quickly took credit for the previous banners being flown, but it was crickets on the day of the banner. Speculation immediately ran wild with who paid for it and why. But I and many others had a hunch, the Canucks themselves were flying the banner.

Once we thought the banner may have been flown via the Canucks chequebook, a few other things that previously took place, suddenly seemed less innocent.

Many gags shown on jumbotrons at live events are staged and with the benefit of hindsight, I think this fan is no exception. Look at that typed font sign, that doesn’t look homemade to me. I think this was a plant by the team.

Digital board ads are not very popular. Unless you ask Gary Bettman, then everyone loves them. These ads are prone to glitches. Barely a game goes by where the ads work perfectly, so originally when the board ads failed back in December, other than a few jokes, no one suspected a thing. However, the board ads around the NHL have never failed like this before, even for another team. Just the Canucks.

And would you look at that? The ads went black, but not pitch black as if there is nothing there. Rather a very dark charcoal colour, something pleasing to the eye rather than a depthless black. This seemed intentional. Combine that with the yellow and red trim on the boards, and you suddenly have the colours of the flying skate jersey.

Next came a little easter egg posted to the Canucks website no less. Ally Penders wrote a fantastic article about the in-game experience for Canucks fans. But what caught my eye was a quote from Bo Horvat, “I had one line and a few of the guys had some bigger scenes that we haven’t seen yet, so we’ll have to wait and see what they have in store for us”

An absolute bombshell. Thank you, Ally. Bo not only mentions that he had a line that hasn’t been showcased yet, but he mentioned there are entire scenes to come. Part two of the promotional video is all but confirmed thanks to Cap’n Bo.

Then came a couple of tweets from Icethetics, an account known for being accurate and on top of NHL jersey leaks.

Icethentics knew something that the public didn’t. But not for long.

Lachlan Irvine of Canucks army found some jerseys up on the Fanatics website that shouldn’t have been there.

This is a redesigned Flying Skate logo. Photographed are the new alleged third jerseys. The difference being the stripping on the arms and torso are of the same style and width as the recent Canuck’s third jerseys. In the yellow band of the arms there is a slight nod to Flying V. There is a mountain range on the inside of the neck and most importantly, a tweaked Flying Skate. The white inside the wording of the logo has been removed, along with the white lines adding speed.

The result is a cleaner, simpler flying skate. As with everything, there are polar opposite opinions on the new design, but I must say, I like them. It makes the retro look a little more clean-cut for the modern age.

This might be a bit of a stretch, but looking back at the promo video, upon closer inspection, it looks like the white was removed from the Flying Skate on the hockey card. Note the absence of white in the toe of the blade, where there is usually quite a large portion of white. This is a very zoomed-in, cropped photo so it may not be accurate, but it certainly looks like there is less white to me.

Lastly, ads have started popping up on bus stops and billboards around the city that simply read “#FreeTheSkate”. This goes from a single banner in the sky and some circumstantial evidence to an organized marketing campaign.

But When and Why?

If I end up being correct, I must give the Canucks credit for executing a clear vision over a long period of time. It’s too bad this initiative hasn’t translated to the hockey ops department.

At a time when apathy is setting in like never before and anger at the team, management and ownership seems to be at its highest, the Canucks have found a way to build anticipation in the dog days of January.

The launch is a win-win. For instance, if the Canucks were playing well, these fan-favourite kits would only increase the hype of a playoff race. But with the Canucks near the bottom of the standings, this initiative gets fans excited to see the team on the ice again and helps increase revenue for a franchise that is on pace to miss the playoffs for a seventh time in the past eight seasons.

Keep an eye out for the big reveal this week, likely during one of their upcoming matchups with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche or Edmonton Oilers.