The Vancouver Whitecaps season is beginning in just over a week and the Vancouver Canucks continue their march to the bottom of the standings.

It is kind of funny, yet sad that the Whitecaps offer more hope than the Canucks.

Let’s skip the intro rambling and get into this edition of Avid Thoughts.

New kit and new sponsor for the Whitecaps

After a lot of speculation, the Whitecaps have unveiled their 2023 home kit. There was also speculation that the Whitecaps would tell us their new sponsor and on Thursday, that was revealed to be Telus.

Here is the new kit.

So what do I think? It’s a decent kit. The red stripes on the hoop may look odd to people but I like it. In fact, the Whitecaps have used red on their jerseys before such as when having red numbers as recently as last season. The red is supposed to symbolize the importance of donating blood. That is because the Whitecaps and Telus seem to have partnered with Canadian Blood Services.

As for the rest of the kit, the hoop stays. If it didn’t, there would have been an angry mob holding torches marching on Water Street. The hoop is what makes gives Whitecaps jerseys their appeal.

The thin lines on the jersey are a callback to their inaugural MLS kit which is a nice touch. My only criticism is how the Telus font looks. It looks too big and they probably should have shrunk it a little.

Like, this is much better. (The bottom one, by the way, the top Tweet makes it look even worse.)

Overall, it’s a decent kit, but not a great one. The dark blue hoop looks good with the white jersey and sure, the red mini hoop looks jarring. But it was hard to top the jerseys of the last two seasons. I’ll give it a 7/10.

As for the sponsor, Telus seems like a good fit for the Whitecaps though it is jarring to see them go from Bell to one of their competitors. But since Telus is pretty much a local company with its headquarters in Vancouver, it seems fine.

Now if only the Whitecaps announce their signings faster than Telus’ customer service wait times. (For many reasons, this is a joke)

The Canucks are in the bottom five of the NHL…for now

The Canucks continue to be a bad hockey team but thankfully, they aren’t boring.

They lost 6-4 to the high-flying New York Rangers on Wednesday night. Arturs Silovs was thrown to the wolves as he got his first NHL start. Say what you want about the decision to start him, but you can’t fault him for the goals too much.

So much for structure and the grade school defence practice.

Since the calendar turned to 2023, the Canucks have gone 5-13-1. Thanks to the loss against the Rangers and the Arizona Coyotes beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 via the shootout (You just never know in the NHL) the Canucks are tied with the Coyotes for fifth last in the NHL with 46 points apiece. They are also the worst team in the NHL since Christmas with a 6-15-1 record, with 13 points and a .295 points percentage.

Sure, some players such as JT Miller and Conor Garland improved under Rick Tocchet since he arrived last month and the advanced stats have said the Canucks have improved under him. But this is still the same team that was under Bruce Boudreau, minus Bo Horvat.

The numbers under Tocchet are ugly.

So there is a chance to draft Connor Bedard. If not him, there are other prospects projected to be in the top five. They are Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, Matvei Michokov or Zach Benson. Many scouts and draft experts project them to be top five picks and look like they will be game-changers.

There is one trump card that could ruin the tank. That is Thatcher Demko. He seems close to returning and is eager to get back to his best. There is a chance that Demko will pick up the form of his last two seasons and the bubble and get the Canucks some wins. But even if that happens, the Canucks still have one of the worst defences in the NHL and the worst penalty kill so they could probably move up two to three spots from where they are now, maybe four or five.

Another thing to look at is the schedule and the out-of-town scoreboard. Tankathon’s schedule strength tool says the Canucks have the third easiest schedule. The only two teams with an easier schedule are the Seattle Kraken and Dallas Stars who look playoff bound. They will be playing fellow bottom feeders the Chicago Blackhawks two more times, the Anaheim Ducks three times, the San Jose Sharks one more time and the Arizona Coyotes two more times. The Coyotes, Ducks, Sharks and St. Louis Blues are also in the top ten for easy schedules.

What would make things easier is to start the major surgery. Luke Schenn for example has been getting a ton of interest and trading him for a second or third-round pick would help the tank.

It’s no secret that every Canucks fan wants Connor Bedard, including myself. While he alone won’t fix the team, having him as a franchise cornerstone would bring hope to a very jaded fanbase.

Where is the process at Chelsea?

Trust the process has been used by many sports teams. Most notably Arsenal and The Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. Unfortunately, the process failed with the Sixers but has worked for the Gooners. However, Arsenal lost 3-1 to Manchester City on Wednesday and is now in second in the Premier League title race.

The term trust the process has also been used by Chelsea fans under manager Graham Potter who replaced Thomas Tuchel back in September. Unfortunately unlike Harry Potter, Graham’s magic hasn’t worked for Chelsea.

The Blues are coming off a 1-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. Chelsea has only two wins in their last 14 games in all competitions.

It’s been a rough last few months.

Did Chelsea play well in Dortmund? In some ways, yes. Joao Felix in particular was dangerous but he blasted a close-range shot into the stands and had another hit the crossbar. Chelsea was good at the build up but finishing was once again the difference.

Dortmund was quick on the counter and they made Chelsea pay.

Enzo Fernandez could have done better defending Karim Adeyami but he isn’t a defensive midfielder. He needs a defensive partner. Luckily N’golo Kante is back in training and Fernandez won’t have to wait too long.

Hakim Ziyech looked frustrating, Kai Havertz looked very poor and the players that were good other than Felix and Fernandez were Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly. That was Koulibaly’s best game in months.

But let’s talk about Potter.

I am very tempted to say “Potter Out.” But at the same time, I want Chelsea to stick with him and give him time and trust the process. But how can I trust the process when there is no process? Chelsea has not improved despite Todd Boehly spending over 600 million pounds on new signings.

There is no system or identity. It’s just constant passing the ball around and that’s about it. Potter has gotten new players but has shown no improvement.

Yes, there will be a big clearout of players in the summer but managers need to use the players they have to create a system that will help them win games. I also understand the January signings need time to gel as well. But it looks like Felix is the only one who seems to have settled in right away and he is only at Chelsea on a loan until the end of the season.

The game in Dortmund was one of Potter’s best games as Chelsea manager. Yes, you can’t fault him for the lack of finishing, that’s on the players.

The next game for Chelsea is against Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday who is in last place in the EPL. If Chelsea doesn’t get three points in that game, I might actually have to Tweet #PotterOut.

I still believe that with the players Chelsea has signed, they could be back to the top level in European soccer as soon as next season. There also has been a massive culture change with the new ownership and board plus a mental skills coach named Gilbert Enoka who has worked with the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team.

There is a process off the pitch but there needs to be a process on the pitch. No one should expect it to happen overnight. It needs to be gradual, or game-by-game. Improve one thing, then the next game improve the rest and so on. Losses will happen but the team needs to learn to bounce back from those losses. That is a process.

I’ll trust the process but I need to see it happening and that starts with Potter. The bar needs to be raised at Chelsea.

Equal pay and treatment for women’s soccer in Canada needed

The Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team is the reigning Olympic champions and is in the top ten of the FIFA rankings. They are also projected to make some noise at the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer.

These women are world-class. Ashley Lawrence, Jesse Fleming, Jordyn Huitema and Janine Beckie all come to mind. Oh yeah, Canada also has Christine Sinclair, the greatest women’s soccer player of all time.

But Canada Soccer has treated the women very poorly and they are fed up. They have been taking job action. They recently played against the US in the She Believes Cup and they lost 2-0.

But that is not what we are going to talk about.

The players wearing purple symbolizes gender equality and have trained in the past few days with the jerseys inside out and the Canada Soccer logo taped.

Canada Soccer and the players have not budged on contract talks for months. The women want not only equal pay but fair and equal treatment and they are sick of the cuts to the program.

The women have been better than the men’s soccer team for years and yet, they still won’t get fair treatment? They are one of the best teams in the world!

This is a golden age for Canadian soccer and the CSA keeps ruining things. The game, especially on the women’s side cannot grow if they are not paid fairly and keep getting funding cut. The Olympic gold medalists do not deserve this level of disrespect.

Canada Soccer keeps being idle and making excuses while the World Cup for the women is months away. There isn’t enough money but there is enough for designer suits for Nick Bontis and his crew.

The Canadian women deserve better and so do the men’s teams, all the coaches and staff and the fans. There not only needs to be equal payment and treatment but more effective communication from Canada Soccer.

The women have some of the best players in the world and are being treated like a beer league team, if not worse. Show them the money!

That concludes this edition of Avid Thoughts. Now I’m going to once again listen to the new Paramore Album called This Is Why. I recommend you do too. It’s a good album.