Canucks Expected to Call Up ‘Black Aces’ from Chicago Wolves for Playoffs


The Wolves have one more game left in their season on Sunday night at home against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Following the conclusion of the game, the Canucks are expected to exercise its two available recalls for playoff depth.

NHL rules permit four recalls from the trade deadline and the end of the regular season. The Canucks used two of their four recalls on deadline day to “paper” down Nicklas Jensen and Zack Kassian to make them eligible for the AHL playoffs.

Once the NHL regular season ends, the Canucks can recall as many players as they like for the playoff run—commonly referred to as “Black Aces.”

From the Philadelphia Flyers website:

"The term “Black Aces” originally had a negative hockey connotation. It originated with the legendary Eddie Shore, who purchased a minor league team in 1940, and began to refer to spare roster players by that term in reference to the bad omen that superstitious card players believe comes about from being dealt the ace of spades. Shore said that the team was in bad shape if it had to use its Black Aces in a game, especially during the playoffs.Over the years, however, Black Aces have come to have a much more positive meaning; more akin to an “ace up the sleeve” that a hockey team can draw upon to help win a game in times of adversity."

The Canucks didn’t have any Black Aces or need it last year because both the team and the Wolves were eliminated in the conference quarterfinals.

In 2011, when the Canucks went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, they called up Cody Hodgson and Victor Oreskovich after the regular season ended. Then, after the Manitoba Moose season ended in mid-May, the Canucks recalled five more players: goaltender Eddie Lack, defenceman Chris Tanev, and forwards Aaron VolpattiSergei Shirokov, and Alexandre Bolduc.

The Black Aces do not practice, travel, or share the same dressing room with the team. They practice regularly at Rogers Arena to maintain game shape and only join the Canucks when they are needed.

After calling up defenceman Derek Joslin last Wednesday, the Canucks will presumably be calling up 5-6 more players.

Goaltender Joe Cannata will certainly be called up since he is the only other goaltender in the organization and the Black Aces will need one to shoot on.

Jim Vandermeer, who is a veteran of 461 NHL games, is the leading candidate to get called up on defence. Frank Corrado might get the call as well given the team’s shortage on right-handed defenceman.

Forwards Nicklas Jensen, Andrew Gordon, and Bill Sweatt are the other candidates since they all played games with the Canucks this season and know the system.