Canucks Fans Passion + Impatience
There are few teams, if any, with a more dedicated fan base than the Vancouver Canucks.
The team sells out every game at Rogers Arena, and the current streak is in excess of 360 consecutive full houses for the regular season and playoffs.
The team also boasts over 17,000 season ticket holders in one of the most expensive markets in the NHL.
Those impressive numbers are also backed up anecdotally across the province of British Columbia with the ubiquity of Canucks T-shirts, replica jerseys, and other varied merchandise on cars, in homes, in pubs and on people’s backs from Atlin, Creston, Port Alice and other far flung towns all the way back to downtown Vancouver.
Many of those supporters demonstrated their admiration for the team during the stretch run and the playoffs last year when they travelled en masse to road arenas in places like San Jose where they frequently voiced their enthusiasm at volumes well above that of the opposing team’s home crowd.
The size of such a supporters following can be immensely uplifting, and conversely a heavy cross to bear for those players who fall under the scrutiny of the masses.
Canuck players find themselves to be immediate celebrities when they join the team. Their pictures are plastered everywhere and their accomplishments celebrated at every turn.
Even fourth line players often find that they can garner extra income from promoting various products and services simply by virtue of their association with the team, no matter how many or few minutes they play.
Several of them also speak highly of the crowd response during home games (and frequently while on the road with plenty of ex-patriot supporters scattered throughout North America).
The Canucks audience at games are knowledgeable, passionate and expressive, and that pervasive support has inspired the team on many nights to pull seemingly lost games out of the fire.
However, when some fans turn against the team or certain players, the pressure to perform can be simply crushing.
One only has to regard the current love / hate affair that many fans of the team now have with Roberto Luongo.
Like any market, there are those supporters with reasonable expectations, and those that juxtapose high ticket prices with an implied right to assail the team or its members at any perceived imperfection.
Despite a stellar regular season, and a majority of solid post-season performances, Luongo has been near crucified in some quarters for a mixed finals report card.
Never mind that he was the main reason why the Canucks won the three games they did, in the absence of much offence.
Luongo and the team’s slow start this season belies an increasing impatience this year for the fans with the team’s inability to clinch the championship.
Once any residual hangover from last year’s run evaporates, the hope is that improved performances will rekindle the warming fire that the team’s support can bring to Rogers Arena.
However, one wonders on this Halloween night if the slump continues much longer, might the Canuck villagers eventually come running with their torches for a less than charitable cause.