These are dark days. The Vancouver Canucks are on the brink of getting swept in the first round less than two weeks after winning the Presidents’ Trophy and they’re doing it under the spotlight of the nation.
It exists because the notion that all of Canada would rally around a Canadian team to end the nation’s cup drought is a fallacy. It’s not as if the Russians and Americans during the height of the space race were cheering each other on.
When we talk about the Canadian cup drought, we talk about it because ending the drought means the chance that it’s our team that does it.
Could you stomach the Oilers, Flames, or Leafs winning the cup and ending the drought? It would be insufferable.
It was never going to be a love-in where Vancouver’s obsessive passion for the Canucks spread across the nation until Trevor Linden was elected Prime Minister, yet geographical rivalries fail to truly explain the vitrol directed at the Canucks.
When Calgary sports radio stations start advertising themselves as “The Home of the Los Angeles Kings” clearly something has pissed them off.
The mark of any objective Canucks fan should be the admittance that it’s easy to see how this team could be unlikeable. This is a franchise that had Matt Cooke and Jarkko Ruutu on the roster at the same time. And the whole Todd Bertuzzi thing.
So when you take a team with Maxim Lapierre, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler et al and add the most annoying ingredient of all (winning) this isn’t actually a heart-warming tale to those who do not pledge their undying allegiance to the orca.
I mean, you have seen Kesler’s dives this series right?
Which is fine because hockey, especially in these playoffs, is a dirty cheating game. The Canucks aren’t some super-villian in a crowd of d0-gooders crashing the party.
Here’s a Patrick Kane dive, and a hilarious Joe Thornton GIF, and whatever Pittsburgh/Philly was on Sunday, but no the Canucks are the worst like there was a 30 minute Youtube comparing them to Stalin and Hitler. Why?
Man, that’s easy.
The Canucks have something going for them which the Penguins, or the Sharks, or the Blackhawks or any other team in the playoffs doesn’t.
They’re (wait for it) a Canadian team!
That means increased media coverage when they’re in the playoffs both from their local market which may well be the biggest in the game after the Toronto/Montreal powerhouses, and the national market which increasingly is finding themselves with no playoff hockey of their own to watch or cover.
Imagine you’re the program director of a Calgary sports radio station right now. The Flames are long done, and the draft is a long long way away.
You can speculate about off-season moves to fill air-time but that gets old quick and there’s a lot of time until training camp.
So what do you do?
It’s not like the CFL has even opened training camp at this point.
Well, you focus on the NHL playoffs and maybe you focus on the rival team that is a favourite to win the cup and you stoke the fires of hate that were already burning. It’s not like people are going to be calling in to talk about the Florida/New Jersey series.
They’re going to want to talk about the series that involves the team from Vancouver that beats them on a regular basis and is getting undivided attention on Hockey Night in Canada and TSN.
If you mapped out the epicentres of Canuck hate, there would probably be three circles around Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto. Neither of those teams have made the playoffs in quite sometime.
I’m not suggesting divisional rivals like Calgary or Edmonton would embrace the Canucks in a Hall & Oates montage if their teams were in the playoffs as well, but they would at least have their own playoff run to talk about and watch and overtake their lifes.
As it is, we have their undivided attention.
That means they see every game, every dive, every Luongoal, and every…riot.
If last year was about stepping out into the world and discovering no one cares about you, this year Canuck fans seem to be all about #embracingthehate.
It’s not a horrible tactic, one used by Kanye West, but it’s not really a solution so much as HERE LET ME SHOW YOU HOW MUCH I DON’T CARE BY MAKING A PRODUCTION OUT OF IT.
I DON’T CARE REALLY.
My advice is to take the Mark Wahlberg approach, ignore the hate. Who cares about the hate? Let’s just keep doing our thing and they can figure out their own lives.
I’ve yet to run into a situation in my life where the opinion of the Vancouver Canucks by someone living provinces away has directly affected my life.
The Canucks are star.
They are a star, a star, a star.
They are a big bright shining star.