If it matters, it produces controversy. – Jay Greene
Like afternoon soap operas are to lonely housewives, the world of sports has it’s own share of dramas and the Vancouver franchises are not without their fair share of the inner turmoil.
Over the years, be it on the hardwood, turf or ice, differences of opinion within the inner circles of the local sports clubs have seen radio shows, newspaper sports sections and highlight t.v. blowup.
1. Luongo vs. Schneider
The most recent controversy has the hockey hotbed in a tizzy.
With sixty-four million reasons a season for the next decade, Vancouver Canucks management has locked Luongo into the starting goaltender position, the problem is, for around nine million dollars less this season (Bobby Lu’s 2011-12 contract calls for about 10mil), Cory Schneider‘s play over the course of last season and the start of this year, enough cause to move Luongo.
Luongo has notoriously started slowly in October and then come alive when we turn the clocks back one hour. While he possesses the second most wins and second highest winning percentage by full time netminders over the past ten years, his slow starts continue to have fans call for his head.
Schneider, who tabbed sixteen victories in twenty-five games last year and to date has a better record and save percentage than the former Canucks captain, is just bidding his time until Vancouver either moves Lu or Schneider becomes the starting goalie for a team in search of a number one.
2. Dickenson vs. Printers
What could be Vancouver’s most well known sports controversy, the battle between the two pivots took over the city in 2004. Double D was at the time the CFL‘s top QB and Casey Printers was a young brash third stringer, looking to make a name for himself.
After replacing Spergon Wynn as the backup QB, Printers received the break he was looking for when Dickenson went down mid-season with a knee injury. In his place, Printers managed to only pilot the Lions on an eight game winning streak, first place in the West Division and capture the CFL Outstanding Player award.
Flash forward to the 04 West Division championship game, where the script was flipped as Printers fell to injury and Dickenson helped the Leo’s to an overtime victory.
What would you do in Wally Buono’s shoes? Right or wrong, Buono chose Dickenson as his Grey Cup QB, something that did not sit well with Printers, who felt that the team would have come out of the championship game with a ring, had he played.
Whereas Printers could do no wrong in 04, the 2005 season was the exact opposite, as he struggled to regain not only his form, but his popularity and support of fans, teammates and management, taking over once again for an injured DD.
One has to wonder, would Printers career in BC (along with his career in general) have ended on a happier note had he been given the Grey Cup nod in 2004? What is known for sure, is that Printers has pretty much burnt any bridge into Vancouver, while Dickenson holds the city’s most recent Grey Cup championship in 2006.
3. Mike Bibby vs. Steve Francis
In my opinion, there wasn’t one part of the Vancouver Grizzlies franchise wasn’t controversial (a topic saved for another day), but for sake of argument, we will break it down to the 1998 and 1999 draft picks.
While the NBA was never really given a fair shake in Vancouver, the brains (or lack of them) in the front office created a stir among hoopfans that never had a chance to play itself out. Selected second overall in 98, the Grizzlies tagged Bibby as their point guard of the future (after the Antonio Daniels experiment failed).
In the lockout shortened season, Bibby posted a decent 13 point, six assist average season, on route to a spot on the NBA Rookie Team. Following an 8-42 record, the Grizz were once again awarded the second overall pick in 1999.
Instead of filling a whole at the forward spot with either Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Ron Artest and possibly moving the slow footed, range lacking Shareef Abdur-Rahim inside the paint where he proved to be more effective, the Grizz went with the notion of picking the best player available regardless of position.
In the end, the Francis pick not only soured Francis, the fans, and the team, but also Bibby, who knew that Francis was a ball first, second and third option, and would most likely see his minutes at the point diminish.
4. Linden vs. Messier + Keenan
It was like a scene straight out of the WWE. Just a few years earlier, the NY Rangers led by Messier and Keenan were the “heels” (bad guys), defeating the Canucks in a seven game series for the championship (belt). Jump ahead to the 97/98 season and all was supposed to be forgiven and the fans were supposed to accept the two newcomers as “faces” (good guys).
Linden, the ultimate “face” of the Canucks franchise, along with the fans, new that something was fishy, but accepted the newcomers as part of the good guys side. Slowly the diabalical duo from Gotham tore apart the city, first taking the “C” off of Linden and then tearing apart the dressing room and the franchise bit by bit, until the dasterly Keenan shipped Linden out of town.
Over the course of their three years in Vancouver, Messier and Keenan amounted to abolutely nothing positive for the franchise, failing to qualify for the playoffs in each of the three seasons.
However like in the squared circle, the “face” made a triumphant return to the team in 2001, making everything right in the city that he has owned since 1998.