So, as I was perusing the highlights, lo and behold, it seems Dan Murphy and the SNET folks decided that it is best to come right out and say it. The Canucks are the most hated team in hockey. ( I liked all the player responses in the story, but the Whitney quote Dan? ) Take a look, its an interesting story.
Higgins talks of the bubble in the city, and hearing it from the folks "back home". Burrows thinks its because they are sick of the winning that this team has done over the years. (07-08 the last time we missed ). A consistently strong team that wins a lot, and then the numbers last year. He has a point. Bieksa is as quotable as ever. But could it be?
Let's look at it. After the break, is it the success or the way they play? Are we really the Oakland Raiders of the NHL?
" In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity. "
Hunter S. Thompson
Now, Dr. Gonzo was not talking about hockey, but he was a sports fan. And everyone is guilty at one time or the other in the NHL, even Kyle Wellwood. Its the game we all know and love. But is that it? The only crime is getting caught? Well, maybe. One might also say that in that closed society, the arbiters have to see with open eyes. It would have been nice if they saw it our way in the Finals right? Are we really that blind to what they say out there? I mean, I love the game, and the way it is played, and think the Vancouver Canucks play the game the best way. With equal dashes of speed, fury and artistry.
But then again, thats exactly why we are hated right? Because only a Canuck fan cannot see it. Or we refuse to. At least to the detractors. The thing is, we see it too. But what is "IT"? Is it just that its like the players say in the story, that you hate the team that beats you?Or just the Us vs Them of any sport and the fans of rival teams? I think so. Its just that part of it is that this is OUR team. The same way that a Leaf fan, or a Hawk or Bruin fan thinks of their team, thats us. The only difference is the number of generations in the family the love of the game and team goes back. Hell.one of my earliest memories of hockey violence was one uncle kicking another's ass because of something he said about "his" Leafs. ( yes, I think alcohol was involved as well ;-)
Is it the fact that we have not WON ANYTHING!!?? Why yes, that may be a big part of it. At least the Raiders can back up that "Excellence" thing, because they won it all. Hell, 3 times ( '77 / '81 / '84 in LA ). At least the people that hate them can be shut the hell up with 3 trophies in 8 years. What have we got? A President's Trophy this past year, and '82 and '94. That's it. But the thing is, ( talking for myself here, your experience may vary ) I am OK with that. Coming so agonizingly close this year was the last step. HAS to be. At least '94 was in a city 3000 miles away, and '82 we were just happy to be there. Next time right? Losing it on home ice has to be the final dagger.
Now, of course, there will be some that are still gleeful at the loss. The way almost every media guy not connected with this city wrote their stories during the Final, with the Blue and Green the villains on almost every level, from Burrows and the Bite ( with the crap Lucic and others pulled the next game being reported as damn near heroic, rather than the steaming pile it was ) through Lapierre and the "taunting" ( to this day, this is the one that blows me away for the way it was to the way it was portrayed. I honestly thought it was two Quebecois players sharing a funny. Bergeron fighting not to burst out laughing. Damn Maximus and his perfect comic timing!)...on through the four days they all milked out of a supposed "insult" and the pumping or not of said tires. So its expected on some level. There will always be "fans" that just repeat what they read in the paper.
Personally, I don't think that it was "90 percent don't want them to win", as the Oilers defenseman Twattered. Honestly, a team that scores like that, plays hard on defense, hits and finishes every check ( something like 175 more hits than the next closest team in the playoffs, and they finished every check ), I agree with Kevin Bieksa in the story. That there are many that enjoyed the team in the past, enjoyed watching that run, were as gutted as we all were, and that became fans of the team for the first time.
Our Twin Stars, for instance ( who gives 750K of a 6 mildo salary to a Children's Hospital, or anything else for that matter! ) are fantastic human beings on and off the ice. Always willing to talk, even after a loss, and be as honest as they can. Not classless and arrogant. Not divers and wimps. Like Daniel said, "if we respond, its that we were gotten off our game, and if we don't, we are weak" ( paraphrase ). And if someone wants to hate on them and the team because they thought that weak, well, thats OK too. Or, sadly, expected anyhow.
They should know that there are so many within Canuck Nation saying far worse. About them. About the goalie. The defensemen. Coach, GM, and owner. Hell, I saw a few after the game Thursday on how much Malhotra sucks, and how the new second line sucks because they did not dominate Game #1. Samuellson and Sturm were both referred to as done. Too slow, even though they had some solid shifts and just missed the net a couple times, and in the third set up Godson for his almost tally. After one game! FINISHED!!! COME BACK KES' TO SAVE US! TRADE LUONGOALZ!!!
While I wish that some of my fellow fans ( generally, not anyone in the NM, or even SBN family. The vast majority who continually amaze with their knowledge and passion for the game. Rivals, opponents and otherwise, we should ALL be proud of that.) would dial it back, I know its a lost cause now. It's true. We are the most hated team in hockey. Everyone says so right? But know we are also the most loved team in the province of B.C. That we are from far and wide. Growing. And know that really, most of us are OK with it. As the great hockey philosopher Todd Bertuzzi once intoned, ( and intoned again and again afterwards ) "It is what it is".
Read any thread on a Puck Daddy, Province, Sun, or anyone of several other outlets for that kind of stuff ( CBC after, and during a game is hilarious sometimes! ), and its tough to scroll down more than one or two before shaking your head and running back home to NM. "In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity". I wonder what Hunter would have thought of all that.
So, hate us or love us, it matters not, not really. Perhaps the team's responses in the story sum it all up. Or perhaps a final quote from Hunter, who was a Raider fan for most of his life, and said ;
"The massive Raider Nation is beyond doubt the sleaziest and rudest and most sinister mob of thugs and wackos ever assembled."
Like Juice said "#embracethehate" ( yes, he did say it like a hashtag). Dude was made for Twitter!