In a perfect world, the NHL would have the Canucks and Leafs play each other 6 times a year, instead of the (shudders) Minnesota Wild. And it's not just because the Canucks haven't lost to the Leafs since 2003. It's because the games are so damn entertaining. Drama. Excitement. Highlight reel goals. And quite often, it involves a healthy dose of Leafenfreude. In preparation for today's game, I spent a lot of time thinking about the two franchises, and their fans, and it began to dawn on me: In spite of how much we use the Us vs. Them mindset, we're actually a lot alike. Now calm down, all of you. This isn't nearly as blasphemous as you think. First of all, you have to understand and accept that pre-expansion Stanley Cup wins mean nothing in context. The game changed forever in 1967, the road to the Cup became harder from that moment on. So in our existence, neither team has lifted the mug... More after the jump.
Think for a moment about our fanbases. Two of the largest online presences. Both teams are blessed with blogging communities that are among the very best on the interwebs. Both teams are capable in eliciting strong reactions from every other fanbase in the league. So while everyone puts all this time and effort into vilifying the Canucks, I say not only is this hatred unjustified, but the common bonds between the Leafs and Canucks should see us being allies more often than enemies.
Some people's current dislike of the Leafs has to do with the fact that the Canucks former braintrust is running the show over there in Hogtown. It leads to some delusional thinking from this side, anger towards Burke and Nonis and their time here. And while things may not have been perfect, the team was at times competitive despite being crippled by ownership that simply viewed the team as an investment and nothing more. If not for Burke and Nonis, we would not have the Sedins, Roberto Luongo, hell the make up of this team still bears an imprint of their time here. That's not to say they deserve all the credit. They also gave us Dan Cloutier.
The Leafs and the Canucks fans both have seen their share of heartbreak and disappointment over the years. The Leafs haven't made the finals since they last won the Cup in 67, but that's not to say they didn't have some teams in the 90's that weren't legitimate Cup threats. And for as much as they mock us for the Finals losses, any of them that tell you they wouldn't give anything to have even been in that position is a damn liar. If you think a Game 7 loss wouldn't have caused a riot in Toronto you're kidding yourself. They're more like us than they'd be willing to admit, but both fanbases are outspoken, active, fairly knowledgeable, filled with random idiots and convinced the league is out to get them according to some.
To see the Leafs showing signs of life this season actually makes me happy. Only a moron would think that the Leafs having some degree of success isn't good for the NHL. And especially us long term Canucks fans can relate to the years of suffering with horrible teams as Brian Burke has worked to rebuild the horrific mess he inherited. Both teams have had embarrassing moments: The Canucks with the riots, while the Leafs had to endure this. You may think I am crazy to feel this way, and maybe it's just me getting a little more mature as I get older, but I think my anger and venom as hockey fan can be better used against teams other than the Leafs. After all, it's not like their biggest cheerleader is an 'alleged' child-beating hypocrite, right?
Obviously I want the Canucks to win, and after a couple of infuriating efforts against the NHL's cellar dwellers you can bet they will be fired up for this rare HNIC appearance. But a loss to the Leafs, while it would suck (and make it unbearable on Twitter for a couple days haha), would hardly be the end of the world. I'd rather see the team lose to a team and organization that's slowly earning my respect, than say a Chicago or San Jose.
Anyways, focusing on the game tonight it looks like Daniel Sedin's back spasms have subsided and he's ready to go for tonight. That's a good thing as it should bring some stability back to the Canucks PP, against a team whose Achilles heel seems to be their PK. Mark Mancari and Andrew Ebbett will both take the pregame skate tonight, my gut tells me that we're more likely to see Ebbett than Mancari tonight (sorry, Stanch...).
As disturbing as the Mike Milbury incident is, you can't blame fans of the Canucks for a little righteous indignation. No one went as far as Milbury to paint the Canucks as horrendous human beings, with childish, holier-than-thou name calling and bizarre histrionics that showed the ridiculousness of the situation CBC and NBC's coverage presented: A commentator synonymous with the Bruins was allowed to spew his one-sided vitriol unchecked, while no effort was made to have any type of balance. They chose to run with the narrative (in CBC's case) that they alone created after the Burrows/Auger incident, preferring to use disingenuous opinion rather than be fair and balanced in their presentation. So when I see people saying that we should give Milbury the benefit of the doubt in this incident, you'll forgive me if I laugh in your face. The biggest cheerleader who helped convince so many that the Bruins play the right way is a vile human being. His credibility, and it's mind blowing he ever had any considering his actions as a player, and as a general manager, is completely null and void. Milbury's fall from grace is what happens to all bullies, and something to keep in mind about the Bruins: They all get what's coming to them in the end. Keep that in mind tonight, especially when hearing the all out assault on all things Canuck tonight by the HNIC crew. Just breathe and remember: if we were where the Flames are right now, they wouldn't be talking about us. The Canucks don't dive more. They aren't dirtier. They don't chirp more. Their mistake? They've been winning more, and nothing paints a bigger target on your back than success... Amazing to think it's taken this long, but the Montreal Canadiens have finally fired head coach Jacques Martin. The Habs currently sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, with just 13 wins so far. Assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth has been named interim coach for the rest of the season and already there is a massive controversy, as the predictable outcry about Cunneyworth not being a French-speaking coach erupts. If I was a Montreal fan I would be angry at this archaic line of thought. This isn't the old days where the Habs iced a team of nearly all Quebec born and raised players. I would be more concerned that the team find the best coach available, not the best one who can speak French. Limiting the field also limits their chances of success. This shouldn't be so hard to understand, and as a Canadian I know all about the sensitivity of French language and culture and their importance. The Montreal Canadiens are never going to return to their glory days in the new NHL if they try and act like nothing has changed... it looks like Kyle Turris is headed to the nation's capital as word is breaking of a deal to send the disgruntled Phoenix winger to Ottawa. So, good for them I guess?
BAND OF THE DAY- OVERKILL
One of the originators (along with Anthrax) of the New York thrash metal scene, these guys don't nearly get the credit they deserve for mixing punk and hardcore with early metal. The band has not slowed down a step in all these despite numerous personnel changes, and lead singer Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth surviving cancer AND a mild stroke on stage! Here's a sampling of some of their kickass tunes over the years: