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Make It Count

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On October 27, 2005 a contrite Todd Bertuzzi, in response to a reporter asking what it’s like to be booed in his return to the Pepsi Center, dropped the now infamous "it is what it is" comment. It’s a great comment for its sheer simplicity; "it sucks", "this blows" and "I’d rather be anywhere else on this planet" could all be extracted from those five simple words. It was Bert’s way of acknowledging the obvious, the harsh reality of his own mistake and recognizing that the treatment he got was one of the many prices he had to pay. What's the point of complaining?

"It is what it is."

As his old team sheepishly walks into a game seven tomorrow night, that phrase never felt more accurate. In fact I’m just waiting to hear someone say it. At the very least, it means recognizing their own dreadful mistakes that have let this series lead evaporate. That they deserve the price and humiliation of, quite possibly, dropping yet another series when they were in command at home in front of their own fans.
Almost seven scoreless periods. 1 for 28 with the man advantage. Taking undisciplined penalty after undisciplined penalty. Assuming lackadaisical play is permissible because Roberto Luongo will bail them out.

"It is what it is."

It’s quite possible that in the spirit of suffering and often choking failure that we as fans have come to expect from this franchise that they need to be embarrassed like this if the story is going to have a happy ending. Just like a child has to get burned in order to learn not to touch a hot stove. If you play without passion, if you play without thinking and if you don’t dig deep and tap into that reservoir of talent that transforms ordinary athletes into an army of legends that will become part of that city's culture and identity, then they certainly deserve their exit.

"It is what it is."

I get asked a lot why I root for a team like Vancouver, a city I’ve never stepped foot in. It’s because when that team came to Manhattan in 1994, their team was special, enough so where I could ignore the actual hometown team. I barely knew what hockey even was (you could argue I still don't), but I knew that Bure, Linden, Courtnall, Ronning, Adams, Lumme and McLean were doing something amazing. They found a groove, a rhythm, a common belief in themselves that they could win no matter what. Even in losing, they still had it somehow. That won me over. Even now, those guys, that army, set the bar and created the image I think of when a post season starts.

That was then. And here we are now.
"It is what it is."

This team’s success hasn't been a fluke. These guys can play a lot better and they know it. Anyone who has watched this team knows it. And they have 60 minutes to prove it. That’s it. A single official hour from being burned or learning from their burn.

It’s tempting to give up on them. When you look across the league and see what other guys on other teams are doing, it’s very very tempting to give up.

But I just can’t. From the first game of the season in Detroit they’ve made something out of seemingly nothing. I believe they can still do this.
That, even now, with the walls crashing down around them, this team can find its pulse, its rhythm and its belief and make something out of nothing one more time.

And if they can’t? If it has to be another long summer of questions, finger-pointing and playing the "what if" game?

"It is what it is." What more can you say?

One night, one game, one team and
one win. Make it count and get it done.

Go Canucks.