Nothing like a couple days and the losses by a couple teams you absolutely loathe to take the sting away, huh? I'll be honest here, while I know some of you are hurting bad, I really didn't feel much of an impact when the Canucks bowed out in 5 games to the Los Angeles Kings, for a number of reasons. It felt like an inevitability that they would lose, no matter how positive I tried to be. It may have been a spectacular implosion for some of you, all I heard was a dull thud on the floor. Some people are mocking the 'Everything went south after beating Boston' theory, but if you watched this team as closely as we do, it's pretty hard to argue that idea. It sure as hell looked like something changed. But much like the finals itself, trying to pin down a reason, hell even 5 reasons why the Canucks crashed and burned is just scratching the surface. I'm not gonna go back and relive it all, we've done that here already, and better than I could do. I want to discuss something we've had to go back to time and time again it seems. Let's talk about you...
Coming off the team's best season ever, there was a lot of optimism. While some predicted that the Canucks couldn't reproduce their league best record again, it certainly looked on paper at least that it was a very real possibility. October came and with it, the annual Canucks stumble out of the gate. And that's when you began to show your true colours. I know there are some passionate, intelligent fans of this team. But suddenly the numbers of the 'Blame Luongo' crowd began to swell. Especially after Cory Schneider played, and won, Canucks fans took to the internet and airwaves, absolutely livid if Roberto Luongo let in a goal no matter how amazing the shot, or how badly he was let down by our defence (and believe me, that was often this season).
We (along with many other Canucks blogs) tried to show you that not only was Roberto Luongo a damn good goalie, but the loss in June to the Bruins was due to numerous things, and the fact that the team score a whopping 8 goals in 7 games had far more to do with it than Luongo's play. We pointed out losing Hamhuis and Rome (yes, Aaron Rome) had a huge impact. The Bruins went into the finals relatively healthy. The Canucks? Barely alive by comparison. But rather than listening to logic, reason and facts, a faction chose to mimic the cries of Canucks haters instead. Instead of holding a light up to this team the way people remember the 94 Cup run Canucks, we got #TeamSchneider instead.
I'd love to find out just who started this asinine movement. There's nothing like driving a wedge between a group, splitting everyone into 2 factions. The stupid part about this? The opposite side of #TeamSchneider wasn't really #TeamLuongo. It was Canucks fans who realized that the team was blessed to have two incredible goaltenders. It's disheartening to see after months of nonsensical ranting, spouting of myths and falsehoods and disgusting displays of animosity towards the best goaltender this franchise has ever had, that he has had enough and asked to be moved out of Vancouver.
Sure, the fans aren't the only reason this is happening. The team itself via GM Mike Gillis is likely ready to move in a different direction, with Schneider as the #1. It's just so pathetic to see this crescendo of stupidity come about. Two phrases come to mind when I think about this whole mess. One is "Act like you've been there". The way some Canucks fans blindly refused to accept there was far more to the loss, preferring the intellectual dishonesty of blaming the guy with 2 shutouts in the finals for the loss would be stunning from any fan base, but sadly it's becoming common place. We have a great little alcove of intelligent, passionate fans here. Wander into the cesspool that is the Canucks.com message board however and you'll see some strong cases for licensing access to the internet. The other phrase? "Careful what you wish for, because you just may get it". And #TeamSchneider is getting their wish. Roberto Luongo has officially asked for a trade. Barring a deal, we will see the Canucks head into next season with a tandem of Cory Schneider and Eddie Lack. That, my friends is some major league dice rolling. There's a number of cases in the past where young goaltenders looked like future superstars, only to falter when given the reigns. Can we afford to gamble like that?
I'd love to see the Canucks go for a 50/50 split on goaltending time with these two, but it's now out of the question. If there's a pair of goalies that could do it, it's Lu and Schneids. One thing you have to wonder: how long does Cory Schneider have before the knives are pointed in his direction? When will we see #TeamLack emerge? If you spent anytime this season supporting this garbage, thanks for showing your true colours. It makes it so much easier to unfollow you on Twitter.
Over the summer we're going to do some individual reviews of players who wore the blue, green and white this season. Some will be fun, others the journalistic version of pulling teeth. This is what happens when your team falters early. I guess the reason I didn't feel crushed after this loss was that I likely hadn't finished processing the loss in the finals. Being fortunate enough to represent you there, I had to put away my fan badge and wear a press pass instead, keeping those emotions bottled up was a difficult thing to say the least. And as a result, the mourning process never really began for me. It leaked out slowly over the course of a season that saw the Canucks struggle with the emotional losses like the tragic demises of Rick Rypien and Pavol Demitra, injuries, controversy all season long about goaltending, and more. Yet somehow in a season when the fans seemed to feel they were terrible judging by what you read on the internet, they still finished first overall.
It's little comfort, mind you. The President's Trophy is a sign of regular season success, but not what anyone in this market craves. Mike Gillis shuffled the deck a bit, and didn't come up with the right hand. So as a result, we will see a number of changes, via trades and free agency as they try and pick up the pieces of a campaign that ended far too early. Much like the outcry about Cody Hodgson leaving town, there will be some changes that make some of the fans lose it. I for one will continue to stick to my mantra: It's the crest on the front not the name on the back. Sure this seems at odds with my view on the goaltending situation, but we're talking about different things here. If the Canucks move out a fan favorite who's struggled in a situation to improve the team, I like it. Trading Roberto Luongo doesn't fall into this category, no matter what you think. You can't say for certain that Cory Schneider will be able to give the Canucks the kind of consistency that Roberto Luongo has given to a team that has faltered for so many years because of goaltending. And yes, he has been consistent. Look at his stats. He's been one of the top goaltenders of this generation, and his numbers are right there with goaltenders currently in the hall of fame. I guess that's not good enough for some of our fans.
So now we wait, not just to see where he goes, but what the Canucks get in return. The possibility of him going to a Western Conference rival is disturbing to say the least. Think you hate hearing 'Chelsea Dagger' now? Imagine hearing it with Luongo in Hawks red at the other end of the ice. This is what some of you have asked for. Remember this. If you don't, rest assured we will. And we'll be there to remind you. It's the least we can do. Treating Roberto Luongo like he was Dan Cloutier (or worse) is just another black eye on this team's ever fickle fan base.
When one's team loses in the first round (or doesn't make the dance at all) you're left living vicariously through the victories of others. Personally I would find this a very depressing existence as a hockey fan (which is why I don't bash Leafs fans, I remember when we were in their shoes). I did however smile when first Chicago then Boston went down this week. Does it replace the Canucks not being around? Not at all. But a dose of humility towards two fan bases who make the Canucks look angelic by comparison is hardly a bad thing. The outpouring of vile, racist crap on twitter last night by some Bruins fans was shameful to say the least, especially from fans of the team that broke the colour barrier in the NHL. Almost as shocking? The way so many fans just got up and left the rink after the goal. Your team won you a Cup 10 months earlier and you can't be arsed to stick around for 15 minutes and say thanks? And they call this fan base spoiled? Embarrassing. At least now I can get back to passively observing the playoffs, watching bits of the World Championships and not really giving a crap about it all til training camp starts. With labour trouble between the NHL and the NHLPA looming, it could be a realllll long time before that happens, I'm afraid.