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Looking at the Canuck-Like Squads of North American Sports

What fanbases can relate to weird combo of futility and hope?

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

As we all know, the Canucks have endured 50 years of futility. I should clarify, 50 years of futility means no championships.

However, Vancouver has never failed to captivate Canuck Nation in one way or another over the past 50 seasons. I don’t have to rehash the history, we all know it, painful as it may be sometimes.

From the nearest of near Cup misses to abysmal luck with the draft lottery, sprinkled with a few last place finishes are what we may think of first. It’s easy to forget, though, that this is a franchise that has produced a few sure-fire Hall of Famers and some legendary moments over their history.

Moments that keep us coming back, no matter how hopeless things have seemed at times. Hell, there’s a lot of hope right now, with Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat on the same roster for the foreseeable future.

So what other North American sports franchises can we compare to this crazy team we love? I’ve selected two teams from the other 3 major sports (NFL, NBA, MLB), one that compares historically, and one that compares in their current form as a young and up-and-coming team. Let’s just say the Patriots, Yankees, or Lakers aren’t on this list.

Let the comparisons (and debates) of futility and hope begin.

NFL (Historically): Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons Vs New England Patriots At Gillette Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

We start our look at Canuck-like squads with the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, the same team that blew a 28-3 lead late in the 3rd quarter of the Super Bowl against the Patriots in 2017.

The Falcons have a good amount of similarities to Canucks history. They were very mediocre through most of the ‘70s and ‘80s, then somewhere between respectable to elite at times in the ‘90s, ‘00s, and ‘10s.

They’ve had two near Super Bowl misses, one to the Pats in ‘17 and one to the Broncos in ‘99. They’ve also had a few legendary quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Matt Ryan) and an all-world wide receiver in Julio Jones.

In short, this is a team that has put their fanbase through a lot of pain but has also rewarded them with enough wins and elite talent to keep them around hoping for the best. A quintessential Canuck-like franchise.

NFL (Current Makeup): Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

This is another championship-less team, but they are more similar to the 2020 Canucks in that the Cardinals should be on the rise very soon.

They finished 5-10-1 last season, but Arizona fans now have great hope as 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray now runs their offense at quarterback.

Murray is one of the most exciting young players in the league, much what Pettersson or Hughes are for the Canucks. They also have dynamic young coach Kliff Kingsbury, who found a ton of success with Murray when he coached him at Texas Tech.

Add in other talent that they’ve added through the draft the past few rebuilding years and you have a team which should quickly become a threat in the NFC.

NBA (Historically): Indiana Pacers

Moving onto the NBA, the Pacers have had a colorful past, much like Vancouver’s hockey team. They’ve been great at times, and pretty consistently good through the years, but have never gotten to the top of the NBA mountain.

Their history includes 9 division titles, 8 conference finals appearances, and six Hall of Famers, including household name Reggie Miller. Despite those impressive numbers, they’ve only reached the NBA Finals once in 2000, losing to the Lakers in six games.

Another similarity with the Canucks is their involvement in infamous in-game “incidents” in the mid-2000s. What the Bertuzzi incident was for the NHL in 2004, the “Malice at the Palace” was the NBA’s equivalent later that same year.

Like Todd Bertuzzi, Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson were given lengthy suspensions and struggled to move on from their respective incidents for years after. Hence, there are interesting parallels between the Canucks and Pacers here.

NBA (Current Makeup): Dallas Mavericks

Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Just like the Canucks, the Mavericks finished 7th in the Western Conference in the NBA’s version of the shortened COVID season. Also like Vancouver, they have a few of their respective league’s must-watch stars.

Just like Elias Pettersson, 19-year old European shooting guard Luka Doncic lit up the NBA to win the league’s Rookie of the Year award last year. He’s outdone himself this year and was in the league MVP conversation with 28.7 points per game to go along with 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists, Lebron-like numbers for those that don’t follow basketball.

To go along with Doncic, the Mavs have another young, exciting European, Kristaps Porzingis. The duo of Doncic and Porzingis should lead the Mavs to a long period of contention in the NBA, just like the Canucks look to be setting up for with their young core.

MLB (Historically): Cleveland Indians

Lastly, we’ve gotten to baseball. The Canucks share a dubious honor with the Indians, as they’re the only two teams in North American sports to have lost multiple championship Game 7s within the last 30 years.

The Indians lost the 1997 World Series to the Florida Marlins in Game 7 in extra innings, then 19 years later lost to the Chicago Cubs in the seventh game, also in extra innings.

Any well-versed sports fan knows that it’s never good to share a distinction with a Cleveland franchise. At least for the Canucks, the two Indians World Series losses were probably in more agonizing fashion than the Vancouver losses. It doesn’t make it any easier though.

The Canucks have a long way to go, however, to reach the level of futility that the Indians have achieved. Cleveland has the longest championship drought in any of the four major sports at a sad 71 years. Let’s not let ours get that far. Alright Canucks, you got that?

MLB (Current Makeup): Cincinnati Reds

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball doesn’t have any teams that exactly line-up with the situation that the Canucks find themselves in, but if I had to pick a team the Reds would be it.

Like Vancouver, they were one of the league’s elite teams in the early 2010s and never finished the era off with a title. Then in Canuck-fashion, they have struggled and rebuilt throughout the mid and late-10s, and are just now getting to a level where they can compete with anyone in baseball.

The Reds made some marquee signings this offseason, including third baseman Mike Moustakas, to go along with young talent they have compiled throughout their half-decade rebuild. The big question is: can the Reds break through their losing team culture to finally contend, much like the Canucks?

Like almost every other team on this list, let’s wait and see. But, let’s not get too optimistic.