Canuck Hate, Canuck Shmate: 10 Reasons to Stick With Em Anyways
A quick disclaimer: I write to Canuck fans. You love another team? I bless you to do so. Whoever you’re for, be for. Please, and thank you.
Another disclaimer: there are many blogs dedicated solely to Canuck hate. (Ha ha ha. And, they call us pathetic.) BUT, this is NOT one of them. So, if you’re not exactly fond of Canucks – and its in vogue to hate us, so, I understand if there’s more than a few of you – this is probably not the post for you. Check back in on Wednesday. There won’t be a single thing about hockey in here, I promise.
But to the Canuck faithful who might secretly – or not so secretly – be just a little hesitant about the very-likely-heartbreaking roller coaster ride that’s about to launch tomorrow night, let me give you just a few reasons to stick it to ’em and stick with your team despite the past forty years – or the past four months.
1) It’s a new year. I’m always mystified by the barrage of people telling me (or fellow Canuck fans) to ‘get over the loss,’ who inevitably follow this comment with insulting jokes based on last year’s events. Y’all (sorry, that’s the Friday Night Lights marathon coming out), let’s ALL get over it. It’s a totally new year. Let’s go for it, again. Maybe we’ll get another short hockey summer. Maybe – gasp – we’ll even get the Cup.
Stranger things have happened, y’all.
2) Kevin Bieksa – I love this guy. Yet a year ago, I was itching to trade him. But in the last twelve months, he elevated his game in Boom-Boom proportions. Who’s this year’s Bieksa? I’d love it to be Keith Ballard, but I guarantee there’s at least one junior Canuck that’s going to shock us all in a great, great way this year.
3) The Salary Cap – Vancouver boasts a hockey-crazed culture that not only draws incredible skill but motivates many players to take pay cuts to stay here. Bieksa, Salo, Hank, Danny, and Kes are just a few of the many who’ve done so. They love it here. And we love them – for better or worse.
Oh, and Christian Ehrhoff? Yeah, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I went to three playoff games last year, and in each one you weren’t as good as I thought you’d be. We loved you, but apparently, you didn’t love us so much. That’s okay. Good luck in Buffalo. But I for one want guys who want to be here.
4) Mike Gillis – You really never know what this guy has up his sleeve. In the few years he’s been GM of the Canucks, he’s made some insightful – and bold – moves. Despite the question marks of some of the summer’s signings, I have no doubt he’ll prove he was right all along.
Not to mention, I love this guy in front of the camera. Intelligent, composed, outspoken. Which, of course, earned him a fine of undisclosed proportions. Too bad he wasn’t a little bit more blowhard like Joel Quenneville or John Tortorella. Those guys can call out all the officials they want and don’t seem to pay for it, except in public opinion.
5) Rick Rypien – Ripper, I don’t think any of your fans knew the depth of your struggle until it was too late. But we loved your ‘I-don’t-care-what-size-I-am,I’ll-take-you-on’ heart. You technically weren’t ‘ours,’ anymore, but it sure felt like you were. Last year, it was #doitforManny. This year, I say #doitforRyp.
6) The NHL Awards – let’s face it, Canuck fans have always been rebels. Back in the late 60’s, VanCity putting forth a compelling bid to propel their team to NHL status. Snubbed among the league’s expansion that year, Vancouver hockey fans responded with a boycott of the two largest sponsors of Hockey Night in Canada: Molson Canadian beer, and Esso/Exxon gas. They cut up their Esso cards and drank Budweiser – and we all know how much of a sacrifice that is.
So, I am sort of giddily proud of all the Canuck fans that flew themselves to Vegas for the NHL Awards this year and booed Jay Mohr’s classless, singled-out insults of our team and our city. My favorite part? When they mentioned the Selke award, and the crowd chanted, ‘Go Kes, Go!’ We’d just lost the Cup, we’d just been embarrassed by the hooligans of our city, we’d been internationally trashed by every news report I had stumbled on, and yet here was the entire NHL Award fan section, saying, ‘whatever, we’re with our guys.’
7) Team #cantholdmedown – in late July, we heard Kesler had hip surgery for an injury sustained in the Cup run. He claimed he’d be ready for the start of the season, which I know has changed since then, but I loved the hashtag he added: #cantholdmedown. This is the guy who said he’d play on one leg if he had to. This is the guy who scored goals with a contact missing. This is the guy who went to the dressing room for a shift and came back to score the tying goal. When asked why he left the bench, he claimed he was only checking to see with his wife if he’d left the iron on at home.
This play-at-all-costs-when-it-counts is exactly the inspiration we Canuck fans need to stick-with-our-boys, even when its not too cool to do so.
Get better, Kes.
8) We are not all Cavemen – I saw some riot footage this weekend, and it’s still disgusting.
But can I just say, we are not all rioters.
Did you riot? Did you destroy our beautiful city while cheering and blowing your airhorn or banging your drum? Then you have something to be ashamed of. You have something to turn yourselves in for.
Did you take pictures or video when you could have been with the handful who tried to prevent further damage? Then you need to do some serious soul-searching, yes.
But if you, like me, sat at home, horrified at what you saw on your TV, you don’t have to keep feeling sick.
A quick message to the rioters: if any of you really are ‘true Canuck fans’ and would like to continue to be, get your act together.
Because the rest of us are done apologizing for you.
9) We are all Canucks – a brilliant friend of mine put it like this: ‘You could sooner chop off Kitsilano than remove the Canucks from the soul of Vancouverites.’ Long before we were considered a ‘global city,’ long before we started to pay attention to the arts or culture, Vancouver loved its hockey. It’s a part of us, for better or worse. We’re a part of it. Trying to be less a part of it doesn’t work. Trying to cut ourselves off from our history or community is the opposite of what we need. Dig in, Canucks fans. You might find some new friends this year, all because of a hockey team. Enjoy it. There’s some mighty decent people in this city, and they never fail to fascinate me.
10) We could use a little more grit – fan grit.
Why? Hockey is not just about hockey in this place. Our players care about more than just the game. We can be proud of them in interviews. We can be proud of them off the ice. We know they donate -time and money – to Children’s Hospital. We know they care about kids who have a lot less than them. We know they bring inspiration to those who may not have a lot to hang on to.
But, really, we can be proud of them on the ice too. I bit the bullet and re-watched Game 7 yesterday. I was shocked. We weren’t as bad that night as I remember. We weren’t as terrible as everyone said.
There was – and still is – a lot to be proud of.
They say our team lacks grit. They say we’re divers, fakers, and whiners (among other things). What if we, as a tribe of the new, I-don’t-care-what-happens-I’m-sticking-with-my-team Canucks fans, showed a little grit ourselves?
The jabs may not ever stop, but then, we wouldn’t care.
I don’t know, its just a thought.
I’m not afraid of the season anymore, gang. This post lists just a few reasons why. It’s going to be fun, and we’re going to be surprised. Pleasantly.