If there’s one reason why I won’t be watching much playoff hockey this season, it’s because the only Canadian teams in contention are the Ottawa Senators (who, as a Toronto resident, I’m not supposed to support) and the hated Vancouver Canucks. In fact, the latter were the subject of a piece by the Toronto Star’s western correspondent, Petti Fong, which suggests they could be the NHL’s most despised team. I fully admit that I cheered against Vancouver for the first three rounds of last year’s playoffs, before deciding that if a Canadian team’s going to finally win the Cup, I’d rather it be the Nucks than the Oilers. After their colossal collapse—and the riots that followed—I quickly came to regret that decision.
“The Canucks have been so successful that everything they do is scrutinized,” says Nucks blogger Sean Zandberg, who was interviewed for Fong’s piece. “No one hates a loser but they really hate the prom king.” Well, if nobody hates a loser, how come I can’t stand the Leafs, either? That said, I can think of lots of losers I hate in Vancouver—it’s just that none of them wear skates. This is a city where opposing fans are frequently beat up in public (especially if they’re wearing Calgary’s colours), and there were even unconfirmed online reports of Bruins fans being stabbed and thrown off bridges during last year’s finals. Those rumours might not have been true, but in a city where somebody ripped a banner off the Rogers Arena then tried to sell it back to the team, nothing would really surprise me.
Not only are Canucklehead fans downright detestable, but they’ve created a culture of players who piss people off, going back to the days of Todd Bertuzzi, Matt Cooke and Ed Jovanovski in the Marc Crawford era. The current crop isn’t much better, what with the diving Sedins, Alex Burrows, et al. I can’t recall the last Vancouver player that would regularly drop the gloves, though they’ve had many master baiters over the years.
In short, while I’m not predicting a first-round upset for Vancouver this year, I won’t be too saddened if it happens.