Current Enemy Number One: The Vancouver Canucks

So I am supposed to be ashamed of being a Canucks fan now? The memo arrived late but take a small trip out of BC with your Orca jersey and see how many times you can get heckled. When did this happen? Why did this happen? Some say it all began in the playoffs with the Torres hit on Seabrook but the seeds were sown much earlier in the season.

Rivalries between NHL teams are common-place but it has always felt like a bit of fun. Hockey just got serious. Genuine hatred for a team and fans is undeserved and Canucks fans feel the hate. When the comments go from “Canucks Suck” to “You’re A ####”, you know the tide has changed.

What were the factors behind this hatred of the team from BC?

Maxim Lapierre 

Sure, signing a notoriously hated player a few months before the playoffs didn’t help Vancouver’s cause but should inking a hard-hitting centreman be influenced by the Hockey world’s opinion of him? What really matters is that he can play hockey and his presence after Malhotra’s eye injury proved a great addition, all for the cost of  Joel Perrault and a 3rd round pick.

Raffi Torres 

(Icon SMI)

The type of player that your team loves and everybody else loves to hate. A real gritty skates that makes up with his lack of huge size with determination and aggressiveness. Gained infamy mainly due to the timing of the high hit on Jordan Eberle, 3 weeks after the Chara/Pacioretty incident in Montreal and was one of the first to be made an example of by the NHL with a 4 week suspension. By no means an angel, his style of play landed him 78 penalty minutes last season (28 in the playoffs) but the risk was worth the reward for the Canucks in 2011 with Torres becoming a major influence on the 3rd line. Another huge hit on Seabrook in the Chicago series during game 3 was deemed less serious by the NHL and remained unpunished, further adding to his hard-hitting reputation.

Rome Hit

No one likes to see a player lying motionless on ice but was this late hit deserving of the highest ever suspension in the history of the Stanley Cup finals series? A 4 game suspension which took Rome out of the entire 7 games series. Remember Chara’s lengthy zero game suspension for a worse hit on Pacioretty? Also not forgetting the retaliatory McGinn board hit on Rome, again for no suspension.

Diving

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WigPio6Wk7Y

Yes,  there was some “diving” or play-acting by some Canucks players against Boston. Fans should be reminded that this was the Stanley Cup Final series. A 7 game heavyweight matchup where teams do anything they can to win. The diving was not excessive and watching the entire Canucks playoff run, the Vancouver team was definitely not the only club using these tactics (see video above). Diving occurs in all sports and a simple hockey dive search on YouTube shows that the NHL has to take a stand on all 30 NHL teams to resolve this issue, not just the Canucks.

The Bite

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YsCHbg6B1k

The most over-played incident in Hockey. Bergeron puts his hands near Burrows, who in the heat of the moment takes a tame bite. A total nothing incident, more to annoy the Boston player rather than to cause injury. The American media can take a lot of the credit for this, as it was a non-factor in Vancouver and a world shattering event elsewhere. If anything, the incident provided a spark to Boston and provided no reason for the world to hate Vancouver, especially after Burrows had concentrated much more on hockey and less on agitating and chirping throughout the 2010/2011 season.

Cup Loss/Choke

(courtesy canada.com)

What a difference a game makes. Had the Canucks won game 7, what would have happened? The question all Canucks fans ask themselves. Surely Canada would have celebrated with them. The riots may not have occurred. The Boston bandwagon would certainly be less full. In the end the Canucks lost their third chance at winning a Stanley Cup. Is choking in a big game a reason to hate a team? Luongo didn`t play his best in game 7 but he got us there, that is more than the goaltenders of 28 other teams can say. As far as the Sedins choking goes, Vancouver wouldn`t have been anywhere near the SCF without them and while they are not the `tough guys`of the NHL, most other teams would give up a lot to bring the twins to their city.

Riots

(THW Stock)

This had nothing to do with hockey other than an NHL game getting people massed together at the same period of time. The riots were pre-planned by a group of idiots, none of whom were true Canucks or Hockey fans. As shown by the clean up efforts, Canucks fans love their home-town, which is still ranked joint 4th overall as the most livable city in the world and the highest in North America.

The Stanley Cup final series was an America vs Canada affair. The Canucks never expected the support of US fans, minus any anti-Boston groups, however most would have expected Canada to rally behind the BC team. Traditional rivals, Maple Leafs and Flames fans were never going to be cheering too loudly but the neutral hockey loving Canadian fans should have been on Vancouver’s side.

A lot of the current  hate towards the Canucks has to be due to society hating the best and cheering for the underdog. The Canucks were undoubtedly the best team in the NHL last season, Presidents Trophy winners (by 10 points) and Stanley Cup runners-up, showing that being the best is the easiest way to be hated in the Hockey world.