Hello everyone and welcome to this memorial service for the Vancouver Canucks 2011-12 season.
Boy that was a wild one, eh? It's too bad about the whole "losing on home ice thing." Fortunately, I've been assured that the city took precautions this time, girding itself against the massive amount of water damage that's sure to originate from Jim Hughson's position in the broadcast booth.
Such is life in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where it's really hard for any President's Trophy winner to advance past an eight-seed that scored six goals in the regular season.
Like, really, really hard. So hard, you guys.
I know it's been said that the Canucks avoid excuse-making like the Sedins avoid defensive-zone faceoffs, but come on everyone, they had a bunch of very legitimate excuses this time around. For one thing, there was Daniel Sedin. He was way, way, way too injured to play in the first three games of the series, which is what made his recovery just in time to prolong the team's prospects ever-so-slightly in Game 4 so miraculous.
It was as if the Hockey Gods themselves reached down from the heavens and made all those clouds swirling in his brain go away all at once, and, at last cobweb-free, he was able to save the team's bacon that one time. Just the one time, mind you. But that has to count for something.
And how about the goaltending situation? That's not easy on anyone. No one seemed to know from one day to the next whether Alain Vigneault would start his franchise goalie or his franchise goalie, and that can't be especially helpful.
Poor Roberto Luongo, who lost two games in this series and will almost certainly be shipped out of town this summer, but hooray for Cory Schneider, who lost two games in this series and will be sticking around. One day, he may even play so well that he gets to sign a big, long extension and enjoying life as the undisputed No. 1 guy until Eddie Lack comes along to show him up and everyone from the team to the media masses on his front lawn with pitchforks and torches, as is the rite for every Vancouver goaltender.
But as Luongo knows and Schneider will likely one day find out, "We Are All Canucks" (until the team scores just four goals to support us over two games and that's somehow our fault). Usually, though, it's helpful if you have Chelsea Dagger to blame.
Honestly though, I know everyone wanted the Canucks to lose this series in the most embarrassing fashion possible (and there, too, they came just short of doing it!), but I don't get it.
What's to hate about this team?
They seem like a real fun bunch of guys, goofin' around, doing boys-will-be-boys type of stuff off the ice, and who doesn't love that?
I mean, Kevin Bieksa did an entire interview posing as Ryan Kesler, and just to keep the gag going, Kesler spent the entire series putting up points like Bieksa. (Although, to be fair to the poor interviewer who got suckered by this good old-fashioned rib, it's tough to know exactly what Kesler looks like since he refuses to be interviewed so often.)
Kesler is, by now, accustomed to embarrassing flops on home ice, but he can rest easy knowing he got the last laugh on all the online haters. Now, tumbleweeds will not only adorn the many animated gifs his diving has been worked into, but will also appear next to his name in the "goals" column over the last 16 games.
Then there was that possible reference to Mike Richards' hard-partying Philadelphia days by Alex Burrows. Some called it classless, but I say, "Who better to joke about lines than a guy who was so bad in the postseason that he had to play on three of them?"
Oh, Alex, you know I kid. You were probably just confused when you put those ice shavings on your stick blade, because they bear a striking resemblance to Similac powder.
Or how about Vigneault saying after the game that "nobody" saw something like this coming. That was a riot. (Oh, oops. Touchy subject.) What a bunch of practical jokers.
The people I feel bad for in all this, though, are the fans. After all, this is a group of people who were expected to be so distraught over the Canucks losing that the team had to put out a video pleading with Vancouver's residents not to burn the city to the ground in the wake of what was sure to be another devastating loss. They were, of course, totally right about that. The devastating loss part, not the embarrassing civic event. You'd think with that type of organizational prescience they wouldn't have signed Luongo — who, by the way, still hasn't lost a first-round series, unlike Cory Schneider! — to that huge deal but that's neither here nor there.
The hard lesson we've learned in this postseason, if nothing else, is that local newspapers will run any type of homerish handwringing screed if it reassures readers that they're not alone in spending their off-days crying into a pillow. Oh no, I'm sorry, the hard lesson is actually that sometimes you have to be the bigger man. Like, for example, if another team's captain, known for big, clean checks, hits your captain with one of those big, clean checks.
What do you do? No, Bieksa and Burrows, you can't just attack him and then fight another player who had absolutely nothing to do with the hit. You turn the other cheek, and maybe if you get around to it, you try to win the game, or at least score a goal. Nonetheless, an important lesson, and one fans can certainly learn from.
If this is the type of fanbase that comes very seriously and dangerously unhinged over a tweet from another team's Twitter account, think what personal hell this five-game routing at the hands of a team that barely made the playoffs has brought crashing down upon them.
Fortunately, the irony of the Canucks losing the series in overtime on home ice because of a neutral-zone turnover and dive from Dan Hamhuis will be lost on them. Because if it wasn't, psychiatrists city-wide would have to clear day-long therapy sessions for Roberto Luongo's various aliases to cover the populace on a basis not dissimilar to triage. Those whose Stan Smyl jerseys are still damp with tears will be treated first.
Luckily for the mental well-being of the $10-Million Man, the city's press has its finger on the pulse of the fanbase — at least when it's not flicking the nearby switch reading "BLAME VIGNEAULT/BLAME LUONGO" from one position to the other without discretion — and was well ahead of the curve. So much so that they've already been publishing in-no-way-embarrassing op-eds, reassuring fans that everything is going to be a-okay, for more than a week now.
So while many across Canada likely do hate the Canucks (entirely out of jealousy!), a great deal more dearly love them with all their hearts and souls. And it's only the dastardly media ginning up hate for the Canucks. For most fans, who know the game better than those ink-stained idiots who watch and think about it on a professional basis, when they think of British Columbia's fabled franchise, they say words like "clean," "exciting," "strong," and "admired" leap readily to mind.
Had the poll been conducted a week or so later, they could have also included "eliminated," and "again."
Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist whose home will be set on fire by angry Vancouver fans — oh sorry, "anarchists" — overnight. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email written through your angry, angry tears.
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