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In that brutal game last Saturday, Dale Weise of the Vancouver Canucks fought Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins. Later in the same period, Boston pugilist Shawn Thornton wanted to throw down with Weise, but the Canuck denied him the chance, later citing exhaustion and that Thornton isn't "really the type of guy I want to fight."
Tony Gallagher of The Province served as Weise's proxy on Comcast SportsNet New England's Sticks and Stones segment, arguing that it was "unethical" for Thornton to challenge a guy to his second fight in a period. Everything was going well … until Shawn Thornton himself responded to flustered scribe.
Eh, what's the difference between 40 and 20 pounds, really? That was like seeing a Republican strategist bash the Obama administration on CNN, and then the President suddenly walks on set with a dozen folders of declassified documents to refute him.
More interesting than Thornton schooling Gallagher on the nuances of fight making were Gallagher's comments when asked why everyone hates the Canucks.
"Here's what I don't understand. I don't understand how a team can be so hated … I understand they have a couple of vexing guys like Burrows and Lapierre. They're agitators, just about every team has a couple of them. But they have no toughness. Normally, teams that are hated have a horde of tough guys that just maraud and punch other teams into oblivion. How can you be hated when you have no toughness?"
This is, perhaps, the greatest window into the soul of the Vancouver Canucks we've seen in quite some time.
Yes, the Broad Street Bullies were hated — in the 1970s. Today, as Brian Burke famously put it, the rats are running the League. So when someone steps up to exterminate the rats, they're the heroes.
Hence, the Boston Bruins were celebrated for manhandling the Canucks last June.
But what Gallagher's really saying here: The Canucks aren't tough. They're weak. Hence, they're not the villains, they're the victims, in his eyes. And now we get right to the core of it.
When Alain Vigneault or Mike Gillis or any player decides to be the cowardly heel, it reinforces their reputation as a hated franchise. When they complain about something the other team did or something the NHL didn't do to remedy the matter, it reinforces that reputation.
The real delusion here is the part of Gallagher himself. The media is seen, at times, as a conduit for the community. So when Gallagher launches into a conspiratorial rant about the refs favoring the Bruins because of Colin Campbell and fear of losing their jobs; or the Phoenix Coyotes getting all the calls because the NHL owns them; or that the NHL threw a playoff series in the Chicago Blackhawks' favor because they wanted more games on VERSUS and were afraid of their ownership; or all of his other X-Files, it reflects poorly on the fan base and the team.
Tony Gallagher is the biggest promoter of the "woe is us"/Vancouver against the world/"It's a C-O-N-spiracy!" nonsense that makes their team and its fan base seem like tin-foil hat wearing crackpots.
It's a reputation that — wait for it — sorta kinda makes them a hated team.
Here's the Legion of Blog defending their guy:
- I thought it was kind of lame to ambush Tony like that with Shawn Thornton. I understand that many people love the idea of an athlete getting a chance to fire back at the media, but it still feels like this lacks professional courtesy. All this does is drag this rivalry into the mud a bit and make it seem even more like a school yard situation. Any time I find myself thinking "This reminds of something Damien Cox would do" I know it's not a good sign.
- Why doesn't Michael Felger at least debate and argue with Tony on this main point instead of just running to Shawn Thornton to jump in? Because of ratings most likely. And when a show values ratings above all else, I find it hard to take them seriously when they discuss the integrity of the game.
Same goes for their guest.
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