“This team is so easy to hate it’s unbelievable. I’d say 90% of the guys in the league want nothing to do with seeing them win.”
-Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney on the Canucks after Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Love them or hate them, the Vancouver Canucks are the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Led by twin Art Ross champions Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vezina finalist Roberto Luongo, and Selke favorite Ryan Kesler, the President’s Trophy winners are just a pair of victories away from adding the Stanley Cup to their list of accolades in what has been the finest season in franchise history. But as much as we love the blue and green in B.C., is this the most loathed team in the NHL?
Ask Boston now and you’ll get a resounding yes (filled in with a few expletives, no doubt). Ask the Sharks after the theatrics of that series and you’d probably hear the same. Ask the Hawks after Torres KO’d Brent Seabrook and I think you know the answer. “The team is pretty amazing” according to Ryan Whitney, “but just who makes up that team makes them so tough to like it’s frustrating to see them do this well.” A recent online poll asked “who is the NHL’s biggest rat?” Three of the ten candidates were Canucks: Lapierre, Burrows, and Kesler. Think that may be who he was talking about?
Anyone who has followed Montreal the last few years knew what the Canucks were getting in Maxim Lapierre. As important as he and the third line have been to the team in these playoffs, Lapierre’s reputation has taken center stage once again after he offered Patrice Bergeron a bite of his finger in Game 2. Dallas Stars forward Krys Barch tweeted afterwards “I don’t know if he has an ounce of man in him. I’d be embarrassed to be his father.” Apparently, the once-sleeping Bruins agreed. They woke up in Boston and beat the Canucks like a red headed stepchild. Not only that, they frustrated the Canucks to the point where Burrows and Kesler, both of whom have taken up the team mantra of playing ‘whistle to whistle’, cracked and got tossed in the third.
Hockey is a sport made better, particularly in the playoffs, by bad blood, and there’s tons spilling over into the Finals now. What we saw from the Bruins in Game 3 was their “F.U.” statement to the Canucks, sent home by Lucic and Recchi each giving them “the finger” and Thomas celebrating the seventh and eighth goals after a nasty cross-check to Henrik Sedin. Boston fans loved every bit of that Canucks’ massacre, and if Ryan Whitney is telling the truth, a whole lot of NHL players loved it too. So should the Canucks care? Hell no. If they win two of their next four games (which Ryan Whitney predicts they will), they can follow Patrick Roy’s example and use their Stanley Cup rings to plug their ears.