Putting the Bandwagon Before the Horse....

“The Canucks suck this year.”

I kid you not, this is the pearl of wisdom I overheard last night at the pub after (half) the team dropped a 4-2 decision to (half) the Anaheim Ducks. Abandon all hope, ye faithful fans. The Vancouver Canucks suck this year.

As asinine as the statement was, it was oddly timed and got me thinking (which after three pints is a real feat). My friends and I had just finished fondly reminiscing about that glorious playoff run gone by, sharing stories of where we were when, how the city became more electric with every win, all of us honking our horns and high fiving total strangers. Just thinking back on those two months of beer fueled revelry put smiles on all our faces, and those memories are clearly something none of us will ever forget. Sadly, much like the numbskulls who decided to end the party by trashing the city, the barstool prognosticator to my left reminded me that not everyone we partied with then is so sentimental. When the going gets tough in Vancouver, that rickety old Canucks bandwagon empties out mighty quick.

I know everyone still has a bitter taste in their mouth from Game 7 (myself included), but it amazes me to no end how cynical some Canucks fans can be. I remember going out to watch a game against Calgary in March where Luongo gave up 2 goals in the first 5 minutes. Shouts rang up across the bar calling for Lu’s head and demanding Vigneault put in Schneider, followed swiftly for calls for the coach’s head when he didn’t comply. Suffice to say, the tone of the bar had changed by the time the final buzzer sounded and the boys in blue were on the positive side of the score sheet.

Yes, there are high expectations for a club of this quality in a Canadian market starved for a championship, I get that, but when you have a home team that falls a single win shy of claiming the sport’s ultimate prize, is it too much to expect a bit of optimism going into a new season? The club has retained its core, a group of players just hitting or within the prime of their careers, and even Vegas odds have them as the favorites to claim Stanley this spring, but we expect more? I mean seriously, the Maple Leafs haven’t made the playoffs in almost a decade and I can almost guarantee you that Toronto has more faith in that club than we have in our Canucks, which is downright sad (no offense to Leaf fans).

I would be remiss if I didn’t give kudos to those die hard Nuckleheads out there who do stick by this club through thick and thin while all the fly-by-nighters hack and slash away whenever the Canucks hit a slump (or – heaven forbid – lose an exhibition game). I’m sure Force and Sully would agree that in this town, it’s not always easy being green. But stick it out you do, and you’re the ones who make it fun for guys like me when all we want is a beer and bit of the old rah-rah.

Maybe it’s all the NHL 12 I’ve been playing recently, or the fact that the start of the season is just a week away (that’s right, Mr. CanuckSuck, the season hasn’t started yet). Next Thursday can’t get here soon enough, and I’m pumped to cheer on another amazing Canucks campaign. Maybe I’m optimistic, but what can I say? I’m a homer.

Oh, and there may be hope for the  Leafs yet too.

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