The Vancouver Canucks weren’t listed on FanSided’s top 250 Fandoms of 2017, but is it all that surprising? A look at why they may have failed to qualify.
FanSided once again looked to find the 250 best fanbases around the globe, ranging from celebrities to film and television, and of course sports teams.
Unfortunately, the Vancouver Canucks were not on the list in 2017.
There was once a time where the Vancouver Canucks were universally recognized as one of the greatest fanbases in all of sports. It seemed like any road game (especially in California and Arizona), was filled with Canucks fans, who traveled all over the continent to support their team.
However, the Canucks haven’t been the same dominant team that was a perennial playoff and Stanley Cup contender. They haven’t won a postseason series since 2011, and they are in danger of missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
Perhaps that is why the Canucks failed to make the FanSided’s list.
For what it’s worth, the eight fanbases that made it were the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Why the Canucks missed it
Though the Canucks still have a generally strong following on the west coast, it’s clear that fan interest hasn’t been as high while this team’s endured some rough years.
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So far in 2017-18, they rank just 18th in attendance — averaging 17,652 fans per game — according to ESPN.com. This is down quite a bit from the 18,509 per game last season, which was good for 11th in the NHL.
Ticket and merchandise sales went down significantly last year, according to Michelle Ghoussoub of CBC.
In December of 2015, Chris Zelkovich at Yahoo Sports reported that Canucks TV ratings went down 27 percent.
The Maple Leafs — ranked as the second best NHL fanbase behind the Pittsburgh Penguins — have sold out the Air Canada Centre consistently — despite just two playoff seasons in the past 11 years, with no postseason series wins since 2004.
With so many Canucks fans apparently not sticking around during the “rebuilding” stage, the team wasn’t able to crack the top 250 list. Great fans support their team, win or lose. Many Canucks fans still follow this struggling team, but it’s evident that a large quantity have also given up on them.
What needs to change
The problem with the Canucks isn’t necessarily their play on the ice. It’s the front office not sending out a clear message to the fans, as I wrote about in September.
President Trevor Linden finally said this team is “rebuilding,” in April. But then the team signed veterans Sam Gagner, Michael Del Zotto and Thomas Vanek. The Anders Nilsson signing made sense, given how he’s just 27 years of age and has played above expectations. But the other three don’t exactly fit Vancouver’s direction, since they’re “rebuilding.”
Also, take a look at the handful of veterans on Vancouver’s roster, and this doesn’t look like a rebuilding team. Vanek (33), the Sedin twins (37), Loui Eriksson (32), and Alexander Edler (32 in January), take up substantial cap space and don’t bring a lot of speed or all-around skill to this team in transition.
The Canucks are rebuilding to an extent, but not in the tear-it-all-down approach. That probably should have happened four years ago, but they’re still just beginning.
The poor play on the ice only has so much to do with the loss of passion from some Canucks fans. But the main problem may be the fans expressing their frustration with a lack of general plan and direction. As such, the Canucks don’t land on FanSided’s top 250.