Wow, it was exhilarating to go to the Ducks game. I met Daniel and Harrison, and their wives, and that was pretty amazing. We were also surrounded by Canucks fans. Living in California, I only see the Canucks when they’re on the road against the Ducks or the Kings. I cheer loud, but I’m usually shouted down. Not last night.
Still, there were moments where I was a little embarrassed. The Canucks fans I saw were passionate, yes, but also — dare I say? — impolite at times. I don’t want Canucks fans to be hated league-wide. That would suck. What would suck even more, though, is if the Canucks were hated for good reason. For that reason, let’s discuss what is and is not good form.
Good Form: Singing along with the Canadian anthem. Your patriotism is an inspiration. After the Canadian anthem comes the American one, and you’ll often hear the Americans around you singing along with it. A friend once took me to a Ducks-Thrashers game. There was no singing along of any kind. It’s a nice thought that Canadian fans on the road inspire locals to be more patriotic. And no one can really fault you for it. (Note: The poor Americans. O Canada is a song pretty much anyone can sing. The Star Spangled Banner, on the other hand, is usually better left to the professionals.)
Bad Form: Booing the American anthem, sitting down for it, putting your hat on for it, etc. Come on. You hate when Philly fans boo the Canadian anthem. And for good reason — it’s a jerk thing to do. I bet their Canadian players don’t like it, either. Come to think of it, Kesler probably doesn’t like hearing HIS national anthem boo’d. But then, he hates Canada either way. Don’t do this.
Good Form: Go Canucks Go! It challenges the other fans to chant “Go Ducks Go” or “Go Kings Go,” etc. The more plentiful and passionate fans will have their chant heard. Great fun.
Bad Form: Ref you suck! Ref you suck! This is always a bad cheer. Even at home games, and even if the ref sucks.
Good Form: Luuuu. Of course, there are times and places for the Luuuu. Never, for instance, when Schnieder is playing.
Bad Form: Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye. Remember, this is a ROAD guide. The Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye chant has a very specific time when it’s okay: During the dying minutes of a playoff elimination game in which your team is comfortably in the lead at home. Why is this okay? Because you’re sending the other team home, and in the playoffs, the other team is always a bunch of jerks. I understand that it’s a magnificent feeling being able to sing that song, but you can’t force it. Then you’re just the guy trying to start a slow clap. Never do this when your team isn’t comfortably in the lead. Remember, Montreal fans did this against the Leafs with just a two-goal lead and the Leafs came back to win in OT. Never do this for a non-playoff game, because there’s always next game for them. Never do this for a road game. At the end of the game, win or lose, you’re the ones leaving town.
Good Form: Taunting the goaltender after a bad goal, or when he’s playing poorly. Goaltenders are under more pressure at home, and if you think nerves are going to be a factor, taunting the goaltender can put him off his game. If chants are supposed to raise your team up, this one might affect the game.
Bad Form: Taunting a goaltender after a goal that wasn’t his fault, or when he’s not playing poorly. Goaltenders know the difference. When you taunt a goaltender who isn’t playing poorly, you strengthen his resolve. I’ve seen Canucks fans turn truly awful goaltenders into monsters. Like the Na Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye chant, this one has its place.
Good Form: Cheering. You cheer a great goal, that’s cool. You cheer a great shift, that’s also cool. As long as you aren’t cheering injuries, no one’s going to be upset with you for cheering. You’re supposed to enjoy the game.
Bad Form: Olé, Olé chant before the end of a game. In general, I associate this with Montreal, and you never want to be like Montreal fans. Still, it’s sort of a Canuck fan to do the Olé thing after the final whistle. Fine… after the final whistle. The song is declaring victory. Doesn’t matter if there’s only a minute left and the score is 7-1 in your favor — wait for the buzzer.
Good Form: The “Wooo” after a goal. I love the Canucks doing that. I love that they spread it to other arenas. I love the exuberant joy in the sound. Keep it going. Maybe they’ll score again.
Bad Form: The “Wooo” after a goal. I don’t know. I guess some people find it annoying. Oh well.
Good Form: When talking hockey with an opposing fan, find something nice to say about the team. They’ve paid money to come see the team, so there’s got to be something they like. If you say something like, “That Fowler’s got amazing talent, I can’t believe he fell to 13 in the draft,” they’ll think Vancouver fans at least aren’t as bad as those Maple Leaf jerks.
Bad Form: Talking real crap about the opposing team. It still grinds my gears to hear “Sedin Sisters,” I’m sure Pens fans don’t like to hear that Crosby’s a crybaby, and the same’s true of these fans. If your team’s doing better than the other team, coming in and rubbing it in is just plain rude. Don’t act like you’re following your amazing team around, and you’re upset that it meant you had to go through this dump of a hockey town. No one likes that guy. You don’t have to suck up to the team, but again, try not to seem like a Canadiens fan.
Good Form: Having fun with your fellow Canucks fans. High fives all around when they score.
Bad Form: Having fun at the expense of the opposing fans. Don’t shout “in your FACE!” unless the person’s done something to really convince you they deserve it, like kicking a baby, spilling beer on you, or saying “The Sedin Sisters aren’t first line talent.” You’re there to support the Canucks, not to tear down the Sharks. Take joy in your team’s success, not in the other team’s failure.
Good Form: Congregating with your fellow Canucks fans after a win and cheering, high-fiving, and being a little bit too loud (cause that never hurt no one).
Bad Form: Desecration of statues with Canucks garb. I know it’s all in good fun, but Gretzky was never a Canuck. The Mighty Ducks statue was never a Canuck. To local fans, the Canucks are just a visiting team. The statue or monument is bigger than this game. If the Canucks just won the Cup in the opposing team’s building, then maybe I can see being excited enough to do something like that. Most of the time, though, you’re just convincing others that all Vancouverites are stupid drunks.
Good Form: Be considerate of those who are frustrated if the Canucks win. I know I’ve been frustrated after a particularly embarrassing Canucks loss, I’m sure most fans have been there — at least the ones willing to travel to see games. Don’t taunt opposing fans too much after a loss, and don’t take it seriously if they don’t seem to share your joy. A lot of teams are battling for playoff places. Every win for the Canucks is a loss for another team, and often it’s an unhappy part of a narrative. Be respectful of that.
Bad Form: Idiot stuff. Getting too drunk. Starting fights. Keying cars. Breaking stuff. Stealing Ducks flags off of people’s cars. Come on, you’re visiting. Don’t be bad guests. Jeff Miller of the OC Register said “It wouldn’t have been surprising had the Ducks gone out to the parking lot afterward and found that their cars had been keyed.” Now, that’s ridiculous, and I didn’t see anyone keying cars. Still, I did see a few clearly uncomfortable Ducks fans during this celebration. One woman looked like she was actually afraid for her safety. That shouldn’t happen.
Canucks road trips are awesome. I’ve always felt that the fans who travel with the team are showing some sort of solidarity with the players who have to travel the most in the NHL. It’s a stupid romantic idea but either way, there’s nothing like meeting fellow Canucks fans who traveled down to support the team. Surrounded usually by Ducks fans, Kings fans, and non-hockey fans, I really appreciate the times when I can share the joy of a Nucks goal with those around me. Then one of the Canucks fans does something to be a jerk and I feel bad about the way my hometown, one of the greatest cities on the planet, is being represented. So DO have fun, but please try not to be a jerk.*
*”Jerk,” of course, being a euphemism