The Unreal Canucks Gif Tournament is on its way; prepare for greatness

At one point in history, the animated gif was the bane of the internet, infesting innumerable GeoCities websites with spinning clipart, random lines of flames, and annoying cartoon characters that danced for no reason. Times have changed, however, and the humble gif has become a cultural touchstone, as evidenced by the Oxford American Dictionary naming “gif” the word of the year a couple weeks ago.

Of all the uses for the animated gif, the sports gif reigns supreme. There’s something about sports that makes them eminently giffable. Perhaps it’s because the best gifs are all about the small moments that might otherwise be missed, and sports is full of those moments. The highlight reels capture the biggest moments in sports — the incredible goals, massive saves, and championship victories — but fans love sports for more than just the big moments. They love the little things.

Animated gifs capture those little things, then repeat them endlessly for our dumb amusement.

We have collected 32 of our favourite Canucks gifs, separated them into four divisions, and ranked them according to our whims. Over the next month, we’ll be running a March Madness-style tournament, allowing the greatest Canucks gif of all time will be decided by your votes. This is a sacred duty. If we don’t find out which Canucks gif is the greatest now, it may never happen.

The divisions are named according to some of the greatest Canucks in gif history: the Sedin Division, Luongo Division, Bieksa Division, and Kesler Division. Within those divisions are the greatest gifs by said Canucks, along with other fantastic gifs. Some, you may have seen hundreds of times already in forums, on Tumblr, and in comment threads. Others may be entirely new to you. All of them are superb.

The ideal gif has the following properties:

  • It tells a story in the briefest amount of time possible
  • It gets better with repetition
  • It does not require context
  • It is hilarious and/or unbelievable
  • It is visual poetry
  • It has a hypnotic quality: you shouldn’t be able to look away
  • It captures a moment better than any other format, such as video or photograph

Now, not every great gif has every one of these properties. Some gifs need a modicum of context to make sense, while others don’t tell much of a story at all. But the best of them all will meet all of these requirements. The all-time greatest gif (according to SBNation) is the Rollerblading Raptor, which tells the story of an inflatable Toronto Raptors mascot on rollerblades, gets better with every viewing, requires no context in order to be hilarious, is both poetic and hypnotic, and is a moment ideally suited to the time-honoured tradition of the gif, especially as it captures that deflating tail, and somehow turns it into a metaphor for the entire raptor.

We have one hard and fast rule: no photoshopped gifs. By this we mean that nothing can be added to the gif that was not already present in the moment. That means a few of my favourite Canucks gifs are unfortunately ineligible, such as this one:

And this one:

Oh, and this one definitely doesn’t count:

We owe a massive debt to the inimitable Jon Bois, the master of the gif over at SB Nation. It’s his “This Week in Gifs” posts and gif tournaments that were the inspiration for our own version, which means we’re totally imitating the inimitable.

Big thanks also has to go to Matthew Henderson (@mhenderson95) for making our wonderful header image.

Tags: ,


  1. tom selleck's moustache
    November 30, 2012

    Is there a way to create a Mooney division? I just want see how far this one ( makes it.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  2. Mike H.
    November 30, 2012

    Is the whole tournament really necessary? Jarko Ruutu skating away from Dion Phaeuf as he falls to the ice is obviously the best Canucks gif ever.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
    • Daniel Wagner
      December 1, 2012

      It’s definitely one of the top-ranked gifs in the tournament, but there’s some strong competition.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Anonymous
      December 1, 2012

      Sorry Mike H, that’s a great gif and I’mma let you finish but the “in-unison Sedin twins drinking water” gif is the best Canucks gif of all time. OF ALL TIME.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +8 (from 10 votes)
      • Harrison Mooney
        December 1, 2012

        Yeah, both of those gifs are number one seeds.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  3. jenny wren
    December 1, 2012

    This lockout is a verbal gif:

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  4. jimbob
    December 1, 2012

    Brilliant! how do you guys keep thinking up these things?!

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  5. jdm
    December 2, 2012

    Yeah I agree… Ruutu and Phaneuf is pretty much auto-win. If you opened it up to gifs with captions like the above, there would be some drama.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)