After wasting his childhood cheering for the Maple Leafs, Jacob Ross-Ewart is a born-again Canucks fan who has spent the last 10 years traveling the world and teaching others the unique brand of glorious suffering that accompanies this team. He graduated from Journalism school two years ago but has decided that finding a job in print media is too difficult these days, so he’s going to apply to medical school instead.
If you want to write a guest post for PITB, by all means, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to showcase other writers.
I have to confess that I haven’t really been following the second and third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. After the Canucks made like the citizens of Springfield and dug themselves a hole they couldn’t get out of against the San Jose Sharks, I needed to take a break from hockey. I figured I’d tune back in for the finals, just in time to watch Pittsburgh roll over whatever hapless suckers made it out of the West. I even thought I could bring myself to feel good about watching Jarome Iginla win his first cup.
Imagine my surprise then, when I glanced at the scores on Saturday evening and discovered, to my horror, that Chicago had dispatched the Kings in five and Boston had somehow swept the Penguins. As a die-hard Canucks fan, this sets up a nightmare final.
So what’s a long-suffering hockey fan in Vancouver to do? Obviously, we need to sort out which of these two nemeses we can tolerate watching win again, and, more importantly, which we should be more actively cheering against. You’ll see a lot of Cup previews around the web this week, but unlike ones by so-called “journalists” with their “integrity” and their “jobs” and their “knowledge of hockey”, this one will focus on what’s really important: not who will win, but more importantly, who you, as a Canucks fan, should hope to see lose.
This one is close, and will partially depend on when you first started cheering for the Canucks. If you jumped on the bandwagon during the 2011 cup run, you no doubt resent the Bruins more. However, if your “run 6 starting goalies out of town, get one free” card has Dan Cloutier on it, and you still sometimes wake up in a cold sweat with “Chelsea Dagger” ringing in your ears, those back-to-back eliminations at the hand of the Blackhawks might be enough to take it.
To break the tie, we have to go back to 1982 (the only other meeting between the Canucks and either of these teams being a forgettable sweep at the hands of the ‘Hawks in 1995). I’m sure I don’t need to remind you why. Considering it was a playoff series with Chicago that gave us one of the best playoff traditions in modern sports, and Alex Burrows has done a lot to help us forget 2008 and 2009, this one goes to the boys in black.
Hate point → Boston.
On the surface, Boston seems to have lost a few hate points here for the departures of Tim “Received additional scrutiny from the IRS during the 2012 presidential election” Thomas, and Mark “Doc” Recchi. Add in local boy and former Vancouver Giants star Milan Lucic, and you might almost find yourself warming to the team in black. But then you realise, like Demetrius and Helena, that this affection is a lie, they still have Brad Marchand and Shawn Thornton on their team, and you go right back to hating them with everything you had.
Meanwhile, thanks to some hilariously inept salary cap management, many of the most hated Blackhawks have been shipped out. They still have Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland, and Duncan Keith, but Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, and Adam Burish have all moved on.
Hate point → Boston.
This one isn’t particularly close. The Bruins are going with a classic this year, and even the fact that they stole yelling “Woo!” after goal announcements from us (what’s next, Boston, are you going to start saying “radical”? That’s Milhouse’s thing. That’s his thing that he says!) can’t begin to compare with…
Chelsea Dagger. What do I need to say here that you don’t already know? Roberto Luongo might think it’s catchy, but any blue-blooded Canucks fan would rather sit through an entire performance of John Cage’s entire oeuvre than hear it again.
Hate point → Chicago.
Granted, every local TV announcing crew is going to sound biased to fans of other teams. Our very own Johns, Shorthouse and Garrett, are no exception. But Jack Edwards definitely ratchets up the bias to a new level. A couple of years ago he was one of only two hockey commentators named to Bleacher Report’s list of the top 25 biggest homers in sports broadcasting, a fact that either highlights how Bruins fans are pandered to by their media, or the fact that Americans don’t care enough about hockey to put more people from the sport on their lists. (I chose to believe the former, because it suits the premise of this article.) Homerism aside, any group that sees merit in ambushing another journalist live on air is going to have a strong case for most despicable.
Chicago’s media haven’t been much kinder to the Canucks. Take, for example, the Daily Herald’s Barry Rozner’s ludicrously overstated rant about Raffi Torres (6’0, 220 lbs.) refusing to fight John Scott (6’8, 270 lbs.) during the second round in 2011. It was a truly inspired hatchet job that managed to work its way around to dumping on Kevin Bieksa, Tanner Glass, Alain Vigneault, the referees, and everyone’s mother. At the end of the day, however, Boston’s media gets the nod because the only people who read Barry Rozner are the Canucks fans he trolls, whereas Boston tends to be fairly successful at making their side of the story the national focus.
Hate point → Boston.
With two Original Six franchises here and 176 years of combined history to draw from, both these fan bases have had plenty of time to accrue marks against them. Of course, it would be completely ridiculous to smear an entire city’s sports fans based on the actions of a few losers. Let’s do it anyway!
PITB faithful will need no reminders of the relentless trolling perpetuated on this blog and others once word got out in New England that some writers out here were *gasp* being mean to their team and *double gasp* being witty about it! Their steadfast refusal to understand the nuances of irony and sarcasm alone would put them in good shape for this matchup. Then there was the time the Boston Gardens faithful chanted “flopper” at Mason Raymond as he lay on the ice with a broken back. Throwing in their behaviour on Twitter last year simply fortifies an already strong position.
Generally, while ‘Hawks fans and Canucks fans have engaged in their fair share of message board sparring over the last five years, there aren’t many incidents that jump out as being beyond the pale of hockey banter. Yeah, the “sister” bashing got pretty stale but, regrettably, that was hardly unique to Chicago. Credit where it’s due: when the biggest controversy surrounding your fan base in recent years is that they’re too enthusiastic, you’re probably doing something right. I’m not saying I’d like to watch a game with a Blackhawks fan at a bar or anything (especially if we had to split a taxi on the way home), but they’re definitely the less objectionable of the two here.
Hate point → Boston.
If Boston loses, Lucic won’t be able to have a Stanley Cup party in his backyard this year, which means hopefully no idiots will pull a stunt like this and make real Canucks fans look bad.
If Chicago loses, we can make fun of them because they won the President’s trophy this year, and everyone knows that unless you also win the Cup, that’s an achievement so meaningless, it’s actually a negative.
Hate point → Chicago.
Let’s go, Chicago.
Remember, I’m not saying we should be cheering for the Blackhawks here. The ‘Hawks are bad. And the Bruins are bad. But while all the animals may be equally awful, some are more equal than others, and in this case, those are the Bruins.
There’s another reason: at the end of the day, if Boston wins, it will only serve to further entrench the current mindset that physicality beats skill in the playoffs. If Chicago, a team that relies much more on speed and skill, can pull it off, we might begin to see a shift back to a more fluid, open style of play — a style the current Canucks are better-suited to play.Tags: Guest Post