Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thoughts on the Vancouver Canucks and the riot.

I was hoping to write a post about how great it was that my hometown team had finally won a Cup 40 years after coming into existence. Seeing as I'm about the same age as the team, it would have been nice.

I've always supported my home town team. In 1994 I worked in a sports card store during our playoff run, and whenever someone asked me who was going to win that night, I'd always jokingly say "Not the Canucks!". It got us all the way to game 7, and we all know what happened after that.

After the lockout of 2004/05, I gave up watching hockey. I still kept tabs on it, but I quickly went from being a guy who knew every player in the league to a guy who didn't miss it at all. In fact, aside from the Olympics, I didn't watch a full game until this season's playoffs.

Surprisingly enough, I found that the game had changed somewhat for the better. No line changes on icings sped things up a lot, and despite the usual idiocy by players like Matt Cooke, the league seemed to be moving in the right direction.

Being a real Canucks fan isn't easy. People here love to hate a player if he isn't perfect. For years the Sedins have been called "The Sisters", and whenever Roberto Luongo gives up a goal it's as if he's personally letting down everyone in the city. Basically the city is full of bandwagon jumpers.

So anyways, we got past Chicago this year (finally), dispatched Nashville and San Jose pretty easily, and won the first 2 games against the Bruins. There was talk of a sweep, people were saying that they should purposely lose one in Boston so they could win it on home ice in game 5. Seemingly these people didn't realize that we barely won the 1st 2 games, that the Sedins were completely nullified, and that Ryan Kesler was playing hurt and without effectiveness.

So sure enough we got bombed in Boston. We scored one goal in 2 games, but all the blame was on the goalie. Hello people, you don't win games when you average half a goal per. It just doesn't happen. Without Luongo's play, the Canucks don't win games 1 and 2 and the series is over in 4.

So back to Vancouver for game 5, and we fluke a goal and Luongo holds the fort and we win another 1-0 game. And again, everything is roses. Ankles healed, the bandwagon jumpers are back aboard, predicting an easy win in game 6. Forgetting that Boston has a better defense, and actually has more than 1 scoring line. Heck, the Canucks didn't even have 1 scoring line. And we lose, and yes in game 6 Luongo let in 2 bad goals. Again though, we only score twice late, and you can't consistently win while barely scoring.

So back home for game 7. I was nervous, couldn't sleep even. I didn't have a good feeling though. And the pest Marchand set up one goal, scored another on a wrap around, then they scored short handed, and really that was it. No comeback was in the offing. The crowd was completely dead, which compared with the level of noise in Boston was shameful. I can truly say I've never seen a worse effort in a game 7 in a final series in any sport, ever. And yeah, people will complain about the officiating, but in reality, we only scored 8 goals in 7 games. The fact that we won 3 of those games was completely because of Roberto Luongo. That we lost the other 4 and only scored 3 goals in those games was down to Boston's great D and of course Tim Thomas. We just weren't good enough.

So, who knows how long until we get back to a final? Could be next year, but that's what we said in 1994. Could be another 17 years.

And we have another riot to pick up after, a horrible pre-planned riot that was going to happen win or lose. The rioters weren't concerned about the result of the game, they wanted to wreak havoc. They wanted to burn stuff. They wanted to steal stuff. Our Police were naive enough to assume that having 150000 people in the downtown core watching the game on big screens was going to end peacefully, despite what happened in 1994. What would have happened at the 2010 Olympics if they hadn't arrested many of the troublemakers early on. It was a sad and horrible night. I hope those guilty and stupid enough to show their faces and brag on social media actually do some time, but I don't have much faith in the system really punishing them. Just the incredible stupidity of so many people is enlightening and very sad at the same time.

On the bright side, a lot of people came out this morning and helped clean things up, thanks to a facebook page and the goodness of their hearts. Real sports fans didn't commit these acts, but real sports fans came out in droves to pick up the pieces, and to try and identify the perpetrators online. You can easily find the facebook groups involved if you so wish.

So I leave with congratulations to the Bruins and their fans. It was at times an ugly series, and the sad fact that 2 players suffered career threatening injuries during it is almost unforgiveable. Hockey needs to change, yet I don't think it will ever change enough to rise above the level of pro wrestling and roller derby in most people's eyes. And that's sad.

And I leave with this great shot of a young fan last night, not understanding why the third goal counted, and our coach who could see the dream disintegrating in front of his eyes.

That look was on a lot of people's faces while watching the riots.