Jun 202011
 

[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary.]

It’s been a few days since the Vancouver Canucks lost 4-0 to the Boston Bruins in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, bringing a sudden and disappointing end to a very memorable and entertaining season.  From Markus Naslund’s jersey retirement in December to the unforgettable game 7 against the Blackhawks, the season had drama, excitement, and emotion.  But when you end the postseason with a loss, it means you didn’t get the job done.  And it also means questions… things that make you go hmmm:

  1. What will the team look like next year? The Canucks have 8 unrestricted free agents to make decisions on this off-season, the most notable being defencemen Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, and Sami Salo.  Together, they made a combined $10.35 million (or 1/6 of the total team payroll) this past season.  Even with the salary cap expected to increase to $64 million (an increase of over $4 million), it is the common belief that they will need to take hometown discounts for the Canucks to keep all 3 of them.  Up front, both Raffi Torres and Chris Higgins are among the UFAs.  Throw in the aging Mikael Samuelsson (who the Canucks might consider trading), and the top 9 could have a much different look next year.  Only the goaltending will be constant with Cory Schneider under contract for one more season (unless he’s traded) and Roberto Luongo locked in until the 22nd century (or so it seems).  Given that free agency starts in less than 2 weeks from now, things are going to get very interesting very quickly.
  2. What will be the lasting legacy of the riot and the aftermath? After game 7, I actually stayed at Rogers Arena for a full hour after the game.  My reasoning was two-fold:  I wanted to see the Bruins celebrate with their families, and I wanted to avoid going out on to the dangerous Vancouver streets.  Once I finally left the arena, I was amazed at the number of people heading TOWARDS the dangerous areas as opposed to heading AWAY from them.  I remember that evening chastising those who were going just to take pictures and video as I felt that they were only adding fuel to the fire (so-to-speak) instead of helping the police out.  As it turns out, these same people are helping the police capture those who participated.  I prefer to think of the brave few who tried to stand up to the rioters and the thousands of people who voluntarily cleaned up the downtown streets the next day in an effort to preserve the reputation of our beautiful city.  We’ll get a couple of chances in the near future to see if we’ve collectively smartened up:  the Celebration of Light fireworks displays this summer and the Grey Cup festivities in late November.
  3. Can the team return to the Stanley Cup Finals next year? A common sentiment among Canucks fans after Wednesday night’s loss was that the team will be back next year.  It’s certainly not unprecedented:  the Penguins and Red Wings played in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009, with each team winning once.  But it’s not common:  prior to the Wings and Penguins, the last team to appear in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals was the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and again in 2001.  They too won in one of those two years.  But before we talk about what’s going to happen in the Finals, we first need to look at whether or not the Canucks will get there.  Given that their core is in place for next season (Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Raymond, Malhotra, Hansen, Hamhuis, Edler, Luongo, and maybe Schneider) the Canucks are undoubtedly a playoff team, and likely to challenge for the Western Conference title and possibly the Presidents’ Trophy once again.  They will return hungry and determined to do what they couldn’t do this year – go all the way.   And if the Canucks can indeed make it back to the Finals, odds are that they’ll follow the example of New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Detroit (all 3 teams when 1-1 in consecutive Finals appearances) and win the Cup.  But how ‘bout we worry about that in about 11 months from now?

It’s hard to believe that the NHL Entry Draft is less than a week away, with free agency a week after that.   But just before the draft will be the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 22.  The Canucks will be well represented, with candidates in 7 award categories (Hart, Lindsay, Vezina, Selke, Jack Adams, GM, and NHL Foundation).  Just how many will the Canucks take home to add to their Art Ross, Jennings, Campbell, and Presidents’ Trophies?  That’s something that makes me go hmmm…

Jun 172011
 

As we recover from the thrills and spills from the last 9 months, we’re going to slowly start dissecting the 2010/2011 Canucks and their long season and deep playoff run. For starters, here are some quick thoughts.

  • Not to take anything away from what the Canucks did this season, but I think we’re all rational enough to admit that the Boston Bruins were the better team over the course of the 7 games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • It’s easy for some people to look at the number of goals Roberto Luongo allowed in their 4 losses – that number is 17 – and pin the series loss on him. But the other side of it is, the Canucks scored 1 goal and were 0-for-12 on the powerplay while Luongo was in net in those games. In game 3, they had 2 PP chances while only down by 2 goals. Same thing in game 4. I’m not saying Luongo isn’t at fault here, but it’s not fair to let the rest of the team off the hook. Henrik knows that too.
  • Tim Thomas was full value for his Conn Smythe trophy. Imagine if the Bruins had traded him after last season like they wanted to. To put that into even more context, he wasn’t even their starter when this season started. Tukka Rask started their first game before Thomas started the next 4 and allowed a grand total of only 3 goals.
  • The Canucks today announced their injuries during the playoffs and it’s a pretty lengthy list: Henrik Sedin (back), Ryan Kesler (hip), Chris Higgins (foot), Alex Edler (two broken fingers), Christian Ehrhoff (shoulder), Kevin Bieksa (bruised MCL). And of course, Mikael Samuelsson (sports hernia), Dan Hamhuis (abdominal) and Mason Raymond (back) were all unable to play in game 7. To their credit, the Canucks refused to use these injuries as an excuse, but with the list including 5 of the top 9 forwards – including their top 2 players in Hank and Kes – and their 4 best defensemen, it’s hard not to think about what could have been if they were otherwise healthy.
  • On the other side, the Bruins were a bit luckier with respect to injuries with the only notable one being announced so far is that of Nathan Horton’s, and obviously, Marc Savard, who wasn’t able to suit up in these playoffs at all.
  • I’ll have more on this in a separate post, but I don’t feel the Canucks need to make many changes in the off-season to contend again next year. They’ll need to tinker with the defense, with Ehrhoff, Bieksa, Alberts and Salo all UFAs, and add another scorer in the top-six. Because the salary cap is expected to go up next year, the Canucks will have some cap space to play around with and keep most of this team intact. Where things get tricky is the lack of a bonus cushion because the CBA is supposed to expire after next season.
  • How valuable was the experience gained by these guys playing in the Stanley Cup Finals? Not only by the veteran core, most of whom had never gotten past the second round before, but also by rookies Chris Tanev, Cody Hodgson, Cory Schneider and Victor Oreskovich.
  • I don’t understand the constant need by one radio personality to bash the Canucks. Calling them a bunch of chokers for falling a mere one win short of hoisting the Stanley Cup is irrational. Attacking the Sedins, who finished 2nd and 3rd in playoff scoring (and that’s despite Henrik playing with a back injury all playoffs), Kesler, who finished 4th despite playing with a serious hip injury, and Luongo, who was receiving Conn Smythe consideration until the last 2 games of the Finals, is illogical. That this person is a member of the professional media – and I use the word “professional” loosely in this case – is disgusting; I’ve read more coherent and rational writing from my 18-month old daughter on her etch-a-sketch. But then again, I’d probably get all crazy and irrational too if my team has finished last in the NHL in the last 2 years and hasn’t played a single playoff game in the last 5 seasons.
Jun 172011
 
Vancouver Cleanup June 18 2011

Photo credit: Raul Pacheco-Vega

I’m not going to re-hash what every major news outlet has already covered about Vancouver’s riot. What I do want to talk about is the positive solidarity felt across Vancouver today amidst the ruins of the riot’s aftermath.

What we felt today was a unification of Vancouverites against the destruction and embarrassing behaviour of a small group of morons, a group we feel do not represent this city’s people or its hockey fans.

Yesterday morning as I drove into downtown Vancouver before 6 a.m., volunteers were already hitting the streets en masse, wearing their Canucks jerseys, and armed with gloves and garbage bags to clean up the mess that a bunch of idiots created.

All day long, piece by piece, thousands of people cleaned up their city in their spare time. The glass was swept up, the garbage collected and smashed windows boarded up with plywood. Everywhere you looked, Vancouverites were uniting to help try and fix what the riot left behind.

On Twitter, tens of thousands of Vancouverites wrote about their disgust with the riot, and began documenting all the good being done today in the riot’s aftermath, using the hashtag: #thisismyVancouver.

Passers-by on the street complimented those sweeping near bus shelters, with “You are amazing! Thank you!” Others simply smiled at each other in embarrassed understanding.

Throughout the day, that plywood covering the windows of many businesses downtown was eventually covered in the writing of those apologizing on behalf of their city and their hockey team. Thousands of messages of hope, disgust, apology, and love can be read outside the Hudson’s Bay Company, and if you take the time to read a few of them, you will quickly read between the lines and see the real spirit of Vancouver.

For the first time since I moved here, I saw this multi-cultural and multi-faceted population unite to try and save the reputation of its beloved city.

All day, Vancouverites worked together to clean up their city, write words of hope on damaged buildings and help the Vancouver Police Department identify hundreds of criminals in the riot with the help of social media. The Vancouver PD Tweeted that it was overwhelmed with flowers, letters and emails of thanks, as citizens expressed their gratitude for their courage shown last night.

Today’s collective actions might not make international headlines, but what I saw happening today was people rising against the negativity surrounding the riot, and showing the world (if it will open its eyes) what the real heart of Vancouver looks like.

It may be too late to save the reputation of Vancouver and its hockey fans, but I thought the world should know that it took a lot of sorrow and destruction to bring out the true spirit of this city. What I saw emerge from the ashes of the riot was a quiet humiliation, one that quickly changed into a determination to gain back some of Vancouver’s good name.

What many outsiders are quick to forget is that this city is heartbroken and in collective mourning after the Canucks lost to Boston. For Vancouver, hockey isn’t just a game; it’s everything. The Stanley Cup Finals were bigger than the Olympics, so it says a lot that the people of this city could to go out there today, put on a brave face despite heartbreak, and patch up the broken spirit of Vancouver with everything they had.

It may surprise some people to hear, but today’s tremendous show of heart by this city made me proud to live in Vancouver.

Jun 172011
 

You know it’s a brand new world when your walk to work in the morning smells like the remnants of either pepper spray or tear gas (and I’m thankful to not have enough experience to distinguish between the two). What drove Vancouver fans to this point? The only way to know is to check the notes and write a retro diary of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final between Vancouver and Boston.

7:50 a.m. – “Not Tonight.” One of my best friends, VH1 (for his Rain Man-esque knowledge of 80s and 90s music) decides it’s never too early to call and quote lines from the movie “Miracle.” As Kurt Russell/Herb Brooks says to the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team before their game against the USSR:

“If we played ‘em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world.”

I will receive calls from VH1 quoting Miracle approximately 657 times throughout the day.

1:59 p.m. – I email JJ the link to Boston Dirt Dogs – a sarcastic Red Sox fan site that dabbles in coverage of all Boston sports. The site criticizes Boston’s “party-pooper police state” approach to Game 7 celebration-planning and compares it to Vancouver’s “big time” party atmosphere downtown. The storytelling word for this is “foreshadowing.”

5:00 p.m. – And we’re live with special guest stars Mrs. Wakefield and VH1 (who continues to quote Miracle during pre-game coverage on CBC)! Not sure if it’s an omen, but the classic Hockey Night in Canada musical montage for Game 7 is a gigantic let down from the epic Tragically Hip effort before Game 6.

5:10 p.m. – Don Cherry appears wearing a suit inspired by 1950’s wallpaper. He’s outdone himself. Classy.

5:20 p.m. – VH1 asks if Roberto Luongo will play with two blockers tonight, or if tonight will be a game where he actually catches pucks with his glove-hand. I have a good feeling about Vancouver’s emotional goalie. I think he’s got a chance to do something special, which is why I picked the Canucks to win in seven games (despite picking Boston in the pre-season).

5:25 p.m. – Probably the loudest singing of O Canada in Canucks history, if not of all time. Despite some tickets being sold for close to $8000, it’s a noisy, passionate crowd at Rogers Centre. You know, the exact opposite to any crowd at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. That’s a good sign.

Puck drop. Game on.

1:00 (First Period) – Great first shift from the Sedin line with lots of puck-control and pressure. Special players find a way to overcome adversity and deliver in clutch time. Vancouver needs them to be great too, since their absence in Games 1-6 has proven what I’ve suspected all year – that the offensive depth of the Canucks was grossly over-rated.

3:38 – For some inexplicable reason Kevin Bieksa turns into Tomas Kaberle, refuses to play the body, and lets Brad Marchand stickhandle two feet in front of him into the offensive zone. Marchand, whose probably been Boston’s best forward in the series, naturally turns this into a scoring chance, with Luongo making a massive save to keep the game scoreless.

11:38 – Boston’s 4th line is dominating the Canucks, putting together 90 seconds of chaos in the Vancouver zone. Once again Kevin Bieksa’s struggling – Vancouver’s most important defenseman has had a terrible start to the game.

14:37 – Patrice Bergeron gets his stick loose in the slot and fires a shot through traffic to make it 1-0 Boston. This reeks of a bad coaching decision by Alain Vigneault. For the entire Stanley Cup Final Manny Malholtra has taken important defensive zone faceoffs for Vancouver. He was torched in Game 6 though, going 5-17. Thankfully, the team is flush up the middle with defensive centreman, as both Max Lapierre and Ryan Kesler have taken these types of draws. So who does Vigneault put out to take the draw? Henrik Sedin, statistically the worst faceoff centre on the team. Guess what? He lost the draw that led to the goal.

17:08 – CBC gets a close up of Daniel Sedin’s face. I can’t decide what describes the look more: is it “my wife is sleeping with my brother and having his baby and Cheaters just showed me footage” or “I’m Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back and Darth Vader is my father, which shatters my world view completely.” Either way, it’s not good for Vancouver.

End of the First Period – Mrs. Wakefield tells us CKNW reports people are already leaving the downtown. The Canuck bandwagon must have incredible suspension for all the jumping on and off it experiences.

4:54 (Second Period) – Chris Tanev and Andrew Alberts have three giveaways on the same shift. The Bruins are playing a tactically sound game, dominating Vancouver on the forecheck. Minutes go by without Vancouver clearing the defensive zone cleanly. If you had told any Canucks fan before the playoffs that Tanev and Alberts would be playing crucial Stanley Cup Final minutes they would have thrown up.

9:00 – Alex Burrows beats Tim Thomas but Zdeno Chara saves a goal by blocking the shot before it reaches the back of the net. Tim Thomas probably had the greatest goaltending year in NHL history, but people forget the Bruins are where they are today because of Zdeno Chara. Ottawa fans must shudder to think what could have been if they’d invested in Chara and not Wade Redden or Chris Phillips.

12:13 – Luongo reveals he is playing Game 7 with two blockers, as he misplays a clear shot directed at his neck from the point with his glove. He overplays the rebound and Brad Marchand corals it, slips the puck through Kevin Bieksa’s feet (again, Bieksa plays the puck not the man), and wraps it around for a 2-0 lead. How good has Brad Marchand been in these playoffs? He has scored the most goals by a rookie in the playoffs in 21 years (since Jeremy Roenick in 1990).

16:07 – The biggest powerplay in Canucks history is about to start, as Zdeno Chara takes the first penalty of the game for interfering with a (diving) Ryan Kesler. That it’s taken 36 minutes to get to the first powerplay of the game is another reminder of how inconsistent NHL refereeing standards are these days. Anyways, this is the season for the Canucks. They need a goal here.

17:35 – Patrice Bergeron speeds past a pinching (and clearly hurt) Christian Ehroff and bowls his way down the ice into Luongo. For whatever reason – all mental – the Canucks goalie fails to have his goalie stick horizontal along the ice prior to the collision. As a result, the puck goes in. 3-0 Boston. The fat lady is putting down her sushi and getting ready to perform. VH1 says it’s over. Mrs. Wakefield has started searching real estate listings.

17:36 – The Sedins are now a -3 in the game. This is otherwise known as the opposite of a clutch performance.

18:00 – Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times tweets from Rogers Centre: “It’s so quiet in here you can hear the Stanley Cup being polished.”

5:51 (3rd Period) – We’re fast forwarding the diary now to get to the inevitable conclusion. Jannik Hansen – a player who has been surprisingly useful to the Canucks – has just taken a ridiculous retaliatory penalty at centre ice. It’s the type of penalty that has typified this series and most of the criticism levied at the Canucks from across the league – it’s dirty, unrelated to the play and entirely absent of respect for the opposition.

9:36 – Kevin Bieksa leads the rush for the Canucks into the offensive zone. This might be the first time all game a Vancouver blueliner has done so. What a difference from the San Jose series, where Canuck defensemen blew by back-checking Shark forwards to join the attack. Vancouver GM Mike Gillis built a team that could contribute offensively from the back-end. And yet, this blueline will finish the Cup Final goal-less for the series.

17:15 – Brad Marchand again with an empty-netter. He has officially become Claude Lemieux 2.0.

20:00 – The Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup Champions.

A few thoughts on the post-game celebrations:

- A part of me wanted Gary Bettman to hold onto the Stanley Cup a bit too long, and see Zdeno Chara lift him and the Cup over his head.
- Hearing Mark Recchi say “I love you man” when Zdeno Chara passed him the Stanley Cup was a brief glimpse into just how close the NHL dressing room of a Stanley Cup Champion becomes. These guys go to war for each other. There’s a bond that few of us truly know.
- I can’t wait for Ron Maclean to retire. He thinks he’s bigger than the game. It’s gotten to the point that I hope the CBC loses their hockey rights after next season.

Let’s be honest – at the end of the series its clear the right team won. Boston was deeper, with stronger goaltending and special teams play. Some will argue that Canuck injuries caught up with the team, but in reality Vancouver’s best players (Kesler, the Sedins, Luongo) were outplayed by their Boston counterparts (Krecji, Bergeron, Thomas). Add in a complete lack of secondary scoring, and there’s a part of me that wonders how Vancouver made it to seven games, let alone had a chance to win the Cup in Game 6.

Local complaints about conspiracies and refereeing fail to place the responsibility squarely where it belongs – on the Canucks themselves. As currently constituted this is a good, but not championship calibre, team. Beating up on a very weak Northwest Division certainly masked flaws. This is a franchise that needs a stronger second line to take pressure off the Sedins and make matchups more difficult for the opposition. The Canucks struggled every time their Super Twins faced a top-end defensive pairing.

Boston also got valuable minutes out of its fourth line, something Vancouver could just not duplicate. The team needs an upgrade there.

And while it’s not impossible (see the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006), it’s incredibly rare to win a Stanley Cup without a top-level defenseman on your roster. That being said, given GM Mike Gillis’s preference for blueline depth, it’s hard to imagine the Canucks focusing resources into a bluechip defenseman in the off-season.

As for those riots? The reasons behind them are complicated. Personally they represent a failure of the community, one glorified in every comment insisting “those weren’t real Canuck fans”.

Being a sports fan doesn’t require a membership card. There’s no test you have to pass or doctorate you have to earn. Its inclusivity is one of the great, most powerful things about sports. Anyone can feel like a part of a community – a part of something bigger than themselves.

In every community there are bad elements. In the case of Canuck fans, there is that element that gets into fights on the Rogers Centre concourse, or spits on fans of the opposition. Saying the thousands responsible for the destruction of Vancouver’s beautiful downtown core aren’t “real fans” is passing the buck – it’s not taking responsibility for or acknowledging that this element exists here.

We Are All Canucks. That’s the slogan for the franchise that got 100,000 people together in Vancouver’s streets to hang on every moment of the action. Rather than passing the blame onto a select few, maybe we should all take a harder look at what we want being a Canuck to mean, and then work together towards that.

Maybe this means instead of taking video of burning cars we leave the downtown when the police ask us to. Maybe this means instead of reading Tweets pre-game telling others to bring rocks downtown, we do what’s in our power to discourage such activity. Maybe this means various levels of government sit down and re-think these downtown celebrations and how to police them.

It certainly means we support initiatives like the Facebook page where people can volunteer to help clean up the downtown mess.

For better or worse, we are all Canucks. This should be a positive, good thing.

Alas, it wasn’t the other night.

Jun 162011
 

Genuine Vancouver Canucks fans barely had time to catch their collective breath after the stinging Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Final before they were kicked in the proverbial groin when masquerading fans took to the streets and burned down their city’s downtown core.

Quite simply, it was senseless madness. It started with a car being flipped over and set ablaze, continued with stores and boutiques getting broken into and looted, and ended with fist fights and tear gas used to subdue the rioting crowds.

To those outside British Columbia, let me assure that this is not what the city of Vancouver is about. No, the real city of Vancouver is the one you saw in February of 2010 when the world watched Canada raise the Olympic standard of responsible celebration and respect among people. What you saw last night were people dressed in Canucks jerseys, only pretending to be fans when in reality they carried backpacks of rocks, hammers, and harboured a will to destroy the things that true Vancouverites hold so dearly.

It’s embarrassing that history repeated itself 17 years later, that a new generation of adolescent males who feel so alienated from society took it upon themselves to smash windows and start up trouble. It’s shameful that people who tried valiantly to protect these places and other people from assault were the ones who were hurt. No, what you people saw wasn’t Vancouver at its finest. It was undoubtedly the city at its worst.

Just so you can grasp just how stupid and senseless all this was, a couple dozen people took it upon themselves to break down the steel gate at the London Drugs on Burrard Street. Once the gate had come crashing down and people had gone inside to loot and pillage, one particular man emerged from the chaos throwing Pringles potato chips in the air. Pringles potato chips! Evidently these were people who had never looted before and put zero thought into what they were actually breaking the law for. It’s almost unbelievable that someone would stoop low enough to break into a store in the name of potato chips.

And then there were idiots who took it upon themselves to clean out a MAC cosmetic store, women who decided that they’d cut their Game 7 losses by stealing some lipstick and mascara. It seems almost irrational at this point to bring up the fact people decided to break into a Chapters bookstore to… well, steal books. Since when did these unintelligent looters and losers have the smarts to actually read?

To those who were part of the chaos in the downtown core last night, congratulations. You’ve turned what was the Vancouver Canucks dream season into a formidable nightmare, and at the same time have completely tarnished the legacy that the 2010 Olympics in our fair city had established. Bring back the old label that we’re “No Fun City”, because evidently you’ve shown why Vancouver can’t have nice things and can’t celebrate in a peaceful manner.

To the members of the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Firefighters, thank you for courageously defending our city from the delinquents who have caused damage in the millions of dollars. Given the limited resources and numbers you had from the outset, the job you did was nothing short of commendable.

And there is light at the end of the tunnel. Honest citizens of Vancouver showed up the very next morning to get to work and help cleanup a mess that they didn’t even cause. At the end of the day, those are the true Canucks fans and the real Vancouverites, because from what the world witnessed last night, we are not all Canucks.

Jun 162011
 

Please read.

As a writer, I hate seeing that phrase to begin as it reminds me of those e-mail chain letters but I can’t help but just beg you to read this just one time. I promise you I am not trying to waste your time. If you are a Canucks fan or a Vancouver resident, I urge you to read this as it matters like few other things do to every one of us. Whether you love Vancouver or you love the Canucks, I dearly love both even if our relationship is strained at times and so I don’t care which camp you’re in as long as you’re in one or both. This is important. I don’t know how many people will read this but if I can get a few more, it would be worth it.

Even if this point has been made already, I feel compelled to try to convince you for myself because of the gravity of this situation. Some of you might not need much convincing but others might. I apologize if you find me long winded and for not having a “too long, didn’t read” version available at this time as it is 6am and I’m writing on no sleep, editing photos from last night’s Vancouver riot after the Canucks lost 4-0 in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s just how I write…I don’t know how to otherwise. Years and years of writing essays in school. Sorry but again, important. Long but I might need it to convince you to take action.

Whether you are a fan or not, I don’t care. I know that while many people in Vancouver are fanatics like myself, others don’t really care about the Canucks but this one time, we all need to agree on something and that is we need to put an end to this garbage before it happens a third time. Am I jumping the gun? Perhaps but if you saw the gravity of what happened last night in downtown Vancouver at ground zero like I did, you would rather be safe than sorry. My throat is still a little sore from coughing due to all the gas and smoke. The blatant idiocy that happened last night has and will cost us dearly whether it be from our wallets or our reputation worldwide, which has been at an all-time high since our awesome Vancouver 2010 Olympics and a historic Vancouver Canucks run through the playoffs. Whether you care or not, this is now what makes the news. Instead of a loss for us to hang our heads about for a couple weeks and take some trash talk from Bruins fans, we are now the laughing stock of the world for trashing our own home. How stupid is this? If you went mad inside your house and tore that thing down, you would be absolutely insane. How on earth is this different? We’re blinder than referees here.

I have to admit I am one of those people that will joke about a riot anytime the Canucks even come close to losing…even in the regular season. But that mostly happens when I’m in bars. It’s 17 years ago and like that ’94 game 7 loss, that riot has lost it’s sting. It is part of our Canucks lore, spoken of in damming tones like that damned goal post that Nathan Lafayette hit that could’ve sent the game against the Rangers into overtime. Yes, those riots were awful too but we can be lighthearted after some time. But jokes are jokes. I’m hearing conflicted reports that people are in the hospital and even that a fan died yesterday. I saw a man get kicked and pepper sprayed last night. This is insanity, people. What are we doing to ourselves? I never expected what happened last night.

I wrote last week that regardless of what the Canucks do in game 7, history had already been made. That was a long read as well but in short, we speak of ’94 affectionately and our greatest heroes were some of the men on that roster. I would have no words for a Stanley Cup win. I’ve dreamed of it often in the 20 years I’ve been a Canucks fan but I’ve had fun every year and I have great memories that I speak of often because I love this team. Well, maybe not of the Messier/Keenan era but you are a LIAR if you tell me you were a Messier fan then. A loss is a loss. We win together, we lose together.

Real fans don’t riot. Real fans take the loss, drink a beer or two and get prepared for discussing the off-season. We are all Canucks. Are you going to stop being a Canuck now? We don’t do this. We are sportsmen like our team. We are one of the best run organizations in the league. President’s Trophy winners. Western Conference Champions. Our boys have given millions to charity. For all the abuse the Sedins have taken, they took it upon themselves to give $1.5 million of their own money to help sick kids. I’ve met some of the players and they are the nicest guys in the world, even when I don’t expect them to be after a tough loss or they’re just going about their business. Burrows, in particular, seems to always have all the time in the world for fans. Does this look like the dirty team the media has portrayed them to be? No. And it sure doesn’t look like a team that deserves the negative press we’re all going to get for this fiasco.

Our city is in ruins today because of a few who decided this would be a decent excuse to cause some trouble. I know this because I was there and overheard a lot, mostly that the troublemakers couldn’t care less about how the game went. They were going to break windows, burn cars and steal from us whether the Canucks won or lost. The world’s headlines say CANUCKS FANS RIOT or something similar this morning. Mayhem! I saw was the headline in this morning’s Province. All because of a few. There were well over 100,000 people in the crowds downtown. There weren’t 100,000 rioters. There were probably a number of spectators and bystanders. The rioters aren’t fans. They wear our colors but they’re not Canucks.

A brave few were able to stand up to the masses, proclaiming that this was our city, what on earth were we doing to our own city? If you head to YouTube, I’m sure you’ll find more than a few courageous soups defending our honor. Thank them, if you will because they did what few could bring themselves to voice, even though I’m sure most of us felt the same way. I’m afraid I wasn’t one of these brave people. Actually, I’m one of the spectators that some of you yelled at for giving these people an audience. I agree with you but let me justify my actions. No, I wasn’t thinking all of this at the time but it’s gotten stronger in my mind as the hours have passed.

My grades may not have been straight A’s but I do hold a major in sociology and can tell a thing or two about mob mentality. Once that crowd was down there, if someone was going to incite a riot, it was going to avalanche because the wave of insanity would reach people faster than they could leave with all that congestion. People are curious creatures so naturally, many are going to want to see what’s going on and as the night goes on, more will join them. I decided that it wasn’t a good bet to hedge my safety or that of my friends in what was a lost cause, at least nothing that one man is going to stop. Many of the brave who urged the crowds not to damage buildings got things thrown at them or worse. I said weeks ago that win or lose, I would go downtown to celebrate with fellow Canucks fans that want to when it was all said and done on the ice.

That and I was carrying all kinds of camera equipment on me. I noticed that a lot of people were doing the same. The great thing about the internet and camera phones…you’re going to see every event from multiple angles and vantage points.

Basically, Vancouver, we have every single rioter who broke a window, turned over a car, tore trees from our ground (yes, that happened), and set our streets on fire is already on our memory cards. Some may have face masks but even then, some have identifiable tattoos and other features. We can get all these morons, Vancouver. You’re right, maybe I should’ve said a thing or two to prevent more damage to our city when I was down there last night…but most of it already happened. We can make sure right now it doesn’t happen again.

Why? Two reasons. Firstly, this is our home. As I mentioned before, we all look like this right now. How many of you did I hear in person or on the internet say how ashamed they are of what has happened? We all know what’s going on. It’s the people that wrecked downtown Vancouver that haven’t thought this all the way through. Remember our reputation as a no fun city? Imagine how it’s going to be now after the city realizes that even though they put on a huge party downtown for us, WE DID THIS. We’re like the kids that were given a sweet ninja weapons as a birthday gift on the condition that we wouldn’t attack anyone with it and then going and bonking someone in the head with nun-chucks. We screwed up with our fun toy, Vancouver and now our parents might take it away. What happens next playoffs? Sorry, fans…no awesome outdoor viewing screens no one else on the planet would do for a hockey team.

Secondly, the Canucks. Can you imagine how it must be to feel like the city rioted because they lost? Or worse…can you imagine how they’re going to feel NEXT playoffs when we might be here again. They’re going to want to lose just so we don’t burn this place to the ground! The riot didn’t happen because the Canucks lost but they might think that way. Despite what Ryan Whitney will tell you, the Canucks are one of the most desirable teams in the NHL to play for. Do you think players want to play here if they know our fans are psychopaths that will tear this place apart?

So I urge you, please…upload any photos you have of rioters that may assist the police in bringing these criminals to justice. If you aren’t convinced, tell me how I can convince you to do the right thing, right now and if I can convince you to tell everyone you know to do the same. They have stolen from us not only by stealing but by costing the city millions…which is money out of our pockets. Even if they are your family or friends, this was a stupid thing they did. If you aren’t going to identify them to police, I understand. At least talk to them and make sure they know how stupid it is to basically be taking money out of our own pockets and setting it alight. I understand the importance of blood but at least give them grief if you see a picture of a family member standing on top of a flaming, upside-down police car. Either way, we need to see these people punished. Don’t think we can’t do it? Even if that facial recognition is mumbo jumbo…with the internet, someone is bound to know who these jerks are. We have to do this.

If we don’t, how can the Canucks carry on? How can we carry on as a city if every time something cool happens, we burn it all up?

If all of us smart people are all together, we outnumber the idiots. I have to believe that, Vancouver. Let’s do this right the first time. If we don’t all do something, these people have nothing to fear. I hope you love our city and our hockey team as much as I do.

Contact the Vancouver Police Department with photo or video evidence or witness accounts by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 604-717-2541. I’m sure you can contact them any other way too…this is important. I’m sure they’ve got time.

Jun 162011
 

[About the game from two viewpoints. Chris and Caylie watch the game and exchange their thoughts via email.]

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 17:16

Hey Caylie,

Game 7. Vancouver. And biggest game in Luongo’s career.

He’s gonna bring it. He has too!

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 18:06

Hi Chris,

Like many have said, this game will be a huge statement for Luongo.

He wasn’t faced with very many shots in the first, but the one he didn’t see went to the back of the net. I think he thought Recchi was going to shoot it and didn’t even sniff it after Bergeron one timed it. Tough to blame him on that one, the defensive coverage was pretty weak.

It’s one goal, I’m not too worried. The positive is that the floodgates didn’t open after Boston got their first.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 18:09

Hey Caylie,

Louie has already been called on to make a great save in the first and you’re bang on that one from Bergeron was the result of poor defensive coverage from the boys in blue.

That said, Louie needs to board that net up and do everything to keep the puck out to give his boys a shot at getting one or two or three by Thomas.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 19:08

Hi Chris,

Well that wasn’t quite the period we needed from Luongo. I really feel like he should have had that wrap around.

Answer me this if you could, what’s the ruling on that breakaway, shorthanded, goal…wasn’t that goalie interference?

I’m really not trying to be negative but to get 4 goals past Thomas seems like climbing Mt. Everest with no harness.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 19:21

Hey Caylie,

Did Luongo board up the net in the 2nd? No. But he did stop the wrap around initially before it bounced in off of Daniel. And how does a goalie keep a puck out of the net with two players bowling it in?

I’m not sure of the ruling, but my guess is the Bruin had no chance to stop and as he was pulled down by a Canuck, all’s fair.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 20:15

Hi Chris,

This is a tough pill to swallow. Bruins outplayed us today and deserved the win. Congratulations to them.

It’s been one hell of a year with many goals accomplished, unfortunately we just fell short. Hopefully this will fire us up for next season, the same way the Penguins dealt with their Game 7 home loss, a few years back.

Still and will always be proud of the boys and our team. Until next season!

Caylie

Jun 152011
 

We’re a few hours away from the most highly-anticipated game in the 40-year history of the Vancouver Canucks:  Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Canucks and the Boston Bruins.

It’s been a wild and entertaining final with a little bit of everything:  good goaltending, shaky goaltending, last-minute goals, quick overtime finishes, fights, hits, injuries, taunting, and even a suspension.  But for the Vancouver Canucks, even after 7 pre-season games, 82 regular season games, and 24 playoff games, it all comes down to this: one game. 

Winner claims the Stanley Cup, loser laments what could have been.

So as the Canucks and Bruins lace up their skates for game 7, a lot of things that we fans have been concerned with simply don’t matter anymore:

  • It doesn’t matter that the Sedins and Kesler have been relatively ineffective this entire series.
  • It doesn’t matter that Luongo has been stellar at home but poor on the road.
  • It doesn’t matter that Thomas has solidified his hold on the Conn Smythe Trophy.
  • It doesn’t matter that Boychuk didn’t get suspended but Rome did.
  • It doesn’t matter that the Canucks have earned (justified or not) a reputation as divers.
  • It doesn’t matter that Marchand has become public enemy #1 in Vancouver.
  • It doesn’t matter that the home team has won every game in this series.
  • It doesn’t matter that the team that scores first has won every game in this series.
  • It doesn’t matter that EA Sports predicted the Canucks to win this series in 7 (and that they’ve correctly predicted 13 of the 14 playoff series winners).
  • It doesn’t matter what playoff rally cry or motto inspires you, whether it be “This Is What We Live For”, “Bring It Home”, or “Believe”.
  • It doesn’t matter if you think the refereeing has been brutal or biased towards one team or the other.
  • It doesn’t matter if you have certain superstitions or routines as to where you watch, who you watch with, what you wear when you watch, or what you eat when you watch.
  •  It doesn’t matter if Luongo wanted Thomas to pump his tires, clean his windshield, or change his oil.
  • It doesn’t matter that Daniel took 6 straight Marchand punches to the face without retaliating or reacting.

All that matters is what happens on the ice tonight in game 7 at Rogers Arena.  It simply doesn’t get any bigger than this.

Jun 152011
 

When the puck drops for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight, the Canucks will be in a position they’ve been in just one other time in their 40-year history.

Win the game, win the Stanley Cup.

A couple of days ago, Ed posted some nice sentiments about this Cup Run, and he’s right in that, win or lose, the 2010/2011 season has given us some great memories already.

But I’d like to take it one step further – I want them to win the whole damn thing.

I want them to win it for the long-time fans, who’ve suffered through mostly mediocre seasons and whose highlights include two previous losses in the Stanley Cup Finals and a few first and second round exits.

I want them to win it for the new fans, including my parents and youngest sister, who, until this year, rarely watched the games. Now, we spend many game nights watching the Canucks together.

I want them to win it for Luc, who most certainly would’ve been part of this team had tragedy not struck 3 years ago, and whose best friend, Alex Burrows, still honors him with every big goal he’s scored in these playoffs.

I want them to win it for May Ray, who has to watch Game 7 from a Boston hospital with a broken back thanks to a late and reckless hit by Johnny Boychuk.

But most importantly, I want them to win it for each other. Despite their numerous accomplishments on the ice this season and the numerous contributions they’ve given in the community, the Canucks have been vilified by a biased national media, both in Canada and the USA. They’ve been called chokers and cheaters and divers. Their manhood have been questioned and their fanbase have been ridiculed. Most of them have never gone this far in the playoffs, and with the talent and depth that GM Mike Gillis has assembled, this could be their best chance of winning the whole thing. But also for some, it could be their only chance.

This franchise has been the butt of jokes for a lot of their 40 years. A Stanley Cup win would do wonders to change that.

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