We gather here today to remember the 2009-10 Vancouver Canucks, may they rest in peace burn in hell.
People often ask me: "Why the hate-on for the Canucks?" and I just don't know what to tell them. Is it because, being in the Northwest Division, they are one of the Flames' natural rivals? Is it because they once fielded a team that included two of the league's dirtiest players in Matt Cooke and Jarkko Ruutu, or because the organization and its fans stood behind Todd Bertuzzi after he broke Steve Moore's neck and his career? Because the now infamous "Laser Douche," desperate to give his team any advantage possible, smuggled a green laser pointer into GM Place and attempted to blind Miikka Kiprusoff and nobody ousted him? Because of the insufferable "Loooooooouuuuu" chants, or that, despite never having won the Stanley Cup in their forty year history, the majority, or at least the most vocal majority, of their predominantly fair-weather fans continue to arrogantly boast about what little success their team has had with an inherent sense of superiority and formulate excuses and conspiracies to explain away its failures when the truth is uglier than a crack-addicted prostitute in withdrawal on East Hastings? Why yes, yes it is.
This year was supposed to be different for the Vancouver Canucks. This was supposed to be "their year." Some were so convinced of Roberto Luongo's the Canucks' prowess that they picked them as this year's Stanley Cup Champions. After all, they finished second in the league in scoring led by Henrik Sedin picking apart inferior competition en route to his Hart Trophy nomination, professional divers Alex Burrows and Mikael Samuelsson apparently touched by the graces of the Hockey Gods, and a goalie who allowed Brian McGrattan to score his first goal in 92 games in a game against the Flames in early October. Brian McGrattan.
Surely, there would be no unceremonious second round flame-out at the hands of a younger, faster, all-around superior team this spring. Not after Roberto Luongo's famous "see you in the playoffs" remark to Patrick Kane in the handshake line following Canada's gold medal victory over the Americans, after he allowed the tying goal with under thirty-seconds remaining and crushed the dreams of thirty-two million Canadians, only to be redeemed by the heroic tandem of Jarome Iginla and Sidney Crosby. This Canucks squad had learnt from their mistakes, overcome their demons; they were ready. Instead of presumptuously asking fans to send in their Stanley Cup parade routes after a first round victory, the City of Vancouver merely declared "Canucks Day" after the local heroes unconvincingly ousted the L.A. Kings in six games. That, my friends, is progress.
Yes, this year's second round loss the the Chicago Blackhawks was different; for about 160 minutes. Vancouver dominated game one and made Antti Niemi look like the rookie he was in a 5-1 victory at the United Centre while the Blackhawks fumbled every pass and missed their defensive assignments. The same can be said of the first forty minutes of game two, until the Hawks, down 2-1 heading into the third period, stormed back with three unanswered goals to square the series before heading back to the previously friendly confines of GM Place, where the visitors were victorious twice more, helped along by the outright stupidity of the likes of Shane O'Brien and Alex Burrows, whose senseless penalties cost the Canucks dearly and earned them a new moniker. This implosion had many hoping the Blackhawks would dispose of our nemeses sooner than expected, but alas, on the brink of elimination, the Canucks secured a game five victory to delay the inevitable. Yes, Patrick Kane only scored once in game six rather than three times, Luongo allowed just five goals rather than seven, a marked improvement in his mind, and the Hawks closed out the series with a fitting 5-1 victory culminating not in tears, but boos and beer showers. Let it be known that Canucks fans, much like the Sedins in playoff form, can't aim:
Sure, the Canucks' blueline was decimated by injuries. Sami Salo played game six with one functional testicle and Willie Mitchell was sitting in a darkened room penning his pointed critique of Colin Campbell. However, that does little to account for Vigneault being out-coached by Joel Quenneville, the team's incompetent penalty kill, Luongo's poor performances (prompting this Canucks fan to put the goalie up for sale on Craig's List), or the failure of Vancouver's best forwards to bulge the twine.
But the Canucks will be back next year; they have a whole summer to recuperate, providing Mike Gillis with sufficient time to piss away his budget without ever acquiring a defenceman. They'll climb to the top of a weakened Northwest Division, likely with little competition, and easily defeat whatever first round opponent comes their way before losing their composure and shooting themselves in the foot in round two, as seems to have become an annual tradition like Christmas or a birthday, and hockey fans everywhere will celebrate accordingly.
A final note to all you self-congratulatory Canucks fans who will repeatedly remind us that losing in the second round is better than missing the playoffs: Welcome to the world of perennial disappointment, unrealistic projections, unachievable expectations, and the forever unattainable "potential."
You're going to hate it.