Guest Post – Thomas Drance on Canucks fandom
TAS Note: You may already know Thom as the editor of Canucks Army and a prolific blogger. I had asked him for a few thoughts on being a Canucks fan for this post on suffering, and he sent me this. I couldn’t bring myself to cut it up for my own main post, so I posted it in full here. You can read Semi’s take here.
Being a Canucks fan is so hard, that the pain of watching the team lose isn’t what I’m worried about. At least, not primarily.
Don’t get me wrong here, the day after Canucks are eliminated from the postseason is the worst day of every year of my life. Every year it means the same thing, it means I’m one year closer to dying without getting to see the Canucks lift the cup. I’m practiced at watching the Canucks lose, but that has never made it any easier. My primary worry doesn’t even stem from the fact that the Canucks have often done worse than “lose” in their history: they’ve lost in ways without precedent, they’ve lost memorably, and they’ve lost spectacularly…
Allow me to digress, consider that no franchise without a Stanley Cup win in their history has ever made it to a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and lost, that is except for the Canucks franchise, which has done so twice. In the second of those two Game 7 losses, the Canucks became the first team in history to be shutout during a Stanley Cup Final Game 7.
At least to lose in the Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final you have to actually get there, which is great, because for the first 24 years of the franchise’s history: they were the LA Clippers on ice. They made a Cinderella run in 1982 before they were swept, but that was a one off miracle. An oasis of postseason success that broke up a monotonous, unending waste of mediocrity.
Luckily I wasn’t a fan then, but my father used to tell me that “falling” for the Canucks was a stupid thing to do. His high-minded advice, however, wasn’t enough to stop him from taking me to nearly every playoff home game during the 1994 cup run. Two games stand out particularly, the first was Game 3 of the 1994 Conference Final series against the Maple Leafs, a game which just happened to take place on my 7th birthday. That game featured a massive bench clearing brawl between the Leafs and the Canucks (just doesn’t happen anymore), two slick Pavel Bure tallies, and a Kirk MacLean shutout.
The other one that stands out was Game 6 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final against the Rangers. That was a big one, the Canucks were down 3-2 in the series and needed to win to force a Game 7. The Canucks prevailed that evening, and it was a fantastic game, one I’ve watched several times since, but what I remember best was the drive to the stadium. My dad was doing the humane thing and lowering his newly minted 7-year-old son’s expectations. He reminded me that no one had expected the Canucks to even get there. Then his voice got serious, “But if the Canucks lose tonight, and the Rangers win the Stanley Cup” he said, “there’ll be no crying, and we’re not going to leave early, and we’re not going to boo them.”
I may be making this up, but the way I remember it, I responded by asking: “We’re not even going to boo Messier?” “Not even Messier. This is the Stanley Cup, and if you’re lucky enough to be at a game where it’s raised, even if your team just lost, you’ll never forget it for the rest of your life, and you have to respect the accomplishment.” This obviously happened 18 years ago, so take those quotes with the grain of salt they’re due. But seriously, you don’t forget things like that.
Twice the Canucks have been on the brink of hoisting the Cup I was told so solemnly to respect, and twice they’ve been defeated. Both times, the city has reacted to the other-worldly disappointment by rioting. So yeah, it’s painful when your team loses, but I also once walked out of GM Place after watching Todd Bertuzzi pummel Steve Moore into the ice from behind, breaking his neck in the middle of a blowout. I’ve walked out of a stadium thinking “man, I am embarrassed to be a Canucks fan.”
Watching your team lose is tough, that was worse.