Dear Vancouver Canucks: Fuck. Off.
You know how some sports fans don’t deserve the teams that they cheer for—looking at you Gretzky-era Edmonton ice farmers, Boston’s endless acres of white trash, and everyone living in Florida, for no other reason than they still think Trump won the election.
With 50-plus years of finding new and pathetic ways to shit the bed, the Canucks are a true rarity, which is to say a franchise that doesn’t deserve the sad sacks, rubes, and endlessly optimistic suckers who root for them.
The most recent of a never-ending parade of 100,000 cuts has been yesterday’s completely dispirited 4-1 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
Your forefathers might remember the Pens as one of the NHL’s most hapless franchises back in the ’70s, which also happened to be the first decade of existence for the NHL's most famously sad franchise not named the Buffalo Sabres.
In the ensuing decades the Penguins have gone on to win five Stanley Cups. The Vancouver Shitlucks, err, Canucks have won a grand total of fucking zero. There are 12 active teams who've never won hockey's biggest prize, the majority of them relativey new franchises like the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Las Vegas Golden Knights. Along with the Sabres, Vancouver is the oldest team to remains cupless.
What might hurt the most is the ongoing foolish conviction of the team’s ever-idiotic fan base that things are finally going to go the Canucks’ way.
There's a long history there.
Ask your great-grandparents about the June 11, 1970 expansion draft, and the roulette wheel that set the template for a curse that endures today. Or, you know, hop on Wikipedia for a quick history lesson
The gold-star chip in play in that year was Gilbert Perreault, a junior sensation pegged as a franchise-defining superstar long before he laced up the skates for his first NHL game.
Hoping to land Perreault were two expansion teams: the Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks. Two days before the draft, then-league president Clarence Campbell decided that both new franchises would spin a roulette wheel to decide the winner by chance.
Guess who lost, and ended up with Dale Tallon?
Today, Gilbert Perreault is a proud member of the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Dale Tallon is apparently a pretty good golfer.
With that first epic loss, the template was set: years of futility, followed by an occasional surprise season that suggested it’s all finally going to get better, followed again by more hopeless fucking futility.
The most recent bit of trickery has, of course, been the start of the 2021/22 season. With a roster that includes should-be all-star shoe-ins Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, and Thatcher Demko, no one expected an endless early horror show. Especially considering J.T. Miller, Conor Garland, and rescue-project Oliver Ekman-Larsson were also in the mix.
But you know what Shitluck fans? You’ve been fucking fooled. Again. Because it’s not even American Thanksgiving, and already the Vancouver Canucks are making their tee-time reservations for next spring.
And the worst thing about that is that’s its part of an endless pattern.
No one, for example, expected the 1981-82 Canucks to crash and bang their way right into the Stanley Cup final, where they were immediately disposed of by the dynasty-era New York Islanders. But they sure as hell expected better things from a follow-up season where the team squeaked into the playoffs with a losing record and was promptly shit-kicked in round one by Calgary Flames.
The next great trick, after a decade of futility, came in 1994. As sure as Pavel Bure is the sexiest beast to have ever worn a Vancouver Canucks uniform, everyone in this town was convinced, after games 1, 2, and 6 that one of the most pathetic NHL teams not named the Toronto Maple Leafs was finally going to win the Stanley Cup.
The not-so-golden memories from the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals include, in no particular order: future potato-chip pimp Mark Messier (and man shit-scared of Larry Robinson) cheapshotting Trevor Linden near the end of a Game 6 that New York had already lost; Canuck Nathan LaFayette hitting a post in the dying seconds of a Game 7 that Vancouver would ultimately lose; and a good old-fashioned citywide riot.
Over the next decade (which included the indignity of seeing Messier doing absolutely sweet fuck-all in a Canucks uniform) it was mostly a return to more endless losing. Even then the team was great—hello West Coast Express—it still lost when it shouldn’t have, especially when the playoffs rolled around.
And then things finally got good. As in really, undeniably good, with the Vancouver Canucks circa-2010 finally becoming the class of the league. President’s trophies. Individual scoring titles. Swagger. And a certainty that, finally, after 40 years, the Stanley Cup would be coming to the West Coast for a victory parade.
Remember 2011? How the Canucks won the first two games of the finals against the Boston Bruins, and everyone in this city went “Holy fuck. The Vancouver Canucks are finally going to win the Stanley Cup!”? And how, after going up 3 games to 2 with home-ice advantage, everyone finally went “Holy fuck. The Vancouver Canucks are finally going to win the Stanley Cup!”?
And how the Shitlucks promptly became one of only five teams in history to lose the finals after going up 2-0.
The most golden memories of that run a decade later? That would be, in no particular order: world-class rat-fuck Brad Marchand speedbagging Daniel Sedin while every Canuck watched; Roberto Luongo playing falling-face-first redwood every time the Bruins scored in game 7 at GM Place; and a citywide riot that made the ’94 bridge-and-tunnel-people "celebration" look like a practice run.
And what’s followed? That would be a decade of bed-shitting, on-the-fly “rebuilding” to maximize nonexistent playoff revenue, and more bed-shitting. Except that this year it was finally supposed to be different. We had Boeser, Hughes, Pettersson, and Demko. And Miller, Garland, and Ekman-Larsson. And you know what—it’s exactly, as David Byrne might have said with the Talking Heads, same-as-it-fucking-ever-was.
It’s November 25. This year's edition of the Vancouver Shitlucks are 6-12-2 and won't be making the playoffs. Again.
Coach Travis Green appears to have totally lost the room. General manager Jim Benning has clearly misread the chemistry of the locker room, not to mention how much autonomy he'd have working for the Aquilini family. The fans have, quite forgivably, started wearing paper bags on their heads to the rink. If Canucks' jerseys didn't cost two days salary, they'd be burning them on sticks outside Rogers Arena.
And only the most deluded of long-time season-ticket holders are convinced that somehow, things are going to be better. That gives them everything in common with the generations upon generations of Canucks fans that have come before them.
Except nothing ever gets better when you’re a Shitlucks fan. Which I'm ashamed to say that I am. But thank fuck I also love and root for another team: the Washington Capitals. As endlessly and famously disappointing and underachieving as they’ve been over the years, at least they have a Stanley Cup.
So go Caps. And go Seattle Kraken, who have the best name in hockey. And Blue Jackets. And Preds.
As for the Canucks: Fuck. Off. This endlessly suffering city does not deserve you. And in case it's not clear, as the team swirls the toilet once again in 2021, that’s not meant as a compliment.
Now, in case you aren't already angry enough, here's something that should make your blood boil just a little more, especially if you're old enough to remember it. Jim Robson is God. As is Trevor Linden. The Vancouver Canucks didn't deserve either of them either.