Vancouver Canucks: How One Team Must Carry the Weight of an Entire Province
Some people will never realize the luxury of having more than one sports team in their state.
Amongst the four major sports (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL):
That's 40 major sports team between FOUR states. Given the stature of some of those teams, a major sports title could arrive every year to that state.
This brings me to my case of Vancouver, Canada.
Vancouver at one time was sporting the Grizzlies along with the Canucks, but even that seems so far long ago. The Canucks once again have to carry the weight of having to provide a major sports title to Western Canada.
Recently, I visited my cousin in Vancouver where we took a long drive on the interstate and just talked about hockey. It's not a sport or lifestyle; it's a RELIGION. It's all Vancouver has to hold on to.
You turn on the radio to 1040 AM in Vancouver and its Canucks hockey mixed in with some recaps of other things going on. Compare this to New York, where you put on 660 AM and you get a mix of Mets and Yanks, along with the occasional talk about Eli Manning or the Jets.
He went on to say that he follows the Seahawks and Mariners for football and baseball respectively, but that gives you some perspective on how some Vancouver fans have to live; they have to root for the local team that is three hours away.
Vancouver revolves around the Canucks. It's almost in the sense of how football is in England with loyal supporters for all the Premier League clubs.
Expectations and disappointment run parallel with the Canucks of late. Since the 2003-04 NHL season, Vancouver has either finished in first place or missed the playoffs.
Just think how that must feel. The last two trips to the playoffs have been the same, where the Canunks have won in the quarterfinals and lost in the semifinals.
The heart break is devastating and incomparable to none. If the Red Sox fail to make the playoffs, New Englanders can find safety in the Patriots, who will succeed barring any freak injury to their star quarterback.
There was also the time when the Pistons hit a slump and failed to kick it into that extra gear to win the NBA Finals. When this happened, Detroit still knew its "Hockeytown" Red Wings were a perennial threat to win it all.
What about Vancouver?
Once the Canucks lose and get out of the playoffs, it's back to depression and hibernation until November when the season starts up again.
Think about that for a second; a place like Texas has a season where early spring transitions from the Mavs, Rockets, Spurs, and Stars to the Rangers or Astros. By the time late summer or fall comes around, the Cowboys and Texans last until December-January, to which all attention goes to their three basketball teams.
Where is there a luxary like this for Vancouver?
For many people, the belief is that a big market and big dollars will bring stars to their city. Looking at the New York Rangers of the early 2000's, they sported big names.
Eric Lindros, Bobby Holik, Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Kovalev, Theo Fleury, and Brendan Shanahan are just some names that come to mind to further prove to the "Big Market, Big Money Theory."
So either Vancouver is a big market or players love the city. It's not like the Canucks can't attract big players or haven't had their fair share of stars.
Pavel Bure, Mark Messier, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden, and Ed Jovanovski are just a few of the big names from over the last 10 years.
To keep it current, the Canucks have had the Sedin sisters (no that's not a typo, I really do refer to them as the Sedin sisters), Mats Sundin, Pavol Demitra, and that stalwart of a keeper in Roberto Luongo, within the last five years.
This offseason is by far the biggest time of the year for the Canucks.
Mats Sundin, Jeff Cowan, Rob Davison, Jason LaBarbera, Mattias Ohlund, Taylor Pyatt, the Sedin sisters, and Ossi Vaananen are all unrestricted free agents.
Jannik Hansen, Shane O'Brien, and Kyle Wellwood are restricted free agents. Take this with the fact that they have the dilemma of Roberto Luongo possibly leaving next offseason after his repeated refusals to sign an extension, and suddenly Mike Gillis, the General Manager of the Canucks, has a full plate.
Life could not be harder for a Canucks fan.
With the demands of the Sedins (they each want a 12-year $63 million deal, which is $10.5 million per year for 150 points between two players), Luongo's situation, and the main concern of re-signing Ohlund, Vancouver may need to make some moves. This could be a long offseason for the Canucks.
Keep your heads up Canuck's fans; you root for one team and one team only. There are few people in this world that can say that.
Instead of bouncing from sport to sport as the seasons go by, you stand by and live-and-die by the Canucks. I admire that.
When all hope seems lost, just remember one thing; at least you're not a Cubs fan waiting for a tomorrow that will never come.
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