Are the Vancouver Canucks Embraced as Canada's Team?

Bobby Brooks@BrooksBetsAnalyst IIIJune 1, 2011

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 22:  Vancouver Canucks fans show their support during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals between the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 22, 2011 in San Jose, California. The Canucks defeated the Sharks 4-2.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It wasn't too long ago that Rogers Sportsnet's Stephan Brunt put together a video on this very question and since then the piece has gone viral.

Given the fact that a Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup since 1993, one might think that the obvious answer would be "yes." Of course the nice citizens of Canada are bonding together to support the sole remaining team in the 2011 NHL playoffs.

Not so fast, my friend.

In Brunt's video essay, he makes a number of interesting points.

Among them:

  • Hockey fans on the East Coast do not stay up late enough to watch Vancouver during the regular season.
  • Visiting announcers do not know the names of the players without a program.
  • When the Canucks have been to the finals in the past, they were easily overshadowed by the high-glamor New York Rangers.

He does make a case for his thesis. Many eastern media members publicly admit on air that they don't see enough of Vancouver during the year and that they hope their games do not go into overtime too often. Mark Messier's guarantee and chants of "1940" do seem to make for a sexier storyline as well.

But after watching this video I wondered if this was one media member's opinion on the matter, or was there more to it than that?

The closest Canadian province is Alberta—home of two NHL hockey teams. In 2004, many Edmontonians embraced the Calgary Flames on their march for the cup. Roles were reversed two years later when Edmonton went on their magical run.  

So why is it that both cities appear to be saying "no way" to Vancouver? The Calgary Sportsnet Radio Fan 960 have a slogan ABC which stands for Anybody But the Canucks! The Edmonton Post ran a poll and 55 percent of their respondents said "no thanks."

Just a couple days ago the Vancouver Sun posted a story online which featured 26 testimonials from fans across the country and the undisputed theme was anti-Vancouver.

The National Post ran an infamous headline that read: "Canucks as Canada's Team? No thanks."

I thought maybe I could find some East Coast Canucks fans on the Internet in the depths of social media. Nope. A Facebook page titled "Canucks Fans in Toronto" had a measly 68 members.

Some East Coast sportswriters even claim that Vancouver isn't really Canadian and that the only thing beyond the Rocky Mountains is the great abyss.

Where does this nationwide sentiment come from? It wasn't too long ago that the country rejoiced as Canada set records during the 2010 Olympic Games. The euphoria felt in Vancouver appeared to spread through the country like wildfire emotional contagion. Are there no warm and fuzzy leftover feelings from that?

As a Habs fan living in Vancouver, I too can say that I don't feel an overwhelming urge to jump on the Canucks bandwagon and it has nothing to do with any anti-Canucks sentiments. You see, there are thousands of Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens fans in the province of British Columbia and many of them were around long before Vancouver had a team. 

The pain and suffering they have experienced over the last four decades is theirs and theirs alone. To suddenly switch allegiances to go along for the ride just wouldn't be right and I'm not sure any of them would want to welcome us on that wagon either.

They've paid their dues as fans and now they might be on the cusp of reaping all the rewards as well.

But let's try to answer the question, why isn't the rest of Canada getting behind this team?

To start with, the Canucks have been top dogs all season long. They won the Presidents' Trophy and whipped everybody's butts. It's not like they are an underdog team going up against a big, bad American powerhouse. That hurts their case right off the bat.

Secondly, who are the Canadians on the team that the country is going to identify with? 

Ryan Kesler? American.

The Sedins? Swedish.

Roberto Luongo? Ok he's Canadian, that's a start.

The truth is, there are more players on this team that rub people the wrong way. Kesler and Burrows are great two-way players, excellent heart and soul soldiers, but both of them dive, embellish and gleefully get under your skin.

It didn't help that they went out and added Lapierre and Torres to the mix—two more pests that border on dirty edge of the rulebook.

I haven't even gotten to the Green Men yet. Personally, I think they are great, but there's no denying how polarizing they have been this postseason. Most like them, some can't stand them and then there's Don Cherry and Glenn Healy.

Even if Canada does not want to embrace Vancouver as their own, the Stanley Cup itself might not care. Vancouver boasts a park named after Lord Stanley himself and it is only fitting that the cup might return home at least one time along its historic path.

No, this Northern California city doesn't have the traditional Canadian winter blues or any hockey history that anyone is remotely familiar with, but Canucks fans do stand united as one and live and die with their team.

Despite the fact that everyone is sick and tired of hearing how beautiful the city is and how it wins the most livable city in the world honors every year, at the end of the day I'm not sure how much Canucks fans care.

It is their pain, their glory, and their team.

Even if the rest of us remain indifferent.


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