Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why It's Hard Not to Hate the Canucks

Tomorrow night, the Vancouver Canucks could win the first Stanley Cup in their history. And I kinda wish I could actually be happy about that prospect.

I'd really like to like the Canucks. I've tried. It just doesn't feel right.

I mean, they're Ben's team. I should like them for that reason alone.

They're also a Canadian team, which should matter. It's silly to suggest that we shouldn't consider them "Canada's Team" because they have fewer Canadians on the roster than the Boston Bruins; if that's the case, there's no point in hoping that the Blue Jays will bring a World Series "to Canada" as, until they add Brett Lawrie, they don't have a single Canadian on their 40-man roster.

But it's still so difficult to like the Canucks.

Now, Boston's not perfect. Shawn Thornton and Brad Marchand are giant pests, and Claude Julien is a pretty whiny coach.

But it's still so difficult to like the Canucks.

I mean, let's just start right at the top.

There is a joke that, when Maxim Lapierre was traded from the Canadiens to the Ducks, Alexandre Despatie was, once again, the best diver in Canada. I suppose he's still the best diver in Eastern Canada.

Think how hard it must have been to score the game winning goal in Game 5 after sustaining this damage in the first period.

Of course, Lapierre's linemates are stand-up citizens as well. Alex "Jaws" Burrows one-upped himself in this series. Burrows was perhaps most famous for his feud with official Stephane Auger, whom Burrows claims unfairly targets him for penalties. Then he chowed down on Patrice Bergeron.1 He didn't particularly deserve to be disciplined - especially if Nathan Horton wasn't displined for squirting a fan with water - but that still doesn't mean it was okay.

Alex Burrows

And Raffi Torres - scorer of Game 1's game winner - has had his fair share of disciplinary problems for some of his less-than-clean hits, including one on Montreal's Max Pacioretty, so let's not get all holy about Chara's hit.

And then there's the Aaron Rome hit on Horton, which, while not particularly dirty, was definitely devastating, and probably wouldn't have been as bad if Horton had seen or expected it coming.

And those are just third liners and third-pair defenseman.

You've got goaltender Roberto Luongo, who derides Boston's Tim Thomas' play, saying Lapierre's goal would be "an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and agressive [like Thomas], that's going to happen."

For whatever reason, he seems to have forgotten his poor play in Games 3 and 4, and feels it's not less than classy to take a dig at the opposing team's goalie, who has surrendered 1, 3, 1, 0, and 1 goals to his 0, 2, 8, 4, and 0.

What time is it in Boston? 12 past Luongo.

Ryan Kesler is undoubtedly the team's leader in these playoffs, despite not wearing the Captain's C, and takes that role to a new level by constantly making sure the officials hear his various objections. He also occasionally does his best to live up to Bobby Clarke's standards of leadership, acting his absolute toughest when ducking behind a teammate or official.

Ryan Kesler

And speaking of tough guys, check out a couple of Kevin Bieksa's fights this postseason:

Neither are anywhere near fighters, and while Stalberg did pretty much earn some justice, Marleau has more career goals than freaking penalty minutes. Plus, he always seems happy to make sure to get the final punch in during a scrum.

Even the team's brass can't be counted on for class. You've got GM Mike Gillis complaining about a less-than-level playing field in the team's first round series with Chicago, and head coach Alain Vigneault commenting on the skill of Boston's players (particularly Thomas).

Sigh. Like I said, I'd love to like Vancouver, but it's so easy to dislike them. From management down, they play the "Poor us" card, while seemingly taking every advantage possible. Now, the Bruins are no saints, and Boston sports fans tend to be unendingly obnoxious, but I'll take Zdeno Chara and pseudo-Irish douchebag fans over Maxim Lapierre and the Green Men.

1 - Allegedly. It's not really all that clear, and as Bergeron didn't act as though his arm had been bitten off, who knows?

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