Justine Galo, CanucksCorner.com
As I have read through some tweets and Facebook statuses of some friends who are “Canucks” fans, I always get a chuckle when they say players consider us, Canucks fans, the best and most knowledgeable fans in the league. Really? Which players? The Canucks players? Of course they are going to say that, they play in Vancouver! It’s good PR! I know this! I work in PR! I mean, do we really know what the players think? And if there is any ounce of truth to this, why do fans of different franchises consider us on the lower end of the scale when it comes to being ‘knowledgeable’ fans?
I’ve traveled to 28 NHL arenas, and I’ve met fans from all over the league, and I’m going to be the first to say, “Canucks fans, we have a lot to learn.” So why don’t we start with being humble? Here’s why:
Mediocrity Lowers The Bar
If anyone knows the history of the Vancouver Canucks, the uniforms from the late 70s and early 80’s weren’t the only thing ugly about the franchise. In fact, I believe the Canucks overall record isn’t exactly what you call ‘exemplary’! In fact, our expansion twins, the Buffalo Sabres, overall, have been better than the Canucks. We need to make sure that our players are at league standards, not just ‘our’ standards.
Attendance: Not Perfect
When John Ashbridge mentions it on the loud speaker, at Rogers Arena, it’s true! “X” amount of games are sold out “X” amount of times in a row. Of course there is some truth to that, a sold out game doesn’t necessarily mean a full arena in today’s NHL. As long as that ticket is bought and paid for, that it’s a part of the gate.
As a fan-base, we’ve done extremely since the “Burke Years” to come in and watch our Canucks in the stands. But it wasn’t always so. I remember getting off the Skytrain in 1998-1999 and I could buy centre ice middle lower bowl tickets for $40 a pair. No one was in the arena, and no one gave a hoot that was there in attendance. So as a fan-base, where were we? Not at GM Place, that’s for sure.
Hall of Fame-less
With the exception of former Canucks play by play announcer, Jim Robson, the Vancouver Canucks have yet to have a player who made his career in the NHL with the Canucks inducted into the HHOF. No, we cannot count Cam Neely. The Canucks threw him away to Boston and he became a star. Mats Sundin will be in the HHOF as well, but let’s not even go there, a half a season with Vancouver doesn’t make him the Canucks inductee.
Stanley Park is Vancouver’s only Stanley
And although the Millionaires won the Stanley Cup in 1915, it doesn’t mean the NHL Vancouver team has won a cup for the city. In fact, just because Canucks Sports and Entertainment finally purchased the rights to the Millionaires’ intellectual property doesn’t mean we can count their cup win as ‘ours’. Stanley in Vancouver means a big green space in the downtown core. I still patiently wait for the ‘challis of dreams’.
I’m not pointing out things like this to say that Vancouver is a bad fan-base and we don’t know our team, but maybe we should think about how the team has looked on a bigger scale. A scale that is beyond the city and beyond the doors of Rogers Arena, in one with the rest of the hockey world.
One time, when I was in St. Louis and in attendance for a Blues and Blue Jackets game, I remembered the amazing fans I met there (I have similar stories from Columbus, Long Island etc etc) and how well they knew not only the NHL but the game of hockey itself. I was impressed how they broke down the opponent of the Blues that night and what they thought of my Canucks. No bashing, no arrogance, just great shared knowledge and appreciation. It has to be one of my most memorable moments ever in a visitor’s home arena.
As we cling to our Naslunds, Lindens, Sedins, Luongos in our corner of the NHL, there are teams with richer histories, with HOF players and many victories in cup finals. We have franchises and fans that have been around prior to the 20th century. Generations upon generations of fans who have passed down their knowledge down their lineage. Yet when I go and visit with their fans, I feel like I am still learning. I relish being able to learn hockey beyond the Canucks and the city of Vancouver.
As a fan of the Canucks of 30 years, I’d just like to share that we don’t have to be the most knowledgeable or the most passionate, I don’t want to be known to the rest of the league of as a fan base of whiners and arrogant wannabes. I’ve always taken pride in the fact I am a Canucks fan, but I’ve taken more pride knowing that I can appreciate most other teams and fan-bases around the league. I just want that reciprocated, and it all starts by taking a step back and being a little more humble.