Micro-analysis: The joys of living in a hockey town.

Four games into the 2011-2012 NHL season and already talk shows and fans alike are micro-analyzing the Vancouver Canucks.

Ok, if we’re completely honest, it never really stopped did it?

If I’m really really honest, i’m just not into the new season yet. Those of you who know me I am also a CFL freak (Canadian Football League for those NFL folks out there) and my BC Lions are the hottest team in the league at the time of this blog. So with the battle for playoff position brewing and Vancouver hosting the 99th edition of the Grey Cup this season, my attention is admittedly elsewhere. *Shameless plug warning* I also run BCLionsDen.ca, if you would like to check it out.

There are other reasons why the Canucks don’t have my undivided attention yet. The the mental drain of last year’s playoffs and the way things ended last year have been tough to get over. I’m almost there, but not quite. Off-season, we hardly knew you.

I’ve watched parts of every game this year. I’ve been impressed with Cody Hodgson, the Sedin twins are once again displaying outstanding regular season form, and Luongo is once again struggling through his annual October tuneup. Is it the playoffs yet?

I’m a big sports radio guy. I pretty much listen to sports radio all the time in the car, usually the TEAM 1040. I understand this is a hockey market and that the ratings, advertisers and callers dictate that hockey rule the airwaves 90% of the time. But over the first four games of this season, I’ve gotten to thinking how the sports radio hosts on those town have an affect on the hockey fan in Vancouver.

Already they’re talking about how the Canucks aren’t tough enough, how Luongo isn’t good enough and how Marco Sturm is a bust after four games. The “experts” are riling up the masses and fueling the micro-analysis that exists in this rabid hockey town and that’s their job.

Of course social media has given everyone a voice. Bloggers blog, fans tweet, all with their own critiques and opinions. Some are very rational, some not so much, but such is the world of the fan today. It’s certainly provided fans and media with a voice they never had in the past.

In an 82 game season, there are going to be slumps and streaks, peaks and valley’s. As a long time Canucks fan of over 30 years, I’ve see a lot of bad hockey teams. I’ve seen teams that weren’t supposed to do anything excel, and teams that were just crash and burn.

I’ve also learned a lot from the players over the last few years and how they don’t get too high after a win, and too low after a loss.  I’ll admit, I’m not the best fan come playoff time. I’m heavily invested and affected by the outcomes. I wish I could have the calmness and patience of the team, who has much more at stake in the games than I do as a fan. It’s a game by game process with the ultimate goal of making the playoffs and winning the last game you play. That thought process worked last year and the team fell short, but it’s the best process to follow for both players and the fans.

There should be no panic in Canucks Nation, yet you wouldn’t know it listening to some of the radio hosts in this town and the flames they fan with the fans. I always find it amusing when talk show host fill the airwaves with negativity and then in the next breath accuse the callers that interact with of overreacting etc. Some of them should look in the mirror.

I know my passion will come back, it always does. I know that come playoff time I will be glued to every face off, every goal, watching nervously. I do have the “Heart of a Canuck” and that heart will always belong to the green white and blue. Whether Luongo lets in a soft one or Daniel goes four games without a goal.

While it’s great that people are passionate about the Canucks, fueling the success of sports talk radio in our city, the only thing that really matters is what happens come playoff time. So sit back, relax and watch the story unfold game by game in hopes that come playoff time the final result will be different.

Or, you can just keep micro-analyzing every little thing that happens and drive yourself insane. ;-)

Go Canucks go!

The Lighter Side of Luongo

Determined and competitive; Work-horse and driven; Aloof and intense. All adjectives to describe one Roberto Luongo. More often than not, his tenure here in Vancouver has the majority of the public and media alike thinking that Roberto takes life way too seriously and often his game to the point that his intensity and desire to win tend to harm his play rather than help it. Maybe they’re right, perhaps his very competitive nature and focus is a little too much for us average fans and media geeks can fathom.  After all, what the heck do we know about being professional athletes? In theory we know everything, in reality, not so much.

Over the last couple of months, many of us around the nation got to see a ‘lighter side’ of Roberto Luongo.  On TSN, he shared his poetic skills and some humour.  He even wrote for foreword in James Duthie’s new book.  This was something none of us knew about Roberto, and most likely something we never expected. Why would we? He took his job and criticism too seriously, or so we thought.

When Luongo didn’t show up for winning first star in a game the Canucks won not too long ago and not grant Murph a post game interview, some of us made a big deal about it, he was way too intense.  Some out there even decided it was rather ‘diva’-like of him to stand up the crowd the way he did. Was it? Yeah maybe a little, but wouldn’t you be pissed off that you were just a few seconds away from perfection and someone else botched it up for you? I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’d be livid. But then again, like Roberto, I am a bit of a perfectionist.

The one thing that has gotten my attention and the attention of the wise, is the humour and wit Roberto Luongo has inserted in his pre/post game interviews about his play. He’s been brilliantly funny by poking fun of himself and enjoying his time as just one of the guys and not being Captain Canuck. He has kept his critics laughing instead of pointing fingers at his mistakes and his ‘aloofness’. He has even joined in publicly with some remarks about his teammate in the ribbing sense. When he referred to Lee Sweatt as “built like a fire hydrant”, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He has been not only entertaining, but you can see a more relaxed Roberto Luongo who is far more comfortable to have people see him as human.

So he has been able to open up a bit more and show us a more humanistic side of himself and be more open and take more responsibility for his play. So why do so many out there still bash him? I’m not sure to be honest, but I for one have been very happy with his play so far this year, and his demeanor. On top of all the fun stuff, Roberto Luongo has played very well and stolen a few games for the boys as of late. What more could you ask in your number one goalie?  So what I ask is, if Roberto Luongo has lightened up, why can’t his critics?


Justine Galo