After going one by one through each NHL team message board the past couple of days and asking the question, why do they hate us? Some things have been made very clear.
- In almost every market in the Eastern USA the common response as to why they hate the Canucks seems to be quite simple, they don't. Most of them could actually care less about the Canucks as not only do they rarely meet with the current structure of the NHL schedule, but they have bigger fish to fry in terms of their divisional rivals. There was one New York Rangers fan who ever so eloquently put it "F the Canucks, they are overrated and they suck" Interesting, even though almost nobody was willing to bite, a New Yorker swoops in to save the day. One common topic found out east was definately a hatred for the Boston Bruins, something we can all share. Surprisingly to me anyways, this was pretty much the same opinion of Eastern based Canadian teams. Montreal and Toronto are to busy hating each other to care, and Ottawa is just looking for someone to have an opinion on them one way or another.
- You then have teams like Columbus, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis who really for the most part also are pretty indifferent to the Canucks and cited losing to us year after year as their mean reason for the dislike.
- As I ventured south to see what the fans of these teams thought about the Canucks, I discovered something not all too surprising to me. Most of the teams don't even have message boards on their website, so it made it very difficult for me to even find someone. As with the majority of the NHL I decided that their opinion didn't matter because they barely have any fans and the majority of them won't even have teams in the near future.
- Finally I got around to our biggest rivals, western Canadian divisional foes, previous playoff opponents and fan bases that caught me off guard. The going consensus with fans from Chicago, Boston, Edmonton, Detroit, Colorado was that the Canucks are a bunch of whiners, divers, and hypocrites with bigheaded fans who have absolutely no reason to puff out their chests, as they have never won a thing. Led by of course their "alien twins who can't even shave their faces differently” Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault were also pointed out time after time as a gm and coach who are constantly complaining to the league. Really? Not the way I see it, seems to me they go out of their way to keep their mouth shut most of the time.
The fan bases that caught me rather off guard were San Jose, LA, Dallas and Anaheim. The amount of feedback and previously posted material on the message boards on each one of these teams’ websites was an absolute gold mine. They echoed the same sentiment as our other rivals and went even further, which I was somewhat taken back by as none of these teams are in our division or are really historical rivals of ours, outside of maybe LA. It's my belief that the fact Canucks fans now travel so well, and these are 4 of the easiest accessible markets for them to go see a game, where they generally vastly outnumber the home crowd, and win has something to do with this.
San Jose fans were by far the most aggressive bunch I spoke with. A lot of the fans on that website remarked over and over again that while they had previously hated the Canucks prior to last years western conference final showdown, it reached an all new high as they believe we got every single bounce and lucked our way through the whole series. The main piece of evidence of course being Kevin Bieksa's series winning goal that bounced off the stanchion and landed right on his stick.
When I decided to do this little piece I already knew exactly what most of the response would be, but it's a topic that won't go away in Vancouver and I wanted to see how much validity there was to it. One thing I heard over and over again was that if I didn't know why, then I was clueless. Way to miss the point boys. Another one was the Canucks fans are far to concerned with other peoples views of them and their team. After all of the people I talked to a came to the conclusion that the Vancouver Canucks are not the most hated team in the NHL, far from it actually. It seems to me nothing more than a complete over reaction by the sports media in this city to get people talking. From what I can see hatred is something that is strictly location based in the NHL for the most part, teams in the east hate the east, and teams in the west hate the west. The Vancouver Canucks definitely were the most hated team from the fans of the other 14 teams in the western conference though, as were the Boston Bruins the most hated of the 15 teams out east. This bodes very well should the 2 teams meet in the finals again this year as I suspect we'd have the east cheering for the west and the west cheering for the east, who are you going to cheer for?
The way I've felt for quite a while now is it's good to be hated, which means you're doing what you're supposed to do in a professional sports league, winning games. How many people do you think absolutely despise the Columbus Blue Jackets? Well, besides their own fans, but that's beside the point here.
The Vancouver Canucks have spent nearly 3/4 of their first 41 years as a mediocre team, down right horrible for a lot of it, and nobody cared. We were welcomed into every arena because it was easy win night and we were the loveable losers. Now we are becoming a dominant team in hockey, and people don't like it. I think Canucks fans need to enjoy this while they can, because there's going to come a time again when they aren't a top tier team, and we'll be back to people not caring about us, in either conference.