Anti-Canucks Assessment, Gretzky’s Gall, and a Lebron/Heat chime-in.
This year’s Stanley Cup Final is just so incredibly polarizing in terms of how valuable home-ice advantage is, it’s amazing. Name another series where you’ve seen one team lose on the road either by shutout, or only by 1 goal (and not score more than 2), but then upon returning home absolutely obliterate their opponents by scores more fitting of low-scoring football games. I’ve never been much a believer in home-ice advantage affecting the outcome of games – obviously it’s nice to play in your own digs, not have to travel, have extra prep time, the comfort of your own dressing room, and the support of your home fans – but in the end, all those things are only small advantages, not game outcome determiners; and all those things can go right out the window if the visiting team gets up a goal or two. But to see the home team’s scores in each game; it’s enough to think that those little advantages have added up somehow. Besides the fact that the Stanley Cup will be awarded in the next 2 games, it’ll be interesting to see if the winner claims victory on the road or at home. As I’ve written about before, for the winner’s sake, I hope it’s on their home turf (which now, can only be Vancouver).
Speaking of which, I’ve been contemplating my storied anti-Vancouver Canucks stance more and more as the Canucks have pushed the envelope as far as they have this season. If I had to whittle down to the root of my hatred, it’s always come down to 2 ultimate factors: 1) The Canucks are always heavily favoured to win by local fans and media, always choke, and have never won the Cup; and therefore 2) their crazy, rabid riot-prone fans cannot accurately claim them to be the best (though they have always continued to do so) without having done just that. You may or may not hate the Oilers, Flames, Leafs, Habs, Ducks, Bruins, Hawks, Avalanche, Stars, Wings, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, or Penguins; but the fact remains that those teams have all got it done (at least once), and they and their fans will always have that to hang over Vancouver and their fans until they win.
I guess it comes down to your fandom rooting – I respect a fan that has been cheering for their team from the start, through the dark times, and finally has their cheering rewarded; but I also respect cheering for a team that is rooted in success. Both Finals teams offer desirable conclusions to both scenarios.
My latest thought on my personal stance is that if indeed the Canucks were to finally win their first Stanley Cup, I would have to at least reconsider my policy on cheering against this seemingly cursed-to-lose franchise, and perhaps even motion to enter fandom of said team. Geographically, I should be on board as a resident of BC (though I’m from Kelowna, not Vancouver; a city that prides itself on not being Vancouver), but truth be told I’ve always been an “against-the-grain” kind of guy, and have no problem cheering for or aligning with the less popular. This is a whole other ball of wax too; as it’s come to my attention that the Canucks are the object of many people’s hate throughout this continent (outside of BC of course); and that in itself, is oddly attractive to me.
I can’t say I care for bangwagoners, and I would be afraid of being viewed as such. If I were a current Canucks fan that learned someone like me was considering jumping ship to their side, I probably wouldn’t welcome me with open arms after the deserved slogging I’ve given them since I was aware they existed. Hey, if Wayne Gretzky can jump ship from endorsing Coke to Pepsi, and Bret Hart can come back to WWE, then maybe I can come around on the Canucks. I have to admit, I love the U2 game-entrance music, and the Vancouver fans are probably the best at singing O Canada as a group.
I’m not saying this will actually happen (they have to win first, of course), but it’s running through my mind. I think in the end I’m most likely too far gone, but it may be a very brief window to rid some hate from my brain. Maybe I’m just proving myself a poor anti-fan.
And lastly, the Miami Heat. I don’t have much to say other than wow, that sure didn’t work out like it was supposed to. Quite frankly, I think Lebron deserved the negative attention he drew, but I can’t say I wanted to see such an incredible athlete lose. They probably should have paid more attention to the Mavericks though, who apparently also really wanted to win. One other thought I had was of Gretzky and the Oilers’ dynasty days – they didn’t win the Cup the first time they made it to the Finals either (I know the Heat have won before, I am comparing the current roster to that roster), and we all know what ended up following. I’d be very surprised if Lebron James wasn’t an NBA Champion at some point.