<table border=0 align=center width=80%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/macri_headshot.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>An Open Letter to the Hockey Gods.
Hey there Hockey Gods,
How’s it going up there? Pretty good, I’m sure. You live on a cloud as fluffy and soft as a kitten taped to a puppy, and if I understand correctly, you have limitless reserves of Philadelphia brand cream cheese spread.
But listen, in all honesty, you guys have been bending the Canucks over for quite some time now. I admit, there have been some incidents that couldn’t be overlooked. When Bertuzzi taunted Minnesota Wild fans after the Canucks went up 3 games to 1 in their playoff series, you had to keep your Hockey God hand strong. You did what you had to do, no complaints here.
On other occasions, however, not only have you displayed a bias against this team, but you’ve enacted it in such a way that I can only assume that you are deriving some sort of perverse gratification from the process.
There is no better evidence of this perversion than the 1970 NHL entry draft. I completely accept that the Sabres won the wheel spin and the right to draft Gilbert Perrault. The Canucks were assigned numbers 1-6, the Sabres had 7-12, and the wheel landed on 11. It would have been nice to usher in the existence of the franchise with a draft pick who would eventually wind up in the Hall of Fame, but both teams had an equal shot, and the Canucks wound up with (the decidedly average) Dale Tallon. But did you really have to work your little hocus pocus so that it was announced that the wheel had landed on the number 1? I mean, who represents the number 11 by stacking the digits on top of one another, anyway? From that moment, it was clear that screwing with the Canucks and their fanbase would develop into a quaint little hockey heaven pastime.
What’s so depraved about the whole thing is the fact that your game isn’t an all out attack like it is with the Columbus Blue Jackets - it’s a calculated routine of passive-aggression that claws at my heart, carving fresh wounds into scar tissue.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/02/FEB1108_PavelBure01_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>Take Pavel Bure, for example. When Pat Quinn “found” a couple of lost gamesheets proving that Bure had indeed satisfied the requirements for NHL eligibility, you dropped a gift in the lap of the Canucks that the team had yet to receive - a bonafide NHL superstar. As Canuck fans were busy being dazzled by the Russian Rocket’s highlight reel goals, you set in motion a two-pronged plan to counteract the team’s sudden windfall of good fortune. The first assault would take place in Bure’s right knee. While devastating, Bure’s knee problems weren’t enough to satisfy the conditions of your twisted game. As if you were the screenwriters of a bad Saw sequel, the real twist came as a result of something unexpected and seemingly unrelated: orchestrating a trade for Nathan LaFayette in 1994. As the Canucks made their way to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals (on the back of numerous electric performances by Bure), the final game wasn’t on Pavel’s stick in the waning moments of the third period, it was on LaFayette’s. Had the Cinderella story unfolded as it should, Bure would have buried the puck in the wide open net instead of LaFayette clanging it off the iron, producing an unholy ring that still hasn’t purged itself from my ear canal.
If you had any semblance of justice that you are purported to have, the Canucks should be building on the success that the team achieved last season. In yet another hilarious twist, suffering through the bucket of depression that was the 05-06 season - in which the vaunted Canucks missed the playoffs by means of sheer laziness - was rewarded by giving the fans their second unequivocal superstar in team history: Roberto Luongo. But even the best goaltender in the game can’t win every game on his own. While the debilitating injuries to almost every defenseman on the team this season was an expected course of action on your part, it still hurts.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/02/FEB1008_Canucks-Blackhawks12_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/02/FEB1008_Canucks-Blackhawks12_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>As I was watching the overtime period of tonight’s Canucks-Blackhawks game, I was fully expecting you guys to enact your well-worn plan of quiet erosion. After Cam Barker’s flukey lob shot put the Blackhawks up 2-1 in a game they deserved to be losing, it seemed as though the trend would continue. But after Naslund netted a game-tying goal with Luongo on the bench, the Canucks ensured that they would at least walk away with the all-too-familiar single point. When Daniel Sedin missed on a penalty shot in the overtime session, it seemed as though the familiar refrain was inevitable; close, but no cigar. Back when Sidney Crosby failed to score on an overtime penalty shot against Roberto Luongo earlier this season, his Penguins still went on to win in the shootout. When the Canucks were afforded the same opportunity in Florida, Naslund failed to end it in overtime, and the Canucks went on to lose in the skills competition.
But tonight’s shootout was different - Ryan Shannon, in his second game up from the minors, was like a gift from above. As opposed to the tentative approach that other Canuck shooters employ in the shootout, Shannon simply went in and pulled off a move that can only be described as ‘ballsy.’ The spin-o-rama, which he unsuccessfully tried to pull on Marty Turco last season, was just the ticket for a Canucks’ come from behind win tonight. In a league where a single point could mean the difference between a playoff spot and an early tee-time, having a shootout specialist is a must. Maybe it was just the first step in yet another complicated, vindictive scheme that you Hockey Gods have planned for this team; but for now, I’m just going to assume that someone up there is finally smiling down upon us.