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That Sour Taste

For the second straight year, on the same exact day, in the same exact scenario, the Canucks fell flat on their faces. I think if you could point to one determining factor in the series, it was that the Canucks just couldn't match the Blackhawks' drive and talent. Despite Shane O'Brien and Kevin Bieksa stepping up their games, they still couldn't quite match the impact Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and even former Canuck Brent Sopel had for their teams. Jonathan Toews' drive to win was unmatched, Patrick Kane couldn't be contained, and Antti Niemi was just good enough to beat the Canucks.

In my previous post I said the number one to watch was Game 6. I kind of regret writing that now. I finished the game in its entirety, from the national anthem to the post-game interviews (more on that later) and I can't help but feel dissatisfied about the Canucks' effort. Asides from Kyle Wellwood, I don't think anybody brought their A-game. You could point out that several key players, including Sami Salo and Ryan Kesler, were playing with a considerable amount of pain, but both of them even said it's not an excuse. You play hurt in the playoffs. Yet, somehow, we dealt less mental and physical damage to the Hawks - if not, they certainly didn't show any weakness. Had we peppered Niemi with 50 shots I would've been a little more satisfied, but in an elimination game the Canucks only managed 30 and lacked the same intensity the Hawks showed all game. I don't like how the Canucks responded after a convincing win to force another game at GM Place. And that brings me to the post-game interviews.

I was never one of those that particularly liked Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault's decision to make Roberto Luongo captain. I certainly was skeptical and noted how it was perhaps a sign that no one in the dressing room was fit to wear the 'C'. A little concerning, to say the least. After Luongo backstopped Canada to a gold medal and Henrik Sedin elevated his game to set a new franchise record in points in a season, a lot of questions about the Canucks were erased. But after last night's performance, the same questions are raised again. Is Luongo a big-game player? Are the Sedins too soft? Is our team deep enough? Is Luongo the right choice as captain? For me, at least, I know the answer to the last question is a resounding "no."

<img src="http://d.yimg.com/a/p/ap/20100512/capt.d97d09ba4ee34ce2be0fddfb75f3c7e9-d97d09ba4ee34ce2be0fddfb75f3c7e9-0.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Why do I say that? Asides from a logistical perspective, having a goalie as a captain really limits the role of a captain. Because goalies cannot cross the red line, communicating with referees and other players can be quite difficult. For the most part, ceremonial face-offs and communication with the referees have been assigned to a committee of leaders rather than one singular individual. But I think the most telling part of the Canucks' playoff run were the post-game interviews. When bombarded with a plethora of questions regarding the Canucks' play, Luongo's most common answer was, "I don't know." Kelly Hrudey on CBC was highly critical of Luongo at his (apparent) refusal to comment on how poor his game was but that's not the reason I'm more than a little annoyed. As a captain and face of the franchise, an "I don't know" answer tells me that this team obviously lacks any clues as to why and how they lost. I realize that it takes days, even months, to digest a loss as devastating as this one, but certainly "I don't know" is not an answer. 94% of voters on The Province website said Luongo will not be captain next year.

The most interesting interview, I thought, was the guy who had the least to say, and that was Ryan Kesler. "Words can't describe how I feel right now." Playing with a nagging shoulder injury, Kesler sounded like he was the Canuck that took the loss the hardest (although I'm sure everyone took the loss hard). Kesler's passion shows on the ice and he certainly didn't make any excuses. To him, the Canucks just came up short. Really short.

Vancouver fans are no stranger to disappointments. After 40 years of futility we've seen just about everything. But never have I ever seen any Canucks team fail to salute the fans after the end of the season. That perhaps was the most frustrating part of the game. Sure, most fans booed and with the way the Canucks showed up to this game I wouldn't want to stick around the rink any longer than I should, but there are fans who still cheer for them through the tough times and who still genuinely care. Vancouver's a passionate hockey town and for the team to ultimately disrespect their fans like that is discomforting. The majority of the fans left the rink with a sour taste in their mouths but that's no excuse to not acknowledge the support Vancouver fans have given the team all year.

I want an apology. Not so much for the poor performance in Game 6 but rather how the Canucks showed their appreciation to their fans.

I guess there's always next year.


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Has anyone ever noticed, that unless a team plays an A game all time time, they are pulled apart by the media and their fans alike.

Furthermore, it is ridiculous to expect hockey players, following a game like last night, to be eloquent speakers, and answer the mindless questions that are put to them! They are hockey players, not public speakers.

The game sucked last night, but should fans walk away because they are losing? Of course not!

Do the Canucks appreciate their fans? What do you think? Of course they do.

Here's a fact for you, Lou played a big part in winning the gold medal for Canada, in our home, here in Ontario, that is enough for us! It really ought to be enough for all Canadians.

Do you think they deliberately went out there and lost to Chicago, speaking of which, some of them, who shall remain nameless, carry themselves like a bunch of low class ingrates.

We are proud of the Canuck team, and the coach, win or lose! Awesome players!

Love from Ontario smile.gif

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Being pulled apart like that comes with the package when playing in a Canadian city. My blog post is tame compared to what's been written about the Canucks in local papers today.

I don't expect Luongo to explain the universe or become the world's next Winston Churchill, but I expected something more than "I don't know." Further into the interview Luongo said that he felt the Canucks were a better team, but a "smarter team" may have beaten the Blackhawks. Now, oh captain, my captain, what exactly is that supposed to mean?

I'm sure the Canucks appreciated the fan support, but did they show it? Absolutely not. There was zero passion and even worse, zero acknowledgment of the fans. To me, that was inexcusable. Fans won't walk away. We'll be back next year like a herd of sheep. But for all that we've provided (Canucks fans pay top dollar for tickets and essentially pay for the players' salaries) we didn't even get a little thank you.

Luongo did bring the gold, but let's be honest, he wasn't Canada's best player. But where was that same focus and passion for the Canucks? It certainly didn't show. That's the most frustrating aspect.

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You know, I agreed with most of the things you said in regards to the team effort for game 6 because I was hoping a better effort and a possession to win in such an important game too especially after such a hard fought win in game 5 to get to game 6. But if you are asking the team to apologize to the fans then please all those hundreds of so called fans (maybe yourself included) who left during the middle of the 3rd period and tossing their belongings onto the ice please do so likewise to the team too for such a disrespectful early leave and left the team out to dry (going to game 6 allows me to see what crappy fans are). Perfect example, does your mom or dad give up on you and leave you out to dry when you screwed up a day in your life? And of course certain changes should be make for next season to ensure a better run at the cup, but if you are going to be a fan then be a fan, not some half donkey fan (that's what I saw in hundreds in game 6).

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I have kept every single Canucks ticket stub that I went to. Never once have I ever, ever left early. Like I said in my post I watched the game in its entirety, from national anthem to post-game interviews. I've stuck with this team through the tough times with Mark Messier.

I hate seeing people leave early at games. It bugs me. I am not one of those. The fact that you are accusing me as a "half donkey fan" kinda irks me. Did I mention I went to school in Nova Scotia? I watched at least 95% of the games. For home games I stay up until 2 AM to watch them. Despite hundreds of fans leaving before the conclusion of the game, there were also hundreds that stayed behind. Did you not see pictures of the fans sitting in GM Place long after the game was over? Those are the fans that the Canucks should be saluting.

If 18,809 walked out before the game was over, the one fan remaining still deserves a salute.

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Whats up bro, I finally signed up to reply to one of these things, I have been faaar too lazy ( "preoccupied" while reading them ) since I found out about this. Anyways, good read as always although I do have a few comments. Also, I was sitting front row right next to the Nucks penalty box game 6, so I can offer some insight from the game being so close to the action.

Your comment early on about the Canucks not being able to match Chicago's drive or talent was spot on. I think the "Drive" side of it is linked to our captaincy issue, which I will comment on later. I think the lack of talent simply came down to injuries. I hate to use them as an excuse, so I wont. I do firmly believe that if the Canucks had come out and played our style of hockey, and not conformed to Chicago's style, we could have pulled this series out. That being said, injuries played a large role in our inability to implement our style. Mitchell's devastating concussion, a result of a devastating and shockingly dirty/unpunished hit by one of the league's "big three" Evgeni Malkin, has been overlooked. While contributing little to our run and gun offense, Mitchell has proved to be one of the better 'defensive' defensmen in the league. He has one of the most active and effective sticks in the game, and could have been very useful shadowing Johnny Toews. Kesler and Burrows were both nursing injuries to their shoulders/arms. Watching the Chicago series, this clearly affected their ability to impose their high paced, grind 'em out style. I didn't see Kesler throw one big fore check, or get in Ladd's grill at all. I heard some rumors of a Samuelsson groin injury and a possible Sedin injury as well. I can't really comment because I don't know if they are true. The Salo injury also CLEARLY effected his play during that game six. Despite the chants of "Balls of Steel" raining down from the stands, Salo was visibly impaired. He couldn't pivot or even back check. On one play he carried the puck into the Chicago end and laid a decent fore check. On his way back down the ice he skated very close to my seats; the grimace on his face was awful, he was giving 100% effort, but only skating at 50-60% speed. Moreover he couldn't shoot, which kind of messed with our PP because he kept on getting thrown out there. The Edler injury was also a huge factor in that game six. That first period was back and forth, a great period of playoff hockey. However I noticed a definite deflation among the Canucks players in the minutes following Edler's injury and then into the 2nd. It seemed like many of the players just gave up. At least, that was the impression I got sitting where I was. You mentioned that in the playoffs, everyone plays hurt. This is true. However I think that many of the Canucks were playing injured, which is an important difference.

Luongo's Captaincy is definitely also in question after this. To be honest I was kind of on the fence when he was named captain. To me, the biggest problem with the current situation is in the post-game interviews. Not necessarily that he wont answer questions, but that he cant. As a goalie he cant really say "we had too many turnovers" or "we just didnt play tough enough". Statements like those come off a little bad when coming from the mouth of a goalie. It gives the impression of blaming his teammates. Luongo is not a skater, he is not the one turning over the puck, or not going into the dirty areas, and yet he is asked to comment like he is. Slap the 'C' on Kesler. That guy oozes heart and grit. He is a Canadian birth certificate away from being a Mike Richards twin.

Like you, I was also disappointed with the Canucks after the game. I stayed, I waited through that 5-1 embarrassment, I cheered when the horn sounded, I was swinging my towel... and yet as soon as the handshakes happen the team is off the ice and down the tunnel. I dont want to bash Luo, but he dropped the ball here. He is the teams captain, and he let down the fans by not giving them a little love for all the love they have been giving all season. I was pumped when LA was eliminated at home because it gave the players the option of saluting their fans one more time. Not surprisingly they did, and the Staples Center went crazy. That being said, Salo did do a little skate for the fans, and even threw his stick into the stands. Had I been 2 rows back and 3 seats to the left I would have caught it, oh well.

Another frustrating end to a good season.

On a side note, WOW MONTREAL. I'm glad Sutter gets to wake up every day and see Cammelleri's mug on TSN.

-cheers

steve b.

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Skating off without a salute to the fans was De-fricking-plorable

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