Dear Vancouver: you have a problem. It's time to fix it.
The Stanley Cup visits Vancouver this Sunday. And Canucks fans are still hurting it's not theirs. For some of the more pained and juvenile of the bunch, Milan Lucic presents an outlet for their angst. Posters of the East Van skater dressed in his Boston Bruins gold and black were reportedly defaced outside a cultural community centre. His eyes were poked out. His face scribbled on. At the annual Greek summer festival that shuts down a section of Boundary Road, the presence of the six-foot-four, 220-pound former Vancouver Giant was enough to inspire fisticuffs. Lucic didn't brawl. But words and then blows were exchanged in the crowd around him-you could say because of him, but that assertion would be false. Poor sportsmanship is the cause. That same seething and riotous beast that awoke when the Canucks Cup destiny wasn't fulfilled, entrenching the continent's adopted and perplexing hate-on for the club during the playoffs.
If Vancouver fans are that upset with Boston's Milan Lucic, imagine how much ire Boston's cup win must be drawing in Toronto, home of one of Boston's biggest rivals. If there was vandalism and assault in Vancouver, there were probably riots and hate crimes in Toronto. Let's check in on those Leafs fans:
Thornton took it around Toronto, where the Cup is housed at the Hall of Fame when not traveling. But the Cup doesn't usually get to roam around the city, as the Maple Leafs haven't won it since the NHL was still a six-team league back in 1967. Thornton also took the trophy to new heights with his dinner atop the CN Tower. Thornton wasn't sure if that was the highest elevation the Cup has been taken to as Stanley has visited several prominent mountain peaks, but he was confident that it was the highest man-made structure the Cup has ever been up.
A stop in a bar, a nice dinner at CN Tower, a trip around the city and not a single punch thrown, car overturned, window broken, or police cruiser lit on fire. I'm sure the bad apples in Toronto were just busy that day.
When I wrote about the awful behavior of Canucks' fans, I was the problem according to those Canucks' fans. Canucks' fans were great people, there were just some rogues amongst them. When I pointed out the ridiculous nature of the mainstream media and city government's message that the rioters weren't Canucks' fans, the response was a cavalcade of "No True Scotsman..."
Now you've got a group of fans harassing Milan Lucic for playing hockey. And finally, the true nature of the fans has sunk in for even the most ardent supporters of the team. Thomas Drance, writing for Canucks Army, talks about his realization:
It's not like being a Canucks fan has ever been particularly easy - but it's been an awful lot harder over the past couple of months. I'm still a dye-in-the-wool homer, I'll live and breathe Canucks hockey until the day I grow up and get a real life. In the postseason, I was prepared to defend the team over just about anything - biting, diving, the Aaron Rome hit, Raffi Torres - no big deal, the mainstream media was blowing it up. I still think the team takes too much flak, but the fan-culture surrounding the team is another matter.
It's a problem at this point. Don't tell me the rioters weren't Canucks fans, or that the Courier report about people harassing Lucic is specious (it is) and limited to a few drunk ass-hats. Even if you're right, and you are partly, there's a pattern emerging that's hard to ignore.
I'll take Drance to task here when he says this is an emerging pattern. The behavior was emerging a decade ago. Now it's 100% full-blown asshattery online, at games, and throughout the city. I don't think it's a stretch to say that unless the fans do something about this, the behavior is only going to get worse. Start a fight because Milan Lucic is nearby or light a car on fire this time - what happens next time?
It's time for Canucks' fans to grow up and stop playing the martyr. When an entire league and continent looks at you and says the problem is you, maybe it's time to do as Thomas Drance did - take a look at what's happening and stop circling the wagons to defend it and point the finger back.