As a lifelong Vancouver Canucks fan, I am somewhat disturbed by the attitude of a large faction of my fellow fans. Listening to many of these fans on radio call in shows and reading their ignorant commentary on blog pages had led me to write this, my first blog. I have always lived in the Vancouver area and realize the importance of this team upon the fibre of the community. I have felt the euphoria of 1994 and 2011 Stanley Cup runs, only to have my heart broken both times. In 1994 I was 16, in 2011 I was 33. The feeling of pain and emptiness was the same as a teenager or as an adult. I also realize while nearly everyone who considers themselves a fan of the team is very passionate; the passion in many cases becomes negative and misguided. Reaction to the current Roberto Luongo situation, perhaps better described as a debaucle, has reafirmed my opinion concerning this matter,
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Let me begin by defining real Vancouver Canucks fans as opposed to those fairweather folks who cheer for the Canucks during times of prosperity and rag on them during less succesful times. Real fans are not those who are reviled by the rest of Canada (and maybe the NHL for that matter). Real Canucks fans know the game. We do not turn off the Stanley Cup playoffs just because the Canucks are eliminated. We do not attempt to place voodoo hexes on the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, or Los Angeles Kings just because these teams have provided the Canucks playoff demise during the past few seasons. We do not have to cheer for, or like these teams for that matter, to appreciate the quality of these teams. We do not consider the Canucks infallable or perfect as do these alleged fans. We do not make excuses for Alex Burrows biting or Ryan Kesler diving. We adore these players, yet do not feel the need to defend actions similar to which players such as Brad Marchand or Dave Bolland are scrutinized. We are hockey fans and sports fans as much as we are Canucks fans. We know the game and the league, not just a unilateral view of the NHL that starts and ends with the Canucks.
While this attitude applies to the team as a whole it is also readily applied to Canucks players, especially our best and most beloved players who become zeros faster than they ever became heroes.
A recent example of this attitude is that of Markus Naslund. While any hockey fans can tell you that perhaps the best trade in Canucks history occured when former first round bust Alek Stojanov was traded to Pittsburgh for Naslund, his legacy has been tarnished by people who call themselves fans who fail to see the larger picture. Did the Canucks win the Stanley Cup during Naslund's captaincy? No. Was it the longest period of sustained success in Canucks history? Perhaps Did he provide the Canucks with their most prolific offensive player not named Bure or Sedin? Yes. Markus Naslund was the longest serving captain in team history. He remains the team's career leading goal and point scorer. He demonstrated class and was an understated leader respected by his teammates. He was genuinely hurt when as his production declined after the lockout he was rejected by members of a fan base he adored and who adored him during better days. When the team decided to raise his number 19 to the Rogers Arena rafters many "fans" questioned the decision. As a fan who was in attendance that evening I can assure you us true fans were heard and showed our sincere appreciation for a team legend. This fan can only hope he left Vancouver after that evening remembering the good times in Vancouver and not those last days here as a player where he had been rejected by the same fans who once worshiped him.
This brings us to present day when we are currently watching these same supposed fans wanting the greatest goaltender in team history to quietly fade into team history and prefer to focus on his perceived shortcommings as opposed to reflect sadly on how this relationship between Roberto Luongo and the Canucks fans became so acrimonious. With due respect to Kirk McLean, the Canucks have never had another goaltender of Luongo's abilities. His lone shortcoming was that he may not have been personable or comfortable enough with the media which led to the fans not giving him the same breaks that more personable and/or quotable players such as Bieksa, Burrows, Kesler, or Cory Schneider for that matter, are afforded. I believe that Cory Schneider may become a goaltender of Luongo's caliber, but remember, Canucks fans also once thoght that the likes of Corey Hirsch, Mike Fountain, Kay Whitmore, Troy Gamble, Kevin Weekes, and Alex Auld were the second coming of Patrick Roy. The backup goalie is as popular as the backup quarterback. As a result we now wait for the sad end of this story. Racaping some of Luongo's accomplishments in Vancouver; more wins in six years than any other goaltender in team history, Jennings Trophy, Vezina Trophy finalist, Stanley Cup Finalist, and finally Olympic Gold Medal winning goaltender in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. For a man who has provided the city eith so many great moments, hopefully in several years, after Roberto has retired from a hall of fame career and returns to Vancouver to see his number 1 rasied next to Naslund's 19, these supposed Canucks fans can realize the error of their ways and make ammends. Unfortunately, I cannot forsee this happening and unfortunately must recommend that Daniel and Henrik call it quits now before this same faction of fans ostricizes them as well.
In closing, allow me to leave the rest of the NHL fans a message. Do not despise all Canucks fans due to the ignorance of some. We do not all act like spoiled children and riot when we lose. The true fans among us are as disgusted as the rest of you by the actions of those few. Us real hockey fans realize Zdeno Chara is as good as any defenceman in the league today. We would love to have him on our team. We admire Jarome Iginla, a true leader who once required all the Flames to return to the ice to shake Trevor Linden's hand after his last game. We knew that the Los Angleles Kings were no pushover in the 2012 playoffs and do not dwell on consecutive President's Trophy wins to confirm our supremacy. Good luck Roberto, you will be missed and fondly remembered by Canucks fans who appreciate the class you have shown through this difficult time in spite of the lack of respect directed your way by many.
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