Monday, June 6, 2011

So Tired . . . Tired of Waiting . . .

"I've waited all my life for this. We want the Cup!"
--random 24 y/o fan on Granville Street after Game 2

Yes, as soon as any person born in a B.C. hospital comes out of their mother's womb, they do put them in a "waiting" room which might have been decorated with Vancouver Canucks' memorabilia. Technically, then it has been possible you've been waiting for all 24 of your years for a Canuck Cup.

Without pulling too much rank, the rest of us who've actually been around the entire 40 seasons (well, 39 as we lost the 2004/05 season thanks to the lockout), I think we've been waiting most of our lives more for a team that could actually win more games than it lost in a season.

Consistently doing that seemingly simple task that even the St. Louis Blues have managed for most of their team's history would have been a start. Going on deep playoff runs more than every 12 seasons were things one could only dream of happening for the Canucks. To think we'd actually waste any precious time on Planet Canuck "waiting" for a Cup to actually be won is more something a fan with little grasp of reality had like, say, a Toronto Make Belief fan.

Honestly, since Roberto Luongo came over in a trade with Florida is probably when this particular Cup waiting period truly began for most fans. Finally, the Dan Cloutier era was over! Rejoicing could be heard from Burrard Inlet to the last spike at Golden that finally the missing cog in the Canuck machine was filled. After all, it's not like a lot of us expected the Luongo-era Canucks to win the Cup in 2011 given the lack of deep playoff runs to build a base of confidence on. The Canuck past playoff woes have been a hard nut for even this version of the team to crack.

Hey, Dan, the puck went five hole

That sad playoff history has been hard to shake. Back in 1975 it was a totally different story as two expansion teams made the Stanley Cup Final. Vancouver's '70/71 expansion cousin, the Buffalo Sabres, took on one of the "Expansion Six" in Philly's Broad Street Bullies, who were the defending Cup champs.

That '74/75 season saw the Canucks have a winning record for the first time in their history and actually win a playoff game against the mighty Montreal Canadiens. Things were looking up in Vancouver.

Then the Canucks fell to just a game over .500 in the following season and continued the fall from playoff grace to the "never bad enough to draft Mario Lemieux but as mediocre as they come" era. Even in the King Richard-led run to the Final in 1982, the Canucks were three games under .500 in the regular season.

No one expected anything of them in the "come one, come all" playoffs of that particular Air Hockey season. Thanks, though, to the Los Angeles Kings riding that Miracle on Manchester to a massive upset over the Gretzky-in-his-prime scoring machine Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks took full advantage of sudden home-ice advantage (getting to play the 17th placed Kings and then the 15th-placed Chicago Blackhawks in the next two rounds). Obviously, expectations to actually win the Cup vs. the two-time defending champion New York Islanders were close to zero. Well, if Harold Snepsts had not passed the puck to Mike Bossy (of all people!) in OT in Game 1, maybe...(oh, who am I kidding?) the Canucks would have won a game and lost in five instead of being swept.

Another nine seasons of under .500 hockey would come and go interrupted by one lone semi-highlight in 1989 taking the 1st overall Calgary Flames (who would go on to win the Cup that year) to a Game 7 OT before Joel Otto kicked the winning goal in while standing in the crease. Check the video.

It really wasn't until Pavel Bure in '91/92 came onboard would the Canucks have a legitimately good team...and an actual "I'm on the edge of my seat every time he touches the puck" hockey player (all due respect to Ron Sedlbauer's 40-goal '78/79 season). So I guess I will cut any Bure fan slack as their wait has been at least 20 years for the Canucks to win a Cup.

The rest of us are pretty happy we've finally got a team that has been winning on a fairly consistent basis. When I say "consistent," I'm talking in Canuck terms as the team has had seven losing seasons out of the past 19 since the day Pavel descended from Moscow to the West Coast.

Call me greedy, but should the Canucks finish the job in 2011 (please sweep...I can't handle a seven-game gutwrenching put the knife in, pull the knife out near Shakespearian tragedy), here's hoping that they don't turn into a Carolina Hurricanes' "one Cup and done" team.

Who's going to complain all that much because one Cup is more than our expansion buddies the Sabres have as well as the Kings, Blues, Capitals and Winnitoba Moosejets or Phoenipeg Jetyotes who also have no Stanley Cups...yet? I won't even mention the delusional fan base in the Centre of the Universe on their blue-and-white's post-expansion Cup drought.

Let's just say to all fans out there, there's "waiting" and then there's "waiiiiiiiiting" when it comes to Lord Stanley and the Vancouver Canucks. Just stop by Cyclone Taylor's grave and ask him how long he's been waiting for the Cup to return to Vancouver.
I'm tired of standing here since 1915!

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