Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stuck with the Canucks

Last year, as another mediocre hockey season ended for the Vancouver Canucks, my then-thirteen-year-old son Ashton and I were driving somewhere. The car was silent for a few seconds, and then, out of the blue...he spoke. It was with a tone of...not despair...just a kind of grimness.

"I think I'm going to start rooting for a new team".

"What?", I said.

"A new team. I just don't think I can take the Canucks anymore. Every year...it's so frustrating. I'm going to start rooting for the Flames".

A second passed. I breathed in. It was time to reveal cosmic law, no matter how disappointing it was.

"You can't", I said.

"What do you mean I can't?".

"You can't change", I said.

"Sure I can".

"Uh -- no you can't", I said. "We're from here. Manta (my dad) rooted for the Canucks, I rooted for the Canucks, you do, and your kids will...and...there's no way out. It's like trying to 'change your ancestry'. You can't".

Ashton snickered. "Funny".

"It's not funny - it's the law. Not my law - just the law. You can't change".

"The Flames are great, though. All I need to do to 'change' is to start rooting for them. It's-"

"You don't understand", I interrupted. "I don't mean you 'can't'. I mean you CAN'T. It's not possible. It's against THE LAW - the cosmic law of team affiliation".

I went on.

"I sympathize with you, I really do. I've been following the Canucks since I was five, when Manta used to take me to the games at the old Coliseum. They've never won a cup. They probably never will. Every year opens with such promise, but outside of two lucky runs to the final over the past four decades, they never get anywhere. I get that. But...all I'm saying is...there's no way out. We can't change".

Ashton fell silent. For a moment I thought he would burst into tears. But within seconds, it was as though he understood; we couldn't escape it. We were powerless to change it. It just was.

And sure enough, this year was another frustrating, stupid season for the Vancouver Canucks. I'm frustrated - frustrated with how delusional so many of the fans are, frustrated with how goalie Roberto Luongo left his pregnant wife 5000 miles away in Florida which ended up distracting him down the stretch (we went from one point out of first in our division to out of the playoffs in the last two weeks of the season), frustrated with Markus Naslund, frustrated with how Nonis and Vigneault didn't rip the captaincy off him last year, or Crawford the year before...and I honestly don't see any promising changes in the next few years.

To get anywhere, the Canucks would have to trade Roberto Luongo for a solid goalie and some offensive talent. And that will never happen. It won't happen because Dave Nonis, the Canucks GM, has a serious mancrush on Luongo, and Luongo (thanks to Nonis) also has a "no-trade" clause on his contract which he would have to agree to waive. It will never happen; and as a result, the Canucks will begin next season similarly unable to score, and it will be another struggle which will end either by missing the playoffs again, or being eliminated in the first round. They're turning into the west coast version of the consistently mediocre Toronto Maple Leafs.

There is always the possibility of a miracle, of course. That can happen. The Canucks of '93-94 got on a roll as the playoffs started, and even got to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup finals against the powerhouse New York Rangers (Canucks lost by one goal).

But miracles cannot be counted on...and certainly, this team doesn't seem particularly miracle-prone. The foreseeable future looks just like the last ten years: frustrating.

And there's no way out...those of us who have inherited "Canuckness" are stuck with them, forever.


Su said...

Well, at first I wasn't going to comment because I know nothing about the adoration associated with team sports. The only thing I get remotely interested in is golf....which I realize isn't saying much about me.

BUT, I think this is a "male" thing that my husband also possesses. He has flat out told our daughters that they must never barrack (root) for another football team. Why? Only the illusory gods of sporting obsession know.

While I don't understand, I also don't mind (it's his thing and he loves it), but I draw the line when people start linking sportsmen to "soldiers fighting a war". That's absurd and disrespectful, showing a lack of understanding and a propensity to agrandise.

Still, Go Canucks! (I was born in Vancouver)

Su said...

....Oh and...I DO know that golf is not a team sport........

erlybird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erlybird said...

I understand the bond we experience with our team, Tal. I am a Pirate fan. I am a Tiger fan. Being that they are in different leagues I can somehow justify it. I hate it when people cannot justify their loyalty. A Yankee fan from Colorado who has never set foot in New York City is the worst kind of street dirt. I hate when fans turn their backs on a team for being bad. (i.e. The 2003 Tigers are my FAVORITE team of all time. I loved those guys.) I hate fans who feel entitled to win...again the Yankee fan. But in the end what I truly accept is that I am flawed for even worrying about it at all.

The truth hurts. I never had anything to do with the success or failure of "my teams" and neither do you...so let's get over it.

Let me put it to you this way. We have been raised, in essence we have raised ourselves to believe that it matters who we root for...but it doesn't. Let's enjoy the Hockey, let's enjoy the Baseball or whatever and let go of the myth they we should care who wins or loses. I refuse to have the acid content of my gut or the sleeping patterns determined by athletes much younger than me playing a game I will never be able to play. Jerseys change, players get old. Yet we talk about sports as if the history of a rivalry or what a certain team did in April in years gone by has any bearing on what they do NOW. Professional sports is not Geology, it's not Economics. Statistics in sports are a myth...they don't tell us anything about anything of any importance to THIS game right here. A .300 average one year does not equate at all to a .300 average 10 years ago, 100 assists this year cannot mean anything with respect to 100 assists in 1960, yet we still jabber on about it.

Here is what really matters:

The final score of the next game between the Team Bachman and Team McCue for in THAT contest you have an actual stake. Rally the troops, my man!

Anonymous said...

Years from now, in therapy: "My dad wouldn't even let me root for the team I wanted..."

MG said...

"It's like trying to 'change your ancestry'. You can't".

Why didn't you use that same reasoning to stay in the Mormon Church?

Tal said...

That's a funny question, MG. Nice to see you.

For one thing, I was being a bit facetious throughout this post.

But a more important point is that the Canucks aren't a *fraud*. They don't pretend to be something they're not, nor on that fraudulent basis do they claim sovereignty over your life, love, time, marriage, property, etc. ("law of consecration" stuff).

Put it this way: to knowingly identify yourself with reference to your allegiance to a fraud, is to identify yourself AS a fraud - and no pull of ancestry is enough (to my mind) to require that.

Don't you agree?

Anyway, big news - unbeknownst to me, the night before I wrote this post, the Canucks's GM Dave Nonis was fired. A new era, for good or ill, has begun.

wishiwasjane said...

Well this is all a matter of opinion. Your level of team loyalty depends entirely on your love of the sport. Ashton could easily pick an out of town team for another sport without a problem since it's a new fan/team relationship.... the All Blacks for example or Manchester United, the problem here is the tradition. You did this to him Tal, you're the one that got him into it, you're the one that riled him up, took him to games, sppon fed him the dream, and you're the one that made him hope. He is now seemingly doomed to a lifetime of disappointment at your hand. Oh the shame of it all.

Robert Mein said...

Tal, with genetic therepy you can overcome your bias towards the Canucks and cheer for a good team.

I was raised in Nothern Alberta for the most part, and as a result loved the Oilers with such passion that I was one of those that wept when the Great One was traded to L.A., However, later in life I moved to Southern Alberta and with modern genetic therepy and years of "counseling"(by that I mean abuse from locals) I can now cheer for the Flames without breaking into a rash!!!

Who am I kidding....go Oilers!!!! We will get them next year!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, off topic.

I host a live television show in Salt Lake City.
Site is bornagainmormon.com
Have a book would like to send you - mine. Free.
Give me a mailing address and I'll drop it in the post.
Not a "come back to Mormonism" book.
Not anti either.
A book I think would be worth reading, Tal.
BTW, love your voice.

erlybird said...

Oh, Tal...I love your voice too!! Would you like to come to the next meeting of my new Flat Earth Symposium? There is a lot of good out-dated, non-scientific, completely idiotic information I need to give you to clutter your mind.

Sorry, off topoic...

Tal said...

Hi Anonymous

Thank you for your concern.

You can send me your book if you want to, but to be upfront, the odds of me playing many of the same mindgames on myself in order to believe in evangelical Christianity as I did to believe in Mormonism, are around "metaphysical zero". Once you see them for what they are, you just can't go back. Plugging in new names would make no difference.

Not trying to be chippy, just trying to save you postage.

And Jane, I don't think things work that way. I think Ashton's stuck. And I'm not sure it IS my fault - I think it's my dad's, for moving us to Vancouver when I was little.

Deadeye said...

I think you're somewhat right about sports teams. Growing up in the Northwest, we were fans of all of the Seattle teams (Mariners, Seahawks, Sonics), as well as the Canucks. Even after moving out of state, I continued to follow the Mariners.

Now that we live in Colorado, it was relatively easy to start following the Rockies, especially with their amazing run to the World Series last year. Since the National league teams don't directly compete with the Mariners, it seems O.K.

However, when it comes to the other teams in Colorado, I just can't bring myself to like the Broncos, Nuggets or Avalanche. Nor could I ever like the Jazz during the years that we were stuck in Utah.

Anonymous said...

Post-Canuckedness... Not totally off topic. Syracuse Crunch is headed for the North Division Calder Cup Finals for the first time in 12 years:P Interestingly enough, they actually used to be Vancouver's minor league affiliate;)

It's good to be in Syracuse.

Carrie said...

Why don't you save yourselves the trouble and come over to the history and absolute glory that is the Red Wings? A true hockey lovers team. Just a thought. But anyways...

I'm torn with this. Torn between devotion to your home team and devotion to a team you simply like...but for the right reasons. If you are to venture out-of-state, or city, in your team selection you should like them because of HOW they play. You know, not just wins or losses. Don't knock your son for wanting to move on to the Flames. Only worry if he's like, "Well, (insert team) wins all the time, so I'll just root for them." That's where it becomes a big no-no.

Now being from the Detroit area, I naturally gravitate towards our home teams - no matter how well they do or how much they suck (the Lions are a whole other story). Take the Tigers, for example. Even if I were to move out-of-state, my heart would still belong to them. I like them. I like the players. I may not like how they are playing at the moment, but at the end of the day these guys are still awesome to me. I am a total Brandon Inge fan, even though he isn't what you could call a great hitter. But he can play any position, not just thrid base, and play it well. He's a true athlete and a good guy, on and off the field. So if the Tigers were to trade him, I'd follow whichever team he went to in addition to the Tigers.

You don't just root for the jersey, I guess.

Ugh, and I just hate Yankee fans. Even if they were born and raised in NYC.

OMWO2_Adam said...

Tal this is the same type of problem I have with my boys and being a lifelong Cub fan. They haven't won in 100 years and I tell my boys they MUST be Cub fans because I was and my Grandfather was (my father was a rebel and is a Cardinal fan).

Glad to see you back writing. I am posting/reading on exmormon.org, postmormon and mormondiscussions. Thanks for the blog.

Anonymous said...

That is hilarious! Thanks for the laugh.