Alright Hockey Gods, I'll give it to you that you pulled a fast one. For a minute or two you had me thinking that you were actually going to let the Vancouver Canucks win Lord Stanley's chalice, despite their numerous and well documented temptations of fate. Yet the Gods arrived just in time to swiftly serve justice, creamy delicious bowls of justice, served piping hot.
As an unabashed and rabid fan of the Chicago Blackhawks I have to admit, I'm really happy that the Canucks lost, like, scary happy. It feels somewhat guilty to derive so much pleasure from the teeth-gnashing agony of others. Surely there must be something wrong with me, right? What makes the Canucks' ultimate defeat so satisfying, however, is that they play the role of the foil, the nemesis, so damned well. The Canucks might not have goaltending that they can count on, or leadership, or coaching, or... ok they don't have a lot that they can count on, but the Canucks are really good at being easily hate-able.
It's uncanny, the stark resemblances this actual living and breathing hockey team has with the various scripted and comically exaggerated villains of the silver screen. Absurd arrogance? Check. Blind self-righteousness? Got that in spades. Unjustifiable and inexplicably large chip on their shoulder? You bet. Add in just the right amount of moral relativism to unflinchingly allow yourself to bend the conventional rules of fair play and you have the Vancouver Canucks. They're some strange composite of the rival teams that Disney created for the Mighty Ducks movies. The stuck up rich kids from the first movie didn't even act as poorly when they lost as these Canucks did. Much like the odd
white supremacists Icelandic goon squad the Mighty Ducks faced in the second movie, these Canucks acted plenty tough until the Bruins started hitting back - then they threw their arms up in indignation and looked for the refs every time a Bruin even touched them. (I guess the riot after Game 7 was the thinly veiled plug for inner city street hockey; get these kids rollerblades and hockey sticks they have too much time on their hands! Does that make Brad Marchand the white Kennan Thompson?) Just like the uh... oh they went with rich kids as the villains again for the third Mighty Ducks movie? Oh that's right, that movie sucked, and it was so fucking corny when they brought the bash brother's back for like the last five minutes...
The worst of it is that the bad behavior starts from the top. The dives, the complaining, the sulking, the shrugged over body language, and sense of entitlement that came from the Canucks' players makes a lot more sense when you witness the team's owner cursing out reporters after the game and as you watch Alain Vigneault blame the loss on all of the forces of the universe contained outside of his own locker room.
What people got to see this season on national television is what Blackhawks fans have put up with for the previous two seasons, the annoying task of playing a misbehaved team whose behavior only gets worse as a series goes on.
I wasn't certain how I would feel if Boston won the Stanley Cup, and to be honest I was more so rooting against the Canucks than for the Bruins. As Vancouver quickly slid into the antagonistic role they now seem destined to forever fulfill, however, Boston admirably assumed the virtuous protagonist. Tim Thomas was nothing short of heroic. And I must admit that I cracked a smile when I saw Zdeno Chara perform the most fantastic and elatedly spastic cup reception since Mark Messier. Thirty-nine years in the desert is at an end. Congratulations and enjoy it Boston.