If we'd compiled the "29 Teams We Hate" list in Summer 2010, it's very likely Vancouver would be floating down somewhere around Columbus and Minnesota in terms of how much we hate them. Which is to say: not very much at all.
The fact that one series of seven games changed two entire cities' views on each other teams really truly tells us one thing: the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals were the best Finals in recent history.
Consider it, though. Do LA fans even THINK about Devils fans anymore? Do Hawks fans have hate in the very depths of their souls for Flyers fans? Are most Bruins and Hawks fans anything but bros these days? Detroit and Pittsburgh hate each other pretty hard but meeting in the finals twice in two years (and each losing once) makes that unique. Do Ducks fans even think about the Senators when they consider what their top hated teams are?
And yet, when you ask most Bruins fans to name their top hated teams, it will usually go something like "Montreal, Buffalo, those loozahs from Toronto, and those diving whinebabies in Vancouver."
IT'S BEEN OVER TWO GODDAMN YEARS. The Bruins have returned to the Finals and lost. They've played Vancouver exactly ONE TIME since June 15, 2011. By the time they play their next game on December 14, they'll have played exactly one time in 913 days.
Why exactly as a fanbase in general do we hate Vancouver so much more than, say, the Blackhawks? Why do we hate a team that our team outscored by a cumulative 23 goals to 8 over a seven-game series? Why don't we just chuckle and shake our heads at the fact that Vancouver took the only game our teams have played since the Finals so seriously that they burned themselves out for the 2012 playoffs?
The 2011 playoffs for Boston were all about the ridiculous storylines. Going through Montreal in a dramatic 7-game series that included overtime? Check. Sweeping Philly as redemption for 2010? Check. Taking Tampa and their James Bond villain coach to a seven-game series, the seventh game of which was near-perfect hockey? Check. It was all about the hockey, the nail-biting, beautiful game and at the end of the day, Boston kept coming out on top.
And then, the Finals brought us nonsense, right off the bat. Game 1: no Bruins goals and Alex Burrows' teeth in Patrice Bergeron's hand. The only goal of the game was scored by Raffi fucking Torres. Immediately, Bruins fans' feelings toward the Canucks took on the consistency of a cement mixer. Mmmm, curdly hateboner goodness.
It'd have been one thing if the Bruins had redeemed themselves in game 2: but again, nope. At least the Bruins actually scored in this game, with hometown boy Milan Lucic scoring 11 minutes into the first, but the game went to OT, and who scored the game-winner? Alex Burrows, and only after a game's worth of finger-pointing and chirping on both sides.
This series, in a little over 120 minutes, managed to perfectly trip off the rage center of every Boston sports fan's brain. It was like if Aaron Boone, after hitting that home run in 2003 to crush Red Sox fans' dreams, had done it in the 13th inning of game 1 of the World Series, and had lapped the bases with both his middle fingers in the air before peeing on the Green Monster - all while playing for like, the Colorado Rockies. Some irrelevant team that Boston fans don't care about suddenly becomes hated enemy #1 in pretty much record time.
And where did it go from there? The kicked dogs returned home. Home to stoke the fires, to piss Bruins fans off more with an Aaron Rome hit to the head of Nathan Horton, followed by an 8-1 rout. Bruins fans, despite their team being down by one game, smelled blood. Roberto Luongo, that previously unknown entity from the West who'd looked goalproof through two games, suddenly had some holes.
After game 4, with the series even and the goal differential at 14-5, Bruins fans felt angry but good. Game 5 changed that yet again: Maxim Lapierre, that grade A-1 douchenozzle who'd taunted and baited the Bruins since his tenure in Montreal, scored the OT game-winner to put the Canucks one game from the Cup.
The Canucks could have won the game on Bruins ice. And if that'd happened, Bruins fans would have sullenly, drunkenly, angrily yet (relatively) quietly despised Vancouver for the depths of eternity, yet another team that could lord over them with antics and stupidity.
Instead, the Bruins beat them 5-2 and won the Cup on their ice, and the hatred blossomed into something gleeful.
Positively fucking gleeful. "Fuck you," we cried out together after game 7. "Fuck Vancouver, the dirtiest, most garbage team the Bruins have faced all playoffs. And said playoffs INCLUDED MONTREAL!"
Why should we hate (and continue to hate) Vancouver? Because for seven straight games, they invoked in us an anger, a hatred that is usually only reserved for our French neighbors to the North. Because it took them less than a game to make us furious. Because the Bruins triumphed over them, but that doesn't make their play in that series any less shitty.
Vancouver managed to make us all lose our minds. They made us irrational. In short: they made us this guy. And I guess that's pretty ok. Fuck Vancouver. Thanks for 2011.