Once upon a post-expansion time, not long ago, the title of worst fans in Canada was a two-horse race between Montreal and Toronto. Arrogant Toronto fans couldn't come to grips with the fact that there were more than six teams and they were no longer the special pride of anglo-Canada. Entitled Montreal fans couldn't come to grips that the dynasty built through cheating the expansion draft was dead and believed each year that the Stanley Cup should resides in Montreal. When it didn't come home, there was clearly a conspiracy afoot. Three other fanbases (Calgary, Quebec, Winnipeg) had little to cheer about, one had a fluke run to the Stanley Cup Finals (Vancouver) but had no other success and one (Edmonton) was stunned into glee by the near-instant domination of the league the franchise enjoyed early in its existence.
Fast-forward a decade or two; Calgary won a cup, but continue to stink most of the rest of the time and the fans reflect that. The Nordiques moved on to Denver and left Quebec quietly gray. The Jets were ripped out of Winnipeg by an uncaring Gary Bettman and his NHL overlords and left their fanbase heart-broken. (Twenty-three years later the same Bettman and the same NHL pulled the opposite and fought tooth-and-nail to keep the replacement Jets in Phoenix.) Edmonton fell on times nearly as bad as the early days were good, and the fans reflect that. Montreal fans? Well, they've finally realized that expansion made sure the Stanley Cup wasn't a possession of the provincial authorities and 40+ years of losing has turned Leafs fans into a bitter collective that takes joy in watching Ottawa and Montreal lose. That leaves only one fanbase to parade around from Terminal City to St. John's with the mantle "Worst in the country".
Once upon a time, Vancouver Canucks fans were a humble lot. They had a team that didn't do much other than lose hockey games. There were no Hockey Hall Of Fame players in their history and none on the horizon. Then 1994 happened. The Vancouver Canucks made the playoffs as a seventh seed, which was a highlight for Vancouver in and of itself, and proceeded to knock off Calgary, Dallas and Toronto on their way to the Stanley Cup Final. In a series made famous by the Rangers ending their cup drought, Vancouver lost in seven games. In response, fans decided to burn things. The beginning of Vancouver fans turning into the worst in hockey was the 1994 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots.
Catch a glimpse of the action below:
Since the 1994 riot, Canucks fans have become incrementally more annoying and monumentally more arrogant. They've not returned to the Stanley Cup Final, and they still have no Hall Of Fame players, they've had little playoff success, and yet they've still managed to find reasons to become the most arrogant fans in Canada. How have they done it? Let me count the ways.
There are small things, like screaming out "Woooo" after goals, made famous by wrestler Ric Flair, from North Carolina. It was popularized in hockey circles by Carolina Hurricanes fans...then Vancouver fans stole it without any geographical association with Vancouver or tradition whatsoever. And because they like to rhyme, they've taken to yelling out "Loooo" after every save Roberto Luongo makes, even routine stops on dump-ins and seventy-five foot wrist shots. All of this has led Luongo to be the most-hated goaltender in the league since Billy Smith was attempting amputations with his
battle axe goalie stick. Luongo is probably the best goalie in the league, and through no fault of his own, he's become reviled. Way to go, Canucks fans.
The Canucks also had the audacity to retire the number seven. Not Cliff Ronning, which would have been questionable, no, they chose to retire...the fans. You can watch the ceremony in all of it's glory here. Dedicated to the passion of Canucks fans everywhere! I guess when there's nothing to celebrate self-congratulatory slaps on the back are all that's left.
This is a fanbase, that as the picture above shows, rallied to support Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi, one of the worst villains the league has ever known, sucker-punched a player from behind, breaking his neck and ending his career. Canucks fans rallied for that man. It's one thing to tacitly approve of what Bertuzzi did by ignoring the story or the end result, but to rally by his side during his court appearance is beyond the pale.
Vancouver is also a place where a fan can attempt to blind the opposing goaltender, and have no one turn him in. An entire section, and at the very least an entire row, of GM Place likely knew the identity of the perpetrator, and sat on their hands and did nothing as a fellow fan attempted to cause permanent damage to two different goaltenders.
This season was yet another example of the fickle nature of the bandwagon Canucks fans. At the beginning of this season, Vancouver was stuck trying to overcome percentages and injuries. Vancouver fans were calling the Canucks the worst team they'd ever seen. Oh, how people forget history. From seething over how terrible their team was to...
Vancouver Canucks Day in Vancouver! That's right, after a single playoff series win, the city immediately declares a day for the team. This wasn't a Stanley Cup, or even a trip to the finals, this was an expected victory by the favored team in a three versus six playoff matchup. As commenter and roundtable contributor Hbomb reminds us, the Hartford Whalers once held a parade for the Whalers after losing a playoff series. Declaring a day after a playoff win is strangely similar and as HBomb puts it "a loser move". Ah, "It's jealousy!", the Canucks fans say. Except that the Vancouver Canucks have done nothing to be jealous of...ever.
Of course there are Vancouver fans that don't fit the bill. Those that were there before 1994, during the lean years, they're regular old hockey fans. They've suffered through the worst hockey and have only the pain of two near-misses to remember as "the good times". There are new fans like the guys at Nucks Misconduct that have a fundamental understanding of history and the game. You can approach them and talk to them without getting a "Wooo" or a "Looo" and something unintelligible about the Canucks. Those people are okay by me. But to the rest of the fanbase, the rest of Canada, and North America really, can only say: