Gallagher: Long-suffering Canucks fans deserve better

 

 
 
 
 
Canucks Alex Burrows, 14, and Jordan Schroeder, 45, battle the Edmonton Oilers for the loose puck at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Monday. Mark van Manen/PNG
 

Canucks Alex Burrows, 14, and Jordan Schroeder, 45, battle the Edmonton Oilers for the loose puck at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Monday. Mark van Manen/PNG

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

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VANCOUVER — They billed Monday’s game at Rogers Arena as a salute to the military and honoured our Armed Forces by bringing three navy men to centre ice for the ceremonial faceoff, two of them submarine officers.

But, by the end of the night, it was clear that it was the long-suffering and loyal Canuck fan who supports this team without fail that got Das Boot right up the backside.

Consider this was another back-to-back, home-game cluster on the schedule — on a Sunday and Monday no less, consecutive work and/or school nights — against two dreadfully boring teams in Phoenix and Edmonton.

On top of that, on Monday night both teams had played the night before, and both appeared as though they had been dragged through a hedge given the way they were wandering around the ice.

And don’t blame the Canucks for the schedule either. Once they had submitted their dates that the building was available to the league, they were pretty much stuck with what they got. But if you submit fewer dates, you generally end up with an even worse schedule, despite the fact that’s hard to imagine given they have 17 back-to-backs. But fans can be assured general manager Mike Gillis was concerned about doing this to the fans a month ago, this being the last thing the team wanted.

Then you throw in the fact that the stars of the home team are simply not present. Yes, two of the three are alleged to still be in uniform, but surely the fellow in Daniel Sedin’s uniform is some sort of clone who’s been smuggled into the room by a Swedish scientist while the real guy rests up for the Olympics. How else do you explain 13 games without a goal, one point in eight games and a deportment that gives the impression it might be a good deal longer before the next one comes? And Ryan Kesler? He’s played so much this season he literally has nothing left, unable to generate anything remotely close to his usual speed.

Even when the opposition takes a penalty, there’s no particular reason why the Vancouver fan should feel in any way hopeful something positive might happen. With quarterback Henrik Sedin out, the team seems so cowed by the prospect of going out on the power play with their confidence in tatters, they’ve become virtually paralyzed with respect to trying to generate some offence. They went bagels again against the worst defensive team in the league, albeit in just two tries, and now sit in 28th spot in the league, having gone two for their last 36 advantages over 10 games. That normally wouldn’t be the end of the world, but these fans once watched largely the same players perform as one of the best units in the game, that concept now a distant memory.

The forecheck, which is such a driving force in the John Tortorella system and was the engine that drove this team’s attack at the start of the season when everyone was fresh, has faded to one lone, tired skater tepidly going forward, hoping to get lucky and to get out of the offensive zone quickly once the puck comes out. Such is their energy level — whether it’s dictated by physical or mental concerns or a combination of both — Jordan Schroeder was able to spark the team offensively with his two goals, despite the fact he was playing his third game in four nights. And the two AHL games he played in Abbotsford went into overtime.

And as if the evening hadn’t been forgettable enough for the poor paying customer, David Perron tops off the doubleheader with the second of back-to-back hat tricks against the Canucks, he a player who should have been drafted to the Canucks by Dave Nonis in 2007. Instead, the Canucks chose the immortal Patrick White, while Perron went straight into the lineup of the St. Louis Blues, and he’s terrorized Vancouver teams ever since.

“We didn’t play hard enough,” said acting head coach Mike Sullivan, who blamed everyone including the coaches, but noted his best players aren’t going. “We have to control more than we did tonight to get the result we want. We have to find a way as a group to play a more inspired game. We had an opportunity tonight and we let it slip.”

The prospect of an appearance by the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night doesn’t bring much hope for success in terms of points. But at least the sight of that jersey might ignite some long-extinguished nostalgic spark, enough at least to provide some entertainment.

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Canucks Alex Burrows, 14, and Jordan Schroeder, 45, battle the Edmonton Oilers for the loose puck at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Monday. Mark van Manen/PNG
 

Canucks Alex Burrows, 14, and Jordan Schroeder, 45, battle the Edmonton Oilers for the loose puck at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Monday. Mark van Manen/PNG

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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