Weather, Petrol At The Pump And The Vancouver Canucks. Something Is Seriously Amiss In Lotus Land
By Dennis Tkach. Last Monday, after seven consecutive months of what felt like the dreariest weather EVER to befall our lower mainland, Spring and Summer finally arrived with no apology whatsoever for their long absence. Probably having too much fun holidaying in Hawaii. And now I find myself complaining that it is too hot to sit outside in the comfort of my zero gravity recliner! Today at 11:00 AM it took but ten minutes for me to feel like I suddenly found myself ensconced in the devil’s armpit.
22C..24C..27C!!!! Grumble… grumble… piss and moan…. “Ach weel, there will always be some reason to complain” says the weak side of the curmudgeon in me. Be that as it may, I grow so weary of hearing an expression that has slowly, insidiously transformed itself from what I once considered a brilliant thought, to a trite meaningless gob of gibberish.
“There must needs to opposition in all things.”
“Ah, but how else”, comes the retort, “can one truly appreciate the good times?” Really? I suppose it is true that there must be badness in order for us to recognize what is good. I’ve been good so why have so many bad things begun to dominate my senior years? Slathering on aloe gel to ease my year’s first sunburn I find myself asking, “Self, was it mere whimsy or happenstance that finally removed the depressive weather canopy that hung over the lower mainland like an apocalyptic mantle? No answer? Or did I just detect an ever so subtle smirk from Fate?
And while I am in the feisty grip of the whining complainer in me, I would like to throw out a huge beef and boo to all my fellow Canadians, who I am told, are ‘too polite’ to complain about anything. To my mind, being ‘too polite’ is NOT a compliment.
Petrol at our local pumps is fast approaching $5.50 a gallon! And no one is complaining! We sell OUR oil to the Americans, they turn it into gasoline, and sell it for $2.00 a gallon cheaper!
Okay, okay, turn a gallon back to litres and diminish American dollars into our downtrodden loonies and we are STILL the beneficiaries of a taxation shaft that no amount of Vaseline will ever make it easier to bear. Thankfully, those of us who live close to the border can always nip across and save ourselves $20 to $30 on a tank full. I go across so often the border guards know my name. “Oh hi Dennis, going for a fill up? See yah later.”
And while I am on a rant, what is it about the Vancouver Canucks? I marvel at fans that steadfastly support this group of losers. Every year we are promised a better team to come and every year it NEVER arrives. If this EVER were to happen, it will most probably not be in my life-time.
I remember when the fans of the NFL New Orleans Saints used to wear paper bags over their heads and sadly, jokingly, called themselves the New Orleans Ain’ts. Here in Vancouver this past season I saw no paper bags in the stands. Sadly, when the commentators were talking about the exciting Canadian presence in the playoffs, “Wow! 5 of the 6 teams made it!”, not once did I ever hear in the same breath, mention that sixth team by name.
Here is my take on matters of the puck: I love hockey. In Prairie Town (Winnipeg) I grew up on skates, playing at the neighborhood rink and on the frozen street in front of my house. There were then six teams and my six friends all chose different favorites and it was a wonderful time. Now, the quality of player has been diluted, and teams with palm trees in their back yards can hoist Stanley’s cup. But the Vancouver Canucks? Fate gave us a sniff at the cup… once. Just a sniff before the New York Rangers snatched it away from our desperate questing hands. Year after year, do fans ever complain? A few whines, but hardly enough to bring about real change.
The owner(s) are to blame for not hiring the proper managers and scouts. The general manager and his staff are to blame for not contracting the right players. Note, I didn’t say the ‘best’ players, I said the ‘right’ players for the team. The general manager is also to blame for hiring what they perceive as excellent coaches, or firing what they decree are failed coaches. Such as Alain Vigneault. Doing pretty good in New York, isn’t he? Blame everyone who sticks with old tired superstars who have seen their day. Blame poor scouting. And lastly, blame the players themselves.
A team is more than a good coach and good players. I remember a Chicago Blackhawk team that was full of super stars. Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Pierre Pilote, Moose Vasco on defense, “Mr. Goalie”, Glen Hall as their keeper. Yet, for many years this powerhouse struggled to win all the marbles. But, even they, in their era, won but once. And remember, back then there were only six teams to compete against.
Anyone who has played competitive sports knows the biggest reason why teams win can be summed up in the following words. “Heart , “Desire”, “Cohesiveness”, “Clicking On All Cylinders”, “Mojo”, “Never Quitting”, “Never Being Afraid To Lose”… “Single Mindedness”, “Flow”, “Attitude”.
One by one we have seen the playoff teams fall to their betters. We are now close to the last two standing and I assure you, like all Stanley Cup finals, it will be a great tournament. Why? Because all of the winning ingredients will be present (mostly missing in The Vancouver Canucks) and on full display. I loved Alain Vigneault when he was here. I was chagrined to put it mildly when he was fired, for whatever known or hidden reason. However, sometimes it is the coach himself who realizes, in his particular given situation, the ingredients to work with are simply not there and it is best to get outta town.
In the finals I will be pulling for Nashville (assuming they will be knocking off Ottawa, the last of the Canadian contenders in game 6 or 7). I will be cheering for the Predators simply because they, like Vancouver, have never claimed hockey’s holy grail. It will be fun and exciting to see how Pittsburgh is going to approach these Tennessee upstarts who few predicted would climb to such heights.
My message to the Vancouver Canucks lies in a venerable Japanese proverb. “Fix the problem, not the blame.” My message to the owner (ultimate decision maker(s): fire the many not the few, clean house, start over, even it if takes a few years to rebuild. Show your paying fans that you are capable of building a champion caliber team and not just a competitive team. Ask the players themselves, for their input, if you dare to hear truthful advice, and if the players are honest and not in fear of losing their jobs they will speak words of wisdom. Just do it.
My message to the fans? Stop being ‘Canadian’ in terms of being ‘polite’. This is not a time to be mamby pamby and milk toasty. Let owners and management, coaches and team players hear your anger. Dare to shout, “ I’m not going to take it any longer.” Rant, because ranting can feel very good. I know. I rant therefore I am.
But hey, I might be wrong.