Lockout Victim: The 2013 Vancouver Canucks

To no one’s surprise, the Vancouver Canucks will once again be favoured to hoist the sports world’s greatest – and only great – trophy. Sportsnet’s Ryan Porth has them representing the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. The Globe and Mail has called them a perfect franchise. Everyone in Toronto is buying underground bunker equipment for the moment that one West Coast city gets to escape 42 years of disgustingly torturous agony. Because, when the Canucks do win it all, the rest of Canada will head below deck and wait until it’s over.

Yes, you heard it here first: the Vancouver Canucks winning the Stanley Cup, and a Nuclear Holocaust. Is there a difference?

Well, what if there’s no season? What if Gary Bettman continues to represent 30 billionaires and millionaires in their quest to suppress the people whose cheques they sign, and whose contracts they’ve offered. What if there’s no NHL in 2013? What if another season is lost?

Isn’t it fair to say that the Vancouver Canucks would be screwed?

Perhaps no other team has as much riding on this pending season as Vancouver. If 2013 is lost, the Sedins lose a year at the end of their prime. They’d go from being in their prime to on their downslide. They’d be Markus Naslund 2.0. What if Cory Schneider, at the age of 26, is forced into another year of development and – God forbid – decay? What if keeping cold only worsens Ryan Kesler’s brittle knees, back, and shoulders?

And, hips.

If the Vancouver Canucks lose a year now, it’s almost inconceivable that they can win with this team. All of a sudden, they leapfrog from a championship window to once-upon-a-time.

All of a sudden, the Vancouver Canucks disappear into oblivion.

Children in 2040 will speak of them like Kevin Costner talked of Earth in The Postman. They’ll be like water to the characters of Mad Max. They’ll be Fulgencio Batista in 1960.

They’ll be gone. Irrelevant. Forced to relocate. Well, not out of Vancouver, of course, but out of contention.

EA Sports will laugh at them. They won’t have a legitimate cover athlete for the next 20 years.

The only thing worse than having a terrible team is having a mediocre team, and that’s exactly what will happen to Vancouver. They’ll be a bubble team with no promise, and no draft picks. Think about the Toronto Maple Leafs, who haven’t made the postseason since 2004, or the Calgary Flames. Ditto for them.

The last lockout greatly reformed the league and altered the balance of power. Vancouver benefitted. This time, they won’t.