by Kolby Solinsky
Editor, White Cover Magazine
They call it like that – the never-defined ‘they’ – whenever something otherwise regular
is held over the simmer, when for whatever reason a mid-November school night can be sold as something greater. And on Thursday night, Rogers Arena was the only place that mattered. If you were in Rogers Arena, that is. And there hasn’t been a buzz in there for a long time now, perhaps not since the stakes were truly as high as they’ve ever been.
On Thursday, with Ryan Kesler returning atop the bow of another army’s viking ship, I found myself in the seats my family’s owned and shared for some time, elated when the Canucks plucked Freddy Andersen for three second-period goals, then terrified late when Vancouver inexplicably fell on their heels, then just tortured and hoping for relief when the game went into overtime, and finally the shootout.
I found myself actually kind of hoping the Ducks would win – I would have gladly taken a winning goal from Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry in overtime, instead of facing the prospect that Kesler could win it for Anaheim in a shootout. I’ve cheered for Getzlaf and Perry before – when they were winning me a gold in 2010 and 2014 – and I can take a beating from them again. I’m just used to it, that elite players like Getzlaf or Perry or the Sedin twins are going to get their goals. And you can cry over the stat sheet, or you can just say ‘Until next time’ on your way out of the arena.
Having the Ducks end it right there, off the stick of a decent forward I don’t hate, would have put me out my potential misery. Sometimes, prisoners just wish for death. Because it hurts to have your fingernails ripped off.
But Kesler? Yeah, I couldn’t live with that. Just kill me, Getzlaf. Just win the game yourself.
It was still sickening seeing Kesler after Jakob Silfverberg’s winning goal. Although RK17 really did nothing for 60-plus minutes, he then skates out to center ice with his arms in the air, ready to embrace Silfverberg in front of Rogers Arena’s fuming populace. He skated out there like he thought he was Jean Beliveau, like his Ducks won that game just for him. (Which isn’t surprising for a guy who spends every second of every shift banging his stick on the ice, always asking for the puck.)
And then I saw his interview after the game, which was laced with sadness and stuffed with pity.
I don’t feel like watching copying and pasting Kesler’s interview – it’s as bland and carbon copied as his always are, so I’ll just link it here. And I’ll paraphrase it here: “Waaahhh waaahhhh. I’m glad we won. I’m sad they booed me. I really deserve all their love. But if they wanna be babies, they’re babies. Because I scored, like, goals here. I worked really hard. I did it all for them. I gave my all for Vancouver. I don’t wanna talk about why I left. That’ll be all.”
(Actually, my paraphrasing is a lot longer than his actual quote…)
The cameras never caught what I can very calmly assume happened after the interview, with the reporters dispersing and Kesler turning around to the top of his locker room stall, smiling to himself from the left side of his handlebar moustache to the right. His tiny, Charlie Brown-like eyes glistening as much as the planet Pluto could glisten. And he was thinking to himself, “Tee hee, Ryan. You’re so funny. You always get what you want.”
Yeah, you could make the argument that Kesler gave his all for a decade for a city that he was forced to adopt. And because he’s American, I suppose we should just thank him and feel grateful he didn’t bail for some rust belt city closer to his home in Michigan.
But you could also conclude, very rightly I think, that he always knows exactly what he’s doing. He played the victim last year, when rumours of his trade request out of Vancouver were leaked. He threw it back on the never-defined MEDIA – that evil, floating body of reporters, anchors, and blood thirsty paparazzo you always hear about from American Conservatives or losing athletes or embattled coaches. Basically, anyone who’s under fire for anything and has seen the spotlight that used to shine on them turn on them, they now hate the MEDIA because it just won’t leave them alone. And really, they hate the MEDIA because they don’t have a good answer to anything being asked of them.
But then I realized something else, and especially after reading everything I just wrote above…
Ryan Kesler is the ultimate troll.
I knew why some hockey fans hated him before – because of his diving or his whining, or whatever. But I hadn’t seen until last night, when he was finally an opponent and not a friend, just how hatable he is.
Because it’s everything about him – his little, black shark’s eyes, his pouty face, the way he starts fights and then skates to the bench when it ramps up, like he’s going to the bathroom just before the cheque comes. It’s how he plays, too – every little prod, spear, and poke, but those things you have to just get over. If you react to them, Kesler will fall over, and you’ll probably deserve the penalty. Especially if you’re a Canuck, because you know what he’s up to. That’s why Derek Dorsett was the only guy to bite last night, because Dorsett’s one of the only Canucks who never wore the whale at the same time Kesler did. But it’s good Dorsett bit in a way, too – Kesler’s the enemy now. These games need animosity; enough with the big-screen tributes and the sobbing ‘welcome back’. Is he a Duck now, or is he a Canuck?
And his post-shootout celebration with Silfverberg, like he was Theon Greyjoy stepping over bodies and claiming Winterfell as his own, was a troll move. And his post-game, on-camera pity party was a troll move.
Let me get this straight, Ry Guy: you wanted to leave, you held your general managers hostage while they tried to find takers for you, you only say you’re happier now in Anaheim than you ever were in Vancouver, and then we’re supposed to feel sorry for you when you get a little nostalgic, when our new number 17 dances around your netminder for an oh-so-satisfying go-ahead goal?
Kes, that move has been played out by the evil ex-girlfriend in every single teen comedy since 1990, and those girls are never the protagonists.
We’re not treating you unfairly – we’re just returning the favour.
But dammit, he’s got my blood boiling again!
Such a troll… such a troll…