Say what you will about the Vancouver Canucks and, knowing our city, I’d expect it to be negative.
The Canucks have their problems, but my biggest issue – that I can see – is the distinct lack of one. There’s nothing so terrible you’re passionately angry about it. There’s nothing to tirelessly fix. And, with a 4-3 record, they’re not even losing.
They’ve been just fine, and that’s the problem.
If Luongo was sputtering, if the Sedin Twins were truly over the hill, and if the defence had actually played poorly against any team not from Northern California, I’d tell you it was going to get better. I’d tell you Roberto would start flashing the glove hand, that Henrik and Daniel would click with whichever fourth-liner they were dragging to glory, and that the inconsistencies of Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Kesler are limited to the opening month with a new coach, and that’s it.
But, I fear – with a full seven nights of proof – the Canucks are as bored as we are.
I fear they’re tired of spending their 82-game seasons like English teachers spend their Wednesdays – putting it all out there, high-octane effort and all, only to discover the children are yawning and nobody really gives a damn about Tennyson. Only to discover they’ve spent all year teaching stuff no student will ever remember or care about until James Franco or Baz Luhrmann comes up with some artsy fartsy Hollywood remake.
No matter what the Canucks do, they know as well as we do that they’re not the top dog. They’re not the Sharks. They’re not the Blackhawks. They’re just not, and that doubt will kill you like it kills all of us at all of our normal jobs. Knowing you’re not the best only makes you worse. It makes you bored.
There’s no way to conquer boredom. It lasts until you fall asleep, and falling asleep in sports is the equivalent of an offseason – an early offseason, at best. When you get bored, you end up doing something desperate.
Say, trading Cody Hodgson.
On Thursday, the Canucks head to New York’s emptiest downtown to take on Buffalo just before the onset of that ugly Niagara winter. That’s the bright side. But the Sabres are led, in many ways, by Hodgson, Vancouver’s 2009 first round draft pick, who – wouldn’t you know it? – could have been the exact other centre the Canucks are still searching for.
As you know, the Canucks traded him for Zack Kassian in 2012 and we’ve been trying to get excited about it ever since. Watching that deal go down was like deciding to take the Massey Tunnel during rush hour. You wince and watch that last exit pass by, trying to convince yourself you’ve made the right decision, that it’s going to be okay… and then you spend two hours in bumper-to-bumper, calling your friends and cursing the city of Richmond because you missed your flight to Calgary and it’s just nothing you could have seen coming.
There’s nothing wrong with Kassian, just like there’s nothing wrong with the tunnel.
But Cody was the connector, and it’s just such a smoother ride.