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article imageOp-Ed: Fans count Canuckleheads out, say Vancouver is done like dinner

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 22, 2015 in Sports
The Calgary Flames are playing great playoff hockey while the Vancouver Canucks...not so much. Mind you they have had good stretches, even in losses, but their fans aren't buying any of that. It seems that many are counting them out.
Calgary Flames all over Canucks
Naturally Flames fans are besides themselves with joy. Calgary's Red Mile is awash with celebrants — it even has its own website now — as they dream of 2004. Since going to the final that year Calgary hasn't won a playoff series and they've missed the postseason 5 straight years.
That streak of not winning looks in jeopardy. In fact after Calgary took a 3-1 series lead last night with a 3-1 win, Vancouver's chances of winning the series is statistically south of 10 percent.
So what does the Canuck Nation think? Their players don't seem panicked, though perhaps they should be, but the fans, well, that's a different story. Things are heating up and the fans are burning their team, in particular on the local sports talk show, TSN 1040, where they're jumping off the Canuck bandwagon like lemmings off a cliff.
And why not? Vancouver's being outplayed; the Flames are supporting the puck much better, fore-checking much better and playing with more energy. Vancouver's second-period last night, in which they managed just 3 shots (thanks in part to Calgary's shot-blocking) was one of the most lackluster periods of their season; given the circumstances it was embarrassing.
Canuck fans blast team
The Team 1040 is taking caller after caller all waxing upon similar themes. So here is a precis of four of the major points fans are making on the radio, both in last night's post-game show and during the early morning hours of Wednesday:
1) - It is time for Kevin Bieksa to be put out to pasture. Callers insist that he is slow, mistake prone and that whatever magic he once possessed has gone the way of the dodo bird. They don't want him in the line-up Thursday night for Game 5 and would like to see him gone next season.
2) - Where is Sven Baertschi? Acquired from Calgary at the trade deadline, the 22-year-old lit up the AHL and scored twice in a call-up to the Canucks (okay, against the Oilers). Fans point out he'd have plenty of motivation going up against the franchise that dumped him.
Besides, he's an offensive player and the Canucks need scoring. Linden Vey instead? Vey has shown he is far from being an NHL scoring threat.
3) - Willie Desjardins, revered a week ago in Vancouver, is now, callers say, being badly out-coached by Bob Hartley. They note that after a TV timeout with five minutes left in the third, Desjardins, who rolled four lines all season and continues to in the playoffs, didn't bring the Sedins back out, though they were rested.
Before the Sedins we saw the dreaded combination of Chris Higgins, Brandon McMillan and Vey. With the game, and possibly series, on the line it seemed an odd choice, especially given that combined the Higgins-McMillan-Vey line has 403 regular season points and 22 in the playoffs, while the Sedins and Radim Vrbata, back with them in the third (finally!) have 2,323 regular season points and 161 in the playoffs.
4) - Callers are saying John Tortorella was right and it is time to break up the core of the Canucks and start a wholesale rebuilding process. Goodbye to the Sedins and Bieksa, Hamhuis, Higgins, to any veteran who can fetch a price. This group, they insist, is done like dinner.
Before the playoffs fans weren't saying any of this — okay, some wanted to turf Bieksa — but something about being down 3-1 (and losing 13 of your last 15 postseason games) changes things. It makes loyal players expendable, the franchise old and tired, Desjardins not so smart, Tortorella in-the-know and even takes the lustre off of Jim Benning and Trevor Linden.
And losing makes loyal fans turn on you.
So should they suffer a third opening-round series loss since their trip to the finals in 2010 (they missed the playoffs altogether last season), the Canucks may have to do something big before next season to quiet the fan-turmoil. That is unless they find a way to mount a comeback. Which ain't gonna happen, right?
After all, the fans have already counted them out.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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