*or why I’m not cheering for the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals.
I don’t know that there’s anything more subjective than cheering for a professional sports team. In fact, I can’t think of many things with a less objective sense of right and wrong. (That said, if you’re cheering for one or more of the Heat, Lakers, Cowboys, Yankees, or Canadiens and you don’t call any of those metro areas home, you’re doing this whole fan thing wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.)
There are four occasions where it is ok to cheer for another team in the post-season:
- Your significant other is a fan and you don’t want to deal with the repercussions of not getting on the bandwagon.
- You have tremendous sympathy for the fan base (I’m a Cardinals fan and would not be upset by the rival Cubs winning the World Series. If ever a fan base deserved a break…)
- You see something meritorious in the way a team plays – call it hustle, grit, heart, beauty – and whatever it is, it’s worth recognizing and worth rewarding.
- You’ve bet a lot of money on the outcome.
As for the so-called reasons to cheer on a new team because they’re in the finals? Let’s deal with those one by one.
A Canadian team might bring home the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1993
Supporting the local team
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (8.5 km)
2. Buffalo Sabres (178 km)
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (365 km)
4. Detroit Red Wings (384 km)
5. Ottawa Senators (440 km)
6. Montreal Canadiens (534 km)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets (705 km)
8. New Jersey Devils (762 km)
9. New York Rangers (780 km)
10. Philadelphia Flyers (788 km)
11. Washington Capitals (790 km)
12. New York Islanders (830 km)
13. Chicago Blackhawks (852 km)
14. Boston Bruins (897 km)
15. Nashville Predators (1,260 km)
16. St. Louis Blues (1,292 km)
17. Carolina Hurricanes (1,315 km)
18. Minnesota Wild (1,506 km)
19. Atlanta Thrashers (1,562 km)
20. Winnipeg moved-again-by-2019 (2,052 km)
21. Colorado Avalanche (2,166 km)
22. Tampa Bay Lightning (2,205 km)
23. Dallas Stars (2,326 km)
24. Florida Panthers (2,376 km)
25. Edmonton Oilers (3,470 km)
26. Calgary Flames (3,413 km)
If it’s proximity, Vancouver is 27th on the list of teams I should support. Congratulations Vancouver!
If it's about Canadians, wouldn’t it make more sense to pick the team with the most Canadians on the roster? Hint: it isn’t Vancouver.
So, if it’s not proximity and it’s not nationalism. What’s left?
It obviously isn’t the hockey. Have you watched the Canucks play? I haven’t seen so many people fall to their knees, bite each other and fake it this badly since Dr. Fellatio #14.
It’s not the fan base. From defending Todd Bertuzzi to the tampering charges to the…wait, let’s just agree: every fan base sucks.
It’s not the entertainment factor. Hockey Night in Canada may be drawing record audiences for Canucks games but they could easily double these ratings if they replaced the broadcast crew with sleep deprived grade 2 students who only have a rudimentary understanding of hockey. The fact that I have to mute my TV to make it through 20 minutes of hockey makes it hard to support the same team the blathering broadcast team is explicitly rooting for.
It’s not the allure of the team. The Canucks have more sweater designs than the Habs have retired numbers. I may die a little inside every time I hear Alan Frew singing Free to Be. But, even that sad sorry warmed over pile of middle-of-the-road Canadiana is better than taking to the ice to a 20 year old “anthem” from U2. The Canucks in-game entertainment staff are so cutting edge I can’t wait for next year when the Canucks hit the ice to Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”
In the end, I guess it really comes down to this:
- I pretty much hate your team. I don’t care where they play, how many Canadians are on the roster, or how long it’s been since your fan base got to celebrate something. I hope your team loses out in the playoffs and if they do make it through, I’m cheering for a meteor, plane crash or other catastrophic event.
- As a Leafs fan, I've learned the playoffs are a time to cheer against other teams.
- The only reason I'm watching the Stanley Cup finals (other than to see Jim Hughson leap to his feet enthralled by the Canucks completing a four foot pass or making a routine line change and, in his excitement, plummet to the ice from the press box) is to see if Tomas Kaberle can get his name on the Stanley Cup. I don't think there's a chance that it happens, but it's the only story line that doesn't make me grimace.