It was supposed to be the most memorable spring in Vancouver Canucks history; in the end it was all for naught. A dream season, in which the Canucks took home the Presidents’ Trophy, rapidly turned into disappointment. Shortly thereafter, disappointment turned into nightmare and utter embarrassment on the streets of downtown Vancouver.
Doesn’t it seem like a long time ago when Alex Burrows scored in overtime on a wrap-around to give the Canucks a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Bruins? My, how things can change.
The series turning point was unquestionably the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton in Game 3. Rome’s hit, which resulted in a series-ending suspension, ignited the Bruins emotionally. In the next five games, the Western Conference champs won once and were outscored 21-4.
Now, one could say that if certain Canucks weren’t nursing injuries – Ryan Kesler reportedly had a groin and hip labrum tear; Henrik Sedin was speculated to play through injury all spring; Dan Hamhuis went down early in the final – that they wouldn’t have lost four of the final five games and watch the Bruins celebrate in their own barn. While that may be true, the Canucks’ antics, shenanigans and cockiness certainly inspired the Bruins.
Roberto Luongo, who will shoulder a lot of the blame for the team coming up one win short, was simply outmatched by Tim Thomas and the Bruins. While he only got eight goals of support all series, Luongo could have been better. After being getting the hook twice in Boston, and falling flat in a career-defining game, the fans in Vancouver have lost all confidence in its franchise netminder.
Game 7 was easily the most-anticipated game in Canucks history. Fans shelled out thousands of dollars to get in the building. What they witnessed was a flat performance by their team on the biggest stage the NHL can offer. The Canucks seemingly had nothing left in the tank after the physical toll they took in prior weeks.
Those same fans that can’t retrieve the $8,000 they spent on tickets witnessed a game – something that didn’t seem as important due to the horrific scenes moments after the devastating loss. Things turned into a real-life situation real quick as rioters took over Vancouver.
Cars were flipped over and burned, retail stores were looted and worse yet, innocent people were critically injured. Multiple eye witnesses, including former NHL goalie Jamie McLennan in fact, saw a Canucks fan fall over the railing on the Georgia Viaduct, an overpass right outside Rogers Arena. All of this went on until the wee hours of the morning.
The riots in downtown put a black eye on the city of Vancouver. It also put a black eye on Game 7, overshadowing the Bruins’ Cup win, which was a season-ending shutout loss for the Canucks.
It wasn’t exactly the way Canucks fans envisioned how their 40th anniversary season would come to a close. This Game 7 loss will sting for a very, very long time for a fan base that had such high expectations and a pre-assumption that Lord Stanley would be theirs.
After being the best team in the NHL for eight months, the Canucks couldn’t close the door. Between the late-game and overtime dramatics, they looked like a team of desinty this spring. Now a short off-season (compared to 28 other teams) will feel like an eternity.
Vancouver’s Cup drought officially extends to 41 years, as does Canada’s drought to 19 years.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.