March 08, 2011

Canucks Choke-Bound

The buzz in BC is whether or not this is finally “the year” for the Canucks. Most of the media raves that this is Vancouver’s best team ever, pegging them as Stanley Cup favourites. But many fans, however, are skeptical of their home team’s chances.

Most of these pessimists (or realists, depending on who you ask) prophesize another Luongo meltdown, or preach about the lack of grit that will eventually lead to Vancouver’s doom. But we laymen often forget the most ominous omen, one that has continued to plague teams year after year.

The President’s Trophy curse.

Really? The Canucks most challenging obstacle is nothing but a bogus superstition? In a sense, it is.  Every year the team with the best regular season has an uncanny habit of busting early in the playoffs. There obviously is nothing mystical about this chunk of metal; it is how you win it that jinxes your playoff run.

Vancouver has been the best in the West for virtually all season. They lead the league by a fairly comfortable margin. The divisional race was over before it started. It has been a dominant season like no other in franchise history. Up to this point, the Canucks have beaten every obstacle that has come their way.

But the opponent that might do the most damage is Adversity. The Canucks have yet to face any sort of resistance this year. They have relatively cruised to where they are now. Never has there been a sense of desperation, or a must-win game. The trouble is, both of those scenarios will undoubtedly come up in the post-season, and the Canucks will not be ready.
This effect is not a tangible one, but it has been proven time-and-time again to “choke” powerhouse teams out of the Cup chase. San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, and let’s not forget, the San Jose Sharks. The only exception post-lockout is the Detroit Red Wings, and their roster had enough playoff experience to fill an encyclopedia or two.

It’s like the saying goes, adversity builds character. There is no doubting that the Canucks are a heavy Cup favourite. But when the situation demanding great character arises, they will be the underdogs.

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