Embrace the Hate

Thomas Drance
November 16 2011 09:42AM

This summer was an emotional and difficult one for the Canucks and their fans. The loss of the Stanley Cup and the embarrassment of the Game7 Riot were bad enough, but the untimely passing of former Canucks forwards Rick Rypien and Pavel Demitra was way harder. In response to the worst summer in recent memory for the team, the Canucks have come up with a theme for this season, and are celebrating the contributions of "local heroes" with  the Heart of a Canuck campaign. But for Canucks fans who compulsively occupy the digital space on reddit or twitter, or live outside of Vancouver; the theme of this year is quite different. This season's theme is all about redemption, it's about changing the approach, and learning to "Embrace the Hate."

When your two best players win the Art Ross back to back, the Presidents Trophy, and three playoff rounds, they are bound to accrue a certain "mythology". The Canucks (undeservedly in my view) have become a heel team, roundly mocked for their unworthiness, gutlessness, diving, lack of Canadian players and their cheap-shot artist ways. Canucks fans have done their part too, and have developed a reputation for whininess, conspiracy theories, undue sensitivity, rioting, insecurity and worst of all, we're seen as a "humourless fanbase".

All of this is very dramatic, Canucks fans aren't all that bad, and the team doesn't do anything altogether out of the ordinary, except win more games than most teams. Certainly the moral outrage the team's detractors "put-on" when they're live-tweeting Canucks playoff games is silly, and not worth taking seriously. But hundreds, maybe thousands of Canucks fans do take it seriously, and angrily tweet bile at the likes of Barry Rozner, Taylor Hall, and Theo Fleury after their negative comments, or after a Canucks loss. The fact remains, Canucks fans have a perception problem, and an inability to laugh off insults.

The "Embrace the Hate" campaign at Canucks Army is aimed at helping to change that. Here's the basic idea: it's a content competition, that will run all year and raise money for various charities. The Nation Network, and their writers have put together 750$, all of it earmarked for various charities. We're going to decide where we direct the funds in particular based on a "content competition" that will be held at this site. The contest has four categories:

Best Troll Post

They say Canucks fans can't laugh at themselves, that we take everything too seriously, that we can't take a joke. What they don't realize, is that life long Canucks fans are a joke, and most of us understand the irony of our situation. For the best troll post category, I have invited several noted Canucks haters (or just haters in general) to write about their dislike of the team and fan-base in this space. After all, if you're going to properly Embrace the Hate, you need to be able to embrace even the biggest meanest trolls. Contestants are going to include Kelly Reardon of Blackhawk Down Low (who once wrote this), Bryan Reynolds of Hockey Wilderness, Ryan Lambert of a bunch of places (why the Naslund hate, Ryan?), Pension Plan Puppets (seriously?) and noted sore winner, Greg Ezell of Days of Y'Orr. At the end of the season we'll have a vote, and an esteemed panel of Canucks Army editors will grade the posts based on their hurtfulness, creativity and level of all around malice. These posts are going to brutal, mean and funny, but will Canucks fans be able to laugh it all off? That's the challenge!

The winner in the best troll post category will receive a donation of $250 in their name, to the charity of their choice. It's Canucks Army's way of paying reparations for the crimes committed by the team and fan-base against the good, god-fearing Wild, Blackhawks, Flames, Leafs and Bruins fans over the years.

Unconditional Love Post

The history of the Canucks franchise is filled with pain, embarrassment and deep, unending sadness. The Canucks are the only team without a Stanley Cup that has made it to two game sevens in the Stanley Cup Final without hoisting the mug. On top of two rather massive hockey riots, Canucks fans have to contend with the disappointment of the West Coast Express era, and the shadow of Todd Bertuzzi. There's the Iron Mike era, the Bure trade and a generation (1970-1989) of being absolute doormats, the LA Clippers of hockey. 

But if you're going to embrace the hate, you need to embrace even the most sordid moments in your team's history. In this category, some of my favorite Canucks bloggers will rationalize and defend the most indefensible moments in Canucks history. The Stanchion, Katie Maximick, Jeff Angus, Harrison Mooney, Daniel Wagner and Cam Charron will all be participating, and topics defended will include both riots, the Bertuzzi punch, Bure's trade request, Raffi Torres' continued existence and Tony Gallagher. The winner in the Unconditional Love Post category will receive a donation of $250 in their name to the Canucks Fund for Kids.

Best "In Enemy Territory" Account

One of the most frequent complaints about Canucks fans are that, in person, they often suck to watch the game with. To try and dispel this myth of the touchy, humourless Canucks fan, I'd like to invite bloggers and fans submit stories about attending a Canucks game in the barn's of various rivals.

I want to know how you were received, and how you dealt with the various barbs, the fingers being thrust into your face and how you kept your cool when that Bruins fan threw beer nuts at you. We'll accept any story, regardless of how graphic or dark, but points will ultimately be awarded for finding out a way to laugh it off and Embrace the Hate.

I myself will probably contribute to this category, and I'm hoping any of our readers who have plans on attending a Canucks game in a foreign city will submit their story for consideration! The winning entry earns a 150$ donation to be made in their name to the Canucks Fund for Kids, and we'll also set them up with some Canucks swag.

The Worst Canucks Fan on Twitter Award

Please let me know about any particularly deranged Canucks fan twitter accounts out there in the ether. If they're rude, profane and unduly suspicious about every call - I want to know about it. I will profile four particularly awful Twitter accounts throughout the year, and donate 100$ to the Canucks Fund for Kids on behalf of all appalled Canucks fans.

The first post of the Embrace the Hate campaign goes live early this afternoon! 

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Kelly Thomas Reardon
November 16 2011, 09:50AM
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That's the post of mine you decided to link to? C'mon, that's like C- material. Check out this rant (at the bottom) instead to get a taste of what you're in for: http://www.blackhawksdl.com/2011-articles/september/2011-northwest-division-preview.html

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#2 Subhedgehog
November 16 2011, 10:03AM
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Off-topic, but I cannot let a mention of the "Heart of a Canuck" ads stand without comment.

They are terrible. The worst sports ads I have ever seen or heard - the soft voice-over on the radio ads is particularly brutal.

Hockey is not a terminal illness. Don't advertise it like one.

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#4 antro
November 16 2011, 10:21AM
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Heh, glad to see that no one from Coppernblue is there! Those guys--well, only Derek Zona, really--really piss me off.

Really, we need a statistical-driven campaign that shows that winning the President's Trophy is a harder feat (less luck driven) than the Stanley Cup. Then we long-suffering Canucks fans can finally feel like winners.

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#5 Kelly Reardon
November 16 2011, 10:30AM
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Thomas Drance wrote:

@Kelly, I've changed the link!

Haha, thanks man.

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#6 Andy Eide
November 16 2011, 11:38AM
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I love this! Well done, can I submit a story about seeing the Canucks in enemy territory two years ago? We were only slightly hated then.

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