When you just can't take it any more

Patrick Johnston
March 12 2013 12:36PM


Is that Cam Charron?

I needed a break. You may have noticed, but my name hasn't appeared here in nearly two weeks. That wasn't really intentional, it just worked out that way.

It turns out, I really needed a break.

Yes, I still watched the games, I still kept track of the chances, of how the team was doing even as my eyes were getting annoyed; it couldn't be that bad, could it?

Then I didn't even watch the last two. Partly, life intervened, but mostly, I just couldn't face it. I knew both games would be dire. Columbus and Minnesota? The Canucks have been playing dull enough hockey as it is. Two games against two of the NHL's dullest, on the road? Come on. 

I also knew that I'd be going to a Predators game in the coming days, that that game was likely to be a snoozer.

So I said, you owe it to yourself to check out some different things.

It's helped that the Whitecaps are back. It helped that it was my birthday last week. It helps that I also run a rugby blog elsewhere (check it out, if you like). It helped that baseball was creeping back on tv.

In other words, there were plenty of things to do, other than watch Canucks hockey.

But you know, at least we're not the Oilers.

IT COULD BE FAR WORSE

Holy moly, did you check things out over on planet Oiler the past few days?

Now, we should remember that the Oilers managed to take advantage of the Hawks' bursting bubble to grab quite the scalp on Sunday, but will that really appease those in the Oilogosphere who have been loudly calling for Steve Tambellini's head on a platter (and who somehow managed to reach a further crescendo on Friday)? Will it?

Those people are out for blood. And rightly so. The Oilers can score pretty goals and do not much else. And you know what's worse? They are about to burn out Jordan Eberle's AND Taylor Hall's entry level deals. It's a travesty of management. The next great team may never get there because the management has bee unable to find even an average bottom-line checking forward, or six competent defence.

At least the Canucks aren't them.

What would you rather have - a team blessed with top end talent but unable to add anything else, or a team that was great, is now on the downslide and might be losing its way?

What an awful choice. I suppose we go for the second choice, but it's not exactly a pleasant option.

Step back and think about it; both teams feel like they should be doing better. The Oilers have scoring talent, but you know that they don't have much else going on. In the CBA world, you also can see them burning through their young-player advantage. Is it possible to burn through an 'old-player' advantage?

If so, have the Canucks already done that?

WHY WRITE ANYWAY? WHAT'S THE POINT OF SCORING?

I write here because I like hockey and, yes, I like the Canucks. Those of you who follow me on twitter know that my interests are varied. I'm interested in most things, but talking, thinking and writing about hockey is one of those things that pushes me to be better. This is also a place that pushes me to calm down, no matter if what I'm seeing is making me mad.

But that's the hardest part. We want to see goals. Concentrating on the process can be painful. The team's not scoring, not shooting, not stopping pucks; only one of those is truly 100% controllable. At least that's what the data tells us.

That's where we come up against the limits of our opinion. Possibly the hardest thing for any of us to accept is that our opinion isn't necessarily valid. It's especially hard to understand that merely having an opinion doesn't make it valid. We believe that the Canucks are good enough. We go look at the data. It mostly confirms that belief. But then we see that it's not working. The results follow the effort.

It's a reminder of what I ask the players I coach (and that I've written here before) - what's the purpose of attack? Invariably the answer is 'to score.' They are half-right but I ask the usual follow-up: how do you score? That's when the mumbling begins. They start to see that I'm on to something. Sometimes a player will find the answer: 'to mess up the defence.'

But when you aren't scoring, there's little solace in that. As fans, that's why we watch. Scoring rewards our emotions. No scoring means no happiness. We don't like that.

THE BRUTALNESS OF "THE NOW"

It's been a brutal few weeks. The Canucks haven't been playing well. They miss key players. They've been tough to watch. 

It's also one of the worst times in history to be a journalist. There aren't many jobs out there. They are a ba-zillion of us applying for the same jobs. Finding someone willing to take a financial risk on you has proven to be a challenge. It's disheartening.

Is it possible to write your way out of malaise? There's only one way to find out.

We should also step back and take a breath. Remember how mad we were at the lockout? To be able to argue about processes that aren't legal is far better than what we had. That must be focused on.

SUCK IT UP, SUNSHINE

It also means focusing on what the other side of the debate is saying. We have opinions. We believe they are valid. We need to remember that the other side thinks the same. We need to remind ourselves to have faith in the debate, that your ideas will hold true and you'll end up exposing others to new ideas.

That's why we write. And that's what I needed to remind myself.

Has the door closed on the Canucks? Let's hope not, but let's recognize that it's a possibility. 

Has the door closed on journalism? No, of course not; stay the course, there's an thrilling new model busting its way through the chaff.

Yes, the hockey really sucks right now, but chill out, man.

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Patrick Johnston is a Vancouver journalist. In addition to regular contributions here at Canucks Army, his work has appeared in The Province, Hockey Now and on the CBC. Check out his blog and other writing at http://johnstonwrites.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter: @risingaction
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#1 Elim Garak
March 12 2013, 01:04PM
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I'm sorry to criticize, but this is a really badly written article. I just read the "Pros and Cons of Alain Vignault", and it is a sparkling example of journalism compared to this article. It's structurally unsound and not engaging at all.

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#2 JCDavies
March 12 2013, 01:07PM
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Nice change-of-pace post. It feels good to read something more uplifting.

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#3 Brian Symonds
March 12 2013, 01:22PM
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I also enjoyed the article Patrick and its nice to see you back here.

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#4 Senrik Hedin
March 12 2013, 02:00PM
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I agree with Elim. I gained absolutely nothing from reading this other than Patrick, like most of us, have a life and other interests. Cool.

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#5 Kevbo
March 12 2013, 02:03PM
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The world needs more muckrakers. Tony G does not count.

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#6 Betty Henderson
March 12 2013, 02:53PM
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I choose to be encouraging. No, I don't agree with your Premise about the Canucks. You lost me when you "didn't even watch the last two"Games,(how can you write an Article about them when you are so uninterested?) .Well I did.I take the good with the bad, the ugly with the BEAUTY. I am called a FAN. a real one.I enjoy reading others opinions, but , when they are off base, I say so.I support this TEAM,on and off the ice, they're my Guys.I didn't kick the kids out when I was disappointed with their performance, I ENCOURAGED them to keep going, to try,and told them I cared. BASIC Psychology.The kids had tough times, we all did, but they were all wonderful and,now, are successful.Keep on writing, keep trying to get work, it's tough out there.Been there. My TEAM IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE. GO CANUCKS !

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#7 2gansta2care
March 12 2013, 03:25PM
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Fair weather fans need not post

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#8 chinook
March 12 2013, 09:21PM
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@Betty H

I suspect Patrick listened to Canuck games on the radio. More likely he's spoofing and did watch.

How does a team that consistently finishes near the top continue to be a good team? Canucks must find the next 'Toronto' and trade for top draft picks. If we can't find another sucker draft more BC boys like Hamhuis and Garrison; don't let them go elsewhere and then wait for them to become free agents.

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