Hey Roberto, Embrace The Hate

Bobby Lu, I got your back.
And I got a few tips for you to bring you to the promised land.
(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Far be it for me to give advice to an Olympic gold medalist, warrior-poet and perennial Vezina nominee, but I have a suggestion. You see, Vancouver is a goalie graveyard. It always has been and it probably always will be. There is a growing sentiment in this hockey-mad town that fans don’t like you. They don’t appreciate you. They don’t value you. They don’t want to see you as the Canucks #1 goaltender.

But you don’t need to cave under the pressure. You don’t need to ask for a trade. And you shouldn’t pay any mind to the detractors.

To quote Colonel Ludlow, "Screw’m! Screw’m all!". My friend, there is only one solution:

Say it with me now, "Embrace the Hate."

The fans think you’re a choker. The media thinks you’re pompous and arrogant. I’m reasonably certain that your coaches aren’t fond of you at this point. Hell, based on the last couple of games and the way they’ve left you high and dry, I’m pretty sure your defense hates you too.

Rather than feeling washed away by this turning tide, you should accept it. Absorb it. Use it.

Or put another way – embrace it. Yes good sir, the time has come to, "Embrace the hate".

I think I understand where you’re coming from, Roberto. You’re an emotional guy. You get high and you get low. You can sense when the crowd starts to turn on you. From time to time, you get rattled by opposing fans. Hey, listen – wouldn’t we all? Am I right? You’re human. You’re not a robot. As far as I know, the only robot allowed to play hockey is Jonathan Toews, and honestly he’s not fooling anyone.

Instead of letting that negative energy get you down, you need to feed off it. You need to feed off of it like a zombie feeds off of rotting human flesh. You need to swallow up boos like Dustin Byfuglien swallows up light, neutrinos and any and all other matter that gets caught in his mouth-shaped vortex. You need to read every damning article, blog post, and fan mail for your pre-game meal. Your iPod needs to be loaded with nothing but podcasts from the Team 1040’s call-in segments, and Chelsea Dagger. The soundtrack to your life should be the nonsensical rants of idiot fans telling Scott Rintoul and Jason Botchford that they sure as hell could do a better job in net than you, and that, if they were the GM, they would trade you to Phoenix straight-up for Raffi Torres.

Our friend, The Stanchion, suggests that you might be taking a WWE-style heel turn. This is a decent suggestion, and a good start. Don’t worry about support, though. A few fans of yours are already on board with this campaign. Check out this fan art (** NSFW), which pretty aptly captures the sentiment you should be keen on adopting. But you really need to embrace every aspect of being roundly hated. You need to do more to be hated, you need to work towards becoming truly reviled. You need to get everyone against you.  Teammates, coaches, team staff, media, fans, friends, family… No one should escape your need to Embrace The Hate. Here are some ideas to help you go Tiger Woods on us:

  • You once famously abstained from coming on-ice during your curtain call as one of the game’s three stars. Next time, grab the announcer’s mic and tell everyone in attendance that you’re celebrating by murdering an orphan child.
  • In the next media scrum, whichever reporter asks the stupidest question, beat him mercilessly and without forewarning like Roberto De Niro in The Untouchables.
  • If you run into a bunch of kids begging you for an autograph, you should snap and bite their heads off. I don’t mean figuratively. I mean you need to go "Ozzy Osborne" on them and literally bite their heads off. Make sure a camera is present then smile, rub your belly and murmur "om nom nom."
  • When Keith Ballard skates close enough to you in a game, swing away right at his melon, just to remind him that you’re defending the fraternity of wronged Panthers goaltenders. Or don’t say anything at all. But you might as well use it as a reasonably good excuse to viciously assault one of your defencemen.
  • That kid in the wheelchair from Canuck Place who’s in those endearing and heartwarming videos with you? You know what to do…
  • You also need to start sabotaging Cory Schneider. Everyone in Vancouver is a little too fond of him, don’t you think? I like the Cape Fear approach for this one, purchase a house-boating vacation for him in Shuswap next summer then show up and cause hell. Just leave the cigars at home…
  • When the score is tied, late in the third period, and you’re handling the puck, calmly put it into your own net. When captain Henrik Sedin looks at you in disbelief, tell him, "You wanna win?! Then go score two goals, you $&!?@$&!/$." 

You want success? You want to start enjoying each and every game at Rogers Arena and abroad? You wanna really rub it everyone’s fat, little faces when you win the Stanley Cup? You’ve tried the whole "Heart of a Canuck" bulls*&t. It might work for the Sedins. It will probably work for the Sedins. That’s not your jam, Roberto. It just won’t cut it.

So Embrace the Hate, Roberto… Embrace the hate.