A census in 2013 estimated that 4,822,023 people resided in the southern state of Alabama at the time. In a far less scientific and likewise accurate study (*), those near-5,000,000 individuals appear to hate the Vancouver Canucks more than any other team in the National Hockey League.
The natural question to a piece of news like this – beyond “who cares”, to which the answer is “it’s August 4th” – is “what did the Vancouver Canucks as an organization ever do to Alabama? It still remains unclear, but it must’ve been something, because they appear to have been bestowed with this honour in a landslide (small sample size disclaimer aside). There generally don’t appear to be many ties between the state and the league, with only 2 players ever having made the league after having been born there.
This got me thinking to how differently the results would’ve come in had this vote taken place, say, 3-4 years ago. There was once a time where the Canucks, whether it be because of strategy or because of their personnel, attracted all sorts of ire from their opposition.
And that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. One tangentially hidden benefit of the ‘Jerk Puck’ era was how frequently the Canucks used it to unnerve their opponents, goading them into shooting themselves in the foot. They drew a lot of penalties, and they capitalized on them accordingly:
|PP Opportunities||NHL Rank|
Even if the team has lost a lot of its luster on the man advantage, it still goes without saying that drawing penalties and getting to play with the extra man is a beneficial event, even if you’re converting at a lower rate than before. There are plenty of hockey metrics being thrown around online these days, but honestly, one of the more oft-overlooked yet simple ones that I tend to always look into is a player’s penalty differential. It has legitimate hidden value, and it’s one that team’s should be definitely be looking into and exploiting.
As you can surmise from the graph above, generally speaking the more successful teams are the ones that tend to be despised the most outside of their local area. Nobody really has the time or energy to get too worked up about mediocrity, in any form.
Maybe the actual question isn’t what the Vancouver Canucks did to the state of Alabama, but rather: what do the Vancouver Canucks need to do to get their logo back on more of these states in the coming years?
(*)The source of the vote is Reddit, so take this with an exceptionally large grain of salt. For all we know Wyoming and North Dakota actually do in fact still hate the Vancouver Canucks, and all is well.