You know the Vancouver Canucks’ season is drawing to its inexorable conclusion when the team’s biggest media apologists have nothing better to do than to pick fights with the lowly basement dwellers here at Canucks Army.
What started out as a fairly level-headed, and generously qualified, critique of the notion that people want the Canucks to focus on rebuilding and developing younger players but can’t handle the losing that comes with it quickly degenerated into figurative, if not literal, mud slinging:
Live by this from great sportswriter Jim Taylor: "Never mud wrestle a pig. All you get is dirty, and the pig likes it." Peace+blessings.
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacVanSun) March 11, 2017
Alas, it turns out MacIntyre actually doesn’t live by this Jim Taylor adage. A scant 24 hours later he waded right into the mud pit, accusing Canucks Army writers of eating human flesh. Or something. I don’t really know. The point is maybe we can’t believe anything he tweets, either.
But before we climb in the pit with him, let’s recap the issues here, and there are two of them.
The first is that this market supposedly can’t handle a rebuild. It is something we have heard before from Canucks’ President Trevor Linden, so it shouldn’t surprise us to see that MacIntyre is singing from the same song sheet. But as I pointed out almost two years ago, what this market really can’t handle is repeated mediocrity with no end in sight:
This team is slowly getting worse. The core is aging and/or being shipped off one piece at a time. Yes, there are some potential younger pieces coming along, but not nearly enough to fill the holes. The fans, as a whole, see this and if there’s one thing this market has had enough of, it’s mediocrity.
But if the expectation is that the team will continue to get worse for years, the bleeding of season ticket holder support will continue until such a time as those expectations turn positive.
And almost two full seasons later, that’s exactly where this franchise finds itself.
The second issue MacIntyre takes with the fanbase is that we apparently want it all. We want the Canucks to develop players and we want them to win. First of all, maybe he should take that up with Trevor Linden and Jim Benning, because that’s exactly what they’ve said they want on repeated occasions. And he should know, he’s printed their claims without batting an eyelash on more than one occasion.
But as Jackson pointed out, what we at Canucks Army, and many among the fanbase, are doing is criticizing the decisions being made, not the outcomes of the games. Linden and Benning claim that they want to develop players, but their coach is out there trying to win games at the expense of developing them. And sometimes he’s doing both simultaneously, like when he wouldn’t give Baertschi a chance to play in an offensive role:
Anyway, I digress. My point is this: when I see Baertschi scratched in favour of Cracknell I shake my head at the poor decision making that ices an inferior roster and increases the likelihood of losing the game. But then, I also think that in the long run, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Another loss is another game closer to that higher pick and the potential of selling at the deadline.
That is what people are upset about. No one that understands what this team really is and what they need to do to improve and compete again cares if they lose to the Penguins. They care that the lone offensive bright spot to come along in months is forced to ride the pine after scoring a highlight reel goal in his first game with the team.
And this brings me to MacIntyre’s 750-word roll in the mud pit, which breaks down as follows:
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but bloggers can never hurt me.
You bloggers don’t have access to players, coaches and managers.
You don’t even want access to players and coaches, because that would just make things inconvenient.
Heck, you guys probably can’t even write up a shopping list. haha
Math is hard.
Because I have to face Willie Desjardins, I’m not willing to criticize him.
You are all zealots worshiping at the altar of analytics and defending your religion all costs (instead of accepting the learned wisdom of hockey men who’s lives and livelihoods are devoted to the game).
You would never find anything creative like literature at Canucks Army.
There’s a lot to dissect here, but let me focus on just three things.
First, two writers at Canucks Army have press credentials with full media access to Rogers Arena. Writers for Canucks Army have asked questions at press conferences and have interviewed players. Perhaps they don’t have the “special” access to Linden and Benning that MacIntyre apparently has, but maybe there’s a reason for that.
Secondly, the implication is that all the writers at Canucks Army do is rely on statistical analysis and nothing else. Again, this is simply untrue. There were no “impregnable figures” in Jackson’s original post, nor in the underlying arguments. MacIntyre is apparently mistaking logic and reasoning for math, but more on that later. What I do want to say now is that I can guarantee you that writers like Ryan Biech and Jeremy Davis easily watch more hockey in a week than MacIntyre does in a month.
Finally, I take issue with the notion that you would never find something as creative as a poem, or say an homage to Charles Dickens, at Canucks Army. The implication being that the basement-dwelling nerds here at Canucks Army can’t appreciate the game for what it is: a game. But the fact is, you can do both. You can appreciate the beauty of the game and seek to understand it, and understand how it works.
The truth is, I don’t begrudge him from appreciating the game the way he sees fit. If you look back over human history, people have been staring up at the stars for thousands of years, both in appreciation and in worship. And, interestingly enough, when some finally started to wonder why they moved the way they do, it was the zealots defending the status quo that persecuted them. MacIntyre would apparently prefer to rely on received wisdom over analysis and reasoning to explain how hockey works. Good for him.
I hope he’s not letting his ire over the fact that some of us appreciate what happens on the ice it in a different way eat him alive from the inside.