Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

Bad Karma and Cheering for Losses

Prior to the game against the Coyotes last night, I wrote about how falling to 29th overall had a little more weight this season due to the Vegas Golden Knights joining the league. When it comes to making the best of a bad season, losing a handful of games to close the year is the best way to do just that.

The Canucks control their destiny concerning the draft lottery, and the loss to the Coyotes was the first means to that end.

All day yesterday, this was a topic of discussion on Twitter, forums, and the radio. Everyone had an opinion. Some people believe you can’t cheer for losses — that doesn’t make you a ‘real fan’, they’ll say. I’m not here to take issue with that. There was one stance that the hosts of TSN’s Afternoon Show took that’s put me less at ease.

The Afternoon Show invoked the image of the 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres. In particular, their fans for cheering on losses; bringing back up what I’d already discussed.

However, it took a turn, when broaching what team success the Sabres have enjoyed since then. And Buffalo hasn’t enjoyed any. The reasoning for this was because of ‘Karma’ for cheering for those losses.

Buffalo didn’t win the lottery. They haven’t made the playoffs since. All because of karma.

First off, Jack Eichel is a very good player. Saying he is very good isn’t even fair, he is an excellent centre. He’s exactly what a team like the Buffalo Sabres needed. A first line centre for the foreseeable future who is dynamic and makes everyone around him better.

Yes, the Sabres didn’t win the lottery and didn’t get Connor McDavid. But they entered the lottery with the best odds to obtain McDavid. Those fans cheering for losses understood the math behind the lottery and wanted to get the best player available.

Unfortunately, the balls didn’t fall their way. That happens. It’s a lottery.

That doesn’t make the thought process that leads one to want the best odds for the lottery any less sound.

The more contentious point here is the not making the playoffs because of karma. Where do you even begin?

The Sabres haven’t made the playoffs because they are two years removed from being the worst team in hockey. They have a porous defence, lack offensive depth and have struggled with consistency. All the things you would expect from a rebuilding franchise. It has nothing to with the bad karma that fans cheering for losing conjured up.

It has to do with the fact that they are trying to build upwards and are going through those growing pains. One could argue poor decisions in the front office haven’t helped either.

To suggest it’s because of some spiritual principle is far fetched. In the case of the Sabres, it indicates their fans’ attitude from two years ago is causing losses in the present.

Back to the Canucks, though. For this year specifically, falling to 29th is even more significant for draft position than in years past. With Vegas joining the league, it adds another team to the mix and thus pushes more teams back based on the outcome of the lotteries.

By getting below the Golden Knights, the 29th overall team ensures they’ll pick no lower than 5th overall. If you do rise to 28th overall, there is a chance that you could fall to 7th overall. Two slots aren’t the end of the world, but it’s two spots. Add the difference in lottery percentages and the couple losses to close out the season don’t feel so bad after all.

The argument against a losing culture is fair. But the Canucks have been poor enough this year, that losing a couple more games isn’t going to change that culture.

If you want to lament people for cheering against their team, that’s okay, I guess. We are all sports fans who root for a team in one way or another. But to suggest that these fans who understand the math behind the lottery and the positioning are going to cause a rift in the spiritual principles and cause years of turmoil is just too far out there.

It’s the Canucks, what’s the worst that could happen? Could they go another 47 years without a cup? Bring it, karma.

  • Dan B

    Ridiculous. Karma is superstitious nonsense. It’s an idea that is scientifically testable, but there’s no evidence for it whatsoever, unless you’re willing to consider confirmation bias as evidence. Let’s point out that Edmonton fans also cheered for losses, they got McDavid, and they’re now second in the Pacific.

  • Wanda Fuca

    Excellent argument. Logic dictates that you are correct. To postulate that karma extends from fans’ attitude all the way to team performance two years or more down the road is lazy thinking – actually it barely qualifies as thinking. Well, that’s talk radio for you. Spew nonsense, try to keep the herd listening, who cares if they swallow it as long as they don’t touch that dial. Besides, everyone knows that all those fans who cheered for their Sabres to lose have since died of incurable diseases. The buck – I mean, karma – stops there.

    • Neil B

      If Liljegren drops to 5th, I’ll take it. Kid has the best chance of anyone in the draft year of becoming a true #1D. There will be 1Cs available next year, too.

    • Green Bastard

      you oil trolls… no team in the HISTORY of man, in ANY sport, could draft as high as the oilskids for that many years and STILL have that limp-a- dick. This IS a guiness world record that will not be duplicated on this planet. I guess it’s good the oil FINALLY made back to the playoffs, cuz they sucked at golf too!

    • TheRealRusty

      Never understood loser fans that go to another teams fan site to troll. Never understood it when loser Canucks fans trolled the Oiler fans for the past 10 years, and still don’t understand these loser Oiler fans that come here. Don’t you guys have anything better to do with your pathetic lives?

  • Ronning4ever

    I just don’t understand the criticism from CA re this season from the Canucks. Former editor JDB argued for a fire sale and rebuild. For 2 years, the team has pushed hard to win until about the TDL and then played kids and bottomed out. Take a look at the records before and after.

    I know that Sutter and Gudbranson have been sore spots, but remember that the team has been weak at centre and that Gudbranson was one of the key reasons Gallant left Florida. I think the team has been rebuilding well. A couple brown spots but overall some real gems.

  • wojohowitz

    If you want to talk karma I guess you have to go back to the Canucks original owner who bought the team using shady accounting and ended up in jail but is it relevant? Also karma is long term and not short term. I have put this theory out there; If a team is bad over a two or three year timeline then it is the players. If a team is bad over a four or five year period then it is managements fault and if a team is bad over a seven or eight year period then the problem is ownership.

    Buffalo is one example of bad management – much like Colorado in that they have the four or five core players thru the draft but then they need the support staff and that is where both teams have failed. Without looking Buffalo has Eichel, Kane, Reinhart and O`Rielly but after that I can`t name another member of their team, maybe because they are all replacable parts. The Canucks are still at the early stage of acquiring core players although guys like Tryamkin, Stecher, Horvat and Boeser could be part of that core. Is Benning competent in building a team? At the moment we can say he deserves another year so that`s a vote of confidence.

  • Killer Marmot

    It’s the Canucks, what’s the worst that could happen? Could they go another 47 years without a cup? Bring it, karma.

    Do not tempt the Hockey Gods, for they are without mercy.

  • apr

    Two word. Gilbert Perrault. The hockey gods owe us. We’ll get first pick, and select the prototypical center – Patrick (ie Greg Oden) – who will have an injury riddled career, and Hirschier (ie Durant) will be a top 5 player. That, my friends, is what it is like to be a long time Canucks fan.

  • YoYo

    Lets put it this way.. makes it easy to understand the significance of the 28th spot vs the 29th spot.

    At 28th, you have a 67% chance of picking 5th/6th/or 7th.
    At 29th, you have a 69% chance of picking 1st/2nd/3rd/or 4th

    At 28th, you have 44% chance of picking 6th or 7th.
    At 29th, you cant fall past 5th.

    • truthseeker

      that’s totally misleading…lol.

      Each of the top 3 picks are a lottery.

      We have only a 12.1% chance at the top pick. So basically 88% chance we won’t get number one. Then they do another lottery for #2.
      THEN we only have an 11.8 (or so) % chance at number 2. Again…an 88% chance against.
      then only an 11.3% chance at 3.


      In the 29th spot we will be picking 4th or 5th in almost all likelihood. Canucks fans better get used to it. There is virtually no difference in finishing 28th or 29th.

  • Rodeobill

    I don’t think of myself as rooting against them, I think of myself as rooting for them to win in the future and content myself to see glimmers of talent, hard work, and chemistry being built as small wins in losing games. This argument is framed as an either/or… with us or against us, etc. I am happy to see them win, but I am happy to see them draft high and rebuild too. What constitutes a REAL loss for me is a game where the players mail it in, mismanagement, or the coach makes decisions that lead me to suspect he puts his resume before the interest of the team.

  • Burnabybob

    The Pittsburgh Penguins tanked shamelessly in 1984 so they could draft Mario Lemieux. They didn’t seem to suffer “bad karma” for it.

    The whole idea of karma is kind of a joke, at least the way people use it. People do horrible things all the time without punishment from supposed spiritual laws, our legal systems, or otherwise.

  • truthseeker

    Nonsense……canuck fans don’t understand the odds at all….

    I constantly see people posting idiotic ideas about finishing 29th instead of 28th like it makes some significant difference.

    Here’s an exact quote from some moron fan on the province message boards.

    “Last year was a perfect example (referring to bad luck, or “canuck draft luck”) where they finished third and wound up fifth. Didnt (yes he didn’t put the apostrophe) move up be (yes…lol) moved down. (Here’s the best part) SO MUCH FOR ODDS. (my caps not his).

    This kind of thinking represents so many canuck fans. It’s ridiculous.

    No buddy…that’s EXACTLY where the odds said we would pick. Around 5th.

    Same with this year. If we stay in 29th place, every single canucks fan should expect to pick 4th or 5th, because that’s where the math says we should pick. If we get higher we should consider that a fluke. It’s almost 65% that we will be 4th or 5th. We have a VERY low chance at any of the top three picks even finishing 29th.

    How many canucks fans accept that? Not many.

    There’s no karma or “canuck luck”….just math.

  • Jimjamg

    The Toronto Maple Leafs spent an entire two seasons setting up their team to tank and were rewarded with Auston Matthews. If karma was involved they would have picked 3 Rd last year. If Buffalo is the best example you can come up with it’s not much of an argument. As for the math, the League has deliberately set up the lottery to penalize the worst teams to discourage tanking and rewards more competitive teams with a shot at a great pick. This is precisely why tanking is not a viable plan.