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.