It’s totally okay to get ahead of yourself when it comes to the 2023/24 Vancouver Canucks
Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
It’s two games into the 2023/24 regular season, and the Vancouver Canucks are 2-0-0, having opened the year with two consecutive defeats of their top-ranked Pacific rivals, the Edmonton Oilers. One in dominant fashion, the other in dramatic.
As far as starts go, this is about as good as it gets.
And everyone is contributing.
A full 14 different skaters recorded at least one point across those two games.
Elias Pettersson is now tied for the league lead in scoring.
Brock Boeser sits second in goals. Quinn Hughes sits fourth in assists.
Both goaltenders have earned a win.
The power play and the penalty kill are both on fire.
The top-six is hot. The bottom-six is hot.
The blueline is holding itself together despite multiple season-opening injuries.
All players seem to have fully bought into head coach Rick Tocchet’s system.
In other words, it’s only been two games, but what a two games it has been.
Now, the absolute worst things for the Canucks themselves to do here would be to get ahead of themselves. It is, after all, an 82-game regular season, and longer than that if the Canucks play their cards right. The season is about 2.4% complete at this point.
If the Canucks start feeling themselves a little too much on the strength of those two wins, they risk squandering the benefits of a strong start. If they start to get a little too full of themselves, they might get away from those foundational, Tocchet-inspired structures that helped them win those two games in the first place. If they get a little too optimistic, they’re probably just setting themselves up for a harsh fall.
The Canucks themselves need to stay as hungry and desperate for success as they have been coming into 2023/24.
But that’s just the actual Canucks we’re talking about. What about the fans?
It used to be said that “We Are All Canucks.” But most of us haven’t ever received so much as a paycheque or a single second of ice-time. What fans do, think, and say has minimal impact on the on-ice product, no matter how much we might like to feel that the opposite is true.
That’s why, if you’re reading this and are a fan, you can feel totally okay in getting ahead of yourself when it comes to the 2023/24 Vancouver Canucks. Let your hopes run wild. Be optimistic. Put the cart before the horse.
Sports fandom is meant to be fun and enjoyable. And if one spends all of the good times just waiting for the other shoe to drop, they might just be missing out on the very best part of cheering for a team, and that’s those rare moments when a fan is truly able to believe in their franchise.
So, if you’re feeling that belief right now, don’t shy away from it. Embrace it.
A team isn’t going to start tanking it in the standings just because their fanbase got a little too excited over some early-season success. Whatever happens to the Canucks from here on out is firmly and solely on the players and coaches in the room.
Is it entirely rational to believe that the Canucks are going to continue their barnstorming play from here unto April? Probably not. But sports fandom is never built on rationality. If it was, fans would pick out a new team every year based on who they truly believed had the best chance to win. That’s not what we do. Sports fandom is built on unrealistic expectations, longshot hopes, and wild dreams.
That’s especially true when it comes to cheering for the Vancouver Canucks. This franchise is more than 50 years old and has never won a championship. Every fan who has ever thought that the Canucks were capable of winning the big one has, to this point, been incorrect in that belief.
And so what?
Think back to those times in Vancouver history when your belief in the team was at its strongest. Maybe it’s the 2011 Era, maybe it’s the 1994 Finals run, maybe it’s the West Coast Express. We’re willing to bet that A) those time periods correspond exactly with the most fun you’ve ever had as a Canuck fan and B) that you don’t exactly regret having believed in the team, despite your hopes and dreams not actually coming to fruition.
Really, that’s the beauty of sports. Fans can build up their optimism continuously, have it dashed by reality, and come back for more the next year. Because we’re going to let you in on a real secret here: none of this actually matters all that much.
Sports are an aside in life. They’re something that definitely matter to individuals, and they do make a difference in our lives, but they’re by their very nature a largely consequence-free endeavor.
If one gets a little too ahead of themselves on their stock market options, or their household budget, or on a political campaign, or while trying to climb a mountain, there can be very real and very direct real-life consequences.
But if someone ends up believing a little too hard in the Vancouver Canucks based on a two-game sample size and then gets proven wrong by the team’s subsequent performance?
There are no consequences. Who cares? There’s always next year.
But it’s not next year yet. It’s 2023/24, and the Canucks are certainly playing like a team worth being optimistic about.
Maybe you’ll feel the pinch of disappointment eventually, but it’s not something you need to guard yourself against right now. That pinch has occurred in each and every Canucks season prior to this one, and we’ve all gotten over it. If it’s coming eventually anyway, why waste these fleeting moments of optimism worrying about it?
So, if you’re feeling the Canucks right now, continue to feel them. You’ve got literally nothing to lose, and only good times to be gained.
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