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(DARRYL DYCK)
(DARRYL DYCK)

Heartbreak nothing new <br>for Canucks fans</br> Add to ...

Have a couple of links and then a few thoughts as we wait for Game 5 in about seven hours time.

Link 1 is from Bill Simmons, who writes at length about taking his father - a lifelong Bruins fan - to Game 4 and the experience as it was from that perspective.

Link 2 is from Tom Benjamin, a blogger out of Vancouver who is likely the sanest Canucks fan you'll find anywhere.

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They're both essentially about fandom, among other things, and in particular fandom as it pertains to two hockey teams that haven't won bupkis in a long, long time.

That's one of the undercurrents of this series, with one franchise that's Cup-less since 1972 and another that's Cup-less altogether pitted against one another and a considerable drought about to end.

Here's Benjamin on what the Canucks blowing the best season in franchise history in the finals would mean:

"Amazing as it may sound, this season - easily the greatest in Canuck history - may also go down as the greatest disappointment ever. Lose and this team - whether it is fair or not - will wear it. There will be none of 'Oh, well. They were beaten by a better team.' Heroes will be vilified. There will be much bitterness and a sour taste that won't go away for a long time."

And somehow it would seem fitting for a fan base that has endured more heartache than most.

Reading Simmons' piece, I couldn't help but think of my own old man, who has been rooting for the Canucks without much payoff for almost 41 years. This year was supposed to be "the year" - and it may still work out that way - but this has been one painful week to be part of the club.

Growing up a hockey fan in B.C. back before NHL Centre Ice was widely available meant watching mostly Canucks games, and more often than not, that meant watching plenty of losses. This is a team that had one 100-point season in its first 32 years, averaging only 28.6 wins and 69 points a season in the first three decades.

And prior to 1999 when they landed the Sedin twins, Vancouver had one of the uglier draft histories in pro sports, one littered with Jason Herters and that began with Dale Tallon as the face of the franchise when he was drafted second overall in Year 1.

Nevermind the Cam Neely trade, which continues to come back to bite fans 26 years later every time the Comox, B.C., native revs up Bruins fans in this series.

There were a couple good years thrown in, mostly with Pat Quinn behind the bench, but it always ended in disappointment for Vancouver, with even the 1994 run to the finals somehow crumbling into years with Mike Keenan in charge, the ghost of Mark Messier as captain and Garth Snow in goal.

The last 10 years have been remarkably successful by comparison, with the Canucks averaging 44.4 wins and 99.4 points during the regular season, a dramatic upward shift that looked after Game 2 like it would, fittingly, be capped with a Cup.

But even when Vancouver has had terrific teams - fairly often in the Sedin era - they've been frittered away, with the Markus Naslund led teams blowing 2-0 and 3-1 playoff series leads in 2002 and 2003 and Todd Bertuzzi ruining another strong year by trying to cave Steve Moore's head in late in 2004.

They scored only eight goals in losing in five games to the eventual champs from Anaheim in 2007. They allowed nearly four goals a game in back-to-back second-round collapses against the Blackhawks in 2009 and 2010.

And now they're on the verge of another potential bust, allowing 12 goals in Games 3 and 4 in Boston and looking as vulnerable as any 117-point team possibly could.

Never much of a fan to begin with, I gave up rooting for the Canucks a long time ago, after flirting with the idea for years following all the good vibrations the 1994 run brought the province. In part because I moved to Toronto and in part because it just didn't seem to make a lot of sense to keep coming back for more punishment.

I'm sure they've lost more than a few fans the same way, after more than four decades. But, then again, many more have stuck around, waiting for a team with this much talent to finally end the drought.

It almost goes without saying that the next two or three games are the biggest in franchise history for Vancouver, which can either wipe away 41 years of letdowns or add another, brutal chapter to a book full of them.

All I know is that, either way, there are going to be tears back home.

Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

 

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