December 10th, 2001. That’s the last time the Vancouver Canucks played to a crowd of less than 16,000 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Until Friday night when they took on the Winnipeg Jets and drew a crowd of just 15,589.
The last time the Canucks played to a crowd of less than 16,000, Brock Boeser was getting ready to turn 4 years old. That is until now. On Friday the 13th of October 2017, against Winnipeg the Canucks drew just 15,589 with many in attendance wearing Jets jerseys.
After years of play off bound teams, the franchise spent the last 3 or 4 years adamantly refusing to accept that their core would ever age or need replacing. They signed veterans like Ryan Miller, Radim Vrbata, Thomas Vanek and Loui Erickson when they should have been cleaning house and rebuilding. Instead, they spend millions of dollars on free agents to eliminate any chance of drafting well in the McDavid sweepstakes year and for what? A rapid first round playoff exit.
For too long rumored ownership meddling, incompetent upper management, and bad decisions both drafting and trading has created a rift between the team and its fanbase. Refusing to rebuild because of what the team “owes” the Sedins was foolish and a slap in the face to the fans that pay some of the highest ticket prices in the league. If a professional sports team owes anybody anything it is the fans. The people that pay their hard earned money to go see your product. Not to some players who you have already paid tens of millions of dollars too.
This is not meant as a slight to the Sedins. They have always been incredible players and people in the community and they deserve every penny they have been paid.
While the Canucks do have some good young talent up and coming, they lack anything resembling a super star in the making to help bring the fans back. Bo Horvat is an incredible 2nd line center who is going to be forced to play above his grade due to the Canucks inability to draft true first line talent at center. A reflection perhaps, of Jim Benning trying to recreate his Boston Bruins model that is sadly out of sync with todays game.
Without some incredible turn of fate, Canucks fans can expect a decade like they experienced in the 80’s. They should get used to being crushed by the Alberta teams who are vastly superior to them at present.