My friend Tony Gallagher often talks of conspiracy theories and how the Vancouver Canucks are the target of the NHL and its officials.
I played for a long time and never for an original six or major market team. The Hartford Whalers were never the hottest team for sweater collectors and the Quebec Nordiques were big in Quebec, but a distant second to the Montreal Canadiens in popularity even in La Belle Province.
My time with the Canucks was post the 1982 Cup run and a struggle to maintain the momentum of that run. We were that west coast team that was one year lucky and made it on Hockey Night in Canada maybe three or four times a year and only against the Leafs or Canadiens. I often felt we got the short end of the stick especially on the road, but I never thought it was a plan to make sure we did not succeed. It was an easy choice to favor the home team when they were headed for the playoffs and we were not.
The Canucks are not a bad team and have not been in the bottom half of the league for a long time. They have won their division five straight years and won the Presidents’ Trophy in two of the last three years. Daniel Sedin won the Art Ross trophy in 2011, Henrik won it in 2010 and the same year Henrik won the Hart trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player. The team deserves some respect and the star players on the Canucks have earned some respect. Just because you are a quiet star and go about your business on a daily basis to the best of your extra-ordinary ability does not mean you should not get the special treatment you deserve.
Last season the Canucks had 51 power play chances in their first 10 games. They had 33 in their last 10 and then were penalized twice as much as the San Jose Sharks in their first round playoff loss. This season they had 12 power plays in the first two games and 17 in the last nine. They have outshot their opponents in seven of those nine and the other teams have had 11 more man advantages.
The experts say if you are being outplayed you will take more penalties, but this has not been the case. When is the last time Sydney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin has had three minor penalties in the same game? Henrik Sedin had three in Long Island Tuesday night. Will he say anything? Will the team complain? Would it do any good?
This team has earned some respect. These players have earned some respect.