The Canucks are NOT Canada's team!

Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler (17) celebrates his third period goal against the Nashville...

Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler (17) celebrates his third period goal against the Nashville Predators with teammates Vancouver Canucks centre Henrik Sedin (33) and Daniel Sedin (22) during Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference semifinal hockey playoff in Nashville, Tennessee May 5, 2011. (REUTERS/M. J. Masotti Jr)

Terry Jones, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 4:07 AM ET

Are the Vancouver Canucks Canada's Team?

It wasn't a question. It was an assignment.

No. They're not.

Pick a sports bar — any sports bar on this side of the Rocky Mountains on a game night in the Stanley Cup
playoffs — and the majority of the fans are cheering against Vancouver.

Run reader poll. We did. A majority 55% of the respondents said no way.

Not Canada's Team.

New assignment: Why aren't the Vancouver Canucks Canada's Team? Now that's a question.

It's been almost two decades since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. You'd think Canadians would be cheering for the last, er, Canuck team still skating to
stop the skid and turn 'No Canada' back into 'Oh Canada.'

My theory is that it's now gone on so long that fans of the other Canadian clubs are now willing to wait until it's their team that finally becomes the glorious team to win it again.

In interviewing Vancouver players during the past three playoff seasons, it's clear they don't see themselves as Canada's Team. And, indeed, teams like the Chicago Blackhawks have had more Canadians, and particularly more Western Canadians in the lineup.

Then there's the thing about the Vancouver populace, either seeming to be planning a parade or preparing to have another riot on Robson.

The fan base is a study in itself, with a perceived persecution complex relating to having failed to win a Stanley Cup in the first 40 years of the franchise and only two trips to the final. There's been conspiracy theories which even extend to members of the media that the NHL, especially
Gary Bettman, doesn't want Vancouver to win.

But there's so much more involved.

Who to find to best speak to the question? Who in the hockey world lives in Vancouver and yet is positioned to see it from a removed objective perspective of a true outsider and would be bold enough to do so?

Who better than an NHL correspondent for the daily newspaper Ilta-Sanomat and weekly sports magazine Veikkaaja? Who better than Finland's Vesa Rantanen?

"I love Vancouver. It's the best place on earth. I just try to figure out why they're not beloved by all and why they're not a Canada's Team like Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal or Ottawa perhaps would be in a similar situation?" asked the respected veteran scribe.

Where should we start start?

"How Canadian a city is Vancouver to start with?" he suggested. "It never snows. It never freezes. The city is not known about any real Canadian thing.

"OK, the Olympics brought Vancouver closer to the rest of Canada, but as a city I find Vancouver the least Canadian city of all the places I've been.

"It's not just a climate thing but attitude. This is more Northern California than Canada. Nothing bad about that, but I think outsiders see it as yuppie, expensive and shallow. It's just different. There are more Starbucks than Tim Hortons, more sushi than chicken noodle.

"Envy isolates Vancouver a little bit, too."

My man Rantanen was just getting warmed up.

It's just as much about this edition of the team as anything, he suggested.

"Count the Canadian players on the first power play unit. Zero!" he said of twin Swedish superstars, a top-three defence featuring a Finn, a Swede and a German, as well as the team's points leader in these playoffs, an American.

"There is only one Canadian star, Roberto Luongo, who is a) a goalie, b) Italian, c) from Quebec and people think he's a showoff, a playoff failure, a selfish loser and probably way too good looking, too," he said.

Did I mention that my highly-respected international media mate has a reputation for blunt honesty?

"The team's biggest Canadian heroes are Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden who never played first violin for Team Canada. Harold Snepsts, Orland Kurtenbach and others are nobodies compared to the Gretzkys and the great Canadian players other teams have had.

"Since they joined the league, the Nucks have been this team nobody took seriously, that sympathetic or just pathetic team with ugly jerseys who start playing when the rest of Canada is sleeping.

"The Vancouver Canucks really have no Canadian hockey history whatsoever," he concluded.

Some of that.

All of that.

Why the Vancouver Canucks are not Canada's Team is definitely in there somewhere.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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