Theo Fleury saw this coming.
But he didn't see THIS coming.
"When it was 3-0 Vancouver in the series, I was still sticking to my prediction. But I honestly can't say I predicted what we watched in the last two games," Fleury told Sun Media, after the total meltdown of the Canucks -- twice -- on the brink of eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I don't want to go through everything with the Vancouver fans again, but how do you come back from that and win a Stanley Cup?
"I remember 1990, the year after we won the Stanley Cup in Calgary. It was Game 4 of the first round series in Los Angeles and the Kings beat us 12-4. You just don't come back from that."
Tell me, watching the Canucks implode 7-2 and 5-0 in the last two games, that you didn't think of Theo Fleury.
The former Calgary Flames star caused a firestorm with the lunatic fringe of Vancouver fans when he went on The Fan 960 in Calgary before the playoffs and predicted their Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks would be ousted early.
"I'm going to go out on a limb here and I'm going to say the Vancouver Canucks will not make it out of the first round "¶ no matter who they play," said Fleury on the final Friday of the regular season.
Fleury explained that he had little confidence in Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo.
"Luongo hasn't proved to me that he's a top-flight goalie, because he's great in the regular season but he's had a couple of series against the Chicago Blackhawks where he's laid an egg when his team could have gone to the Stanley Cup final," said Fleury on the air that day. (Interesting playoff statistic: Luongo is 7-10 with an .887 save percentage against the Blackhawks and 8-2 with a .924 percentage against other teams.)
Fleury told the Calgary audience that being a member of the 1989 Flames, he was speaking from experience. That team still stands as the last Canadian team to win the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup the same season.
"Most teams that finish first overall in the standings have not gone on to have a whole lot of success," he said. "For the next seven or eight years we finished first in Calgary and couldn't get out of the first round of the playoffs."
Everybody and his dog makes Stanley Cup playoff predictions in Canada but what happened next was beyond belief. Fleury was subjected to an incredible stream of abuse, in the social media in particular, many referencing the history of sexual abuse and alcoholism Fleury had revealed in his book Playing With Fire.
And that, as much as his prediction, was why a lot of people couldn't help but think of Fleury as they watched the meltdown in Vancouver Thursday.
Fleury laughed when your correspondent called.
"Just sitting back watching," he said of what has been unfolding this so-far compelling if somewhat unsightly and infuriating (head hits, suspensions, etc.) Stanley Cup season.
When I suggested no matter how this turned out now, he had a lot of apologies coming, not just from the Vancouver fans who referenced his history in so many ugly ways but the Canucks fans in general who called him out, Fleury wasn't jumping at the opportunity for an "I told you so."
"I really don't want go there with the Vancouver fans again," he said of the West Coast crowd Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher referenced in a video interview, saying: "It's extraordinary -- it's like the paranoia and fear of the city is wrapping around the Vancouver Canucks and choking them."
In there somewhere is a possible explanation for what spilled out all over Fleury.
"I don't think people realize that I have my own once-a-week radio show. My opinions are well thought out. They're not just something coming out of my mouth.
"I just couldn't believe that when I said something, the way the whole Canuck fan base would react.
"The majority of the fan base in Vancouver is respectable, but there were a lot of people who maybe are going through their own stuff and are angry or upset, and I probably gave them an opportunity to go off on me knowing the history of my stuff.
"There are a lot of sick people in the world. Very sick.
"I know. I used to be be one of them.
"I've got teenage kids on Twitter. They didn't need that.
"I didn't mind the critical ones which were well thought out. And, hey, it's the playoffs. At the end of the day, the playoffs are so great that Canadians schedule their whole lives around the schedule. It's part of who we are."
Game 6. Vancouver at Chicago. 5:30 p.m. Sunday. CBC.
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