The Vancouver Canucks 2016-17 season is nearly upon us! With the season, comes the endless debates, opinions, expectations, headlines, rumours, trades, prospect growth, predictions and everything in between. As we approach the upcoming 2016-17 regular season, all I ask is one request: let’s stop judging other hockey fans.
It is no secret that I am clearly a Vancouver Canucks fan but everywhere I go, that doesn’t seem to stop people from telling me how to cheer or what my expectations should be for any given game or the upcoming season. I know that being a hockey fan means being subjected to many hockey debates and I love that aspect, I really do. What I do not enjoy is someone telling me HOW I should think or HOW I should cheer/not cheer for my team or WHAT my expectations should be. I love a good hockey debate and always will, but there is no way someone else can deem what MY expectations are.
I am well aware of the disastrous season that was last season and all of the injuries or circumstances that led to it. I am well versed in the stats of this team for last year and seasons that preceded it. I do not need constant reminding of the win/loss record in the regular season or from past playoff performances. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I go into every season without any expectations, but rather to enjoy every step of the 82-game (+playoffs when qualified) wherever that journey may lead or end. I love everything about this game. I will be supporting the team through the good, the bad, the milestones, the heartbreak and everything in between. There are no days off for this fan. There is nothing that you can say that I haven’t heard before and there is nothing that will sway my support. The Vancouver Canucks are my team, end of story.
I know there are countless questions around my team this season and moving forward. Do I understand that some consider them to be in a tailspin or multi-year rebuild? Yes. Even so, do I look forward to the upcoming 2016-17 regular season? Absolutely, every year regardless of what the “experts” tell me the odds are, the start of hockey season feels like Christmas to me and that feeling never gets old. Do I realize that there are countless questions regarding my team for the season? Absolutely.
Going into the 2016-17 regular season, one of the biggest questions facing the Canucks is can they maintain a healthy lineup for the entire season? We all know how last season went in that department and we all know that maintaining a healthy lineup is key to get to the playoffs and go on a playoff run. Every player attending camp is hoping their hard working summers translate to success on the ice all season long.
Do I realize that goal-tending is always a question? Yes. Can Miller get back into Vezina form or will Markstrom continue his NHL growth and step forward? Both options depend on how hard each athlete works and if both stay free of injury. The Canucks defense is faced with its own questions now that Hamhuis is no longer on the blue line. The pressure will fall to Edler, Tanev, Hutton, Gudbranson and company to bring their best both defensively and offensively every game.
Do I realize that behind the Sedins, the Canucks desperately need secondary scoring to help balance the offensive load? Absolutely. The offense will need to step up as a group just as much as the defense this season. Players like Sutter, Horvat, Baertschi, Virtanen, Hansen & Burrows will all have to help share the offensive load.
Do I realize that some people consider the Sedins are “too old”? Yes, but I also know from the experience of watching the Sedins the last 15 years that they always rise above and prove their doubters wrong, every single time. This year is no different, they may not be “young” but they cannot be overlooked with their skill set every time they step on the ice. They are two of the classiest players on and off the ice and Canucks fans are incredibly fortunate to have witnessed their entire careers thus far. This season will mark yet another milestone in their careers as they are both poised to surpass 1000 career points.
I know the season is a long road and that from the outside looking in, the Canucks are a long shot for the Stanley Cup, let alone the playoffs but that won’t stop me from supporting them every step of the way. As we move forward, let’s cheer together, debate everything we love about this game, but please let’s not tear each other down or tell one another how to be a fan of this game and the teams we all love. We may cheer for different teams, but at the end of the day, we are all hockey fans.
Here’s another incredible year of hockey!
As always, until next time, nuck said.