The Oilers Rig

Hank!: A Pair of Honest Brothers Tame the Dance of the Infidels

Mobley 57

Nothing shames and torments an Oiler fan born and raised on the West Coast more than a successful Canuck organization. And, the Vancouver Canucks have enjoyed a bile-inducing run of success over the past decade.

It has been an awful time for Oilers’ fans. The crumbs we’ve been left to fight over have sated our anger and spleen. But, the game 7 SCF loss to the Bruins in 2011 and the burning of Vancouver, the first round exits in 2012 and 2013 and the epic failure of the Canucks in 2014, are ultimately cold comfort for an Oiler fan whose only true enjoyment left is schadenfreude.

No doubt about it, the Canucks have been a stellar operation while the Oilers have given new meaning to the word “incompetence” over the past decade. Thus it was fated. Since the mid-90s––so, basically as long as most of you have been Oiler fans––the Oilers and the Canucks have lived at different ends of the hockey affect spectrum: intolerably happy and bursting with peevish taunting or intolerably dejected and bursting with peevish taunting.

I’m not kidding either. Here’s the last time the Oilers and the Canucks made meaningful hatred with one another:

[Sorry about the quality of the video. All the other videos of this series on youtube are Canuck slanted. We won the series, but clearly Oilers' fans have better targets for memories than knocking the Nucks out of the 92 playoffs.]

That’s the 1992 Smythe Division Finals. The last time we met in the playoffs. Not only is this the last time we met in the playoffs, it is nearly the last time both teams made the second season in the same year. Have a look. Here’s the Oilers’ seasons since 1991-2:

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 10.30.43 AM

And, here’s the Canucks over the same period:

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(click on the pics to embiggen)

After that 1992 series, the Oilers fell into a festering abyss that older fans may recall as being, perhaps, even more distasteful than the current catastrophe. Meanwhile, the Canucks enjoyed peak success, even making it to the 1994 SCF only to lose in game 7 to the Oilers (oops… I mean Rangers). 1995-6 was the last year this state of affairs (with the Nucks in and the Oilers out) took place.

The next season, the 1996-97 season, an inversion took place. The Oilers went on a run of five straight post-season appearances (6 appearance in 7 years, 7 in 8), while the Canucks missed the adult dance party 4 years in a row.

The early to mid 2000s were a time when the Canucks ran the mighty Morrison-Naslund-Bertuzzi (C-L-R) line and they looked to all the world like stone cold killers (piss cutters as Lowetide would say). The Oilers of the time saw great players bleed out of the organization (Joseph, then Guerin, then Weight, to name a few) but the team remained sound of mind and purpose. This period (right before and the season following the lockout), is the last time Oilers’ fans can conjure up images of Canucks with malice AND playoffs on the line. Now, all we have are the images of malice. We haven’t truly competed with them in ages.

None of which is to say that we don’t come by our malice honestly. In fact, it is merely to highlight the fact that Oilers’ fans’ malice toward the Canucks is strong enough to withstand the lack of any meaningful context.

I seethe at the Cancucks because they are good. I seethe at them because they are arrogant. But, mostly I seethe at the Canucks because they are classless bums.

My dad told me a story once. It may well be apocryphal, but it sounds like something that punk organization and its fans would pull. Here it is.

The Gares are a well-known hockey family from Nelson, BC [A sleepy town best known to people my age as the shooting location for the Steve Martin/Daryl Hannah vehicle Roxanne (1987); Oilers fans should know the Gares because Danny played his last season as an Oiler and Morey has been a pro-scout for the Oil since forever].

One night, one of the elder Gares (let’s say Ernie the father of the Gares) was being honored (he’s in the BC Hockey Hall of Fame) during a break in play or at intermission. The crowd booed him.

They booed him ostensibly because Danny Gare, his son, was on the other team.

As the story goes, after the game Danny was asked to share his thoughts on his father’s achievements. He paused, a stern look came over him and he said: “You know, this town never did have any class.” And, with that, he shook his head and walked off ending the interview.

I can’t say for sure this is what happened. But my dad says it’s true. And, it sure does sound like something the Canucks and their fans would do. And, it sure does sound like something someone from Nelson would say about the Canucks and their fans.

Throughout the years, I haven’t been given much reason to re-assess my conviction that the Canucks are indeed a classless organization from a classless town.

Last night, however, Hank Sedin made me cry.

What he did, having the Canucks come out and send Smytty off right, was all class. Him and his brother are viciously good hockey players. But, they are also honest, good and true men. I’ve always held them out from the rest of the Godless Canucks. Now, I have one more reason to think well of them.