It’s not necessarily controversy, but it’s nice to have some news that will get people riled up without a player getting injured in the process. Injuries of course don’t include any damage inflicted to Kevin Bieksa’s feelings, as he has been a little sensitive about the support his Canucks have been receiving at home of late.
With the Jets in town last week, the rejuvenated Winnipeg faithful – really, can you blame any crowd for being out-cheered by them? – were more audibly noticeable than their Vancouver peers which reminded the Canucks of road games “in Phoenix or LA” when they are the road favorites.
Needless to say the similarity didn’t sit well. Not to mention the opinion of various parties shone through. Exhibit A: an Ed Willes column for the Vancouver Province titled: “Canucks fans: Put down your sushi and cheer” (Seriously.)
Last week, the Winnipeg Jets came to town with their rabid fans and created a powerful energy in the home of the Canucks.
They stood. They cheered. They clapped. And that was just for the warmup. When the game started, they made more noise than the Canucks’ faithful which was interesting because they were also outnumbered 20-to-1.
This did not escape the notice of at least one of the Canucks’ players.
“I love the Jets and their fan-base,” Kevin Bieksa said before last night’s meeting with the Phoenix Coyotes.
“To see them come in here and out-cheer our fans is great from their perspective. I’m really happy for them.”
Bieksa continued, choosing his words carefully, but not, as it turned out, too carefully.
“But from our perspective, it’s a little sad. At times, we get that on the road when we’re in Phoenix or L.A. It seems we have a louder crowd than the home team and I know it gets them down. When you’re at home and the road team has a louder crowd, it’s a little embarrassing. I don’t think we want that to happen to us.”
Many fans would agree. Unfortunately, they were in sushi lineup at the Best Buy club and couldn’t be reached for comment.
On the surface this is an understandable frustration. Obviously the benefits of home ice advantage go beyond that of just your own fans – sleeping in your home as opposed to a hotel is nice – but the noise swell when you do something positive is a definite boost. Bieksa loses me with an additional comment that I simply can’t wrap my head around….
(As an aside, the author’s interjection there is pretty bush league. I get that one of the knocks on hockey fans in Vancouver is that all the tickets go to the top income bracket and that’s true. It’s the price of having a product that comes with prestige.
Ask any Joe Schmoe Yankees fan what it’s like trying to get tickets at field level in the Bronx. The fact the game of hockey attracts a particularly affluent fanbase doesn’t help the case either given that the sport itself caters to those that can afford it.
Don’t believe me? Poll ten hockey parents what they pay any given year. If Mr. Willes wanted to be genuine in his column he ought to have titled it “Here’s why rich people are crappy hockey fans.” But, I digress….)
Back to Bieksa losing me.
“A lot time when you’re down in the game or you’re going through a lull in the second period, the crowd can give the team a boost,” he said. “We’ve got to be working together here. We both want the same thing which is the Stanley Cup. So we’ll work for you if you work for us.”
Seriously Kevin? No, seriously?
Here’s the fan going to work for you.
Say what you will about the average fan. Sure most of them can’t afford tickets to the prime seats for games, but they’re shelling out what dollars they have to show their support of this team. You don’t think they’re loud enough? T.S., Mr. Bieksa. The fan is going to work for you when they pay the $7 million salary you were granted this year. If you do your job, they’ll be plenty loud come parade day.
What do you think: is Bieksa being a whiner or do Canucks fans need to pull their weight better?