"It's not like a home game for us because our fans are louder than theirs" - Kevin Bieksa (not actually)

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.

Average Canucks ticket price: $163.48
Kevin Bieksa replica jersey: $204.99
Kevin Bieksa T-Shirt: $29.99
Kevin Bieksa !@#$ing Beer Bottle Bank: $19.99

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?

Comments (8)

  1. I can see this from both sides.
    I was on that amazing roadtrip last year in LA/Anaheim and the fans were amazing. Everyone was there to support the team and have a great time.
    I am fortunate enough to get to go to games at Rogers arena about once a month- both premium games like Montreal and Chicago and more routine games as well. I always sit upper bowl and find the fans are far more into the game. The few times I have sat lower bowl
    people seem bored or disinterested- at one game the girl beside me was studying! It seems to be more of a prestige thing, just something to do.
    After seeing how the Canucks responded on the big road trip I can see that fans can make a difference. I think it depends on who the fans are. The ones on the roadtrips save their money so they can take their vacation to cheer on the team. The prices of tickets in Van are so high most of these people can’t afford to go cheer loudly.
    You want louder fans? Let the people who live by the team afford to go. I scream my head off when I’m there- I could use some help.

    • You’re absolutely spot on about fans on road trips. Looking at other Canadian teams as well, it’s not uncommon to hear more vocal Leafs fans or Habs fans on the road as well. It’s more of a spectacle for them and they want to make their presence felt.

    • You make some good points. I think that fans of visiting teams will often be more motivated than many of those of the home team. Living in Toronto, I see far fewer Canucks games than I did when I lived in Vancouver, but on the rare occasion when I see them in random road cities I am stoked to be there, am usually relishing the villain role of sitting amongst and cheering against the home fans, and am certainly louder than I would be if I went to home games on a regular basis.

      Then there is the critical mass factor. Leafs tickets are not cheap or easy to get, but when the Canucks come to town once a year there are always thousands of fans who shell out big bucks to be there. With that many fans in the opposition building, you get a pretty great group vibe that can at times lead to louder cheering the Leafs fans (for many of whom this is just another game in the season).

      For many Winnipegers living in Vancouver, the Jets/Canucks game was probably the first time they’d seen the Jets 2.0 and so they were a) going to do whatever they could to get tickets; and b) going to be loud as hell in Rogers Arena.

      I really wish that Canucks games (as well as games in many other cities) were more affordable and more frequented by diehard fans rather than corporate seat fillers. I think that is partly why I relish road games so much, as I meet and cheer with other diehard Canucks fans who are usually isolated from a Canucks fan community but come together for three hours to cheer on their team.

  2. Maybe Bieksa should buy out a section at every game and sell it to “real” fans for half price.

  3. I have a suspicion that something was lost in the transition to print and that the tone of Bieksa’s comments was lost. The guy speaks with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek most of the time and likes to joke around with the media. It looks like Willes might have taken his comments a little too seriously and spread the “sushi” comments on a little too thick.

    • That said, Canucks fans in Rogers Arena do have a reputation for being woefully quiet, but it’s hard to blame them at this point in the season. The Canucks basically have second seed in the West sewn up and there’s very little for the players or the fans to get worked up about until the playoffs start.

  4. the fans in vancouver smoke and the fans in winnipeg for instance drink. having said that, show me another team that has legions of fans show up in colors across the continent.
    the trouble that I have with the article is that it makes Kevin look bad. Lets face it, for the last month or so, the combination of bieksa and edler (who are supposed to be leaders) has been p#$s poor. they are constantly out of position and give up far too many odd man rushes. their backcheck is terrible, and the quality of shots they are allowing to get to the goalie are far too good and plentiful. they both fall down so much i wonder if the equipment manager isnt playing a practical joke on them with their skate sharpening.
    maybe kevin bieska should give us something to cheer about. i go to all the games and have gone to canucks games for longer than kevin has been alive. show some respect to the paying fan dude. take notice, you will hear lots of cheering for the handful of players that have been playing smart and hard during your little slump. so shut up AND put up kid.

  5. Bieksa you douchenozzle. Maybe the $4 600 000 you make every year should be enough incentive to, I dunno, do your job?

    It’s crazy but for some reason I can’t ask my customers to come into my work and ‘work with me’ so that I can actually produce things for them. I guess paying customers sorta want me to do the work.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *