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THE MOJ: For many Canuck fans, the hope candle has stopped burning

After nine years of disappointment, fingers are pointing at ownership for franchise troubles
A Pavel Bure mascot wearing a face mask walks through the crowd as fans wait to enter Rogers Arena for the Vancouver Canucks NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild in Vancouver, on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

We’ve seen a lot of Vancouver Canuck hockey since they entered the National Hockey League in 1970.

There have been a lot of bad chapters in the history of the organization but there was always hope.

Hope is what fans can cling on to when their team is struggling.

You hope that the organization brings in the right management team. You hope that they hire the right coach. You hope they build a championship-caliber roster through solid drafting and astute acquisitions at the professional level.

You have hope.

Given what I’ve seen this year, I wonder how many Canuck fans have lost hope.

The promise shown last year after Bruce Boudreau’s arrival has disappeared, replaced by the hopelessness of a team that has blown multiple goal leads on seven different occasions and has set an NHL record for the most 5-1 losses at home in a single season (five) - and we haven’t even hit January yet.

We’ve seen mediocre and bad teams before in this market and we’ve seen how fans have soured on those teams and the organization as a whole.

Yet somehow fans still had hope.

This fan base is different.

Whether it’s tossing Canuck jerseys onto the ice or using social media to voice their displeasure in the most insolent way possible, this fan base is extremely frustrated and a large segment of it has lost hope.

So why are fans frustration levels at an all-time high with a team that is one win away from being .500 after knocking off Seattle 6-5 in overtime on Thursday?

Trust me when I tell you that during some years of this team’s existence playing .500 hockey would have felt like winning the Stanley Cup. Remember you are talking about an organization that only had TWO seasons of over .500 hockey in their first two decades in the league.

The answer is simple. It’s ownership.

There have been three general managers and five head coaches in the last nine years and the common denominator through all of it has been the ownership group headed by the Chairman of Canucks Sports and Entertainment in Francesco Aquilini.

Aquilini has become the most popular target for Canucks fans looking to blame someone for this run that has seen the club miss the playoffs for six of the last seven seasons. It’s Aquilini who they believe to be opposed to a complete rebuild – with the end result having a middle-of-the-pack team that isn’t good enough to get into the playoffs nor bad enough to get a premium draft spot to draft a generational player.

Then there are those who believe that Aquilini is too meddlesome of an owner – not allowing ‘hockey people’ to make the best decisions for the team’s long-term future.

I’ve seen and heard a lot of things at Canucks games over the years but I’ve never heard a ‘sell the team’ chant like I did at the tail end of the 5-1 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday.

It was a clear message that some members of this fan base believe that the hockey club will never become relevant as long as the current ownership group remains in place.

But with no plans to sell the team, the Aquilini family are the owners of this hockey club for the foreseeable future.

For a lot of Canucks fans, it’s the reason they have lost hope.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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