:: All over but the cryin' ::
Nearly five years ago, I wrote the shortest post ever to appear on this blog. It summed up, quite succinctly, the Vancouver Canucks' premature end to the season, losing in seven games to the Minnesota Wild despite leading 3-games-to-1 at one point.
It was, is, and always will be one thing: A choke job.
Today, the season is over prematurely again, although I'm hard pressed to call Game 81 a choke job. Yes, they needed to win to stay alive. Yes, they were playing the already-out Edmonton Oilers, and yes, they hadn't lost to the Oil at home, in regulation, in 16 months (16 months!!).
But it's not a choke job in the typical sense, because really, what did you expect? They haven't played like a professional hockey team for most of the past 4 weeks. If you want to label anything as a choke, label the entire month of March.
Because let's be real here, tonight's game wasn't any different than any other night. Plenty of opportunity. No finish.
But disappointing as the last month has been, it all came to a head tonight. All the struggles could've been erased with a simple win (and then another Saturday, but we're living in the present here for the moment), but they just didn't have the heart.
And the most disappointing thing?
It wasn't the fact that they couldn't put the puck past a washed-up, 38-year-old goalkeeper who lost his starting gig this season to a guy (Mathieu Garon) who was once not good enough for the Los Angeles Kings.
And it wasn't the fact that they scored but one lone goal - near the end - despite a 2-man advantage, a 5-minute major power-play, and with nearly one-third of the game's total time (18 of 60 minutes) played with one player more than the other team.
It wasn't that Alex Burrows was the team's best forward, either; nor the fact that Trevor Linden won't play his final game as a Canuck in the playoffs - where he belongs - but rather in a mean-nothing Saturday night tilt that will have all the emotion of a crib tournament down at the senior's centre.
And believe it or not, it wasn't even that the immortal Linden happened to be in the penalty box when the winning goal was scored, even though we all know he deserved better.
And though it's a close call, the worst thing isn't even that I now have no meaningful hockey to watch until October, or that now all the bandwagon-jumping, fair-weather fans will be shooting there collective mouth off until then either, about all the things they knew that Dave Nonis didn't.
No, the saddest, more aggravating thing about suffering through all of this?
It was pay-per-view, and it cost us $12.95 to do it.
Like charging admission at a funeral.