Memes might seem like low-brow fare for hockey writing, but they have quickly become a vital and irreplaceable aspect of our culture; on par with movies, music, and video games. Social media and sports have been intimately linked for over a decade now, and fans around the sporting world have been able to watch their fanbases evolve through message boards, subreddits, and (shudder) Facebook comments. Fans of the Vancouver Canucks are no different. Here’s a look at some of the best memes or running jokes from Canuck history. The eras are very loosely organized, so try not to be a stickler for that.
Roger Neilson’s White Towel- The symbol of complaining about the refs that started it all.
Pavel Bure in Rollerblades- In the days before social media, memes had a tougher time getting off the ground, but this stellar hockey card definitely made the rounds on some early message boards.
Mark Messier Hate- Not a lot of Vancouver fans will know this, but the Canucks used to have a player on the team named Mark Messier. Despite not really making an impression elsewhere in the league, Messier became renowned in Vancouver as the most hated player in team history.
Tommy Larscheid Gaffes- Larscheid is lucky that he broadcast in the days before the internet, because he had plenty of quotables that would have went instantly viral. Tommy didn’t always choose his words as carefully as he could have. Classics include “I just came from the Canucks dressing room and Pavel’s groin has never felt better,” and “Bure is such a great talent, if only he could play with himself out there, it will really give the fans a show.” He must have seen the rollerblade pic.
The Pauser- A rare example of a non-internet-based meme, The Pauser was a legendarily bitter caller who frequented Vancouver sports radio. Sadly, the man passed away in 2009.
Outrageous Team Photos- The Canucks used to make a real effort for team photos, often employing themes and costumes. The one linked below hung in my preferred barbershop for years before I finally noticed the Canuck logo in the background and figured out what it was.
The Naslund Era:
Drive Him to the Airport- Newer fans of the team may be surprised to know that the Canucks were once run by current Sonic the Hedgehog cosplayer Brian Burke. The always boisterous Burke had some great sound bites during his time in Vancouver, but his most oft-repeated was his promise to drive Trent Klatt to the airport himself if Klatt could get a better offer from another team. Klatt did, and Burke did not drive him. Hypocrite.
Trade the Sedins for Lecavalier- Anyone who spent time on CDC, or the Canucks.com message boards, back in the day will remember the frequent calls to trade both Sedin “sisters” to the Tampa Bay Lightning for one Vincent Lecavalier. Then again, anyone who spent time on CDC back in the day probably doesn’t have enough brain cells left to read this paragraph.
Mark Messier and His Unpopularity- Despite not actually playing for the Canucks during this era, one-time Canuck center Mark Messier continued to be viewed less-than-complimentary by fans. Among his most frequently decried flaws was a habit of offering everyone potato chips and then demanding they immediately enter into an illegal wager with him.
Ruutu Tripping Phaneuf- The GIF that keeps on giving. Watching Jarkko give Dion the business will never not be funny.
Dan Cloutier and the Beachball- Poor Dan Cloutier. The Canucks’ current goalie coach was once the team’s starter, and although he generally put up above-average numbers, he was never able to get it done in the playoffs. This led to (somewhat) unfair photoshops like the one below.
Chubarov’s Car- Artem Chubarov was once a promising young center for the Canucks before he up and left for Russia. He left so quickly, in fact, that his car was tragically abandoned in the parking lot of GM Place, where some say it remains to this day.
Ink Operated “The Playoff Push”- Of countless Canuck-tribute songs, this is undoubtedly the very best.
Sopel’s Cracker- Brent Sopel was almost a meme all by himself, with his dopey smile, long, greasy hair and frequent defensive gaffes that would make Luca Sbisa look like Nicklas Lidstrom. However, Sopel’s place in Canuck humour history was solidified when he injured his back picking up a cracker and was placed on the IR. That’s not a euphemism, by the way, it was an actual cracker. Why the Canucks made this information public, I’ll never understand.
Cowan the Brabarian- Legendary punching bag Jeff Cowan went on an unprecedented scoring tear for the Canucks in 2006, netting six goals in four games. At one point, somebody threw a bra on the ice, and a ridiculous nickname was born.
Ridiculous Sedin Line Names- Brothers Line, Mattress Line, etc- For awhile there, it seemed like everyone was trying their hardest to coin a permanent name for the Sedin brothers’ line. Unfortunately, they didn’t keep one linemate around long enough for a name to stick. Notable examples include the slight racist “Brothers Line” with Anson Carter (two brothers and a “brotha”) and the much punnier “Mattress Line” with Jason King (two twins and a King). We just started calling it “The Sedin Line” right around the time they started winning Hart Trophies and such.
Vote for Rory- Easily the most successful running joke in Canucks’ history was the campaign to put Rory Fitzpatrick in the All-Star Game. Although the league cruelly ended the joke themselves by barring Fitzpatrick from the game, the campaign did produce some gems like the attack ad below.
The Sedin Era:
Coconuts Glow- “Go Canucks Go” sounds a lot like “Coconuts Glow” to some. That is all.
This- Don’t judge us. It was a different time.
Ballard, Raymond, and a 2nd– Fans who frequent message boards so frequently saw Vancouver trade proposals revolving around this package that it became a running joke to offer it to fans of other teams. Eventually, all of these pieces just sort of drifted off anyway.
Story of Bieksa Beating Up Fedorov-If there is one anecdote that every Canuck fan should know, it’s the tale of brand new rookie pro Kevin Bieksa one-punching Fedor Fedorov at a bar and receiving a contract offer from Brian Burke the next day.
“Give Your Balls a Tug/Tell Kelly I Said Hi”- The current veterans and former veterans of the Vancouver Canucks are getting long in the tooth, but they used to be noticeably kiddish. Never was that more apparent than when Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler taunted David Backes about his wife, Kelly, and whether or not his balls needed to be tugged.
Sami Salo’s Balls of Steel- Speaking of balls, the hilariously oft-injured Sami Salo once took a slapshot to the nards. (Thankfully false) rumours spread that Salo had “popped one,” which led fans to chant “BALLS OF STEEL” upon Salo’s return. That must have really confused a few casual fans.
Tumbling Kesler- We’re entering into the GIF-era of Canuck-memedom. This one had some real versatility.
The Guzzler- Kevin Bieksa was another Canuck that always entertained the media. Along with his long-running bromance with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, “Juice” once gave an interview while posing as Ryan Kesler. Most notable was his self-applied nickname of “Guzzler.”
Kesler Photobombing- It definitely appears that Ryan Kesler was the dankest Canuck in team history. In addition to everything else, his “photobombing” of various interviews was always a delight.
Sedin GIFS- Alright, time for more GIFs. This time, freaky twin synergy is on display.
Kassian GIFs- Zack Kassian was so GIF-worthy that he got his own subreddit.
Vigneault GIFs- Alain Vigneault is arguably the best coach in Canucks’ history, but he’s inarguably the best at inspiring hilarious GIFs.
Kyle Wellwood: Man Possessed- Speaking of Vigneault and his risibility, nothing beats his reaction to the notion that Kyle Wellwood was playing like “a man possessed.”
Fuck Messier- Okay, enough sarcasm. Fuck Messier. Whether he’s handing out the leadership award he named after himself or harassing Connor McDavid, Messier is as hateable as he’s ever been.
Burrows? Do We Really Need Him?- There’s a bit of backstory here. A poster on CDC once started a Burrows-bashing thread that earned him some well-deserved ridicule, especially when Burrows responded with a hat-trick the next game. The real funny part comes from the fact that the same poster continued to stick to his guns and insist Burrows didn’t belong in the NHL right up to and including the era that Burrows was a 30+ goal scorer.
Hansen the Honey Badger- I’m honestly not exactly sure how this started, but everyone seems to agree that Hansen and honey badgers have a lot in common.
Schneider’s Impression of Hansen- Corey Schneider can also make it appear like he has a lot in common with Jannik Hansen, via an excellent impersonation.
Top Sixtito- One of the greatest nicknames in recent Canuck history, Top Sixtito has migrated to the Pittsburgh Penguins fanbase, which shows it has staying power.
John Garrett and Food, Yes- John Garrett has a shtick, and he sticks to it. If he’s not talking about the wonders of Kraft Dinner or ketchup, he’s replying to John Shorthouse’s question with a “yes” or maybe two.
Pyatt’s Eyes- The picture here really speaks for itself.
Lack’s Tacos- For some reason, Eddie Lack’s love of tacos became a meme. I don’t think it should have, though. Who doesn’t love tacos?
Riot Photos- Ah, the riot of 2011. The embarrassment faded, but the hilarious pictures remained.
Blueberry Pickers- This one isn’t even really a joke. The Acquilinis do, in fact, do business in blueberries. However, derisively calling someone a blueberry picker is just plain fun.
Real Good- Likewise, whether you like Willie Desjardins or not, his propensity to describe nearly everything as “real good” is just asking to be made fun of. It’s our version of Mr. Mackie’s “mmm-kay.”
Bo Horvat’s Head Shape- Finally, we reach the edge, where social media memery meets hardcore advanced analysis. The reddit post analyzing Bo Horvat’s headshape may have started out as a joke, but it soon unquestionably proved that Horvat is, indeed, the chosen one.