Bernstein: Canucks Ready For Epic Choke Job

By Dan Bernstein–

CHICAGO (WSCR) Here’s all you need to know about the mental titans that are the Vancouver Canucks.

Outside their arena, immortalized in sculpted bronze, is a statue of Roger Neilson, their head coach from 1982 to 1984. Neilson is depicted waving a towel on the end of a hockey stick, as he did famously in the 1982 playoffs against the Blackhawks when he felt his team was being unfairly penalized.

Just so we’re clear here; it’s not, say, a six-time champion, like some statues outside of some arenas we may know — it’s a statue of a guy whining about officiating.

Click here to read the keys to Game 7.

Yes, Neilson’s grandstanding started the oh-so clever Vancouver tradition of waving towels (even though the Pittsburgh Steelers first popularized the “Terrible Towel” thing in 1975 – don’t tell anybody), but it’s still odd that a team would want to remind posterity of some worthless complaints from a coach who won nothing.

These Canucks, preparing tonight to become the NHL’s first-ever top seed to be eliminated by an eight-seed after winning the first three games, are carping now about an overtime non-call of Bryan Bickell’s hit Sunday on Kevin Bieksa.

“You tell me the difference between that hit and Raffi Torres,” insecure General Manager Mike Gillis moaned to the Vancouver Province. “This one was worse. [Bickell] left his feet.” Gillis also made sure to note the ‘Hawks 15-10 power-play advantage in the last three games, probably while waving a towel on the end of a stick like an idiot.

Miserable goaltender Roberto Luongo – tonight’s announced starter — is the individual embodiment of the psychological weakness programmed into the Canucks’ DNA. He is highly talented, highly paid, and an absolute wet puddle of nerves whenever an Indian-head sweater is within three feet of him. He did the Skate of Shame off the ice in both games four and five, and then didn’t even have the guts to sit on the bench when his backup started game six. He came in because of an injury, and surrendered the winning goal in OT after spitting out a juicy rebound, upon which Ben Smith pounced.

I have no proof that he’s ever visited a sports psychologist, but he sure sounds like it. Luongo has been reduced to spouting such things as “It’s a great challenge for us. It’s fun to be part of a game seven,” and “You can’t worry about what’s happened the last three games.”


One could picture him about to go all new-agey, intoning a mantra to get his chakras aligned. Probably something like “Help,” “Yikes,” or “Oy, that red light’s on again.”

A fragile team is about to face a game that could etch them in NHL history for dubious reasons, and all Canucks involved are completely, entirely, debilitatingly aware of it. The oppressive dread is saturating the organization from the top down, making for anxious executives, skittish coaches, a goalie wound tighter than mandolin strings, and players prone to dumb, reactive penalties when things start to go wrong.

Rogers Arena will thrum with energy tonight, with fans exhorting their team and each other so as not to confront the raw current of paralyzing fear that lurks underneath, more real and powerful than the pretend hope.

Get those famous, signature white towels ready, since they’re perfect for wiping up flop-sweat.

Or the remnants of a historic meltdown.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Canucks Ready For Epic Choke Job

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    It would be sooo sweet to see the Canucks choke and the Hawks prevail.

    • tyler hewitt

      rotflmfao at you goofs… especially you Bernsein… you suck

      na na na na…

  • Kevin

    LOVE IT! Couldn’t have said it better myself…

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I don’t know why but the Canucks are now #2 on my hate list, just behind the Dead Weengs..

  • Eric

    You never cease to surprise me with the things you choose to get meatbally over. One moment you rain on Chicago fans’ parades and warn us against premature celebrations, the next you’re declaring the Canucks finished almost 13 hours before game 7.

    Then again, of course you’re ready to throw dirt on the Canucks. Nothing overrides your “Down With Those Who Whine About Officiating” program. I’m not complaining. You’re clearly having fun with this series so keep on shoveling. A more reasonable Dan would’ve reminded us that Vancouver is still the more talented team who outplayed Chicago last game and just needs to play that way again to win. But you’re right: today is NOT the day for that kind of talk!

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Luongo can’t possibly melt down again, can he? I’d be very curious to know what his true thoughts are at this point… is he determined, or is he already resigned to history?

      • Eric

        Everybody knows how prone to melting down Luongo is, but doing it for the third year in a row–like THIS–is humanly impossible, isn’t it? I mean, no team (no, not even the Cubs) is so cosmically snake-bitten that they implode three straight years, each time more dramatic and heartbreaking than the last, right? A just and loving God, even with all the sadness and horror in the world, must take some time to pity the poor Canucks tonight…right?

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Eric- that’s exactly how I feel… Even if he *is* highly prone to meltdown, the idea of it actually happening, and in this fashion against the Indian, with whom he’s already had multiple failures?

        Would Vancouver and Luongo look for a trade right afterwards… and would it be safe to assume that it’s to a team in the East?

        I mean, I know it’s right there for the assuming, but I still can’t bring myself to assume that tonight is a foregone conclusion.

      • Eric

        Chris – If Vancouver loses, it’s time to blow the whole thing up real good. Everybody in the organization knows it, that’s why the entire team is going to be on the brink of a weepy mental breakdown for all 60 minutes tonight (and if it goes into overtime forget it). Coach, gone. Twins, spit up, Kesler, a distant memory. You’d pretty much have to trade Luongo to the East–IF you can find a team willing to take him–but that’s where Byfuglien and Ladd live now so little consolation in that. The Canucks might be best off just forgetting about the whole “hockey” thing for a while.

        The hilarious (in a sad way) thing about this is even if the Canucks win this game, they still have thre more rounds of this nonsense to go before they reach their highest-of-high expectations. Does anyone think THIS team can endure that much pressure? With the last three games, the Blackhawks pretty much said, “If we go down, we’re taking you with us.”

      • Jon

        I can’t think of a team in the league that would trade for Luongo and his 11+ years. Ouch. Maybe a team desperate for some marketing? The Panthers didn’t get fair value for him and that was years ago. What were they thinking giving him that kind of dough.

    • Peter (in Rogers Park)

      It’s not that surprising, a tiny bit hypocritical though. DB writes about hockey like a casual fan, because he is a casual hockey fan (and that’s fine). This piece is chock full of several elements (emotion, peripheral story lines, and civic taunting) that would trigger DB’s sanctimony had they been employed by a different writer commenting on a different sport.

  • AT3374

    Either way this shakes out , no one will take the Can-knuckle-heads seriously from here on out . Let the choking commence and commit to the Indian…………….

    Cap’n Obvious signing off ……

  • Mr. Pouty Pants

    Serge wrote the blog today.

  • mike in davenport

    That’s hilarious about the statue.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Great idea for the statue, unveiled only about two weeks ago.
      Roger Neilson was inducted to the Hockey HOF and was much beloved in hockey. I saw him often at games and even practices when he Coached the Florida Panthers years ago (when we lived there) during their Cup run. He died of some form of cancer about 10 years ago or so. He truly was beloved in the NHL.

  • Gentleman RaRa

    You’re using the word “epic” now?
    C’mon, Bernstein, I thought you were better than that.

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      At least he is using it close to correctly and not referring to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or new socks as “epic”.

  • Beard Man

    So we have Scottie and Michael…they have a whining coach? Oh, Canada…our mentally weak land… stop talking hockey!

  • Beverly Brewmaster

    Two points for Gillis:

    1. The big difference between the Torres hit and the Bickell hit was that Bickell actually waited for the puck to arrive before blowing up Bieksa. Torres hit Seabrook while he was looking back waiting for the puck to arrive.

    2. The Blackhawks were the third-least-penalized team in the NHL this year. They had 742 penalty minutes as compared to 943 for Vancouver. The disparity is even worse when you look at minors (which more accurately reflects power play chances than overall penalty minutes), where the Hawks were second-to-last with 265 minors while Vancouver was seventh with 348. With that in mind, a 15-10 disparity over three games should come as no surprise to Gillis.

    • Chris in Scottsdale


      I was thinking the same thing regarding the whining about the penalty differential. It’s inherent in the style differences between the two teams as a whole, so what could he possibly be whining about with any traction? It just seems symptomatic of a franchise that is 60 ice minutes from spontaneous combustion.

  • Peter (in Rogers Park)

    What is flop-sweat?

    • M. Night Shamalamadingdong

      Sweat caused specifically by the fear of failing, or flopping.

      Either that or it’s the cause of the stench coming off of my feet after wearing poorly-made flip flops in 100+ degree heat.

      I think it’s the first one. M. Night be floppin’.

      • Peter (in Rogers Park)

        I only wear hand-crafted, Swiss-made, artisanal flip flops. Wouldn’t know about flop-sweat, they leave my feet smelling of hot chocolate and money.

  • Bob Johnson

    Should the Canucks win tonight and I sincerely hope they do not, tomorrows take by Danny should be interesting.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Bob, I can almost guarantee tomorrow’s blog will be on Da Boo.

      If the Canucks win, Bernsie shall never speak of this again.

      • DFu (in Hobart)

        That is the great thing about being just a casual fan of a sport rather than a die hard. After a big loss you can just eject and forget about it until next year.

  • G-Mo82

    luongo is floppy and he sweats = flop sweat

    go hawks !

  • General Soreness

    Who cares?!? Hockey blows!~
    Bulls will advance tonight, then move on to take 4 of 5 from ATL and then onto bigger fish……

  • meesohawnee

    So does the NBA soreness.. LOL. at least with hockey the whole game matters not just the last 2 min.
    i think the problem is that “fragile” team totally outplayed the hawks per. 3 and OT. keep the perspective and dont get caught up in the Canucks are chokers. They and lulu only need one game and all will be well.

  • Ike

    Roger Neilson was a devoted hockey coach and student of the game who helped galvanize a Canucks fan base. He died of Bone Cancer in 2001, a disease he fought bravely and quietly. The statue is a tribute to a great man and a great hockey mind.

    They don’t make statues for classless reporters.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      …but they will for alcoholic annnouncers that inanely ramble on. Go figure.

      I anxiously await the Ronnie Woo-Woo statue.

  • tom

    Arrogant worm song called me like hockey

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    So… Cutler engaged? Why am I not laughing?

    The jokes just aren’t coming… they’re not coming- not even unfunny wholly inappropriate ones… I’m so disappointed.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Perhaps we should get them a kitten as a wedding gift, just so there might be a little noise in the house.

      I can just imagine the conversations are scintillating, the interplay sparkles with wit and charm.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        No substance meets… no substance?

        LHA, I just got the graphic in my head of them sitting on the couch and engaging in “conversation”. Good lord.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        but she really is quite the hottie
        hope she’s not nuts (c.f. Mrs. Braylon Edwards etc. etc.).

        Mazel tov Jay.

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        They could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        If it ever becomes an issue between them, they could update Cyrano deBergerac by having Jay wear his helmet at home (with the communications device within) and Martz could whisper proposed conversational lines to him.

      • Peter (in Rogers Park)

        I’ve heard they both like soup.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        that’s what attracted them in the first place…soup…they had so much in common

    • Beard Man

      He sprained his MCL when he got down on a knee to propose? That’s the alley-oop joke, you could go with he’ll quit halfway through consumating the marraige? Caleb Hanie is gonna have to walk up the aisle for him? He’ll yell “DON’T CARE!” while the minster is reading the vows?

      • Beard Man

        Lol…did they say it like Terry does?

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        By cracky, that was some LOL good stuff!

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        I actually saw a movie this weekend where the phrase “by cracky!” was uttered…

        “Backwash”, starring Michael Ian Black among others… it was a wholly awful movie, but I had to rewind that part like 5 times just because I had never heard it uttered by anyone not on this station.

        And good stuff, Beard man, agreed.


    Game 7 of the Blackhawks/Canucks’ first round NHL Stanley Cup Playoff series in Vancouver tonight will certainly be the dessert on quite a night of Chicago sports and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Stanley Cup Champions pull off quite a comeback coming from 0-3 to win in dramatic fashion. I hope Hawks’ radio voice John Wiedemann has another dramatic game-winning call in him up the dial like he had Sunday night in Game 6.

    As for the Bulls, that’s where my main focus of attention will be tonight. I will be very interested to see if Derrick Rose has any lingering pain after suffering what appeared to be a very frightening ankle sprain Saturday afternoon in Game 4 down in Indianapolis. The last thing I want to see is this pesky Pacers’ team come into United Center, continue to outplay our Bulls and force a Game 6 down at Conseco Fieldhouse Thursday night. I’ve said this on both my Facebook and Twitter pages. FINISH THE JOB! I want to see the Bulls team that won 62 games and claimed home court throughout the NBA Playoffs FINALLY show up and put Indiana away tonight. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

  • Lon's Camirillo Brillo

    Love the cowhide, but can we get Bernstein a new photo. Looks like Kevin Spacey eyeballing a boyscout troupe. Zoom out and I bet he’s holding a leash.

  • bryan top

    seperated at birth…..partyboy from jack ass and the coach of vancover. think about it

  • Fitness Friend


  • April O'Neil

    Can we maybe save s*** like this until AFTER game 7? There’s a very real chance the Canucks will win, and you’ll just look unbelievably stupid. They’re the number 1 seed for a reason — they’re dangerous. You’re embarrassing the city right now.

    • AT3374

      Hey clam up or I’ll get the Shredder to take you out


    This game could get ugly. Game 5 from the ’09 W.C.F. ugly.
    I think the Canucks are going to put all their eggs into the offensive basket.
    It could leave seams for Hossa, Kane, and Toews. But, they have to have their legs underneath them.
    Hjalmarsson, and Campbell will probably have to play deep.
    Avoid blow up hits, post two quick goals, and wrap this thing up.
    If they have their energy, ‘hawk line changes looked crisper on the road bench.
    Go ‘hawks!

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Blackhawks are +150 in Vegas right now. There’s gotta be a reason for that.


      Now, I know why I don’t gamble. I’m not sure if that is good or bad?

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        +150 means they’re an underdog. Wager $100 to win $150.
        The Canucks, depending on the casino’s vig, are -165 or -170, meaning that a wager in that amount wins $100.

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