Tue Apr 26 09:59am EDT
It's a known fact that the worse things get for the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the more clinically insane anyone with a tangential interest in their success becomes.
As the series slips away, the Canucks don't just lose; they become victims of a national, perhaps global conspiracy to undermine their Cup run for the benefit of (American) teams.
Referee bias! Los Angeles Kings sleeper agents in the War Room! It's one cigarette smoking man away from an X-File.
(This conspiracy is never the reason they lose, mind you, just the reason they're put in a position to lose. The reason they lose is signed through 2022.)
What other fan base takes the time to put together a 4 minute, 25 second clip show about missed calls? Here's what a Vancouver fan saw in Game 6 against Chicago:
Hey, you'll get no quarrel on the Bryan Bickell(notes) hit on Kevin Bieksa(notes); that was a blown call, and had Bieksa stayed down it probably would have cost the Blackhawks Bickell for Game 7 before surgery ended his series yesterday.
The rest of the stuff, and the penalties that were called on Vancouver, caused GM Mike Gillis to speak out yesterday about the officiating; and then caused a surrogate in the media to claim there's a secret cabal working against the Canucks ... and it all leads back to the VERSUS network (insert dramatic music here).
Here's Gillis, working the refs and attempting to provide a distraction from the fragile psyche of this $10 million goaltender:
Via Ian Walker, Gillis in a nutshell:
Gillis doesn't seem too far off the mark when you consider Chicago has been awarded 27 power plays to Vancouver's 16 through six games, including the Hawks holding a 17-8 edge at the United Center.
Reading off a piece of paper, Gillis, a former lawyer and player agent, said Chicago has received 69 per cent more power plays than Vancouver in the past four games and 100 per cent more calls when the score has been within one or two goals -not to mention the Blackhawks have been awarded a penalty shot.
Here's the box score for Game 4: Too Many Men penalty, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Game 5: High-sticking double-minor for Samuelsson and a roughing call on Bieksa at the end of the second. Game 6: Puck over the glass and a penalty shot.
This isn't a series of judgmental interference penalties here.
But Gillis's point for Game 6 is taken: The home team, in front of a jacked crowd, facing elimination, got the majority of the calls. If you've watched the NHL for about a minute, this news is no doubt as groundbreaking as discovering the puck is round.
But for Tony Gallagher of The Province, it's evidence that some sinister force is working against Vancouver. Making his bid to be the Glenn Beck of hockey commentary, witness Gallagher's column in which he argues:
• It's in the League's best interests to have the series go as long as possible, which is why it must have orchestrated that 3-0 lead for the Canucks.
• It's in the League's best interests to have the Blackhawks advance for the benefit of VERSUS, which is why it fixed it so Chicago was a No. 4 seed. Wait, they needed to make the playoffs on the final day of the regular season? What kind of secret cabal is this?!
• The Blackhawks ownership has "intimidated" League officials. Because that's worked so well for the Leafs.
• Scotty Bowman may have "curried influence" with officiating supervisor Rob Shick by visiting him twice to complain about the referees. Where he no doubt picked Stan Bowman up, did the snake move and hypnotized Shick like the Osirian Portal.
No seriously, give this a read. But make sure your tin foil hat is strapped on tightly, or else Gary Bettman will try and steal your inventions.