5 reasons it’s okay the Canucks lost

The L.A. Kings after their winning goal

Hockey ended for the Canucks in 2011 with rioting, world-class ignominy for participating fans, and a legacy of heightened surveillance throughout Vancouver. Braced as the city has been for repeat hooliganism this year, the Canucks themselves solved the problem Sunday night by fizzling out in the first playoffs round.

I wouldn’t care so much if it weren’t for the beer flow inspired by NHL playoffs. You don’t have to follow hockey to know when the Canucks are getting successfully through April. The weather’s picking up; windows and doors are open; and you can hear cheers erupting through the neighborhood with each goal. Wander into a nearby yard and you can probably score a beer. (At least that’s what I tell my antisocial parents.) Sure, it’ll be a Canadian or a Labatt Blue, but chances are it’ll come out of an ice chest, half-frozen to that forgiving temperature necessary to really enjoy a macro brew from the Great White North.

Hitting the end of the road this early after reaching the finals last year is a real bummer. We’ll have to find other excuses to break out the beer, but at least there are a few bright spots:

  • Cars won’t be decked out with Canucks flags, which means the kids won’t demand why our car doesn’t sport unaerodynamic little rags whipping along in the wind until the Canucks lose.
  • Logging into Facebook I won’t see dozens of dorky status updates from fair-weather fans who become rabid every April, embarrassing themselves in their desperation to embrace hockey. They know the players’ middle names, for crying out loud. Last week they didn’t know what “offside” meant.
  • The kids won’t badger constantly for Canucks jerseys (and if they do, they’ll probably be on clearance).
  • There wasn’t a riot.
  • Last year's riot
    Photo: ctv.ca

    There won’t be calls for any additional Big Brother surveillance in Vancouver. Last year’s riot spawned a precedent-setting departure from traditional police investigations into crowd-sourcing—with Facebook and other social media being used as tools to identify rioters. This is the sort of surveillance-society development that isn’t reversed out of easily. Not only should it scare the crap out anyone who might have set a car on fire last year; it should worry anyone with a social media presence. There’s no question last year’s rioters were douchebags, and while they should be prosecuted, it’s alarming to think of investigators poring over people’s FB status updates looking for clues to their general whereabouts. Why? For starters, because so much of what people (bears included) say and post on FB is tongue-in-cheek or even just bullshit. Straining it for meaningful evidence seems like a colossal waste of time at the expense of people’s privacy.

So it’s great that there wasn’t a riot. But I still feel sad about all that hockey beer that will go unpoured.


My Fellow Inebriates,

There is a time and a place for mass-market beer. The hockey game, on my couch.

This is where mainstream beer really shines—you can drink it fast with no pretentious tasting pressures, and it gets you nice and gooned. My good friend Jean-Guy recommends starting a case of LABATT BLUE just as Don Cherry starts mouthing off before the hockey game, then stretching it out for the next couple of hours. Perfect. Neither item distracts from the other: beer and hockey synergize into a perfectly anaesthetizing pocket of time.

Jean-Guy has all sort of other ideas about alcohol. He was the dude who first urged me to mix Stolichnaya and Smirnoff in a 50:50 on pointless-feeling days.

I barely know anything about hockey. I’m usually looped before the puck gets dropped. But as a Canadian bear I like to be semi-present for a game once in a while. What I can’t decide about hockey is, Is it emblematic of Canada? Or is it a meathead sport? What does “offside” mean? It seems to mean a couple of different things.

Mostly Don Cherry hurts my eyes with his outfits. Sure, that’s his gimmick, and I do have a soft spot for unusual visuals, but I think most people would prefer him naked to seeing these fashions.

Cherry does explain some of his get-ups. He has worn his pink suit, for instance, to thumb his nose at the left. “I’m wearing pink for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything.” Wow, so cool.

Don Cherry triggers me to drink LABATT BLUE, and fast. This last part is key, because LABATT BLUE has little to recommend it tastewise.

Less visually assaulting

Straw-colored with a quickly dissipating fizz, LABATT BLUE feels empty and light in the mouth, with a bit of a twangy, metallic funk. It has a pleasant crispness that is dependent on its being cold—hence the importance of pounding the case quickly.

As far as macro beers go, LABATT BLUE isn’t the worst, simply because it’s not memorable in any aspect. It’s an entirely appropriate accompaniment to anything mediocre you plan to do.