Friday, November 4, 2011

Sitting Down With Spec

Sooo angry!
Last week we got the chance to sit down with Sportsnet's Mark Spector, to ask him about his "Letter to Canucks Fans." As it turns out, Spec has been getting all sorts of shit for his article and we think it's hilarious - so we asked him about it.  Without further adieu, Mark Spector...

1)      The distain for the Canucks seemed to reach it's peak during the Stanley Cup Finals, when do you think Canadians first started hating all things Vancouver?

Well, the best defence is a good offence:

The word you’re seeking is “disdain,” not distain. Which is a fitting place to begin: because at the risk of pissing you and your fellow fans off right off the hop, perhaps we have arrived at the difference between bloggers and professional journalists even sooner than we could have hoped.

Sorry. Was I writing out loud? Just channeling my inner Tony Gallagher there for a moment.

So, where were we? Ah, yes. Canadian hating all things Vancouver.

In fact, you’ll notice that Canadians seldom had any problem at all with Vancouver, until their hockey team became a team of prominence. So let’s focus the topic down to that: Canadians quite like Vancouver, in my experience. It’s the team and its fans that, at times, become worthy of our “distain.” (heh, heh…)

(BM Notes: pfft spelling is sooo overrated. Funny thing is, more than one of us looked over these questions. Journalists!)

2)      Do you think that hatred comes from jealousy of the Canucks' regular season successes, or are Canadians simply tired of the boy crying wolf all the time? What do you think is the real reason behind it?

There will always be jealousy of good teams. I would say just as many people hated those Oilers team of the 80s — in fact more, considering they actually won Stanley Cups. And they were very, very cocky about it.

The difference?  We didn’t have the Internet in 1987.

Much of the friction created by these Canucks teams, however, is self-inflicted. I believe that is what infuriates Canucks fans even more — their silent recognition that on some topics (Burrows’ diving, Luongo’s fragility, even the wonderful Sedins’ lack of Cup production), the Rest of Canada is actually right.

Then there is the Conspiracy Theory, which is Canucks Nation’s Achilles heel. Any fan base in which a certain percentage believes that Gary Bettman and the referees conspire to make them lose, is bound to be a national laughing stock. Truly, in 25 years in this business, no other group of fans have ever purported to be systematically screwed by the league. You guys are the first. Congratulations.

3)      Personally, I think fans in Toronto are probably welcoming the break from being hated - Who do you think Canadian hockey fans hate more, the Canucks or the Leafs? Why?

There is no fun — OK, far less fun — in berating the Maple Leafs. Besides, it’s a much shorter season. Who would you pick on come April?

The Canucks draw in because, again, they are good enough to be around for at least two playoff rounds each year. And, sadly for you guys, when they don’t win in the end, everyone else gets the last laugh. Yes, even though your team is so much better than all of theirs’.

Honestly, I’d love to see the Canucks win a Cup, and then listen to Rest of Canada try to legitimize their criticism. Of course, then the void would be filled by voices of Canucks nation… Hmmm. Sounds like a lose-lose situation for all of us.

4)      Is there simply too much pressure for Luongo to perform well in Vancouver?  Is he starting to lose it or are the fans rescinding to the mob mentality that the world saw after game 7?

Newsflash Vancouver: You are not the only market that applies pressure on your team/goalie to win. When the Senators were in the Cup Final, there was every bit as much pressure on Ray Emery. Same with Miikka Kiprusoff, Dwayne Roloson et al.

Ask Carey Price if there is pressure being a goalie in Montreal? Or Reimer in Toronto? The difference is, Canucks management has done its best to multiply the pressure by handing Luongo the captaincy and a two-generation contract.

The Sedins are never assailed with questions about the pressure. That’s because they’re mentally up to the challenge. I suspect Luongo is as well, but if there is a question regarding the two, I think it should be whether or not Luongo can handle the pressure. Not whether it is too great.

As for you fans, he’s your goalie — for the next really-long-time. You’d be wise to create an atmosphere in which Luongo does not feel like he’s playing goal in a guillotine. Maybe he’ll play better, and you will all be happier.

5)      What would you say are realistic expectations for this Canucks team?  Are they the kind of team that wins the NW division and bows out in the Quarter Finals, or are they good enough to make another run?

Vancouver is the best team in Canada by a long, long ways. They’ll win the Northwest for fun, win Rd. 1, and then throw their hats in with the big boys in the west. They are more than good enough to win the Cup — this year, next year and the year after. They are well managed, well coached, and are led by two of the finest players in the league today in Daniel and Henrik. Edler might win a Norris day. Hamhuis is a fine D-man. Bieksa is tough as nails (though I still don’t like to see him fighting Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Marleau, no matter what they allegedly did to “start” those fights).

They just need some more grit up front among their Top 6. Every year they lose to a team with more size and grit. The Dave Bollands, the Brad Marchands, the Ben Eagers… Vancouver never has an answer for that kind of player. After all these years, I’d suggest they find a couple

6)      If the Canucks do not have home ice advantage in the playoffs is the season considered a failure? Or is anything less than a Stanley Cup a fail?

That’s how good the Canucks are now. They’ve been to a Cup before. So, yes. If this team doesn’t start actually winning Cups, they’ll go in with San Jose and Washington, or the Calgary Stampeders under Wally Buono. Really good teams that didn’t collect enough (or any) rings.

7)      What's your over/under in regards to how many more years Roberto Luongo puts up with this crap before he demands a trade?

More on Luongo? You people ARE fixated, aren’t you?

Let me tell you something: get over Luongo. As I’ve stated before, to the disgust of many of you, he is more than good enough to win with. Start pointing the magnifying glass elsewhere.

As an outsider, I could never understand why Canucks fans fall over themselves condoning the diving and embellishing of Burrows and Lapierre, yet unload on Luongo for every goal. Heck, if Luongo had let in those three against St. Louis last week, you’d all be freaking out. Schneider let’s ‘em in, and now we’re talking about the skaters, and how they weren’t good enough.

It’s fine to critique your team, just spread it a little more evenly.

Where were the criticism when Burrows, a fine, self-made player who has been hoisted up to first-line status by the artistry of the Sedins, stood by while that little Marchand kicked the crap out of the twins for two weeks last spring?

Do you recall when Bieksa fought Marleau, and in pure retaliation Eager ran Danny through the boards from behind? Did a single Canuck stand up to Eager that day? No – they sat back, sent Danny over the boards on the powerplay, and expected more production from their Art Ross winning winger.

Our point: The Sedins are your treasure, and no one seems to care when they are abused. Luongo is just a real good goalie, who picks some lousy times to have a bad day. And you’re constantly all over him. The Rest Of Canada wants to know why?

8)      If you were going to write an unnamed editorial, such as the 'Deal Lou for Vincent' garbage, which magic beans would you try to sell Canuck fans, as the solution to all of their problems. Perhaps an interleague trade of Derek Jeter for Roberto Luongo would make them happy?

I would ask Canucks fans, “What exactly ARE ‘all of your problems?’”

You win your Division, play more playoff rounds in the past few years than the other Canadian teams combined, and get to watch some of the finest hockey in the NHL played 82 times a year.

These don’t sound like problems to people who have to watch Alex Auld play goal, or Shawn Horcoff as their first-line centre.

My advice? Quit whining.

9)      What's the worst thing a Canuck fan has said to you in regards to your open letter? And how do you feel about the people that throw barbs at you, but are too scared to direct it at you? Kind of like the 'Spec is stupid, but I hope he doesn't see this' drivel from Jonathan Willis over at Canucks Army?

You mean, other than the Canucks fan who recently threatened to “cave in my face,” if he ever saw me in Vancouver?

Looks, fans are fine, no matter what they say. As a writer, I’d be nowhere without them. The only thing that weakens your ranks are the ones who do not even read my column, yet still offer improvements. Or who offer me writing tips like “You’re a ----ing idiot.” Or, our personal favorite, “Who the –ck teach you how to right?”

They are, in short, brazen idiots.

A big trend now that also is disturbing is all about “hating” and “bias.” I have, for 25 years, covered all kinds of teams, towns and players. There are people I like less than others, but anyone who thinks you can do my job, and have a bias against a particular city or team, you just don’t have an understanding of the business.

Do I think the Canucks have a few shortcomings? Of course. Do I actually talk to the referees who tell me they won’t raise their arm for two particular Canucks players because they don’t know if they diving or not?

Yes, I do.

But pointing out those FACTS does not mean I am biased. I also write that Edler is one of the best D-men in hockey; that Kesler (despite treating us in the media with utter disdain much of the time) is a stud; that the Sedins are as fine as gentlemen as they are as players.

Does that mean I am biased towards Vancouver? Of course not.

As for the Jonathan Willis’ of the world, if I ever saw them in a hockey rink, we would have a chance to discuss things like two professional writers. But sadly, I’ve never run into him at one. Perhaps because I am one, and he is not.

10.     You said that the Canucks "keep drafting Danes and Swedes" as reference to the team being too soft, are you worried at all that you may have unknowingly prevented Sportsnet from future endorsement deals with Ikea?

Alas, if building the Canucks were as easy as piecing together a Billy cabinet or a Bild sofa, Janick Hansen would win the Conn Smythe every year.

Seriously, I just see a team that needs more Troy Brouwers, and less David Booths. More Melville, and less Modo. It’s not that I’m against Euros. Your team wouldn’t be this good without them.

But there’s a tipping point. Call me crazy, but I think Boston (and Chicago the year before) lend some merit to my argument.

Again, thanks for doing this for us, Spec. We really appreciate it.

No trouble at all. Always enjoy the discussion. Even with you, Cave My Face In Guy.

Spec did I tell you that we're an Oilers site?

You're an OILERS site?!? Wow

I wouldn't worry about it, the rest of the world doesn't know who we are either.



OvenChicken said...

Big thanks to Spec, this was by far the greatest JSBM article yet.

Also, burn on Willis... "As for the Jonathan Willis’ of the world, if I ever saw them in a hockey rink, we would have a chance to discuss things like two professional writers. But sadly, I’ve never run into him at one. Perhaps because I am one, and he is not."

Terry said...

Grate read thanks fellas

Anonymous said...

Mark Spector is the worst MSM guy of them all

Brian B said...

Spector's burn on you guys is classic!!! Lol

The Towel Boy said...



David S said...

I love Spec's take. He calls 'em as he sees 'em. Not many MSM guys are so straight up.

I must admit I got a little confused. Spec really thought this was a Canucks fan site and all the questions you asked were about Luongo and the Canucks. Is JSBM getting ready to change teams? Because if you are, well that wouldn't be cool.

Lastly, with this legit interview, are we going to have to start assuming our mom is looking over our shoulder when we post up comments? Because my mom would be pretty pissed if she saw some of the stuff I've left here in the past.

baggedmilk said...

I told him that we were an Oilers site but he must have missed it. So when he answered as though we were a Canucks site, I thought it was even funnier.

No need to worry about mom's over shoulders. No fucking way.

Anonymous said...

look out now spec, Willis is probably already compiling a bunch of advanced stats and making pie charts to prove that he IS a real writer.

Blue and Orange said...

JW said the article was funny don't be a douche bag.

Terry said...

Did he count the words in da story or sumthin? Lol

baggedmilk said...

We had three visits on the site yesterday, from people searching for Rusty Shackleford.

It reminded me... Shouldn't that fucking guy be popping up about now? He's the greatest magician in blogging history.

The Universe said...

I'm going to give you guys a pass. For this one day you don't suck.

Oilers4SAlberta said...

"ITS NOT A TUMOR" LOL I love that line, but it does highlight the ugly side of Canucks, violence and riots seem like bliss in their world. I'm more than happy the canucks are suffering from the SC hangover, oh wait all the confetti of the western conference was their SC, hilarious chokers.

Great read from Spec! but what's the background between Spec & Willis? them sounds like some old hockey fighting words lol

Jesse said...

Say what you want about Willis not being a professional, Spector. His response to your remark about Danes and Swedes was entirely accurate and kind of made you look like an idiot. I agree with a lot of what you're saying about many Canucks fans, but a couple of things weren't very factual and you got caught on them. I see no reason to dig at the guy. In fact, I think it's funny that you made a point to imply that the fact that you're a professional journalist gives you more credibility than him, when his response was way more credible than your statement about the Canucks' drafting tendencies. I guess it doesn't really matter after all eh? You can still be just as wrong as a professional journalist as you can be as a blogger.

David S said...

It's getting feisty in here!

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