The Vancouver Canucks had a big game on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche. Coming off a dreadful three-game road trip that caused a crisis of confidence among even the most positive and optimistic fans, the Canucks were looking to prove themselves.
Some fans in attendance, however, weren't just there to see if the Canucks could bounce back but to voice their displeasure with the direction of the franchise.
One fan got creative with his protest, holding up a seemingly positive "Thank You Jim" sign in the front row that was very visible for all to see. It's only seemingly positive because "Thank You Jim" became a sarcastic catchphrase for those who haven't been happy with the work of Canucks general manager Jim Benning.
If there's any doubt that the "Thank You Jim" sign was sarcastic, it was erased when pictures and video hit social media of what the sign wielder was wearing: a Canucks jersey customized with a "Thank You Jim" namebar, along with the namebars of players deemed to be some of Benning's biggest missteps.
The fan, who goes by Chester Ming on Twitter, says that he is a season ticket holder but is fed up with the current regime.
"I told my ticket rep that if Benning is still in charge, and ownership doesn’t admit to their failures, I’m out," said Chester.
For Chester, getting season tickets was a lifelong dream.
"I was reading Luigi Aquilini's bio the other day and it reminded me of me a bit," said Chester. "I’m an immigrant who grew up in East Van. My parents had nothing, unlike most Chinese immigrants you see now."
"I became a huge Canucks fan growing up. We couldn’t afford to go to games, not even back in 90's or 2000's," he continued. "My life goal from when I was eight was to be able to make enough money to afford Canucks season [tickets]."
When he got his first job at the PNE, he started buying tickets to Canucks games and collecting jerseys, saying he now has over 200 Canucks jerseys.
"I’m old now, am successful professionally and have seasons ticket," he said. "By my math, I’ve spent $25k between buying game-worn [jerseys] from VanBase and my seasons past 12 months. I am definitely one of their most financially supportive fans."
The jersey is a repurposed signed Jake Virtanen jersey as he clearly did not care to keep the Virtanen jersey intact. With help from his jersey guy in Toronto, he created the full "Thank You Jim" jersey.
"I made it because this is a last stand for me," he said. "Childhood dream but screw this. I can think of a million different ways to better spend $10-20k a year. The money part is important to me. I ain’t just talking trash without putting my money where my mouth is."
The "Thank You Jim" phrase started last February. In the midst of a losing streak when "Fire Benning" was regularly trending on social media, Sportsnet 650's James Cybulski argued that Benning had done a lot of good things too, giving the drafting of Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes as prime examples.
"How about if you're wanting to turn the page, how about keep it to a 'Thank you, Jim,'" said Cybulski.
Canucks fans obliged, with the sarcastic "#ThankYouJim" hashtag trending on Twitter after the Canucks once again lost that night.
Now, with Chester's nameplate-laden jersey, it may trend again. He's apparently not done either.
"I will be back on Friday in my normal seats," he said. "I have another jersey ready. Look out."