Vancouver Canucks fans don't agree on much but they come awfully close to universal agreement about one thing: they hate Mark Messier.
The reasons for Canucks fans to hate Messier are multifarious and to go in-depth on all of those reasons would take all day. To summarise, Messier was brought in to the Canucks to take them over the top and get them back into the playoffs after they missed in the previous season. He utterly failed to do so, as the team subsequently missed the playoffs in all three of Messier's seasons in Vancouver.
Along the way, Messier took the number 11 that was unofficially retired for the late Wayne Maki, took the captain's "C" from Trevor Linden, played with a complete lack of intensity and passion, divided the locker room, and was responsible for the Canucks bringing in Mike Keenan, who dismantled the team's beloved core, even though some of those moves ultimately helped the team in the long term.
So, while Messier may be lauded as a great leader and player around the NHL, he's a villain in Vancouver.
Thatcher Demko evidently never got that memo.
The Canucks' starting goaltender did a lighthearted Q&A with the NHLPA prior to the start of the season which was just published on Wednesday morning. It's full of fun little factoids. For instance, Demko's favourite superhero is Batman, he loves birthday cake ice cream, thinks hot dogs are overrated, and his favourite cartoon growing up was Spongebob.
When asked what current or former player he'd want as a teammate, however, Demko named the Canucks' ultimate villain: Mark Messier.
It's such an odd selection for Demko, as he barely would have been old enough to remember Messier playing and, even if he did, Messier spent his final years with the New York Rangers, the rival of Demko's favourite goaltender when he was a kid, Martin Brodeur.
It's entirely possible that Demko wrote Messier as a joke, knowing the reaction it might get from Canucks fans.
Of course, Demko didn't grow up as a Canucks fan, so he had no reason to hate Messier. There's just an assumption that the hate for Messier will seep into the players when they join the Canucks, like a sponge cake soaking up rum.
While some Canucks, notably Gino Odjick, seem to hate Messier as much as the fans do, many are complimentary of Messier. Markus Naslund, for instance, has always spoken positively of Messier's impact on his career.
"It was a treat being around him for three years. Not only me but the team owes him a lot from all the stuff he taught us. He's going to go down as one of the all-time greats," said Naslund when Messier retired.
On another occasion, Naslund said, "More than anything he showed faith in me and boosted my confidence. He made me feel good about my game and at that point that was pretty crucial. My confidence wasn’t that high, trying to crack the lineup. He thought we had some chemistry and he wanted to keep me on the line."
Naslund is beloved in Vancouver and his number hangs in the rafters, so Canucks fans evidently forgave him for not hating Messier. Hopefully, they can forgive Demko too.