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Who should Canucks fans cheer for in the NHL playoffs?

The NHL playoffs begin Wednesday; the Canucks won't be in them. This is decidedly uncool.
Canucks fan
Canucks fan

The NHL playoffs begin Wednesday; the Canucks won't be in them.

This is decidedly uncool. But for all the negatives associated with a postseason to which your favourite team wasn't invited, there are several positives as well: the higher draft pick, a stress-free spring, and the opportunity for one of the greatest pleasures in sports: bandwagoning. Oh, your team isn't making a Cup run? Then cheer for one that is.

Sure, you'll get grief from the diehards. That's to be expected -- you make them question their dedication. If one can enjoy a team's championship without having suffered alongside the club for years and years of disappointment and losing, then what's the point of such intense fandom? The answer: there really isn't one. Pay them no mind. Let them stew in their existential angst and vainly lash out at you if they must, and then move on. 

But if you've had tunnel vision for the Canucks all season -- we call that Massey Tunnel vision -- you may be at a loss in deciding which team will receive your fair-weather fandom. Anticipating this, we've whipped up a quick guide to help you make your decision.

Florida Panthers

To cheer: The Panthers have two things working for them, and by things, I mean people. There's Jaromir Jagr, who has become a hockey folk hero for his ability to play into his mid-forties (Cheliosing, they all it). How can you root against Jaromir Jagr? The man is hockey himself. He also inspires moving paragraphs like this one, from the New York Times:

He trains while others sleep to ward off guilt, and he wards off guilt so he can play, and he plays because he loves hockey, and he loves it because it is fun. When it stops being fun and starts being drudgery, Jagr said, he will quit.

You're gonna root against a guy who finds this much salvation in hockey? You're a monster.

The Panthers also employ one Roberto Luongo, who may no longer live among us in Vancouver, but still resides in all our hearts.

Or not to cheer: Do you really want to see Luongo win a Cup somewhere else? You'd be forgiven for hoping he gets to the Cup Final, watches his team implode in front of him, is blamed for all of it, and is chased out of Sunrise by an emotional fanbase who's yet to realize what they're doing and doesn't know what they'll be missing. But the Panthers may not have enough fans for that.

New York Islanders

To cheer: But lest you think the Panthers are the only team that can roll out a former Canuck, the New York Islanders have the next Todd Bertuzzi himself, Steve Bernier. Granted, that's an old nickname, as Bernier was the next Todd Bertuzzi about 12 "next Todd Bertuzzis" ago, and he actually just turned out to be the next Taylor Pyatt, but still. You could cheer for him if you wanted.  

Or not to cheer: The Islanders beat the Canucks in a Stanley Cup once. That's enough success for their franchise, as far as I'm concerned. 

Tampa Bay Lightning

To cheer: Here's why you cheer for the Lightning: the longer they're in the playoffs, the more preoccupied Steve Yzerman is going to be. That means he'll have less time to negotiate with Steven Stamkos before free agency, which increases the likelihood that the Canucks can sign him in the offseason. (I'm not saying they will or anything. But it definitely increases their chances if they legally can.)

The Lightning also have two former Canuck defenceman in their employ: Jason Garrison and Matthias Ohlund. Granted, Ohlund's been on the injured reserve since 2011 and his contract is simply yet to expire -- it will do so this summer -- but all the more reason to cheer for him. This is his last chance at a Cup, and at this point, he's experiencing Tampa's Cup run from his couch, just like you. 

Or not to cheer: If the Lightning go deep, Stamkos might decide he wants to stay! The best-case scenario might be a sweep. Getting swept in the first-round is worse than missing the playoffs, so perhaps an injured Stamkos is so disgusted by their performance without him that he sees signing with Vancouver as a step up?

Detroit Red Wings

To cheer: Regardless of what anyone feels about the Red Wings, I'm pretty sure we all agree that Pavel Datsyuk rules, and watching him is a treat. So we should probably relish our last chance to do so for quite awhile, as Datsyuk has told Detroit he's going home when this season ends. From the Detroit Free Press:

“I’m thinking I go home after this season,” he said, in a long discussion at the Northville home of his agent and friend, Dan Milstein. “I may not be done with hockey, but — it is hard to say — I think I am done playing in NHL.” 

One can never rule out a Jagr-esque return, but I wouldn't bet on it, which means this is Datsyuk's last hurrah. I'd sure love to see him take the Red Wings deep into the playoffs.

Or not to cheer: Nuts to the Red Wings. They've won enough. As a Canucks fan, their playoff streak makes me burn with envy. I've decided it's nothing short of stupid because I don't think my team is capable of it. Plus, I think we all know this streak ends if they don't successfully lobby to switch to the Easier Conference. I hope they find a way to lose in three.  

Washington Capitals

To cheer: Alex Ovechkin is awesome and I don't think I'm alone in wanting to see him win a Stanley Cup and then hump it right in front of a weeping Don Cherry. Plus, if they go deep, maybe Barack Obama finally attends a friggin' hockey game.

Or not to cheer: Every time a team that wins the Presidents' Trophy wins the Stanley Cup, it makes the Canucks look sillier for winning it twice and failing in the postseason. I prefer a world where people think it can't be done; where people think winning the regular-season points race is detrimental to postseason success; where people blame the trophy, not the team. If the Capitals lose, it will fuel the notion that the trophy is a curse, and it's hilarious, to me at least, when the hockey world believes in superstitious nonsense.  

Philadelphia Flyers

To cheer: The Flyers beat the Bruins out for the final playoff spot, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Plus it's hard to root against them when they're grieving, with the passing of owner Ed Snider on Monday.

Or not to cheer: It's the Flyers. Hard to root against them? Sure. Impossible? Hardly.

Pittsburgh Penguins

To cheer: You could cheer for Nick Bonino, who went to Pittsburgh in the Brandon Sutter trade. Or you could cheer for Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who coached the Canucks for two weeks when John Tortorella got suspended for going berserk in a hallway. Seems Sullivan is better without Torts -- who saw that coming?  

Or not to cheer: The Penguins have had more than enough success, thank you very much. Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby? Get outta here.   

New York Rangers

To cheer: Speaking of former Canucks coaches, the Rangers are run by the great Alain Vigneault, who has now been to two Stanley Cup Finals without a win. He's due, and he's deserving.  

Or not to cheer: The Rangers once beat the Canucks for a Stanley Cup. This grudge endures.

Dallas Stars

To cheer: The Stars are just plain fun to watch. And Vernon Fiddler is hilarious:

Or not to cheer: The Stars are powered by Tyler Seguin, whose trade to Dallas was propelled by Canucks GM Jim Benning. Each playoff series that the Stars win means further evidence to the idea that Jim Benning's gut isn't quite as trustworthy as he thinks it is, and we have enough such evidence of already.

Minnesota Wild

To cheer: There is no reason to cheer for the Minnesota Wild. 

Or not to cheer: There has never been a reason to cheer for the Minnesota Wild.

St. Louis Blues

To cheer: The Blues came into the NHL just a few years before the Canucks, which makes it very easy to empathize with the frustration their fans must feel at having never won the Stanley Cup.

Or not to cheer: Eff that, man. If we have to wait, they have to wait.  

Chicago Blackhawks

To cheer: Up until the trade deadline, I'd have about as much good to say about Chicago as I do about Minnesota, but then the Blackhawks went out and acquired the legendary Dale Weise. It's impossible to cheer against Dale Weise. He's Dutch Gretzky, for pete's sake! I want to live in a world where Dale Weise has a Stanley Cup ring. 

Or not to cheer: I don't know that I want to live in a world where Patrick Kane has another.

Anaheim Ducks

To cheer: Kevin Bieksa.

Or not to cheer: Ryan Kesler.

Nashville Predators

To cheer: I'm willing to jump on the Predators bandwagon as a fan of fashion: their new gold helmets, unveiled this season, are fantastic. But the NHL is a lame league that struggles with colour (both as it pertains to helmets and, on occasion, people), so many balked at the idea that Nashville might wear a helmet that matches their sweater. That was stupid. The gold helmet is gold, Jerry, gold. 

Or not to cheer: Mike Ribeiro's kind of a dick. Plus the Predators haven't been in the league for 20 years yet. Speaking as a Canucks fan, they haven't put in the time. Talk to me in 2036.  

Los Angeles Kings

To cheer: I dunno, maybe you're a bad person?

Or not to cheer: The Kings' roster has more thoroughly unlikeable men than an episode of The Bachelorette.  

San Jose Sharks

To cheer: I like the Sharks. I wish I didn't, since they beat up on Vancouver constantly, but they've got two guys I'd really like to see win a Cup: Joe Thornton, who suffers from the same lack of respect the Sedins do, because the NHL hates a pass-first player for some stupid reason, and Brent Burns, who is unlike anyone else in the game. Plus, moving from Canucks fandom to Sharks fandom is an effortless transition, as Fear the Fin pointed out:

They're a Pacific Division team located on the west coast that's never won a Stanley Cup and is led by a pair of aging superstars who were top-three picks in the same draft year over a decade and a half ago but are still looking for their first taste of championship glory, in part to silence lazy narratives about how they can't get it done when the pressure is on. If you close your eyes, it's like the Sharks are in the playoffs. 

In fairness, that was last year, when the Canucks made it in and the Sharks did not. But it's easy enough to update for present day: if you close your eyes, it's like the Canucks are in the playoffs.

Or not to cheer: I will never forgive Joe Thornton for the finger incident:

Actually, nevermind, it's pretty funny.

I don't wanna tell you how to live your life or anything, but you should probably tell us who you'll be pulling for in the comments.