I have been surprised and chagrined by the vitriol in the press from sports writers, commenters, and even the NHL players themselves. One of my family members, opinionated but usually not so extreme, has fallen into a kind of bitter hatred for the Vancouver Canucks that doesn't make any sense.
There have been violent incidents; the Boston Swat team was out for last night's game; some Boston restaurants wouldn't serve the Canucks. Fans, generally, of professional sports have been beaten and "befouled," and worse by other teams' fans over many years. The list in Wikipedia of incidents shows an enormous increase in violent events in the last ten years (although this could be a matter of reporting, definition, or both and not an actual increase).
The crazier arguments I have heard are that 1) British Columbia isn't really part of Canada - this generally from writers and commenters east of Winnipeg. I was truly surprised to hear this, as my passport clearly is a Canadian one, issued by the Canadian government. Maybe British Columbians don't "do" Canadian in a way acceptable to eastern sports writers and their fans, but that hardly makes the argument true. I suspect this comes largely from long held disappointment about the dismal record of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
2) The "not Canadian" argument often is accompanied by the claim that the Boston Bruins are more Canadian than the Canucks because of the high percentage of Canadians on the team. Without knowing the facts, I suspect this is true for many NHL teams. The Vancouver Canucks are, of course, a Canadian franchise based in Canada. The Boston Bruins are an American franchise based in the United States - that this needs stating defies logic!
NHL players are professional; they play for the glory of the team they work for, not for the glory of the country of their citizenship. People who find this disturbing should confine themselves to watching Olympic hockey, where players play only for their own nation.
3) Another argument I have heard is about the terrible violence perpetrated by the Canuck players. There are incidents in any professional hockey game of what can be called "violence." Canucks included. But isolated incidents do not a history make. The Canucks have one of the cleanest records in the league, preferring to score goals against the other team after the opponent's goons make a questionable hit, rather than retaliate in kind.
4) Some claim that the Canucks are simply not such a good team, yet they won the 2011 President's Cup!
I have not really paid much attention to the physical or verbal violence in sports surrounding the various finals and series for title of the best in the game. Now that it is close to home, I am appalled by the hatred and the kinds of comments that people are actually willing to make in public.
I'll be glad when the Stanley Cup final is over, regardless who wins it. Boston is a good team. I just happen to be a Canucks' fan.