The Vancouver Canucks have had some legendary problems dealing with the Chicago Blackhawks over the past few seasons. While they were able to sneak past the Blackhawks in seven games in the first round of the playoffs this year, they’ve had nothing but a recent history of nightmares dealing with Chicago. That’s why today’s announcement that the Canucks will be using the Chicago Wolves of the AHL as their minor league farm team for at least the next two seasons is a true test of how awkward things can get.
The Canucks were calling the Manitoba Moose their affiliate for years until the Moose were moved to St. John’s and became the affiliate for the Winnipeg Jets. Without a home to send their prospects, Vancouver was on the prowl and oddly enough with the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, their affiliation with Chicago in the AHL was over with. Enter the Canucks and enter a mind-boggling scenario.
With how the Blackhawks and Canucks have gotten along in recent years, a healthy dislike has developed in Chicago for the Canucks. With their prospects and other organizational players now calling their city home, going to Wolves games might get a lot more interesting.
Fortunately for the Canucks, Wolves fans and Blackhawks fans are a bit of a different breed. Since the Wolves never had ties to the Blackhawks and actively marketed to hockey fans while Bill Wirtz owned the Blackhawks and kept them shrouded under media blackouts locally, Wolves fans do things on their own accord. Of course, Blackhawks fans will now want to go see the local AHL team now to see what their rivals have coming up through the system and get them warmed up on the heckling. Here’s to hoping that Roberto Luongo never gets sent down to the minor leagues even for a rehab assignment, things could get really ugly.
On the positive side of things for Vancouver, perhaps now Canucks players will be able to feel more at home when playing in Chicago and not get jittery and nervous at United Center. Of course, the awkwardness works both ways in this deal as Vancouver fans will now be actively rooting for a team from Chicago to do well. It won’t be the Blackhawks, of course, but it’s a bit of fun to see them squirm a bit nonetheless.