Disclaimer: I am not Thomas Gray, but I cannot resist a literary reference.
People who know me in the real world know that I don’t always adjust to change well. Most people need adjustment time, some just seem to cope with aplomb. I am firmly in the “adjustment” camp. However, I usually come around and embrace or, at least reluctantly, accept the change. Hockey change, however, usually takes a different bent.
For those uninitiated, I am both a Canucks and Leafs fan. The Leafs are a bastion of change of late, some of which I passionately dissented to (Nonis being a thing). Some of which I still dislike and will dislike in perpetuity (David Clarkson). Some change I disliked but have come to love (Bernier). Overall, I think I have made a peace with this year’s assemblage. Until something happens that causes me to become outraged/elated and it all collapses in on itself. But for now, the détente remains.
As goes for the Canucks as well. I am generally more positive about personnel matters (save Mike Gillis) and enjoy some of the fresh faces. I still vehemently dislike some players (take a guess!) and think some opportunities were missed, but I am generally pleased.
So why am I writing a seemingly rambly bit of drivel about change? Because something about the Canucks changed this season. Something I had come to love and depend on. Something that felt different, felt special about the organization. It was not a player transaction or line move, it was the @canucksgame Twitter account. Yes, I know this is coming well into the season, but I cannot remain silent any longer. I am clearly not adjusting well.
Canucks fans on Twitter know all about @canucksgame, the account that was run by the incredibly funny and likeable Derek Jory. It provided energetic, poignant and often hilarious insight into the game as it happened. Days I was unable to watch the game I would turn to Twitter and rely on these precious gems to keep me informed and entertained. It was unlike any other team’s approach I had seen.
I compared it to the Leafs Twitter account many times. The Leafs Twitter account, which tweets game updates from the main @MapleLeafs account, is dull. Not only is it dull, during the game it will simply retweet fan tweets and add one or two words to it. Dull. Unoriginal. Uninformative. I was and am still disappointed by this lack of effort from such a huge organization to have a Twitter presence during games.
Hell, read the #TMLtalk hashtag during any game and see the gems that roll in. I cannot understand why there is such a void. MLSE is not a small entity, it is not cash strapped, it can certainly afford to have someone to be interesting on Twitter. Or, as evidence shows, not.
But I digress. The point is that @canucksgame provided the antithesis of that. It was fun. From puns on players’ names when they scored, to the SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! with varying numbers of exclamation points that graced every Canucks goal, to the banter with fans…it was an engaging activity. I felt like I was watching the game with a friend, as much as watching a Twitter feed can elicit such a feeling. That feeling is now gone, sadly.
As the season started, @canucksgame tweeted for the last time. In its stead, all game coverage would be moved to the @VanCanucks account. Initially I was unafraid, feeling that DJ would simply shift his brand of play-by-play to a different handle. But my stomach began to sink as games went on.
While not listless like @MapleLeafs game tweets were, they were sanitized versions of his trademark fun. They felt held back, restrained. It was, as someone put on Twitter, @canucksgame lite.
This switch was made by the Canucks organization to streamline tweets into one account. That reasoning is sound; most other NHL teams have one account all tweets go out of. But such a drastic switch in volume and passion in the game play-by-play tweets was an unfortunate result. I doubt DJ had a say in this and, I can assume, they are supposed to appear more befitting of the big @VanCanucks handle. I get it.
But the Canucks have unknowingly (or not) lost one aspect that made them so wonderfully different from other teams. That passion of DJ’s and @canucksgame has never been matched and I miss it dearly. Other Canucks fans miss it dearly. I imagine even DJ himself misses the fun he got to have with it (I have no actual idea of this, so I will admit this being speculative). So while the tweets from @VanCanucks may be informative, they are lacking the unbridled joy that came before.
And that is a perfect phrase, ‘unbridled joy’. They were tweets that more or less encapsulated all of my feelings on a Canucks goal or penalty or great Luongo save. Anyone who has watched a game with me live or on TV knows I do not hold back the feels, and neither did DJ. LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU was a common utterance, so were Bieksellent and, my personal favourite, dubbing Chris Higgins as “Kiss Huggins”. Whether that last one was original or not is immaterial, since I still remember and love it. Hell, I named my Fantasy Hockey team this year “Kiss Huggins”.
This whole piece could be off the mark, though. If this is a decision made by DJ, I could likely accept the change better. It would be a choice made by a great social media dude to change his tack. While I might not like it, I would respect his decision and could begin to make my peace. But I suspect it, in my heart of hearts, that it was not his doing, which is why I have so much invested in this; I feel DJ deserves better.
So I know things change. I know a big organization like the Canucks can streamline and adjust to its needs. And I know I can have a hard time adjusting. But this one change just really, really sucks. I really miss the DJ of @canucksgame. I miss the fun. I miss the whimsy. I miss the 140 character nuggets of unicorn-like joy. I know the tweets from @VanCanucks are trying. I know DJ is making the best effort he can, as he has told me himself. I still adore the guy and I still know that @canucksgame DJ is alive and well.
That Jory of seasons past made watching the game a far more immersive experience. As soon as a big save, big hit, goal or other event happened, I could rely on there being a great quip from @canucksgame to sum it up. Twitter Jail often held DJ at times, so many tweets flying back and forth. Now there are games where there are a handful of tweets. In total. Not quite the same.
The Canucks had a unique, engaging and awesome thing going with @canucksgame. Who brags about their team’s Twitter account? Well, I did. I held it up as the gold standard. I lambasted other teams’ Twitter accounts for not being up to that level.
But that has changed. The Canucks game tweets risk falling into mediocrity, into the same beige void that the @MapleLeafs account resides unless that DJ of old is allowed to come back. They have yet to sink that far yet, but I can see the sand-coloured writing on that ecru wall.