THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Dan Shaughnessy

We’re in teeth of a new rivalry

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / June 9, 2011

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Who knew we could have a heated rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks?

I mean, really? Vancouver? Canucks?

On the surface, what’s not to like about Vancouver? The few images we have are good images.

Cam Neely and Milan Lucic came to us from Vancouver. Michael J. Fox, Bryan Adams, and Pamela Anderson are from Vancouver. Vancouver has the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Winter Olympics were beautiful in 2010, and we loved those breathtaking shots of snow-capped mountains and sparkling-clear waters.

Any New Englander who has made the trip has come back with nice things to say. When the Bruins played Games 1 and 2 there, I particularly enjoyed the tony Shaughnessy neighborhood of downtown Vancouver (no cynics there).

And the hockey team? Who remembers anything about the old Canucks? It’s not like we ever see them. Could the Patriots summon any emotion for games against the Arizona Cardinals? What about the Celtics playing the Memphis Grizzlies? Any local lather for those games?

It’s not like the Canucks are an Original Six team. Nor are they the hated Philadelphia Flyers. God knows they’re not the loathsome, ever-dangerous Montreal Canadiens who have tortured our hockey town over the years.

Despite all of the above, we have a real hatred going for the Vancouver Canucks at this hour. The Red Sox are playing the Yankees this week, but it is the Vancouver Canucks who “(expletive)’’ (rhymes with “nuck’’). I’m expecting chants of “Canucks (expletive)’’ (rhymes with nuck) to break out at weddings and bar mitzvahs this weekend in Greater Boston.

It has been nasty around here. There were a lot of Canuck fans in our midst over the last couple of days, and they were not treated very well. The general manager of Hurricane O’Reilly’s, a popular bar on Canal Street, posted a sign that read “B’s Fans Only.’’ In a column on the vaunted Globe editorial page yesterday, fans were urged to “keep it civil in the stands.’’

It was hot on the streets outside the Garden last night, and the atmosphere inside the building was combustible — especially in the wake of Aaron Rome’s criminal hit on Nathan Horton Monday, and the subsequent suspension of Rome and inflammatory remarks from both camps.

Going back a week, we should have listened to the pre-series words of Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney, who went on 98.5 The Sports Hub with Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak and said, “I’d say 90 percent of the guys in the league want nothing to do with seeing them [the Canucks] win. There’s no doubting their team’s pretty amazing. But who makes up that team makes them so tough to like that it’s frustrating to see them doing so well.’’

A few hours after those comments, we had Alexandre Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron’s right index finger in a scrum at the end of the first period of Game 1 at Rogers Arena. It has been all downhill from there.

The NHL made a mistake when it did not suspend Burrows, and in Game 2, we saw Burrows score two goals and add an assist in a 3-2 Canucks win. Compounding the transgression, we watched Maxim Lapierre taunting Bergeron by putting his gloved fingers in Bergeron’s face. This led to Monday’s donnybrook, lowlighted by Rome launching himself at Horton and knocking Boston’s second-highest scorer out of the playoffs.

The league’s reaction only made the Hub of Hockey more angry. In the old days of the NBA, Red Auerbach would send brawlers Jim Loscutoff and Bob Brannum onto the floor with the intention of picking a fight and getting Bob Pettit or Wilt Chamberlain thrown out of a game.

“I’d make that deal anytime,’’ Red would say.

And that’s what happened to the Bruins. They lost their second-highest scorer while Vancouver lost its No. 6 defenseman. Bad deal for the Bruins. More anger in the locker room and the aisles of the Garden.

In yesterday’s Herald, Bruins god Bobby Orr said, “To lose Nathan Horton for a player by the name of Rome, it’s not fair. One of the better Bruins players is gone and they suspend him? What difference does it make? What does a suspension mean? Nothing. It’s absolute garbage.’’

It doesn’t stop there. Bruins fans are mocking the Sedin twins as floppers and soft Europeans. The Bruins are bothered by the remarks of Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, who didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with Rome’s hit.

There was more yesterday when the visitors complained about Tim Thomas roaming outside of his space.

Great. Heated words on a hot day. Boston’s new sports rivalry. Bruins-Canucks joins Red Sox-Yankees, Patriots-Jets, and Celtics-Lakers.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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