The Canucks went on a disastrous 13-game run earlier this season, losing 12 of those games while struggling to score and handing out power play goals like they were Jolly Ranchers at a parade.
That wasn’t the lowest point of the season, however, nor was it any of their four shutout losses. Instead, it was the brief moment they held the Crap Mantle after an early season loss to the Washington Capitals.
If you are not familiar with this most ignominious of titles, the Crap Mantle is a very important, very serious, and very made-up mark of shame. It acts as the antithesis of a championship belt and it signifies that you are the worst team in the NHL.
The Crap Mantle is bestowed on the team that loses the first game of the season. That team is, by definition, the worst team in the NHL at that point in time. It is then passed down from team-to-team: if you lose to the worst team in the NHL, you must be worse than they are, so you are now the new worst team in the NHL.
The Capitals, despite winning the Stanley Cup last year, were the worst team in the NHL when the Canucks faced them on October 22nd, as they had just lost to the Florida Panthers, the then-bearers of the Crap Mantle. When the Canucks lost 5-2 to the Capitals, they inherited the Crap Mantle, but were fortunately able to dump it off on the Vegas Golden Knights with a shootout victory in their next game.
That’s good: the long-term effects of the Crap Mantle can be devastating. Just look at the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, who were Stanley Cup favourites, but went into the playoffs with the Crap Mantle after losing their final game of the season to the Carolina Hurricanes. Instead of running roughshod through the Eastern Conference to the Stanley Cup Final, they lost to perennial playoff chokers, the Washington Capitals.
Would the Lightning have hoisted the Stanley Cup if they had taken the Crap Mantle, an entirely fictional anti-championship belt, more seriously? I submit that the evidence is overwhelming that they would have.
Unfortunately, the Canucks have another chance at infamy this season, as their first game of 2019 holds the potential of once again taking on the Crap Mantle.
It seems fitting that the Ottawa Senators currently hold the Crap Mantle, as their entire franchise is a massive mess. It’s almost impossible to summarize all of the ugliness in Ottawa, but it starts from the top, with owner Eugene Melnyk repeatedly embarrassing the team and its fans with his not-so-subtle threats to move the team and the billion dollar lawsuit that is imploding plans for a new arena.
Then there’s the trade of the face of the franchise, Erik Karlsson, leaving Ottawa with one of the worst defence corps in the league, and the publication of a video taken in an Uber of several players criticizing their coaching staff.
Things haven’t gone much better for the Senators on the ice. They’re dead last in the NHL with a 15-21-4 record, in spite of fantastic play from forwards Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, and defenceman Thomas Chabot. The 21-year-old is second in goals and third in points among NHL defencemen, with 10 goals and 38 points in 38 games.
That’s what makes the Senators dangerous: they do have some top-end talent that can score. If the Canucks aren’t careful, they could wind up holding the Crap Mantle by the end of the night.
That can’t happen. That must not happen. The Canucks have to beat the Senators and leave the Crap Mantle where it belongs.
Here’s the journey of the Crap Mantle so far, as tracked by Crystal240, a long-time Bulie who has taken on the task of chronicling the Crap Mantle for several seasons. She is the best.