It started innocently enough. It ended with dozens of Canucks fans shotgunning beers in the middle of the season opener against the Calgary Flames.
By the end of the game, #ShotgunJake was trending across Canada on Twitter and the meme Canucks fans needed was born.
I doubt that Mike Halford and Jason Brough — the one-time Kurtenbloggers that are now with TSN 1040 and The Athletic — anticipated just how much #ShotgunJake would take off when they jokingly introduced the idea on their radio show. It started with Brough boldly predicting a 20-goal season for Virtanen — twice his career-high — and jokes about an advent calendar counting down his goals, with beer in place of chocolate, because this is Canada and hockey, of course.
That evolved into the idea of shotgunning a beer every time Virtanen scored. From there it was an easy jump to the nickname Shotgun Jake and an untouched hashtag: #ShotgunJake.
It didn’t take long for the first beer to be shotgunned. Just over five minutes into the third period of Wednesday’s game, Jake Virtanen, fresh and rested from two minutes spent in the penalty box, burned rubber past Mark Giordano and tucked the puck five-hole on Mike Smith. It was a gorgeous goal.
The sound of the goal horn was matched by the sounds of beer cans cracking open across the province. Instead of just Halford and Brough shotgunning a beer, Canucks fans province-wide celebrated Virtanen’s first goal of the season with a beer of their own.
There’s just no beating the guy who cracked open his can with his teeth.
Mad respect to the guy who shotgunned a beer at centre ice. Literally beer league.
“You can mop after.”
I approve of the soundtrack to this one:
Some didn’t have a can available, so just drained their cups, pints, or pitchers (sort of).
Let’s face it: even with the excitement over the first win of the season and Elias Pettersson’s dazzling debut, this is still likely to be a long season with more L’s than W’s. Canucks fans are going to need more to cheer for than just wins, as well as some fun distractions.
That’s why #ShotgunJake is perfect for this season. It’s a reason to cheer for Virtanen to score, aside from just wanting a young player to succeed. It’s an excuse to get just a little bit drunker, which could be very necessary. And it’s spawned the best nickname on the Canucks.
Shotgun Jake is a perfect nickname for Virtanen, far better than “Big Country” or “Big Tuna” or any of the other nicknames Canucks fans have tried to stick to the young Abbotsfordian. You can just picture Virtanen running around crazily in Fortnite, wielding a shotgun, trying to score kills while the rest of his squad bemoans his recklessness like he was Leeroy Jenkins.
Shotgunning a beer has an inherent “frat bro” quality to it and, despite never going to college, so does Virtanen. Let’s be clear: that’s not a judgement on Virtanen, frat bros, or on people who shotgun beers. I have met some lovely frat bros in my time. It’s just acknowledging a widely-understood truth.
Also, shotgunning a beer is just good fun and so is Virtanen. He loves to have a good time on and off the ice.
So, next time Virtanen busts down the wing and drives to the net, have a can of beer at the ready. #ShotgunJake could strike again at any moment.
Disclaimer: Please shotgun your beers responsibly. If you shotgun a beer, call shotgun on the ride home.