To say that 2016 was not a banner year on the Vancouver sports scene would be an understatement.
The Canucks sank to third-last in the NHL, the Giants finished second last in the WHL, the Canadians were last in the Northwest League, and the Whitecaps missed the playoffs. The only major team in Vancouver to have a winning season was the BC Lions, who despite being unceremoniously ousted in the playoffs, were a positive story.
But it wasn’t all bad this year on the west coast. Rugby sevens took the city by storm, as did the Canadian national soccer team, and the Golden State Warriors.
Let’s take a look back at the year that was in Vancouver sports, in chronological order:
“Tank Nation” has never been more numerous than during the stretch run at the end of the 2015-16 season. That’s why fans actively cheering for the Canucks to lose in the hopes of grabbing a top draft pick were disappointed to learn that GM Jim Benning was unable to unload Dan Hamhuis, Radim Vrbata, or anyone else at the trade deadline on February 29th.
The Canucks went 7-13-1 after the deadline, finishing in third-last spot, with a decent chance at landing a top draft pick (more on that later).
Alright, I promised some positive stories, and this certainly was one.
The World Rugby Sevens Series made its first stop in Vancouver in 2016, and it was a smash hit. Vancouver exceeded the expectations of organizers, filling the lower bowl at BC Place for the two-day tournament on March 12th and 13th.
If you were at the stadium, you fell in love with the fast-paced action of the sport. If you were walking in the streets of Vancouver, you fell in love with the fans, many of whom were in ‘fancy dress’.
— BC Place (@bcplace) December 29, 2016
Vancouver became home to the Canadian national soccer team in 2016, which was solidified after nearly 55,000 filled BC Place for their World Cup qualifier against Mexico on March 25th.
The lead-up to the game was filled with hype and the atmosphere was electric. Unfortunately it didn’t help matters on the field, as Canada lost 3-0.
— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) May 1, 2016
It’s long been a belief of Canucks fans that if their team didn’t have bad luck, it wouldn’t have any luck at all.
That was the case on April 30th, when the luck of the draw didn’t go Vancouver’s way in the NHL Draft Lottery. For the first time ever, the top three picks were decided by a lottery, and not only did Vancouver not win the right to draft Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine, they moved down two spots to #5.
After months of speculation, the Vancouver Giants officially decided to move to Langley on May 3rd. That was seen as good news for people east of the Fraser River, and bad news everyone else.
Giants owner Ron Toigo believes it was good news for the bottom line.
Wally Buono returned to coaching this year, and with it came the return of good football to BC Place. Buono’s team finished with a 12-6 record, second best in the CFL, and played an exciting brand of football with new full-time starting QB, Jonathon Jennings.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 2, 2016
The Toronto Raptors returned yet again for their annual visit to Vancouver, but with more fanfare.
The Raptors have slowly built a following on the west coast, which grew even larger after their trip to the Eastern Conference Final. That would have been enough to fill Rogers Arena on its own, but a preseason game on October 1st against the star-studded Golden State Warriors ensured it sold out in less than a minute.
After their best-ever MLS season and a home playoff game in 2015, there was a lot of optimism heading into 2016 for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Unfortunately they fell flat on their face and missed the playoffs.
Making matters worse? Two of their biggest rivals met in the MLS Cup Final.
The BC Lions played their first home playoff game in four years, defeating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a thrilling come-from-behind 32-31 win on November 13th.
The win was the high point in the season for a young Lions team that gave football fans something to get excited about.
Let’s end this with a positive story from the Vancouver Canucks.
With all that went wrong with the Canucks – and there was a lot – one bright light was the emergence of Bo Horvat. Horvat had a strong second half of last season and has picked up right from where he left off this season.
He’s currently a single point behind Henrik Sedin for the team lead in points and showing signs that he could be a future captain.