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Canucks' defeat is good for the community; clinical psychologist says commiserating about loss helps bring people together

(by Mike Hager, The Vancouver Sun)

Never mind the professional athletes: Can Canucks fans recover from the traumatic 8-1 shellacking dished out by the Bruins Monday night?


The Canucks’ biggest blowout loss in the team’s post-season history, combined with the return of gloomy weather, had some fans feeling downright depressed Tuesday.


“I think we need to keep it all in perspective, it’s not really devastating or significantly impacting our lives,” said clinical psychologist Joti Samra. “It’s fun, though; part of life is the highs and the lows and things that we find make us feel like a stronger part of our community.”


Samra said humans are social creatures who thrive off connecting with others and the trouncing — which equals an 8-goal pummeling by the St. Louis Blues in 1995, though the Canucks scored twice in that game — can be beneficial.


“It’s really good for our mental health to commiserate in the loss, everyone’s kind of griping,” Samra said, “It brings people together and they’re more likely to start a conversation with a stranger.”


However, she said that while diehard fans are the hardest hit by such a lopsided loss, in a city as obsessed about hockey as Vancouver, there can be a ripple effect of emotions, either up or down.


“There’s this interesting psychological phenomenon called social contagion, which really kind of describes how emotions can have a contagious effect through a group, a community, a province,”  Samra explained. “There’s a real positive energy that’s taking over the city and the Canucks have been doing really well.


“When there’s a loss, something steps in, curbs that positive emotion and negative emotions ripple through.”


High-five hands and vocal chords were rested Monday night as most people watching the game downtown drained out of the city centre sombrely during or immediately after the game.


“It was a much more subdued night for our folks,” said Const. Lindsey Houghton, of the Vancouver police.


“The best way to compare it, for us, was like a busy weekend summer night.”


In total, Vancouver police arrested just three people Monday night for disturbing the peace or being drunk, compared to 46 such arrests on Saturday night with the Canucks’ Game 2 victory.


“[Game 3] was kind of a buzzkill,”  said Canucks superfan Pejman Khoddami, who flew in from Australia on Saturday.


“We got outta [Rogers Arena where the away game was shown on the big screen] pretty quick, had some drinks and food and went home.


“If they had won, we probably would have stayed out all night.”


Samra said alcohol amplifies any emotional state and she cautioned fans that drinking more usually doesn’t help. As an alternative, she said, venting about a loss with friends helps people move on just fine.


If losing brings people together to talk about the game, 40 years of poor post-season performances by their team should make Canucks fans some of the most eloquent in the sporting world — but some weren’t feeling very chatty Tuesday morning.


Sherman Scott, 40, said nobody at his commercial real estate brokerage firm wanted to discuss Game 3, and it wasn’t until lunchtime that he began to feel better about the loss.


“I took it hard, but I’m starting to recover,”  Scott said later in the afternoon.


Ryan Meaney, a 31-year-old Toronto transplant and Maple Leafs fan, wasn’t too sad watching the loss at Rogers Arena, but said the “life was sucked out” of the stadium after Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton five minutes into the first period.


After enduring the game, the long-suffering Maple Leaf fan took his upset wife, a Canucks fan, for a burger and offered a little advice.


“We’re used to the heartache so it’s nothing new to us,”  Meaney said.


“But, like I told my wife, it’s only one game, so the best thing to do is shake it off and hope they can come back with an answer on Wednesday.”


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