The news arrived quietly, but those who saw it reacted with great shock.
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The news arrived quietly, but those who saw it reacted with great shock.
The Vancouver Canucks are shutting down Canucks.com’s fan forums, which at one time were the leading place online to talk about the Canucks and a model for fan engagement across the NHL.
In a message that fans first started noticing late Friday, roughly around the end of the Canucks’ 7-1 win over the Calgary Flames at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, the site’s administrators revealed that the forums would be closing at the end of September.
The message reads:
“Dear Canucks fans and forum users,
“We want to thank you for your passion, your millions of posts and your interest in our team and this site. It has been an incredible journey and an entertaining experience. Unfortunately, the time has come to shut down this forum and turn the page on what has been an incredible novel to read. It will remain active until the end of the month and be closed October 1st.
“Be sure to follow us on social media and download our mobile app for breaking news and content on your Vancouver Canucks. We also look forward to seeing you at Rogers Arena this season.
“Go Canucks Go!”
The Canucks declined to comment, simply pointing to the statement posted online Friday.
Known officially as Canucks community forums but known colloquially by the acronym CDC — for Canucks Dot Com — the forums first came online two decades ago and quickly became one of the most vibrant sites online for discussion about the province’s favourite pro sports team.
Kevin Kinghorn, who headed up the Canucks’ digital team for years and now works for the Portland Trail Blazers, said that over about a five year stretch about 15 years ago, the Canucks’ website was the busiest site in the NHL’s network, with a large portion of that driven by activity on the forums.
“It was about giving the fans a voice and that’s what made it so incredibly powerful. It created an online community around the brand,” Kinghorn told Postmedia.
Creating a space for fans to interact was good for the Canucks’ business, he believed. There had been smaller, niche spaces like Usenet newsgroups before, but what Canucks.com came to offer was a central hub. There was some moderation in place, mostly administered by the users themselves, and commentary of all sorts, positive or negative, critical or surface-level cheerleading — all of it welcomed.
“We always looked at it as a place for the fans, managed by the fans. What was really important was we gave people a place to communicate about the team. It was very hands off,” he added.
“It was really just about fan-building.”
The forums were so busy they needed the attention of a staffer. Kinghorn hired Byron Ribble to supervise the forums.
“It was such a great time,” Ribble said.
At times, senior team executives would push to shut down the message boards because they’d come across a thread critical of the team, but the team’s digital staff always pushed back, saying that the community it provided, shown in the high number of page views, brought the team far more overall value, added Ryan Nicholas, who worked alongside Kinghorn and Ribble from 2013 to 2020.
As word of the pending closure spread, fans paid tribute to the site and what it has meant to them on the forums, and on social media sites and with Postmedia.
“It was the first space where I found my voice as a Canucks fan. I remember joining in ’03 when I was in Grade 5. For a long time it was the only place for the Canuck fan community until Twitter took off,” Arpan Parhar said Saturday.
“If you are a diehard millennial Canucks fan, there have been a few moments in the last few years to remind you your childhood is dead. Sedins’ retirement was one of them. CDC closing is another.”
For Garrett Milne, who lives in Kitimat, CDC was a way to connect with B.C. fans.
“Been on the forums since around 2009, never had an account, never got into any of the drama. It was just the best place to get all the news and signings first, great place to read articles and watch videos of prospects,” he said in a message to Postmedia.
“It really kept me in the loop and I feel like I’m going to be lost without it now…. Kind of a shocking day.”
He always preferred to go to CDC becasue it kept everything in one spot, instead of having to navigate his way through the chaos of X (formerly Twitter).
“Instead of scrolling Twitter trying to find every highlight or interview from different reporters, the forum was one centralized place where each player and prospect had its own thread, making it easy to see clips of Euro prospects and the NCAA guys,” Milne added. “Of course there would be idiots on there trying to cut the team down, yadda yadda, but for the most part it just seemed like dedicated Canucks fans who wanted to talk hockey and share opinions.”
Kevin Madigan, known on CDC as “kmad,” grew up in Nelson, then moved to Castlegar to attend Selkirk College and said the forums were a formative part of his life. He signed up for CDC in February 2003, not long after the forums launched.
“Being on that forum allowed me to feel like I was involved, despite being a 12-hour Greyhound ride from home ice,” Madigan said.
“Maybe it was for the best, as I probably would have attended that Free Bertuzzi rally outside of GM Place if I’d been living in Vancouver at the time.”
When he moved to Vancouver a few years later, a CDC forum user known as phuser22 let him crash on his couch while Madigan searched for a job and a place to live.
“Since I knew nobody else when I moved here, the people I’d known from the forums became my closest friends. I counted a while back and I’d met well over 100 different people from there. Lots of meetups at the Cambie,” he said.
He’s still in a hockey pool with about 14 others from their old days on CDC, which he said is the most meaningful thing to have come out of his days posting on the forums.
The commissioner of the pool is Miles Tautscher, who admits he has never won in the 15 years the pool has been running.
Tautscher is among those who found love via CDC, meeting the woman who became his wife. The couple now has two children.
“We were both teenagers on CDC at the time and we weren’t overtly looking for partners. But it was the days of MSN messenger and one thing led to another and here we are,” he said.
Posters at CDC also started a number of threads lamenting the loss of their forum, both to vent and also to recall the good times.
“Mine — and I’m sure a lot of other people’s favourite — has to be the, ‘Burrows? Do we really need him?’ Thread. That thread will always be iconic, always made me laugh when I needed it,” poster Apricot wrote.
“The guy who was on a date, and the toilet backed up, and went to CDC for advice,” wrote TheGhostof1915.
“Raymond, Ballard and a 2nd,” quipped Billabong, referencing the long-standing love fans have for posting their own trade proposals, which are often structured around a player they don’t like, plus throwing in a draft pick.
Wyatt Arndt is one of the popular Canucks writers of the past decade, who first found his voice posting to places like CDC.
“Before Twitter, the place to talk Canucks hockey WAS the Canucks.com message boards,” he said in a text message. “Today people go to Twitter but back then we all filed into the game day thread to hang out together and yell about hockey.”
With the rise of Twitter, Youtube and Reddit, the CDC forums have declined in prominence, but for years it was the only outlet for fans to gather online.
Arndt said: “Without CDC I might not have a sports writing career. It allowed me to test out my writing in front of an audience and I also read a lot of other hockey opinions on there, which helped deepen and broaden the way I thought about hockey.”
Other fans quickly set up a new unofficial site, where they hope the vibe of the official site would carry on: forumcanucks.com.
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