2016-17 NHL season: A hater's guide to the Western Conference

(Photo courtesy of  Kenny Louie )

(Photo courtesy of Kenny Louie)

Welcome to another edition of this wonderful exercise that is the team-by-team hater's guide to the upcoming NHL season. (Here are last year's previews for the Western and Eastern conferences.)

Somehow, it's time for yet another season of NHL hockey, though this year it's different. You may not known the season was about to start (and for your sake we hope you didn't because the thing was so dumb), because we were treated to the spectacle that was the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the hockey equivalent of a Tim Horton's drive-through. I've never really asked for it but now that we're there, alright sure I guess I'll have an awful double-double like Czech Republic vs Team Europe and the shitty sandwich of Canada vs Russia.

Hmm tasty, right? Oh yeah, as tasty as eating a full litre of regular yogurt in one sitting.

The point being that the 2016-17 NHL season starts tonight but this isn't the first time hockey fans will see their beloved hockey stars. We start this hater's guide with the Western Conference, the one we folks on the East coast look at with envy because they play nice, fun and non-boring hockey.

14. Edmonton Oilers

Don't laugh, but the Edmonton Oilers would very much like to convince you that they know wtf they're doing. These aren't, they would like you to know, your older brother's Oilers, the ones that shooting themselves in the foot. These Oilers are different. Better. They've gotten rid of one player who didn't want to be there, ex-No. 1 draft pick Nail Yakupov.

But fuck this and fuck the Oilers. This is still the team that gave away Taylor Hall for nada. Still the team that has gone through No. 1 picks like you go through shirts before finding one that fits. They've been terrible for long enough to fall ass backwards into landing Connor McDavid, who may be good enough that not even these Oilers could fuck it up?

Not the same Oilers? Pfff tell that to, yes, your other brother who lived through the misery. These Oilers will be right back at picking No. 1 in the next NHL Draft.

But damnit McDavid is so much fun.

13. Arizona Coyotes

Ah so cute, the Arizona Coyotes really thought this would happen, right? They truly, to their core, were convinced that in a different reality, Austen Matthews would became their franchise player. But no.

Last season, the 'Yotes fucked up by not fucking up enough. And this season, they've already pleaded to their fans that there'll be no excuses. They won't tell you that they're serious, they'll show you. Ooooohhhh.

They're the Coyotes 2.0. Serious? Please.

12. Winnipeg Jets

Who? Winnipeg Jets? Don't know no Winnipeg Jets.

(That's basically the default attitude from the average NHL fan toward the Winnipeg Jets, from the moment you step outside the city.)

It's also cold af in Winnipeg.

11. Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild would very much like you to know that they care so much about excelling. They've spent about a kazillion dollars on pseudo great free agents like Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek or Ryan Suter.

The Wild are the NHL's ultimate B+ team. You don't win anything with B+, not a Stanley Cup and not even a No. 1 draft pick, so what are you doing??

10. Vancouver Canucks

Oh what a terrible team! They're not necessarily untalented, but it goes beyond that; for me, hating the Vancouver Canucks is a sort of visceral reaction.

It wasn't always this way of course. The Canucks used to have Pavel Bure, if you recall, back in the 90s when they were beating you with style and letting you know about it. But alas, Bure begat Todd Bertuzzi and, well, fuck the Canucks. Bertuzzi, maybe you remember, is the dude who pulled this shit.

Fuck him and fuck the Canucks. You guys made me actively cheer for the Boston Bruins in the 2014 Stanley Cup final.

9. Los Angeles Kings

Admit it, you believed these wily ole Los Angeles Kings would pull the stunt again last season, facing unsurmountable odds and storming back to overcome the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs for the second year in a row. But no, not this past season. This past season, the Kings weren't really that good and quickly flamed out of the playoffs.

That team, it turns out, is not blessed by the Hockey Gods. They get awful seasons here and there, just like everyone else. There's no even-year magic.

8. Colorado Avalanche

Welcome to the elite of the Western Conference, if only because that's what my predictions would have you believe: the Avalanche are slated to make the playoffs and only elite teams make the playoffs in any given year. Right?

Yeah, no. The Colorado Avalanche got rid of their idiot uncle of a head coach that was Patrick "E" Roy, sure, but they're not elite. Not even close.

7. Calgary Flames

Yeah, we all warned you. That team that surprised everyone by relying on pseudo key elements like grit and hustle and heart, all the while flying in the face of actual indications of quality of play and talent, well we all warned you that this team would crash back down to Earth. And they did.

But Johnny Gaudreau is a treasure and simply because I love watching him play, I'll play his Flames in the playoffs every year. The NHL Playoffs without Gaudreau, even we must bear with the rest of the Flames, should be illegal.

Long Live Johnny Hockey!

6. San Jose Sharks

Oh look, the perpetual disappointing child finally put it all together last season, and almost won that Stanley Cup that's seemed destined to be theirs since forever. It's as if you kid in eighth grade that got a detention every week at school managed to stay clean for long, so long, so so long... but now it's June and he just can't help himself.

Well last season, the San Jose Sharks were typically excellent in the regular season, then carried on their excellence during the playoffs, which was odd. The Sharks made the Stanley Cup Finals, maybe you've heard, but lost promptly in six games to Sid the Kid, the Penguins and a rookie goaltender against whom they only twice scored more than two goals. (Both of their wins in the series.)

Still, Joe Thornton is that dude. Go Sharks Go!

5. Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are the cool kids. Everyone loves the cool kids, duh, because they play exciting, fun hockey games with tons of goals and back and forth. The cool kids are cool.

But the cool kids will never amount to anything and win a Stanley Cup because the NHL Playoffs are the place where boring and defensive hockey is rewarded, and where the dreams of the cool kids go to die.

4. Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks were the lovable losers right up until they started winning Stanley Cups six+ years ago. They were the envy of mostly every other franchise then, winning with style and with one of the best core of young players in the NHL. And then a year ago, one of the members of said young core may have done something truly awful. The Blackhawks, well, they allowed him to thrive then.

That's how the Blackhawks turned into the asshole winners, so it was great to see them lose in the first round of the playoffs. Let's hope this is a yearly occurrence.

3. Anaheim Ducks

The (Anaheim) Ducks will fly together and all that good stuff, so long as we mean fly right out of the playoffs. Watching them get taken down, Duck Hunt style, by the latest Western Conference overachiever is a tradition unlike any other.

2. St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues finally did the damn thing and won a playoff series. It still didn't matter though. The Blues always try so hard, but it never matters; that's, pardon the pun, music to our ears.

1. Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators traded for the wonderful P.K. Subban so they automatically go to the No. 1 spot and will win the Stanley Cup, that's the law. Congratulations, guys!