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Frustrated Vancouver Canucks fan gets the last laugh in his obituary


Army.ca Dinosaur
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So I guess this means he's officially 'off the bandwagon' ;)

Russell Atkins wanted 6 Canucks to be his pallbearers 'so they could have let him down one more time'​

The night before he passed away, Russell Atkins of Campbell River, B.C., watched the Vancouver Canucks lose 5–4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"He watched every Canucks game even when he swore he would never watch another Canucks game," daughter Kirsten Billings said of her father.

After Atkins died on Jan. 13 at the age of 79, Billings sent an obituary to the local newspaper that included a reference to the team that had long been a part of Atkins' life, and often the bane of his existence.

"Russell would've liked to have had six of the Vancouver Canucks to be his pallbearers so they could have let him down one more time," it read.

"That one sentence is my dad," Billings said.

A friend told Billings that her dad's obituary had been circulating on social media, particularly among Canucks fans who could relate to his sense of frustration with the NHL team's struggles.

"He would have hated the attention, but he would have laughed hysterically had it been somebody else's obituary," Billings said.

Atkins was a lifelong hockey fan, having played the sport in his younger years and later played and coached the game as an adult. He also spent time in the military and had a career at B.C. Hydro that spanned 40 years.

Billings says she added the joke at the end of the obituary after coming across a version of it on social media. She thought it suited her dad's sense of humour and sensibilities.

"If the Canucks were playing, the TV was on and he was complaining," she said.

The obit also mentions that Atkins was survived by his "intended ex-wife," a reference to Billings' mother. The pair had separated more than 40 years ago.

"He always meant to divorce her, he just never did it," Billings said.

A joke for long-suffering sports fans​

The pallbearer joke has been used by exasperated sports fans for years.

One of the first instances came from an Ohio man who made a similar joke about the NFL's Cleveland Browns in his 2013 obituary. The old chestnut has also been used by deceased fans of the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings. In 2014, an Ontario man included the joke in his obituary and the pallbearers at his funeral wore Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys as they "let him down one last time."

One of the reasons the joke endures is that long-suffering sports fans find it relatable.

Back in October, as Vancouver started the season with a seven-game losing skid, writer and broadcaster Steve Burgess described Canucks fandom as "living in sports hell."

"You become a connoisseur of despair when you're a Canucks fan," he said.

Things haven't improved much since then. The team sits in sixth place in the Pacific Division with a 20-26-3 record. In the days after Atkins' passing, Canucks' head coach Bruce Boudreau was fired and replaced with Rick Tocchet and team captain Bo Horvat was traded to the New York Islanders.