I haven't really had a lot of time to think about these with exams and term papers up to my ears of late, but I had to ride the Skytrain across Vancouver today, so I took some time to think about the reasons why I support my city's hockey team. As Han once said and as Seanberg's sig says, here goes nothing.
1. Canuck Nation/Canada. From a bar down on Commercial Drive to the mountains of Rwanda, you can find hockey fans anywhere (seriously, I met a Flyers fan when I went to Rwanda last year). Canuck fans are a special breed I find. We are extremely passionate, but ask a Canucks fan if you think the Canucks will win it this year, and they'll reply with "Maybe, but I say that every year.." or my all-time favourite "I get my hopes up every year, this year Im going to try not to" (I personally use this one sometimes). We have been blessed with great teams of late, but have been scarred by incredibly shitty teams (Ive tried to repress the period of time when Clouts was our starting goaltender). Perhaps this is why we are passionate but reserved at the same time, optimistic yet cynical in the same breath. Well, whatever it is, its who we are, and some of the best times of my entire life have been spent watching games by myself, with my girlfriend (although Im convinced she jinxes us and banned her from watching the playoffs with me, which actually worked as we won game 5 and 6 when she took a nap while the game was on), with my family (who I watched the Gold Medal Game with), with good friends, with fellow students at the Simon Fraser University Highland Pub or random Canuck fans at The Charlatan on Commercial and Grant in Vancouver (In fact I watched that awesome Canucks-Leafs game 2 seasons ago when Sundin scored that shoot-out winner at the ACC. The bar erupted in cheers and I watched out of there in drunken exhilaration, with a considerably lighter wallet).
Canada has always been my home. I was born here, in Ottawa, on November 20th 1988. I was a Senators fan till about 7 years old, then I moved out to BC after a brief reprieve from hockey, its been all Canucks for 12 years. Only in the past 3 years have I been following the Canucks to the pathological degree that I do now. My parents were born in Rwanda, and didn't grow up with the same hockey culture that I did, and thus they don't understand why Im so crazy about it. Canada is one big hockey heaven for me. When I go on vacation I actually miss being back in Canada because of hockey. I love Canada and I am convinced that Canada returns that love in the form of universal health care and hockey. I know Im going to sound like a politician, but hell, Im majoring in Political Science, might as well embrace it: God bless Canada. And Crosby is fucking clutch, and Lu is pure win.
Me walking down the Granville St Bridge during the Olympics in Vancouver.
2. Alexandre Burrows. Ever since I saw the hard working French Canadian skate down the ice in Canucks colours, Ive always liked Burr. To me, although Im pretty sure Im biased, he is the hardest working player in the team, tied with Kesler. He skates, he hits, he plays defense, and he scores nonstop, the man can do everything! Since Nazzy left, he has been my favourite player, and my #5 reason helps that too. He's a great player, and I know he's regarded as somewhat of a goon by other fans (who apparently have never seen Steve Downie or Dan Carcillo. Fuck those guys. If you don't know already, I hate Carcillo and Downie), but Burrows is nothing but gold in my eyes, Jerry. Gold. To add to the man crush, I bought myself a Burrows shirt. I know, its starting to get creepy. He scored that goal 2 seasons ago that turned around our season, and he potted that OT winner against St. Louis that completed the sweep. He's awesome, and you know it. The proof is in the Luc Bourdon tribute celebration.
3. Markus Naslund. Nazzy was my favourite player for a long time, since before Burrows was my favourite. To me, he was everything I liked about the Canucks at the time. He was a sniper, he was fast, and he was a leader. Hell, I even try to model my soccer play after his hockey play. He was the captain and leading scorer for a long time. I can't even remember when I started liking him, but by 16 I was a full-fledged Canucks fan and he was my favourite player. He won the Cyclone Taylor Award 5 times, led the team in scoring 7 times and holds the franchise lead in points. You don't get those stats being a plug. The man could play hockey, and I admired that. Also, lest we forget, this really cemented my love for the old Captain, this beautiful end to end against my second favourite team the Senators and this end to end in the playoffs against Calgary to set up Cooker to tie it with 5 seconds to go in the game. I remember watching Nazzy streaking up the ice in that game against the Flames and thinking to myself "Something special is about to happen". Too bad the Flames scored in OT to eliminate us, but I dont care, that was a sweet game and when Cooke tied it up I did my best to run around my house and scream as loud as I could. Thank you Nazzy, and I can't wait to see your jersey in the rafters.
4. GM Place (oh shit sorry...ROGERS ARENA). Those of you who have been lucky enough to spend some time at the Old Garage will know what I mean, but for those of you who haven't yet (GET ON A PLANE AND GO THERE NOW), being in GM Place during an event, or not, is something that cannot really be explained. I think its a great venue for hockey, music, or whatever else you can think of. Ive seen 5 concerts in GM Place, and 5 Canucks games there too. Now that the Olympics have been played there, and we have won hockey gold on our soil, GM Place/Rogers Arena is hallowed ground. Also, a couple years ago there was a memorial for Luc Bourdon down there. I went to a concert at GM Place and while I was waiting in line to get in I signed the memorial. I wrote that "The Canucks would win one for you, Luc". I hope to watch the Canucks deliver on that promise at Rogers Arena.
5. Canucks games. Ive been lucky enough to be able to go to about 5 Canucks games in my lifetime, and a few Open Practices. Once again, if you haven't been able to be in GM Place when the boys in blue are taking the ice against the away team and the crowd is roaring..... its really not anything that can be described. The very first Canucks game I went to was against the Hawks. This was back when the Hawks were incredibly shitty, or the Bill Wirtz era as our friends over at SCH call it, and the Canucks were a decent team. We still had the West Coast Express line, and we had added some pieces like Magnus Arvedson. Bertuzzi took a penalty and was in the sin bin for 2 minutes. The penalty had been killed off, and Bert was about to get out of the penalty box. Nazzy saw him coming out and sent him the puck. Bert didn't see it for a while and when he did it was hard to settle down. When he finally got a stick on it, all he could do was flip it into the pads of the Hawks goalie (Craig Anderson at the time). There was a moment of pure silence when the puck was lodged in Andy's pads. You could hear a pin drop. And finally, the puck rolled out of his pads and into the nets, and GM Place (including me) went fucking nuts. Bert celebrated with his teammates and the whole stadium was screaming so loud it could probably be heard from space. This is probably just exacerbated since it was my very first game and I was extremely green, but man that felt like the greatest game ever. Another notable game that I went to was against our division rivals the Flames, and Dank scores this beauty that has been on Sportsnet commercials for quite some time.
And finally, the latest game. You might remember that I listed Alex Burrows as my favourite player. Well I went to a Canucks game last season, against Columbus. Columbus wasn't a very good team, and the Canucks were just hitting their stride. I had been wanting to go to a Canucks game all season and had been whining since Game 1 to my girlfriend and friends that I would do terrible things to go to one. Finally, I got to go to one. It started off badly, with the Blue Jackets scoring two early goals and the fans not having much to "LUUUUUU!" about. My girlfriend started beaking me (she thinks Lu is overrated) and it was getting mighty hot in my Luongo jersey. Then, the unthinkable happened.
(At the Canucks game)
Alexandre Burrows, my favourite player, scores a hat trick, while I am in the building. The first goal was usual Sedin-Burrows magic. The second goal even more Sedin-Burrows magic. But that 3rd goal....this is what I am talking about when I say it cannot be described. The sight of seeing your favourite player streak up the ice short-handed with Kes on the wing and score an awesome short handed goal to cement a 7-3 victory.... its an experience that I will never forget. The only time Ive ever celebrated as hard was when Crosby potted that gold medal winner. I jumped up, cheered as hard as I could, and grabbed my girlfriend in a bear hug so strong that she had to tell me to stop because I was hurting her. Fuck....Im getting fired up just thinking about it. Pure awesome, and best Canucks game/GM Place experience Ive ever had.
Burrows after he potted that hattie, getting congratulated by Kes.
So those are my five reasons, and I hope you enjoyed them and they weren't too long. Its because of those reasons I wear my Canucks colours/shirts proudly and will for the rest of my life. Here is me at the Aquarium rocking my Burrows shirt.